Living by Faith...

What does it mean to live by faith? I am not talking about having faith, but living by faith. There is a huge difference. To live by faith means fully trusting God with your entire life. It means surrendering to him. Surrendering the good, bad, hard and not so hard. It’s letting go of absolute plans, control and expectations. Remember, the song “Jesus Take the Wheel”? It’s not just allowing God into your life, but letting God direct your path. Allowing Him to come, walk alongside you and lead you.

Sometimes it can feel like a GPS without the entire route…”Brooke, take a left here. Now take a right. Oops, you went too far, make a u-turn”. Unlike GPS, when we live by faith, we can’t see the entire route or even the next step. It’s in these steps God is teaching us, refining us and growing us. It’s in these blind steps that we grow closer to Him, trusting in Him and His promises. His promise to love us unconditionally, to never leave our side, to provide for all of our needs, to forgive us and to give us a good life. We have heard it time and time again, God has good plans for us, however, we won’t get to fully experience His good plans when we aren’t living in faith. It’s in our daily faithfulness that we are truly binded to our Lord. This friends is where the true journey starts. When we allow God into our heart and life we experience his fullness and love. No more angst, worry or unfulfillment.

He alone is all we need, everything falls into place when He is leading our life, when we are living by faith

Who am I?

…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” -Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV)

Who am I? 

This is a question I struggled with during my teen years and early twenties. I was the first born of a teen mom. My childhood was less than ideal and I was frequently shuffled between my parents. I never quite felt like I belonged to either house or either family. Often times I struggled with feeling like a burden, always caught in between the two, and the many arguments they had. I was raised in the church and understood that I needed to be “good” and make “good choices”. However, there was still a disconnect, a longing for something more, something deeper. Then one day I heard our pastor say, “You have a Father in heaven who loves you. He does not waiver and His love is not fickle. When you commit your life to Him, your old ways are gone and you are a new creation in Him“.

Wow! I am His child!  I am a child of the King of Kings! My Father reigns over all and yet He knows me personally. He knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on my head and He keeps count of all of the tears I have shed.  He is with me all the time, He has good plans for me, and He has prepared a place in Heaven for me. He loves me unconditionally and forgives freely!

Friends, if you struggle with emptiness, shame, discouragement, feelings of inadequacy and hurt, I encourage you to lean into Him. He is all we need. As humans, we are all faulted. We will ALL let others down. We can never be everything to someone else. The only person who can meet our every need is our Father. Remember this and put it on a sticky note: you are a child of God. You are wonderfully made, dearly loved, and precious in His sight!


Our value comes from Him and not this World

I am a ‘words of affirmation’ kind of girl. It’s my number one love language. Notes, kind texts, cards…all of them fill me up. But, to what extent?

I often feel as though I walk a fine line, having to be careful not to confuse where my value comes from. Yes, ‘atta-girls’ are nice to hear, especially when we have worked hard, but I can’t let those determine my worth or value. I have an unhealthy habit of seeking words of affirmation. This is a new revelation for me.

In the past, if I had worked really hard, and my efforts went unnoticed, I would become discontented. Which would completely take away from all the good that came from my hard work. When I reflect on the past, I could see a clear pattern of this, whether it was my teacher, Coach, or Boss, from my early childhood into adulthood. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when reading Colossians 3:7, did it dawn on me. I was placing my worth, or value, in the opinions of others. If I didn’t receive acknowledgment, it must have meant I didn’t do a good job.

Crazy, I know.

However, this was exactly the story I was telling myself. “Work harder, Brooke”. “Be better, Brooke”. “Try harder, Brooke”. I am 100% my own harshest critic. The things I continued to tell myself, I wouldn’t dare have said to another. Why is that? Well, because I was giving people the power to determine my worth and not God. I was working for man, not God.

Wow, such a difference in perspective. Why would I let others determine my value when they are flawed too? How ridiculous, right? God gave us gifts so we can use them, to serve Him. Our work is for the Lord and our accomplishments are for His glory! The words of affirmation I now strive for are, “well done, good and faithful servant”. I may not get the words of affirmation while I am here on Earth, but I will get them when I meet my father in Heaven. Everything else is a bonus!

The Lord is on your side

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with control, which inadvertently leads to fear. Fear is never my intention. Yet, over the years I have learned it’s constantly in the background of my thoughts.

Predictability and consistency were the name of my game. I was constantly anticipating what was going to happen next so I could be prepared. Looking back, I wasted a lot of time and energy. But more than that, I can see a separation between me and God. I was not trusting Him with the big or small things.

I was the driver and wasn’t interested in a co-pilot or even a pilot. I thought as long as I was doing “what’s right” and “what’s good”, me and God were “good”. Never mind the constant stress and anxiety I experienced from doing life “on my own”. Outwardly, life looked good. Inwardly, I was struggling.

As I dove deeper into bible study, I found myself convicted by my lack of faith. My personal relationship with God was strained. I wasn’t trusting God’s plan for my life. Not daily, definitely not monthly, or yearly. I would pray, but I wasn’t taking everything to Him and waiting for a response. I finally came to a season in my life where I gave up.

“It’s not my will Lord, it’s Yours.”

I slowed down. I read my bible more. I prayed deeper prayers and didn’t rush through life. I waited for doors to open or close.

Psalm 118:6 is one of my favorites. I am often heard reciting it to my kids. Whenever I feel fear creep in, I ask myself, “What can man do to me, I have the Lord by my side?”.  Here are three solid truths that help me when my thoughts begin to race:

The Lord already knows what’s next for me. It’s not a surprise to Him and He won’t give me more than I can handle. (Proverbs 19:21)

His plans for me are good. (Philippians 1:6)

He loves me and He will never leave my side. (1 John 3:1, Deuteronomy 31:8)

Friends, let God be your refuge and your strength. His plans are always better than the ones we have for ourselves. There is so much peace when we live in His will and not ours.

So much peace.

Bath Bombs with Essential Oils

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Do you need a gift idea for this holiday season? Follow the instructions for making a unique gift for your family and friends. Bath bombs are a fun way to add excitement to your senses while enjoying the benefits of essential oils.

Creating a spa like environment in your home can easily be done using simple household ingredients and essential oils. Bath bombs are a fun way to add excitement to your senses while enjoying the benefits of essential oils. They are also entertaining to use and are loved by both kids and adults alike.

Note: If you don't have a bathtub, these bath bombs can still be effective in a shower. The water will help dissolve the bath bomb and release the aroma of the essential oils into the steam.

Ingredients

1 cup citric acid

1 cup baking soda

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil

8–10 drops favorite essential oil

Note: Citric acid can be found at most major supermarkets in the canning section.

Tip: You could also use almond oil or olive oil in the place of doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil.

Instructions

  1. In bowl, place citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, and oil.

  2. Add eight to 10 drops of the essential oil or blend of choice.

  3. Mix well with spoon until soft dough is formed. It should have the consistency of damp sand.
    Note: If the mixture is too wet, try adding a little more baking soda and cornstarch until consistency is correct. 

  4. At this point, you may add food coloring, dried herbs, or flower petals to mixture. 

  5. Place mixture in silicone molds. Let sit 24 hours before removing from mold.

  6. To use, drop in tub or shower and allow to dissolve.

Note: Choose an essential oil to best suit your needs. For relaxation, try Lavender or doTERRA Serenity®. For a mood boost, try Wild Orange, Citrus Bliss®, or Peppermint. 

Bath bombs are excellent gifts for both adults and children. When making for kids, try adding some color to the mixture. Not only will they love that the water changes colors, but will also love the fizz from the bath bomb.

Decadent Peppermint Cookies with essential oil

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Do you have a favorite holiday cookie? Try adding a drop of Peppermint essential oil to your favorite frosting recipe for a burst of minty flavor.

Here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, diced into 4 pieces

  • 1 cup (6 oz) good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate , roughly chopped

  • 1 1/4 cups (175g) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 2/3 cup packed (148g) light brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup (74g) granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1-2 drops of Peppermint Essential oil (less is more)

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese , softened

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter , softened

  • 1-2 drops of Peppermint Essential oil (less is more)

  • 2 cups (236g) powdered sugar

  • Crushed peppermint candy canes , for topping

Instructions

  1. To a microwave safe bowl add chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and butter. Heat on HIGH power in 20 second increments, stirring between intervals until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool, about 25 - 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.

  3. In large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on medium-high speed, whip together eggs, egg yolk, brown sugar and granulated sugar until pale, fluffy and creamy, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Mix in cooled chocolate mixture.

  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir dry mixture into egg/chocolate mixture just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill until partially set, about 45 minutes (it should be easier to roll and chilling will reduce spread). Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.

  5. Scoop dough out about 2 - 2 1/2 Tbsp at a time (35g each) and shape into balls. Place dough balls on Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 8 - 11 minutes (cookies should look slightly under-baked they'll continue to cook slightly once removed from oven). Cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool frost with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting then sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

  6. For the frosting:

  7. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Add peppermint extract and powdered sugar and mix until pale and fluffy.

  8. Adapted from: Cooking Classy

Homemade Shoulder Pad with Essential oils

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Over the weekend I decided to break out my sewing machine and get a little crafty with my leftover fabric and essential oils. I am a chronic sufferer of neck and shoulder pain so I decided to make my own rice heating pad. I just used leftover scrap fabric, rice, and essential oils. Easy right?!

 

I cut two pieces of flannel fabric into the same U shape, a little larger than desired size, to leave room for the seams. I put the pattern size of the two pieces together and sewed around the inside edge and bottom of the U, along the top, and half way down one side. Next, I sewed across the U, every 3 inches to make the pockets for the rice.

Once completed, I mixed long grain rice, about 4lbs with essential oils, I chose Lavender, Ylang, Ylang, and Roman Chamomile (relax and calming oils). I used a funnel to pour the rice into the pockets. I pinned each pocket close to keep the rice from falling out.  Last, close the seam and enjoy!!