Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas thoughts....

I love this prediction of our Messiah's coming!

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.  On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2.

I love that no matter how dark this world may be -- and the recent school shooting shows us the shadow - there is light.  Jesus is our light.

How amazing it is that Jesus would walk among us!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One woman's journey through the book of Isaiah...Part I

I've always loved the beautiful images in the book of Isaiah.  Who can forget the passage about how those who wait upon the Lord will rise up on eagles wings or the lovely descriptions of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and so on?  Yet, I'd like to read and study it on a deeper level.

Now, I'm no Bible scholar mind you, and I wouldn't presume to teach the book of Isaiah in any authoritative way.  However, I am finding some insights that are meaningful to me, and I'd like to share them.  I hope you will enjoy these thoughts, too.  Since it's difficult to cover a book this deep in a few blog posts, I hope you will undertake your own study of Isaiah.

I am in awe of the vision that Isaiah saw when he took up his commission to preach to the people of Israel:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  From Chapter Six

Isn't that breathtaking?  I've always loved that.  What I didn't realize until doing further study was that this was written during a time when Israel's and, perhaps, Isaiah's hopes had been dashed.  King Uzziah was, with the exception of Jehoshaphat, the most prosperous king of Judah and of the house of David since Solomon.  He was faithful to the Lord for most of his long reign.  He was mighty in battle.  There was hope in the land that the former days of glory would be fully restored under his leadership. 

However, Uzziah became proud, became unfaithful to God, and offered incense when only the priests should have done so.  He was struck with leprosy and was removed from rule.

On top of that, the culture was turning away from the Lord to sin. (Isaiah Chapters 1-5)  People were going through the motions of worshiping the Lord, but without living righteously before him.  Their worship services and their sacrifices were hollow. 

Many were selfish, and they overlooked the needs of the poor, the defenseless, the widows, and the orphans.  The nation was trying to combine the worship of the Lord with superstitions from the east.  Corrupt officials were taking bribes.  The princes had thieves as companions. Leaders were misleading the people.  The wealthy were exploiting the poor, drinking too much, too self-indulgent, prideful, and without concern for the Lord. The women were arrogant, consumed with materialism and finery, and wanton.  It got to the point that people were confused about what was good and what was evil.

It was in the year that Uzziah died, and with him the dreams his kingship had awakened in the people, that Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up.   The throne of Judah wasn't doing well.  The religious leaders were also letting the people down.   However, God's throne is permanent and unshakable.  He is King over all kings, Lord over all nations, cultures, and governments.  Our ultimate hope is not in earthly people or circumstance, but in God's loving and just interaction with our fallen world.  Our citizenship is in heaven, and we live by its principles of righteousness, peace, and love.  Sometimes, it takes the dashing of our earthly dreams to point us to the glory that will never fail.     

What's the lesson for me? 

Are our current politics unstable?  Is our country divided along political lines?  Was our recent election a bitter contest?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Is our economy wavering?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Have my personal hopes in people or in earthly things been dashed?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Am I getting older?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Are there issues among my brothers and sisters in the Lord that I need to deal with?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Are parts of our culture turning away from God and toward sin?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Is there injustice in our land?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Do people make up their own religion, as the Israelite did, by mixing a little something here and a superstition there with a smattering of the real truth?   Jesus is Lord and Savior.
Do I need to identify and repent of sin in my life?  Jesus is Lord and Savior.

After God revealed his glory and his kingship to Isaiah, Isaiah was strengthened to go into ministry to his people.  The people sorely needed someone who cared -- someone authentic, someone who would love them and who would proclaim the truth to them.  Only after Isaiah had encountered the Lord was he ready for this mission.   


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beautify our world -- thanksgiving.

Before you go out into the world, wash your face in the clear crystal of praise. Bury each yesterday in the fine linen and spices of thankfulness.  

 Charles Spurgeon


My friend Margaret, who owns Mom's Sign Company.  Isn't she cute?

One of the Thanksgiving signs that Margaret makes -- She does all kinds of decorative signs for the home.

I know it's a little early to be thinking about Thanksgiving Day, but I'm already looking forward to it.  It's the favorite holiday of both my husband and my daughter.  Actually, in our family, we all have happy memories of Thanksgiving.  Seeing how my family does love it keep some from rushing ahead to Christmas. 

I don't relate much to the "horror" elements of Halloween decorating, so I tend to focus on a fall theme that carries me from September through Thanksgiving Day.  Decorating wise, I don't go overboard for any holiday.  I do, however, like to change things up a little for the seasons and also to set holiday themed tables.
Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. Shakespeare

November's such a great time to train our own hearts to be grateful, and to help train our children's hearts to be grateful, too.  If we all take one month to just camp out on the practice of being grateful, imagine how much that would infuse the other 11 months with gratitude, as well.   The old saying is that it takes 21 days to build a habit; the 30 days of November are more than enough time to cement the habit of gratitude in our minds.   

I love this verse from Colossians:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Wouldn't it be fun if everyone, everywhere was overflowing with thankfulness?  How happy would our homes be if we were all so full of thankfulness that it brimmed right over into our words and our actions.  Imagine waiting in line or sitting in a waiting room if everyone there was generally grateful.  Think what neighborhoods and workplaces would become.   Of course, I need to start my dream by looking in the mirror.  :)   



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beautify our World...Nurturing

I love the dictionary definition of nurture:

to feed and protect: to nurture one's offspring.

to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians. to bring up; train; educate.
I'm sure we can all think of nurturers in our lives.  One quality I think of regarding nurturing is the quality of making someone feel warm, safe, and accepted so that person can flourish.  I know people who have an extraordinary gift for nurturing, and I see Christ in them.  That's a quality that I want to grow in.

In our culture, we associate women with nurturing, and some women fear to be seen as nurturing for fear that they won't be respected on the same plane that men are.  Yet, the Bible portrays God as a nurturer and also calls husbands and fathers to be nurturers, too.  Paul, the apostle, said that he had lived among the Thessalonians in a gentle way, with the same nurturing quality that the mother of an infant might have. 

Isaiah 49:15  (God speaking to Israel) Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 

Ephesians 5:4  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

I Thessalonians 2:7 As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children.

Ephesians 5:25ff  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water through the word  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Nurturing is a beautiful quality, for it is a reflection of God's own heart.  It takes strength and faith to nurture others.   It also takes prayer and wisdom.  It also requires that we know when to step in and when to let go, so that we don't cross that line from nurturing into smothering. 

What are some practical ways to nurture?

1) Study God's nurturing, as revealed in the Bible.  Note in the gospels how Christ always saw what others didn't:  the beauty of the widow's two coins, the tax collector in the tree, the woman who touched Jesus' garment in a huge crowd, the blind men calling for help by the wayside, etc.
2)  Rejoice when others succeed, grow, or mature.  Rejoice when others experience happy things or have reasons to celebrate.

3) Cultivate your own domestic skills.  If you particularly enjoy a certain skill -- such as cooking or sewing or keeping a home tidy or fostering great relationships in the family -- learn and practice.  Use that skill to nurture those in or outside your family.
4)  Do you have occupational skills?  These, too, can be used to nurture others.
5)  At any gathering, two questions are useful in nurturing: what can I learn and what can I give.

You don't have to be a wife or mother to be a nurturer, but being a wife and mother is good training ground for learning how to nurture.  By the time our nest empties, we have usually learned how to tune into the needs of our husband and children.  Yet, our children are adults and, while they still need and appreciate our nurturing, they need a more subtle form of nurturing. Likewise, our husbands need us as much as ever, but, again, nurturing a husband is a tiny bit different than nurturing children.  Instead of bemoaning that we have worked our way out of a parenting job, it's better to celebrate!  We just graduated from a school of nurturing.  Our grown children are our diploma!  Now, we have lots of tenderness and love to give.  We've developed some skills.  So, we nurture our husbands, our grown children, and our grandchildren according to their needs, and we funnel all that extra nurturing sensitivity into loving others, as well.  If we keep our hearts and our eyes open, we'll see lots of little ways to invest in the growth of those around us.

Likewise, a single woman can be a nurturer.  Paul, after all, was single, and he nurtured the spiritual growth of countless people.  


Friday, October 05, 2012

Beautify our World...Respect

Respect is a balm that, when applied to human relationships, brings beauty to our lives.  defines this quality as

esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
 In Romans, God says:

Romans 13:7
Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
I Peter 2:17 tells us:
Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Speaking of the church, Hebrews 13:17 says
 Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Have you ever felt disrespected?  Have you been given a task to carry out or people to lead and, yet,  your role wasn't given the respect you needed to carry it out?   That's tough; isn't it?  Have you ever felt disrespected simply as a person, as if you didn't matter?  Oh, how that cuts our hearts.  We all function at our best when we are given respect.

Knowing this, it's important to respect people on at least two levels:  1)  We respect the basic person-hood of others, even of others over whom we might have some authority and 2) We respect the authority of those who are performing some sort of leadership role in our lives.   

Respecting people rightly comes from respecting the Lord.  (I Peter 3   We respect that others are made in his image, even if they, themselves, don't respect that fact.  We respect that he has ordained certain roles, such as government authorities or leaders in the church, to make our world function smoothly.  We respect the fact that while we must make judgements in many situations, we are not anyone's final judge -- God is.   He is the authority to whom we all must give account; in that regard, we are all on equal ground and we respect this fact.

We are able to overcome our fear of respecting those who have authority in our lives because we know that the Lord is ultimately caring for us.  (I Peter Chapter 3).   Fear of being hurt is a biggie for me, and there's where I lean on God.       

It's easy to respect people who are respectable.  It's easy to respect them when they, in turn, respect us.  Sometimes, however, a person to whom we owe respect isn't respectable in his or her own right.  Perhaps, they have poor judgement, or they are unfair.  Perhaps, they are making a mess of the job that they are called to do.  Here's the thing that's hard for us as moderns to grasp: We must show respect even to those with whom we disagree.      

For example,we may or may not like the President, but do we show respect when voicing our opinion?  We should.   The same is true when interacting with a parent, a teacher, a husband, the PTA president, our neighborhood watch, the policeman who's writing us a speeding ticket, etc.  In the U.S. and most European countries, we are fortunate to have a high level of free speech.  If we are to exercise that right responsibly, we must do so with respect.  

In the household, it's especially pleasant when all treat each other with respect.  It's also sobering when we realize how quickly children pick up on our respect or lack of respect for others.  Our impatience turns into their rolled eyes and crossed arms.   It's up to us to teach our children to respect others, and that begins with cultivating the quality of respect in our own hearts. 

Of course, in respecting others, there are times to speak up.   When Peter and others were rebuked for teaching the happy news about Christ and his kingdom, Peter replied, "We must obey God rather than men."

Likewise, we are not to show favoritism:

James tells us that we are to show basic respect to all and not to favor the rich.  

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  James 2:9
We are to treat the poorest and those of least influence among us with honor, just as we treat others.

How can we show respect for each other in the household?  Here are a dozen ways:
1)  Keep the common areas of the house neat; pick up after ourselves; don't borrow without asking; treat other people's private spaces with respect.
2)  Learn how to express feelings, even negative feelings, with respect.  The same thing can be said either with a heart of respect or with a heart of disrespect.  Choose respect.  Also remember that being tired, hungry, or sick is not an excuse to be irritable or disrespectful.     
3)  Listen when others express themselves.  Hear someone out even if we do not come to the same conclusion.  Make sure that children and the elderly know that someone cares enough about them to listen.  Listen to your spouse.  
4)  Use the old magic words:  Please, thank-you, Sir, Ma'am, etc.  Teach children how to show respect to adults and the elderly.  Teach them how to interact with peers.  Teach and use good manners.  Especially, teach children good manners regarding cell phones, texting, and social media.  Courtesy and manners are respect in action.
5) Pray for friends, family, neighbors, countries, political leaders, enemies, etc.  
6)  Care for the family pet with kindness.  Proverbs 12:10
7)  Make everyone who comes into the home feel welcomed.
8)  Respect neighbors' property.
9)  Teach children healthy limits and expect them to obey.  Don't exasperate children by laying overly heavy burdens on them.  On the other hand, don't let them indulge in disobedience or disrespect.   
10)  Help children navigate difficult interactions with peers, teachers, etc.  Help them not to lose confidence in God's love for them even if they face difficult times in school or on the playground.
11)  Be grateful!  Showing gratitude to others helps them feel respected.

And, most of all, honor God as individuals and as a family.

Respect will adorn your home and make your world a little more beautiful!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do you dare greatly? The Merry Rose Reads

 Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Daring Greatly gives a secular picture, painted with much research, of a truth I'm learning from following Jesus: vulnerability and openness, combined with inner truth, is a strength and not a weakness. The author, Brene Brown, realizes that if we are going to accomplish anything, we must put ourselves out there with the chance that we might succeed or we might fail. To have successful relationships, we must go deeper, and, again, there is the chance that we will be accepted or rejected.

Brown takes as her theme one of my favorite quotes: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Theodore Roosevelt.

Reading this was a good reminder for me. As I grow older and have suffered hurts through daring or being vulnerable, it is tempting to seek self-protection and a comfortable life. This is doubly so because I feel myself growing just a little more physically vulnerable with every passing year. Like many that Brown describes, I react to fear with attempts to control the uncontrollable. Yet, the most important things in life do require that we "get in the arena" so to speak, rather than to stand on the sidelines. If I don't want to fizzle out on the last quarter of life's race, I need to step it up again. For me, that will mean stepping back from selfishness and growing in how I love others. Love casts out fear.

The author describes shame as the basic reason why we try to protect self at the cost of daring to live fully. She cites that we live in a
"never enough" society. We tend to focus on what we or others don't live up to or don't have, rather than validating the good. We all have a sense of shame about ourselves that we don't want others to see. To me, the question is, did we all arrive at this solely through culture? I don't think so, though the things that Brown notes in our culture can help us recognize the problem. Early in the Biblical account of man's history, we find Adam and Eve hiding from God because of true guilt, shame, inadequacy, and broken relationship. For the first time, they are ashamed of their nakedness or vulnerability. Adam tries the first blame-shift in history, "That woman you gave me...", thus trying to pin his shame on Eve and maybe even on God! God seeks them out and restores the relationship, establishes the consequences of their actions, and offers hope to come. My personal opinion is that we all have this sense of shame because we are broken in a sense. We all have some glimmer of what we were meant to be in God, and we have all fallen short of that. Therefore, the strength to become vulnerable comes from admitting our shame and receiving the grace, forgiveness, and wholeness that God offers through Christ. My thought is that if we attempt to fix this shame problem with anything less than God's grace, we will just patch it rather than conquer it. I think that's some of what Paul meant when he felt inadequate because of an illness and Christ said that his grace was sufficient for him.

One thing that fascinated me was the discussion about shame as experienced by men and by women. Speaking as a 57-year old, long-married woman, I was surprised that so many women found it surprising that men also feel shame and are vulnerable. They are especially vulnerable in the area of initiating sex. Is this and the fact that men and women cover for shame differently really news? I think of Paul's words: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Along the way in marriage, every husband and wife is confronted with how important it is to always protect the other, to always trust and hope for the best for the other one. In this way, we learn to be more connected in heart. To me, that adds to the sweetness and richness of a marriage. It takes time, perhaps a lifetime, to get there.

Brene also turns her research and observations toward helping people parent children and to lead adults in a healthy way. Many of her suggestions are practical and helpful. Overall, I am glad I read this book. As with any self-help book, I think it's a prompt to deeper thought and not the last word on the subject. It is, however, a word worth considering.

I received a review copy of this book through the BlogHer Book Club for a paid review, but my opinions are my own.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Have you seen?

Have you seen the darling giveaway at A Gathering of Thoughts?  Check out the lovely cards, tea bags, gift tags, etc. in the Vintage Pink Rose Dress Form design.  Hurry, though.  The contest ends soon.


September decorating...

By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer.
Helen Hunt Jackson

This year, the first day of fall is on September 22nd.  Here in Nashville, it still feels like summer and it still looks like summer, which is all right with this spring/summer loving girl. (I love fall, too:))  But, the days are noticeably shorter now, and they are milder, too.   It's only 83 degrees outside right now!

Some years, I like to hang on to every last bit of summer goodness.  Some years, I like to think ahead to the beautiful bounty of autumn. But, I'm always grateful that the seasons change in God's perfect timing! 

This year is a special September.  My daughter's due date was yesterday, and our whole family and her husband's are counting down the moments until her baby daughter (my first grandchild!) decides to arrive.  If I don't finish this post, you'll know I got that phone call!  LOL. 

Anyhow, I've always marked the start of fall decorating season by the beginning of the school year, rather than by the weather.  Here's my start to fall decorating this year. (Sorry the photo isn't clearer.)  You can see my "Pinterest" beans in the bowl in the middle, on top of the wooden cake stand.  If I had to do it over again, I would do them in a taller container.  I may end up swapping them out with the rocks in the holder with the scarecrow.

The wooden stand is part of a two stand set that my father brought back from Bermuda.  He was stationed there during WWII, and he brought back several wooden things that local craftsmen made.

I was on my way home from a Dollar Store run today when I thought to myself that I wish I had a bird's nest.  I am crazy about birds, and I like to decorate with bird themes.  I had bought a package of raffia to tie around things.  When I opened it, it plopped out on the table in a nest shape.  Well, there was my "bird's nest"!  I placed in it a ceramic dove?  partridge?  that I've had for quite a while.  

The painting that is reflected in the mirror was done by my talented father-in-law.  The one in the picture below (It hangs by the side of the dresser, as you can see in the photo) was purchased by my mother back in the late 70's or early 80's.  It is of a place in North Georgia, and the artist mixed local clays to use as the paints.  I leave it up all year round, but the literally earthy tones blend in with a fall theme.   It looks warped in the photo, but it's really not. 

What are you doing for fall this year?  I need some ideas so share the wealth. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Just beginning fall decorating...

So far, I have a glass bowl of what I call my Pinterest beans with a candle in it.  If you're into Pinning, I'm sure you've seen all the hurricane glasses and other containers filled with layers of colored beans used as candle holders. (Some of the cutest are cocoa beans with vanilla candles.) The picture above is just an example.  The various containers of beans and candles all look so lovely in all the Pinterest photos.  I'm wondering, though, if people look at mine and wonder why that crazy woman stuck a candle in a bowl of beans.  :)  The beans do remind me of harvest time, though.  I'm sure as I decorate more the harvest theme will come together.  

Mine are sitting on a marble topped dresser in my entryway.

This year, my chickens will all be returning to the coop for Thanksgiving.  The children alternate Christmas with us and Thanksgiving with their in-laws one year and vice versa for the next, though we usually manage to work in extra holiday visits as well.  My daughter's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and neither she nor my son want me to decorate for Christmas early and call Thanksgiving weekend our Christmas time.  They want to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as Thanksgiving.  It is such a lovely holiday, and it's a shame it so often gets overlooked in favor of Christmas.  So, I'm wanting to do some warm autumn themed decor this year.  Any suggestions?

I'm ready to bust out singing, "Over the river and through the woods," which I always thought was a Thanksgiving song and just found out is actually about Christmas.  I'm expecting the birth of my first grandchild any day now.  This will be the first year that my house will be "Grandma's house", so, of course, I am thrilled.

I'm putting together a fall playlist.  I'm taking a page out of Aunt Ruthie's book and am including some selections from the movie "Little Women" -- the 90's version.  I love that movie but never thought how warm and fall sounding some of the theme music is.
What about you?  How will you be celebrating this fall?



Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Great Romance: The Perfume of Happiness...

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself...

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doc Brilliant and I are coming up on 32 years of a happy marriage.  One thing that binds my heart to his is the way he sacrifices for my happiness and welfare.  A great lesson I've learned is that I'm happiest when I'm giving toward him and unhappiest when I'm being selfish.  Happiness really is a perfume that you can't pour on your spouse without getting some on yourself.

I think that's part of what Jesus is teaching us when he says, "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." Luke 17:33.  This is so opposite of what our worldly selves think. We think that we must ensure our own happiness by grabbing for it and holding on tight.  This insecure grasping is ingrained in our hearts, and it's subtly interwoven in so many messages that we receive from the world.  It's easy to slip into that mindset when we're not focused on Christ.  Yet, grasping and grasping only leaves us feeling empty.  We can't grasp enough of the world to satisfy the hole in the center of our self.  We can't do, be, or have enough to bridge the chasms our sin has dug between us and God, or between us and other people.  Only the love and grace of God is sufficient to fill us with peace and joy to the point that our joy can overflow into the lives of others.   

Simply put, the ability to love unselfishly comes from God.  

I John 4:10  says "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

He lost his life for us, pouring his life into us, and now we love.

I John 4:10.  We love because he first loved us.

The losing of Christ's life was followed by his resurrection, and, thus, his resurrection gives us eternal life, as well.  Daily, we live a crucified life -- a life of dying to sin and selfishness -- and, daily, we live a resurrected life -- becoming more like Jesus.  

In the 32 years Doc Brilliant and I have been married, the reflection in my mirror has changed quite a bit.  Sometimes, a glance surprises me.  How did that old lady get into my mirror?  Slowly, day by day.  I'm so grateful for this promise in 2 Corinthians:  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."  

Maybe, you are young, and you don't have a clue what I'm talking about.  Maybe, you are my peer, and you smile with me.  Maybe, you are ahead of me in life and think I don't yet have a clue. No matter.

There is an everlasting perfume sitting on all of our spiritual dressing tables: the fragrance of Christ.  We can't drink in Christ's love and lavish it on others, especially on our spouse, without receiving back a harvest of joy.

I love the accounts of when Jesus was anointed by Mary.  Out of love for Christ and out of gratitude for his mercy, she broken open her vial of costly perfume.  The book of John tells us that the fragrance filled the whole house.  I want to have the kind of heart she had.  Don't you?  And, I want to love my husband in a way that demonstrates my gratitude for the Lord.

Happy love which concerns itself with our husbands' welfare becomes a fragrance that fills our hearts and our homes.  Let us love lavishly, because we are lavishly loved.  



Friday, September 07, 2012

Day 14 -- 14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home...

Hi Y'all...

How's it going in keeping your homes sneeze free -- or at least cleaning in a way that helps any allergy sufferers in your home?  In my area, pollen levels are high today, especially for ragweed and grasses.  We'll get a break tomorrow, though, when cooler weather moves in for a day.

Let's close out this series by reviewing a few facts about allergies:

1)  Allergies are produced when your immune system over reacts to harmless substances.
2)  Breastfeeding a baby for at least 4 to 6 months will reduce the chance that the baby will go on to suffer allergies later on.  The mother's diet while breastfeeding doesn't seem to factor one way or the other in whether a child will have allergies.
3)  Changing formulas or changing a young child's diet does not seem to have much effect on a child's allergies, unless they are directly food allergies.  It doesn't hurt to try changes, however, to see if anything might work for you or your child. 
4)Very few people have allergic reactions to bouquets of flowers form the florist's or in groceries or other shops, though some do.  There's usually not much pollen on such flowers, at least not in one bunch.  If working in the garden has you sneezing, try enjoying flowers inside by arranging bought bouquets.  
5)    Computers, printers, and other home office machines collect dust.  Keep these clean, both for the sake of allergy relief and to extend the working life of the equipment.
6)  Eating well, sleeping well, and relieving stress might lessen the severity of allergic reactions and also allow you to deal with allergy symptoms.
7)  If your allergy symptoms do not quickly clear up with over the counter medications, visit your doctor to have them evaluated.  There are conditions, such as thyroid issues and being exposed to irritating fumes, that can mimic allergies, but are not allergic reactions per se. These are treated somewhat differently than allergies.  You may also need help in identifying your specific allergies.  Additionally, you may have developed chronic sinusitis and you may need help for that.
8)  Don't overlook the role that treating allergic symptoms plays in your overall health.  If you experience only a week or so of sneezing in the spring or fall, you likely recover quickly.  However, chronic allergies can take a big toll on your well-being.  Sometimes, people live with a run-down feeling and other allergy-related issues without realizing just how much their allergies are dragging them down.  The proper treatment, however, can make huge improvements in a person's well-being.
9)  Remember that antibiotics don't cure allergy related problems unless a secondary infection has resulted. Don't be surprised if a trip to the doctor doesn't result in a prescription for antibiotics.  It's best that we all not over-use these medicines so that bacteria don't grow use to them and so that the medicines will remain effective in cases where they are really needed.
10)  If you are working with garden mulch and are sensitive to molds, use precautions such as a mask, gloves, and washing up afterwards.


Friday, August 31, 2012

14 days to a sneeze free home- Day 13

Achoo!  The weed pollen count is high in my area today, and I can tell it.

Did you know that when you first begin to tackle an allergy-producing home keeping problem that you are most likely to stir up the very allergen that you are trying to clean away?  This is true for dust, pollen, and molds.  Yet, there is no way to get effective relief unless you do the clean-up. So, take proper precautions as you go.  As we've talked about, using masks, wearing gloves, insuring proper ventilation while you are cleaning and choosing cleaning products that don't irritate your respiratory system can help you tackle allergens without succumbing to them.

When cleaning a bathroom, you can close the door to separate it from the rest of the house, cover the vents,  and open a window.  This will help keep from spreading stirred up mold into other rooms.  Be sure, though, to keep adequate ventilation for yourself as you clean.

A box of baking soda placed in a closet can help absorb extra moisture and unpleasant smells.  This will help your closet stay smelling fresh.  Some people use sticks of chalk for the same reason.  You can keep it in an open container or tie it up in cheesecloth and hang it, much as you would hang a sachet.  Below, you can see how Martha Stewart has tied chalk in a bundle and hung it by a simple ribbon.

The holidays are coming.  Most of us will be digging out treasured decorating items, holiday china, ornaments, and the like.  This means we will be opening containers in which dust and other allergens have collected and also that we may be tracking to and from dusty storage areas.  Here's where getting to the dust quickly will keep us from getting sick. Who wants to go through the holidays sneezing and wheezing?  Start now, in September, to give the storage areas you will be working in a thorough dusting and sweeping.  Be prepared as you open boxes to wipe items and to clean out the tubs they are in.

Be prepared to do some extra dusting and vacuuming during September and October.  A little extra elbow grease while pollen counts are high might be paid off in feeling well.  Plus, your house will be in good shape for the holidays.

It's unrealistic to think that you will ever achieve a totally allergen free residence.  Even if you cleaned 24/7, you wouldn't be able to eradicate every spore, every grain of pollen, or every dust mite from the air.  (Neither would you be able to eliminate every germ.)  These things are a part of life.  We need to cultivate good health in the hope that our bodies will learn to deal with allergens.  However, we can help our immune systems by cleaning away the excess, thus reducing our exposure.  Cleanliness, not fanatic avoidance, is what we're after.  For those of us with allergies, we may need to pay more attention to cleanliness than people who are not bothered by such.  However, obsessing will only stress our bodies and make things worse in the long run.  Balance!        


Monday, August 20, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- Day 12

The English translation of this painting's name: Wanderer Above the Fog.  It would have made a good photo to go with my last post about dealing with brain fog.  :)

At this time of year, you may be going off to college or sending off a son or daughter.  Or, you might be a young single or couple moving into a first apartment.  As fun as these beginning are, it's important to put in a little effort to keep a dorm room or first apartment sneeze free.

Dorm rooms and first apartments often are in older buildings.  They are full of young and active people who are in and out all day and who can track in pollens.  They are occupied by people in a time of life when cleaning is, understandably, lower on the priority scale than a number of other things.  They have a high turnover of occupancy and are often being painted, sprayed, or remodeled.  These are the very things that make our first homes away from home so charming.  Yet, the effect of these things can make those with allergies suffer.

Two allergens that love dorms and small apartments are molds and dust.   Here are some ways to keep these allergens down:

1) Do your laundry frequently.
2)  Sweep and dust out closets before unpacking for the first time and then several times during the year.
3)  Use a well-ventilated laundry hamper.
4)  If you have a bath in your room, keep it clean and well-ventilated.
5)  Consider protective allergy covers for a previously used dorm mattress.   
6)  Consider a HEPA allergy filter but know that it won't take the place of elbow grease in keeping your space sneeze free.
7)  Request a smoke free room.
8)  Wash your towels frequently.  Don't let wet towels build up.
9)  Keep sports clothing and equipment dry and clean.
10)  Know what allergy/asthma meds you need, as well as when and how to use them, and store them in a safe, easy to get to space.
11)  If you can, avoid storing things that you don't immediately need in your dorm room, such as off season clothes and shoes or big boxes of keepsakes.  Keep what you do store as dust and mold free as possible.  If you go to school far away from home, you may need to store more things. 
12) Don't feel weird about keeping your spaces clean.  You may have to pay more attention to this than most students/young professionals.  But, a little time spent in preventative measures can save you time in the infirmary.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Sneeze Free Home

The irony:  If you have allergies, then cleaning your home, keeping your car clean, and keeping whatever work spaces you have -- in or out of the home -- tidy will help you feel better.   Yet, if you have allergies, you are likely to have low energy, foggy brain or allergy medicine fog, and just a general malaise.  Thus, you can get in a cycle of not feeling well enough to clean just at the time you need to clean most. 
So, what's an allergy sufferer to do? One first step is to confront the brain fog or medicine brain.  The brain fog can occur with any chronic illness.  Likewise, many people find that antihistamines and the like cause a spacey feeling.  In either case, the allergy picture can leave a woman feeling less than her best. In some ways, the brain fog of allergy is like a low level headache, and you may even feel that it "hurts" to think.  The following are some ways that might help in coping with that all too familiar dull or spacey feeling. 

1)  See a doctor to assess causes of brain fog.  Don't entirely self-diagnose.  There are many causes for this feeling, and you don't want to assume it's just your allergies when it might be due to some other treatable cause.  Once you have a diagnosis in hand, don't keep worrying about your brain fog and don't keep analyzing it.   Focusing on it too much can make it worse.    
2)  On the other hand, be aware of what triggers brain fog for you and keep track of the timing. 
3)  A tip from a Lupus support group :  When running errands, use your cell phone to take a video of where your car is in the parking lot.  Be sure to use a landmark in the photo, such as a particular lamp post, a shot of the shop or mall in the background, etc.  Refer to the pictures to find your car easily.
4)  Find your personal balance between accepting that you might not be able to do all that you would like to do when your allergies are acting up and yet realizing that you can accomplish some things. 
5)  Keep a list of household chores that can be done in short segments.  Break larger chores down into smaller steps and list these smaller steps, as well.  Set a timer and do the first on your list.  Then, tackle the second, etc.  Take breaks when you need to.  
6)  Watch your thinking.  It's easy to let our thinking slip into the negative on days when we don't feel well.  It's also easy to over think or brood when we are not as physically active as usual. Likewise, we can become frustrated with ourselves and also project our frustrations outward to others.  A downward spiral of thinking can sap what energy you do have.  Faithful thinking and focusing on your blessings can increase your stores of energy, even when you are otherwise ill.
7)  Make rest time productive.  Keep a list of quiet activities that you don't normally have time to enjoy (again broken into short, doable steps), and pick something to do when you don't feel up to your regular schedule.  Even if you can't do heavy activity, you might be able to sew, read, listen to soothing music, write a letter, paint, read uplifting blogs, watch a movie or show you've been wanting to, etc.  Catch up on a little sleep or just rest quietly.  Have some extra prayer time.  Now, is not the time to mindlessly surf the web, mindlessly watch TV, etc.  If you just fritter your rest time, you might find yourself feeling more anxious and more foggy than if you actively select an activity that will refresh you.
9)  Take a few minutes of extra planning.  When you are feeling your best, you may be able to instantly decide what the highest priorities for your day are.  When you are feeling a dull, allergy induced headache, you may be more indecisive.  You may not feel like checking your calendar or to do list, but this is just the time when these tools can be the most valuable.  Choose something and stick with it until it's done or until you've accomplished whatever intermediary steps you've established.  Then go on to something else. Having routines in place can help you when you don't have the focus to decide on the spot.
10) Unless you are so ill that you do need to rest in bed, try to accomplish a few things.  It's so much more pleasant to reach the end of the day and to be able to think that some things got done than to have wasted a whole day.  Even small investments in making your home pleasant, clean, and sneeze free will pay off later on. 
11)  Taking a walk in fresh air might help, or, if your allergies are forcing you to stay inside, doing little bits of exercise throughout the day can boost your mental and physical well-being.  Stretch from time to time or take some deep breaths.  If you're not up to your normal exercise routine, try taking a few minutes here and there to move about and get your oxygen going.
12)  One days when you are the most ill, you will likely lack as much motivation as you usually have.  Even things you enjoy doing might seem daunting.  Sometimes, you may need to take a "just do it" attitude.  Once you dig in to a chore, you might find that you have more motivation and more momentum.  Likewise, if you are feeling too tired to exercise, you might find that your energy flows more freely once you get started.  Even if you don't ramp up to full speed, you will probably find the strength and the will to accomplish more than you thought possible. If you get your day started well and you still can't find any "oomph", that could be a sign that you do need more rest.
13) As best as you can, keep your personal spaces -- bedroom and bathroom -- and your kitchen tidy and your appearance fresh and neat.  These things can give you more energy to branch out to other tasks.   
14)  Pray for strength and clarity.  Pray for the wisdom to know when to push through and get things done and when to step back and rest. 
15)  Do what you can to support your health on a daily basis.  Often, we think about this when our body is weak, and it cries out for a healthy diet, rest, and exercise.  For optimum health and mental clarity, however, we have to work on our health consistently. 
16)  On a really bad day, set just three important goals.  If you get them done, set three more.  Don't overwhelm yourself with a long, long to-do list.   If you're having trouble deciding which three to do, just do your best.  Sometimes, these three goals will present themselves:  Perhaps, your children are at a class, and you must pick them up.  You can even set goals by the hour.  In the next hour, I will accomplish this________.  If I finish and have more time, I will do this:  _________,  Be thankful for everything that you do get done. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- Day 10

Hidden Allergies....

Vitamins and your Pantry...

I have a feeling that food allergies are over-diagnosed these days and are wrongly made out to be the culprit for a lot of ailments.  On the other hand, some people truly do have very serious allergies to certain foods.  Besides, if avoiding a food works for you, who am I to say differently?

Some may also have other health reasons than an allergy for avoiding certain foods.  For example, I have a disease that attacks my thyroid.  Soy is thought to have a harmful effect on the thyroid.  So, to be on the safe side, I avoid soy when I can.  I also try to avoid MSG as both my parents have had a reaction to MSG.   I may hit the genetic jackpot on that one, but why take chances? 

Since I am no expert on food allergies, the focus of my series  "14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home" has been more slanted toward dust, pollen, dander, mold, and things that we can "clean" away.  However, I did learn something about a food concern recently that I thought was worth mentioning.

In researching my autoimmune disease, I came across something I had not even considered:  Most multivitamin/multimineral tablets and another of other nutritional supplements have enough soy in them that many suffers of thyroid disease avoid them. That led me on a quest for soy-free vitamins, which turned out to be hard to find. (I happen to have a bottle of Women's Your Life Multi 45 plus in my pantry, and they seem to be soy-free.  They contain more ingredients than I personally would like to take, but I've decided to use them up for now.  If you know of another soy-free vitamin/mineral, let me know!)  Apparently, some vitamins are often extracted from soy.  Since soy is thought to have many health benefits, soy is even added to some vitamins, especially those for heart health and for perimenopause/menopause.

(Note:  I had the wrong vitamin listed as being no soy.  It's Women's Your Life Multi by Nature's Bounty.  
If you know of other soy free vitamin/minerals, please comment!)

In my research, I found that many people also search for supplements that are gluten free and dairy free, which are somewhat easier to find than those which are soy-free.  The bottom line is that if you are avoiding a particular foodstuff for health reasons, check to make sure that you are not inadvertently consuming it through supplements.

Likewise, don't assume that supplements or teas which contain herbs are allergy free. Be especially thoughtful when it comes to formulas which combine many herbs.  A friend of mine took a multivitamin/multimineral supplement with many herbs in it and had a serious allergic reaction to something in it, though I don't think she ever knew exactly what was the cause.

There are many other ways that certain food substances can slip into our pantries unaware.   MSG and soy, for example, both are used in many forms and appear on many labels under various names.  If you are trying to eliminate MSG, for example, you must also avoid hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, and hydrolyzed pea protein.  We're all aware by now how many foods contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup, even those that are not sweet to the taste.      

If you or someone in your family has an acutely dangerous food allergy, you're probably already alert to the many ways that certain substances can be hidden in processed foods, cosmetics and toiletries, and nutritional supplements. If you've never had a serious problem but do have a health reason for avoiding a substance, it's worth a little research to find foods and supplements that are safe for you.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Pattypan Squash on the Grill

I've cooked patty pan squash many times, but I don't ever remember doing it on the grill.  However, Doc Brilliant and I spent a fun afternoon at the Farmer's Market on Saturday afternoon, and we came home with some wonderful summer bounty.  We decided to have just a veggie meal, and we wondered if we might be able to grill the squash as we have done with other squashes, like zucchini.  Sure enough, one of the Internet recipe sites had many recipes for grilled patty pan squash.

So, I poured a little olive oil into a bowl and added salt.  The Doc brushed the oil onto the squash and grilled it.  When it came off the grill, we threw some shredded cheese on top.  We took the picture before the cheese had time to melt from the heat of the freshly cooked squash, but when it did melt, it looked lovely.  It tasted wonderful, as well.

I'm sorry the plate was hanging off the edge of the table in the picture, but it had to share with a number of other dishes.  It all went well with the Amish cracked wheat bread that we also bought at the Market.


Friday, June 29, 2012

14 days to a sneeze free home -- Day 9

Here's an allergy taming tip that I need to try:  When pets come in from the outdoors, give them a quick rub with a baby wipe to trap dust and pollens.  Corduroy, the ferocious 10 pound poodle in charge of animal hospitality at the Merry Rose, managed to find some leaves to roll in, and these stuck to his hair -- which badly needs grooming.  Wouldn't you know, he got inside before I could get the leaves of him, and they are now in crumbles on my floor.  Time to vacuum. 

Last summer, I had my first ever case of poison ivy.  I had been in contact with the stuff before, of course, but had never been allergic to it.  However, my dermatologist said that as our hormones change, the things that trigger our allergies can change, as well.  One of the first questions she asked was if I had a dog.  Dogs can contact poison ivy and give it to you if the irritant is still on their fur.  So, again, it's a good idea to wipe dogs or cats when they come inside and also to get rid of any poison ivy or the like that might be in your yard.

I don't know about where you live, but we are having some brutal heat here in Tennessee.  Naturally, we have daily air quality alert warnings.   Right now, we are in code orange, which affects only those who might be sensitive, such as people with asthma, the elderly, and children.

Here are the code levels and what they mean:

  • Good" AQI is 0 - 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • "Moderate" AQI is 51 - 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
  • "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" AQI is 101 - 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air. .
  • "Unhealthy" AQI is 151 - 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects. .
  • "Very Unhealthy" AQI is 201 - 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  • "Hazardous" AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected. 


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

14 days to a sneeze free home -- Day 8

Do you wake up with a sore throat, a stuffy nose, and even a worsening of asthma?  Check out not only allergies as a source, but also the possibility that you might suffer from acid reflux.  Even babies can suffer from this, so ask your doctor if this is a possible source of these symptoms in children, as well.

Acid reflux can be caused or made worse by the following:

1)  A hiatal hernia where the esophagus meets the stomach.
2)  Being overweight and/or out of shape.
3)  Trigger foods, such as spicy dishes, peppermint and peppermint tea, soft drinks. caffeine, tomatoes, etc.  Your trigger food may be different from another's trigger food, so it takes a bit of experimentation to find out.
4)  Congenital problems of the esophagus.
5)  H. Pylori bacteria.

Some people suffer temporary bouts of acid reflux.  These are usually brought on by irritation of the esophagus or some specific trigger.  Other people suffer chronic, low level problems with acid reflux. 

Acid flowing up from the stomach can irritate the tissues in the lungs, nose, and throat.  Thus, they can compound regular nasal and respiratory allergies or even cause them. Our stomachs usually release acid at a specific time in the early morning hours.  Since people are sleeping, they are usually both flat and not eating, which means that the stomach acid can flow unopposed into the esophagus.  When  a person's valves work well, this is not a problem.  However, if one of the above triggers is interfering with the valve, then acid does flow up and cause symptoms.   

Your doctor is the one who can best tell you how to treat your reflux.  In addition to your doctor's specific advice, hare are a few domestic methods to try:

1)  Elevate the head of your bead.  This can be done with risers underneath the legs at the head of the bed or by special foam wedges that you can tuck underneath your mattress.  In this way, you use gravity to help stomach acids stay in place.
2)  Avoid eating within a few hours of bedtime.
3)  Learn to cook with foods that do not trigger your or a member's acid reflux.  Sometimes, finding healthy and cost-friendly recipes that don't involve trigger foods can be a challenge.   However, the challenge isn't insurmountable, as we have so many food choices nowadays, as well as lots of information about cooking and diet on the Internet and in cookbooks.


Friday, June 01, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- Day 7

5 Tips to Fight Allergies

1)  According to an article from Reader's Digest, make sure that your welcome mats and mats placed inside doors are of synthetic fiber and not natural fibers.  Natural fibers break down and become part of the problem.  Synthetic mats trap dirt and pollen that might be tracked inside and, thus, keep them from being spread all over your house.  Clean mats weekly.
2)  Reader's Digest also recommends that you set your thermostat above 65 degrees in the winter in order to keep mold from developing in moister air.  As the central air heats the air to above 65 degrees, it removes some of the moisture.
3)  How is your vitamin C level?  Some studies suggest that deficiencies in Vitamin C are associated with increased allergies.  If you already get enough Vitamin C, taking more won't help.  If your diet is low on Vitamin C, however, you might try adding  foods that provide Vitamin C.
4) The Boston Public Health service recommends that allergy sufferers keep records of their symptoms so that they and their doctors might be able to identify possible triggers.  Take note of good days as well as days that are harder.  Keeping a diary for one year might help you identify seasonal patterns. 
5)  How clean are your light fixtures, lamp shades, etc?   Dust and debris underneath glass shades can contribute to allergies. 


Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Tree Firmly Planted by Elizabeth A. Mundie

A Tree Firmly Planted

by Elizabeth A. Mundie

Giveaway ends July 01, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Saturday, May 26, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- Day 6

You've probably noticed that this is not 14 consecutive days!  Here's post 5 in our 14 part series about creating a sneeze free home.

Many times, those of us who are allergy sufferers will have to give up some home comfort in order to breathe well.  If this is the case, try to substitute one comfort for another. 

If you are allergic to fresh flowers, for example, try silk ones or shells or figurines or something else to brighten up your home.  Use paintings of flowers.  Keep potted flowers by your door or on your patio or deck so that you can see them from inside.  Note that you will need to keep even silk flowers well dusted.

If you cannot have carpet and you like carpet, you might be able to use a flat rug (not plush) on a hardwood or tile floor.

If you react badly to potted plants, try one that grows on air or water.

If you are allergic to one type of pet, be flexible.  You might be able to have another type.  Or, you might be able to have an outdoor pet if you give it proper shelter.

If book dust bothers you, there's always Kindle or NookBook.

Yes, I know that the substitutes aren't as fun as the originals, but they can help make up for the loss of a home comfort.  

I'd love to hear any substitutes you have found.

Today's tip...Check dresser scarves and other coverings that might sit for some time on tables.  These are big dust catchers, and they also hide dust underneath them.  They should be washed frequently.  Likewise, check kitchen throw rugs and outdoor welcome mats.

    An extra incentive to cut down on dust inside your home -- In her book on skin care, Chizu Saeki says that dust can dull the skin.  She is speaking of removing dust on the skin through proper skin care, but it couldn't hurt to keep the overall dust count of the house down as well.

Remember, when it comes to dust and allergies, it's not the dust itself that usually irritates our nasal passages and causes respiratory allergies.   It's more often the dust mites that feed on dust that bother us.  Practically, though, removing dust cuts down on the mite's food supply and makes it harder for them to live and multiply in our homes.

If you are highly allergic to house dust and there is no one else in the family who can dust and vacuum for you, you might find someone who would like to earn a little extra by doing a thorough dusting and vacuuming for you once a month.  If you can find someone, perhaps a student, to help out periodically, you might be better able to handle daily dustings.  Likewise, see if a friend will help you when it's time to dust books, clean out the attic, etc., or pay someone.  Again, if you seek help for big projects, you might be able to handle smaller ones.   When making a family chore chart, assign non-allergic family members to the dustier chores.


Friday, April 27, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home

Five ways to clean away allergens:

1)  You don't need a steam cleaner to keep your home allergen free.  But, if you already own one or would like to buy one, try it to clean
a)  clothes
b) floors
c) carpets
d) windows.

2)  If you find that potted plants bother your allergies, you might do well with plants that grow in air or water.  These are neater and easier to grow anyway.
3)  If you store items like bird food, pet foods, potting soil, lawn soils, etc., don't let them sit so long that they become stale and moldy.
4)  When cleaning, especially in the bedroom of an allergy sufferer, give attention to windowsills and baseboards.  These are big dust catchers in a home.
5)  Remember that mildew grows in soap scum.  That's all the more reason to keep kitchens and bathrooms sparkling clean.

Do children with allergies ever outgrow allergies?  How about outgrowing asthma?  You may find that your allergies do wax and wane with time or that the things that trigger an allergic reaction may change.  Talk with your doctor to be sure.   

Visit the Cleaning Institute for more ideas about keeping your home free of allergens.


Monday, April 23, 2012

14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home -- continued

Yay! We now have a clean garage!

Ironically, one of the things that can trigger allergies when you are cleaning your house to prevent allergies is the cleaning products and tools used.  I have a friend who was hospitalized for some days before the doctors finally diagnosed her problems as lung irritation being related to cleaning products.  She had to undergo a number of tests before this diagnosis was made.

In general, trial and error can help you determine what bothers you and/or another family member.  Cleaning products can cause respiratory allergies and possibly skin allergies, too.  Try different clothing detergents and different cleaning products.  Products that are more likely to be irritating will have strong fumes or odors.  Products that are delivered by some type of spray also may be irritating.  Products marked as hypoallergenic might be a better choice, but, again, you will have to determine whether or not it is safe for you. Green products may or may not be less caustic and less likely to trigger allergies. 

Good old fashioned cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are not as likely as commercial cleaners to trigger allergies, but make sure that you know how to use them.  

You may need to wear a mask while cleaning.  Also, use dusters that trap dust rather than just stir it into the air.  Be careful how you empty your vacuum's chamber or change vacuum bags.  Borax is a good old fashioned cleaner, but it can cause severe reactions, especially if you are exposed to too much borax dust.