Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oil Concoction for Itchy Dogs

My five dogs have been suffering with a skin issue for a few months now. In the spring, I assumed they had fleas when they began to scratch. I treated them with Advantage, and bought them what I thought was better dog food, just in case. It turned out that the Beneful dog food I purchased was known to carry mites.

I am not sure if that was the problem.

However, the poor dogs began scratching incessantly. They scratched so much that they removed patches of hair from the ear area, as well as from the armpits and the backs of the elbows (not dog anatomy, but you can figure out what I mean).

I went online for remedies, and tried a Borax/Hydrogen Peroxide mix. It didn't work. I tried using Dandruff shampoo. The dogs smelled better, but still scratched.

We switched to VERY EXPENSIVE dog food, with no wheat or gluten, and with the main ingredients of lamb, etc. That may have helped a wee bit, but the scratching continued daily.

So, I came up with a concoction:

I mixed a few tablespoons of coconut oil, then about a quarter cup of olive oil. Warmed that until the coconut oil melted, then stirred in a tablespoon of honey. I poured in some Skin so Soft oil, mixed it, then rubbed it into their skin.

They LOVED it. They just stayed put, letting me rub it in. They all groaned with those little throaty sounds that say, "Ohhh, that feels good. Do it again. Don't stop." The best part is the scratching has slowed down considerably.

Abe is a blonde dog with white skin, and it had been very red. The oil treatment has helped tremendously. The red has faded to a light pink.

I am going to keep doing this every morning. I don't mind the greasy residue if it fixes my poor dogs' problem. The scratching has been driving me CRAZY.

I will add a bit of tea tree oil to tomorrow's batch, and let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh, Be Careful...

Proverbs 4

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.

21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;

22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

24 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.

26 Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.

27 Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

The heart is much discussed by Puritan writers. The Bible has 743 verses with the word "heart". Jeremiah indicates that it is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, and the very next verse indicates that "I, the Lord, search the heart. I try the reins..."

God knows our hearts. He knows our frames. We're weak and full of sin. That's why we're admonished to guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Everything begins within. It's the inner man that we must be aware of. All sin begins inside...we think about it, then we carry it out.

Mark 7: 20 He (Jesus) went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Some sin doesn't even manifest in action, but as Jesus said, "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". If I think about murder, I am a murderer. If I ponder adultery, I am an adulterer. Such is the purity and holiness of God. Such are His exacting standards.

That's why we need a Saviour! Because our hearts are deceitful, and because we sin every day in multiple ways (and many times are unaware of how much we fall short of the glory of God), we need to draw close to God, to guard what we are thinking, and to guard our heart attitudes and motives. We need to be watchful. We need to mortify (put to death) the sin as it rises, in the heart, before it manifests itself in wrong actions, or words.

The Puritans spoke much of "coram deo" - our heart before God.

Remember the passage that says "out of the same mouth comes blessing and evil...brothers, this thing ought not to be so"? We must guard that the words we say and the thoughts we think and the actions we perform are those that are pure, reflecting the image of Christ in our lives.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

We must study the Word of God…not just to shun sin, but to learn what we ought to do. Matthew Henry says,

The attentive hearing of the word of God is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart and a good means of carrying it on.

A great duty required by the laws of wisdom, and in order to our getting and preserving wisdom: Keep thy heart with all diligence. God, who gave us these souls, gave us a strict charge with them: Man, woman, keep thy heart; take heed to thy spirit.

We must maintain a holy jealousy of ourselves, and
set a strict guard, accordingly, upon all the avenues of the soul;
keep our hearts from doing hurt and getting hurt,
from being defiled by sin and disturbed by trouble;
keep them as our jewel, as our vineyard;
keep a conscience void of offence;
keep out bad thoughts; keep up good thoughts;
keep the affections upon right objects and in due bounds.
Keep them with all keepings (so the word is); there are many ways of keeping things—
by care,
by strength,
by calling in help,
and we must use them all in keeping our hearts;
and all little enough, so deceitful are they, #Jer 17:9.
Or above all keepings;
we must keep our hearts with more care and diligence than we keep any thing else.
We must keep our eyes (#Job 31:1),
keep our tongues (#Ps 34:13),
keep our feet (#Ec 5:1),
but, above all, keep our hearts.

2. A good reason given for this care, because out of it are the issues of life.
Out of a heart well kept will flow living issues, good products,
to the glory of God and the edification of others.
Or, in general, all the actions of the life flow from the heart, and therefore keeping that is making the tree good and healing the springs. Our lives will be regular or irregular, comfortable or uncomfortable, according as our hearts are kept or neglected.

So, ABOVE ALL ELSE, guard your heart.
Examine your thoughts.
Ponder your priorities.
In Whom do you put your trust?
What do you think about throughout the day?
What goals do you have? What are you striving for?

All of this introspection should lead to action. It's no good to be looking at your life under a microscope if it doesn't translate into right actions.

The children's song reminds us:
Be careful, little heart, where you lean.
Be careful, little tongue, what you say.
Be careful, little feet, where you go.
Be careful, little hands, what you do.
Be careful, little eyes, what you see.

For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful...

35 Reasons Not to Sin

35 Reasons Not to Sin

by Jim Elliff

1. Because a little sin leads to more sin.
2. Because my sin invites the discipline of God.
3. Because the time spent in sin is forever wasted.
4. Because my sin never pleases but always grieves God who loves me.
5. Because my sin places a greater burden on my spiritual leaders.
6. Because in time my sin always brings heaviness to my heart.
7. Because I am doing what I do not have to do.
8. Because my sin always makes me less than what I could be.
9. Because others, including my family, suffer consequences due to my sin.
10. Because my sin saddens the godly.
11. Because my sin makes the enemies of God rejoice.
12. Because sin deceives me into believing I have gained when in reality I have lost.
13. Because sin may keep me from qualifying for spiritual leadership.
14. Because the supposed benefits of my sin will never outweigh the consequences of disobedience.
15. Because repenting of my sin is such a painful process, yet I must repent.
16. Because sin is a very brief pleasure for an eternal loss.
17. Because my sin may influence others to sin.
18. Because my sin may keep others from knowing Christ.
19. Because sin makes light of the cross, upon which Christ died for the very purpose of taking away my sin.
20. Because it is impossible to sin and follow the Spirit at the same time.
21. Because God chooses not to respect the prayers of those who cherish their sin.
22. Because sin steals my reputation and robs me of my testimony.
23. Because others once more earnest than I have been destroyed by just such sins.
24. Because the inhabitants of heaven and hell would all testify to the foolishness of this sin.
25. Because sin and guilt may harm both mind and body.
26. Because sins mixed with service make the things of God tasteless.
27. Because suffering for sin has no joy or reward, though suffering for righteousness has both.
28. Because my sin is adultery with the world.
29. Because, though forgiven, I will review this very sin at the Judgment Seat where loss and gain of eternal rewards are applied.
30. Because I can never really know ahead of time just how severe the discipline for my sin might be.
31. Because my sin may be an indication of a lost condition.
32. Because to sin is not to love Christ.
33. Because my unwillingness to reject this sin now grants it an authority over me greater than I wish to believe.
34. Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because it is worth anything on it's own.
35. Because I promised God he would be Lord of my life.

Relinquish Your Rights - Reject the Sin - Renew the Mind - Rely on God
Copyright © 1992 Jim Elliff Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc.Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in unedited formincluding author's name, title, complete content, copyright and weblink.Other uses require written permission.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Elena's Big Surprise!

We did it! We pulled off a "While You Were Out" surprise, and renovated the room my daughter Elena shares with her sister, Tiana.

Linda and Elena went to help their cousin, David, and his wife, Kate. Kate just had a beautiful baby boy, and was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of six kids and hot, hazy and humid summer weather. Linda and Elena were the answer: instant entertainment!

So, while they were out, the ones at home plus a few married ones pitched in and cleared out the bedroom. This is Adeena, painting the drawers and the baseboards and the bed and the dresser.
Linda painting the closet; Daniel working on the door. He put in a new door handle!

We scraped the old border off the wall, then mudded, sanded, painted (3 coats!), painted, and painted: beds, dresser, walls, ceiling, closet, shelves, door, and a brand new little desk that Jeff built! Here is Tiana holding baby Matthew while Rachel poses like a painter!

Waiting for Elena to come in. You can see the little desk that Jeff built:

The look of shock on her face is obvious. She didn't say much, because (as she told us later) she was overwhelmed and was afraid she'd cry. However, she loves her new room!

I will post pictures of the whole effect once I get the bedspreads made and the curtain hung. Meanwhile, thank you so much, married kids of mine, and all the ones at home who pitched in and helped with this project! It's a great blessing to your sisters.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I have so much to say...

yet so little time. I am in the middle of a project, and to top it all off, I fell very hard on my arm over a week ago. It hurts to type. Well, it pretty much hurts to do anything. I am finding out what it is like to be left-handed, and have discovered that I am very much right-handed. No ambidextrous woman here.

Hence the lack of posts.

But to any of you who read my blog, stay tuned! I have plenty to tell you.

Just not today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wilderness Retreat

Well, not quite. But my friend Darlene and I DID camp in a rustic spot, with no running water, no electricity, and only an outhouse rather than a proper bathroom.

We took off to the Auburn Riverside Retreat on Monday, and spent the better part of three days reading, laughing, praying, talking, planning and eating. We slept a little, but mostly we enjoyed a quiet, refreshing time together.

We've been doing this for years. Normally, we take lots of school work with us, so we can plan out the following school year (both of us are homeschooling moms). However, this time, we found it more profitable to read (a D.A. Carson book for me; a Randy Alcorn book for Darlene) and relax.

Both of us are moms to a bunch of kids, some of whom are married; hence, we have grandkids, too. Our responsibilities are heavy at times, and there aren't very many days in the year that we can just sit and think...or even just sit. So, a couple of nights away in the wilderness is very relaxing and refreshing.

The site we were on was far removed from the rest of the campground, and there were no other campers in the vicinity. The only thing that interrupted our reading was the occasional rustle of a squirrel in the leaves, or the chirping of birds in the trees.

Unfortunately, the flies were was like a scene from a Hitchcock movie. Thankfully we were able to purchase a small (8 x 8) dining tent. We set up a table and our two chairs inside the little tent, and we sat there like queens of our small domain.

Last night, Adeena came over to join us for supper, bearing gifts of brownies and cookies. She was most welcome, and we sat around the fire eating our yummy barbecued steak and chatting about everything from baseball to child-rearing. I LIKE having a friend who has hung in there with me for nearly thirty years. It's comfortable. We know each other very well - both the good and the bad - and we love each other as much as sisters do (or maybe more!). It's very cool that Darlene is now a friend to my oldest daughter.

We got home this afternoon, and reality hit. There were phone calls to make, appointments to keep, and emails to send. Children needed attention. Supper had to be cooked. Grandbabies needed to be cuddled, and my dear husband wanted me to sit with him. Ahh,'s a lot of responsibility. But with great responsibility comes great privilege, and greater joy.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Billson Family - aren't they adorable?

After church today, we stopped to visit with Matt and Joanna and their beautiful children. As you can see, the five of them are quite adorable.

Matt is busy with the two older ones, while Joanna takes care of the newborn! Kaleb is getting a kick out of his little brother, and calls him "Lebi". Kaitlyn says, "Baby".

Kaleb, with a bit of help, got acquainted with his little brother.

Meanwhile, Matt had a visit with HIS little brother (Critter).

On the way home, this is the view we enjoyed. We are truly blessed, with family, with friends, with beauty all around. For all of that, we give thanks.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

8/09/08 - Charlie David's Birthday

All right, here we go with more good news! My nephew David and his beautiful wife Kate are the proud parents of a BIG baby boy. Charles David was born a day late (according to his mom!) but was well worth the wait. He is a second cousin to Levi, born just yesterday, and he outweighed Levi by about two and a half ounces, which was enough to win a bet between the two proud dads, Matt and David, who are first cousins.

WELCOME to the family, Charlie.

Great Aunt Janet

Friday, August 08, 2008

8/08/08 - Levi's Birthday

Very early this morning, my son was awakened by his 9-months-pregnant wife, Joanna.

"Matt, wake up," she said urgently, punctuating the words with a blow to his back. "We have to go to the hospital NOW!"

It's amazing how God orders our steps. Joanna had left the other two children at her mom's house, figuring she just might go into labour. So, off they went to the hospital.

Joanna was feeling pressure, breathing through the contractions. Matt drove, fast. Every so often he would pat her legs, reassuring her to hang in there. Joanna just breathed more intently.

They came to an intersection. Matt noticed the cop vaguely, but was determined to deliver his wife safely to the hospital, so she could deliver her baby. He paid little attention to what the cop was doing.

Not too many minutes passed before Matt noticed headlights, gaining on him. They kept a-coming, and the next thing he knew, the headlights were right on his tail. Then they backed off a bit. Matt kept a-driving. Joanna kept a-breathing.

They weren't more than five minutes from town when the cop put the cherries on. "Keep going, Matt. Don't stop!" said Joanna.

Matt pulled over to the side of the road amid the sounds of heavy breathing and the protestations coming from the passenger seat. He ran back to the cop.

"Get into your vehicle, sir," the cop commanded.

"My wife is having a baby!" Matt announced, his voice rising with the urgency of the situation. "We've got to get to the hospital now. I've gotta go!"

Then, "Can I go?"

"A baby?" questioned the cop.

"Yes! It's coming now! I've got to go! Can I go?"

The cop said yes, and off Matt drove like a madman.

When they got to the hospital and Joanna got out of the car, she felt the baby drop. She could not sit. So, no wheelchair. Instead, Matt practically dragged her through the long hallway to the elevator. Her contractions were one on top of the other, so she'd try to stop to breathe through them.

"Just let me stop for a second, Honey."

"No, Honey, you can make it. C'mon!"

Joanna told me later that Matt half-dragged her and half-carried her. They got to the room, and the midwife was setting up. When she checked Joanna, the baby was right there.

"If you push, the water will break."

Joanna wasn't sure it would, but she thought she'd give it a try. Break it did, shooting across the room! The midwife leaped out of the way of the spray!

It only took 8 minutes to birth the baby; the head was the hardest part, and he had very broad shoulders, but with a bit of help from the midwife, Levi James entered the world!

He's simply gorgeous. It took us all about 1.2 seconds to fall in love.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Critter is NINE!

Our son Christopher is nine years old today.

I sat with him and one of our grandsons this morning, and reminded him that he was a very special boy. When he was born, by emergency C-section, his apgar score was only 2. He did have a heartbeat, but not much else was happening. I think he was in shock at being ripped so suddenly from his nice, warm environment.

Nine years have flown by. Critter is now a very capable young fella. He loves to read. Soccer is his favourite sport. He takes notes in church and asks good questions, and is able to tell us the main points of the sermon AND apply them to his own life. He loves babies, and is thankful that God has blessed him with 14 nephews and nieces... with another one on the way any day.

Happy Birthday, dear son of mine! I am so glad you are NINE! Love, Mom

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Fun With Friends

Linda and I were treated to a marvelous weekend of fun and fellowship in Waterloo with our friends, Debbie and Bethany, to celebrate Bethany's 18th birthday.

Our first hour was spent just getting re-acquainted, then we headed out to St. Jacobs to enjoy Mennonite cooking at its finest, at the Stone Crock Restaurant. The cook even came out to discuss our dietary needs, pointing out which items on the buffet table were free of wheat, gluten, corn and dairy.

After supper, we headed across the road to shop in a knick-knack store. It was jam-packed with all sorts of baubles and curiosities. There were a few quality items, but most of the things were the sort of "treasures" that end up collecting dust and causing more trouble than they are worth. There were good calendars, however, and Bethany ended up buying one (shhhh, don't tell Debbie!).

The next store was "Magnolias", a high-quality store with beautiful items ranging from baby clothes (the softest fabric imaginable) to aprons and tablecloths. We all agreed that we need to get sewing, because we were challenged by the beautiful little dresses and frocks available. If we can find the time, I'm sure we can make clothing like that, in order to bless our families. It was too bad closing time crept up so soon - I'm sure we could have spent a lot more time examining each of the rooms full of dishes and bedding and vases and so on.

The evening flew by as we sprawled on the beds or sat comfortably in chairs, chatting up a storm. We caught up on all the news in both families, and discussed all sorts of things from politics to the depravity of man. Great stuff!

Saturday morning found us all refreshed, and after breakfast we headed to the St. Jacobs' Farmers Market. The sounds and smells and press of people both thrilled us and exhausted us, as we made our way from booth to booth. Highlights included a wonderful musician, Fernan Enriquez, who played a variety of flutes, including a pan flute, which has a haunting sound. We also loved the furniture store, and we sat on a number of beautiful sofas, dreaming of the day when we could purchase leather furniture. We chatted with a lady who sold Elk meat - and even tasted some of her elk pepperettes. Debbie confessed her goal of working with Bethany on a quilt, and we enjoyed examining the work of an elderly Mennonite lady as she stitched precisely and carefully on a quilt, set up in the attic of a store. It was all great fun!

Debbie petting a pony at the Farmer's Market.

We ate our big meal of the day at Kelsey's, where Debbie and Bethany taught us a worm trick. You have to be there to get it, but it was quite impressive!

See the worm?

After supper, we explored a huge Antiques store. I can't tell you how many things I have thrown out over the years that might have been worth some money! It was fun seeing things that I remember from my youth (and Debbie insisted she was too young to remember them!), like the old cash registers with the pop-up totals. I remember seeing those very cash registers in use when I was a very young girl, over half a century ago!

I restricted my purchases to an old tape set about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and an apple sieve. Debbie and Bethany found a few treasures, too. But the best part of our shopping time was watching Linda and Bethany as they examined books and war memorabilia, laughing and chatting non-stop, enjoying the shared experience.

Last evening was spent in a very competitive game of Pictionary, followed by Dutch Blitz. The more elderly ones won Pictionary, but it was a fierce battle right to the very last second. We laughed so loud at some of the drawing or the interpretations of those drawings that we thought we might be in danger of being booted from the hotel.

I have some advice for anyone who ever would meet dear Bethany: don't play Dutch Blitz with her. It's just not fair. She is incredibly fast, and shows no mercy, even to first-timers. We were all impressed at her speed and agility! She also tricked us soundly in a few riddles and card tricks.

Bethany is a picture of grace, serene and sweet, pure and dear. Her physical beauty reflects the inner beauty this young woman possesses, which comes from a life of faith and peace with God.

Lord Byron said it well:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Happy Birthday, dear Bethany!
We were blessed to have spent the day with you.