Monday, November 2, 2015

Getting Soapy

On October 17 I did a little soap making demonstration for the Great Plains Church Women's Ministry.  I told them I'd leave directions on my blog.  So here it is! 

Before I start with any directions, I need to do a little safety warning.  We will use lye to convert the oils into soap molecules.  Lye needs to be treated with respect.  If it gets into your eyes, you might go blind.  Wear your safety goggles when handling lye.

Step 1: Collect your materials.
12-14 oz filtered water
7 oz lye
15 oz olive oil
15 oz coconut oil
15 oz vegetable shortening
3 oz cocoa butter
1-2 oz fragrance or essential oil
10 capsules vitamin E oil
0.5 oz additional olive oil
kitchen scale
silicon or enamelware pots, pitchers, and bowls.  Use silicon, enamel, or wooden utensils because metal ones can chemically react with the lye. 
wooden spoons
immersion blender
rinsed cardboard milk carton

Step 2: Mix up lye solution.
I prefer to weigh out the ingredients instead of measuring them with cups.  Remember to zero or tare the scale after you put the bowl/pitcher on it.  Measure out 12 oz of filtered water.  The dissolved minerals in regular tap water will make the lye solution cloudy.  Use filtered water to avoid this. 
Measure the lye out in a separate container.  For this particular recipe, you need 7 oz of lye.  If you change the amounts or types of oil, you will need a different amount of lye.  Use a lye calculator to determine the exact amount necessary for any mixture of oils.  Wear the safety equipment while you work with the lye.  You can find lye in the plumbing supply section of your local hardware store. 
Carefully add the solid lye to the water while stirring.  This will create a lot of heat.  Don't put your head over the pitcher as you stir.  Avoid breathing the vapor that rises from the hot mixture.

Step 3: Mix up the oils.
Weigh out 15 oz of olive oil.  Remember to zero out your scale after you put the bowl on it. 
Pour the olive oil into an enamel pot.  Heat the pot on low.  If you prefer, use a crock pot on low instead of the enamel pot.  Just remember, once you use it for the chemical reaction that makes soap, you shouldn't use it for food anymore.  This will become your crafting pot/crock.  The same goes for the wooden spoon, spatula, and immersion blender.
The coconut oil might be a solid at room temperature.  If it is, heat it in the microwave for about a minute to melt it.  Then measure it out just like you did the olive oil.  Pour it into the pot with the olive oil.  The shortening is a little different.  Scoop it out as a solid to weigh it.  Then heat it in the microwave to melt it.  Finally, pour it into the pot with the coconut and olive oils.
The last oil to add, cocoa butter, is a pretty firm solid at room temperature.  Weigh out 3 oz of it, then heat it in the microwave to melt it.  This might take a few minutes.  Pour it into the pot with the rest of the oils.  They all need to be melted and well mixed before you can do the next step. 

Step 4: Prepare for the emulsion.
The oil mixture and the lye mixture both need to be at 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit before you can mix the two together.  If necessary, cool the lye mixture by adding a couple of ice cubes. 
While you are waiting for the perfect temperature, measure out your 'goodie' ingredients.  These are the ingredients that make the soap special: vitamin E for skin health, fragrance or essential oils, and a little extra olive oil to prevent separating. 
 Once the oil and lye are at the correct temperature, you can create the emulsion.

Step 5: Reaching trace and pouring.
Wear your safety great!  Pour the lye solution into the mixture of oils.  To create an emulsion, you will need to stir a lot.  You can stir by hand with a wooden spoon for about an hour OR you can use an immersion blender for about a minute.  Mix until you reach trace.  What is that?  Well, it's easier to show than tell.  Check out this awesome video that I did not make.  When you reach trace, quickly mix in the 'goodies'.  Then pour the mixture into the milk carton mold.  I'm using a special soap mold, but when I started, I used a milk carton.  Use a spatula to get the soap out of the pot and smooth the mixture into the mold. 
Cover the soap with plastic wrap.  I like to get the soap to the 'gel' phase, but some soap makers prefer to avoid this.  Let the soap sit for a day or two before you un-mold and cut it.  I cut it with a wavy soap cutter to get a decorate edge, but you can cut it with a knife.  The soap has to 'cure' for about three weeks before you can use it. 

Happy Saponification!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Are you a prayer warrior or a prayer worrier?

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 12:25 NIV
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

Sometimes when I pray for someone, I find myself preoccupied with their situation.  Have you ever done that?  You pray for someone but you find yourself troubling over them all day long.  You make a wrong turn picking up your kids from school because your mind wanders to their prayer request.  I’ve heard people say this might be happening because God wants you to contact that person.  That might be true.  If you’re a little like me, you can be a bit of a prayer worrier.  Prayer becomes worrying for that person instead of truly interceding.  Sometimes I have trouble leaving that person and their prayer request in the hands of God.  I made myself a little sign earlier this week to help.  It read:

I love _________ even more than you do.  You can pray for ___ buy don’t worry about ___.  I hear you and I am working in ways more wonderful than you can imagine. 
I put this paper in an 8 x 10 photo frame. I can write the person’s name on the glass with a dry erase marker.  That way I can erase it and write a different person’s name the next time I’m being a prayer worrier.  It has helped me this week.  If you’re a prayer worrier also, you might want to give it a try. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Reveiw: Answers to Prayer by George Mueller

A friend and I have been reading this book.  I highly recommend it.  It’s not long but it’s full of the testimony of a man who saw God work in response to prayer.  My faith has grown by reading it.  Also, I’ve learned a few ways to pray about various situations just by reading his prayers.  I’m going to share a passage with you out of Answers to Prayer that really touched my heart.  

“Oct. 9. – This morning Luke vii came in the course of my reading before breakfast.  While reading the account about the Centurion and the raising from death the widow’s son at Nain, I lifted up my heart to the Lord Jesus thus: ‘Lord Jesus, Thou hast the same power now.  Thou canst provide me with means for Thy work in my hands.  Be pleased to do so.’ About half an hour afterwards I received L30 15s. 
The joy which such answers to prayer afford, cannot be described.  I was determined to wait upon God only, and not to work an unscriptural deliverance for myself.  I have thousands of pounds for the Building Fun; but I would not take of this sum because it was once set apart for that object.  There is also a legacy of L100 for the Orphans two months overdue, in the prospect of the payment of which the heart might be naturally inclined to use some money of the Building Fund, to be replaced by the legacy money, when it comes in; but I would not thus step out of God’s way of obtaining help.  At the very time when this donation arrived, I had packed up L100 which I happened to have in hand; received for the Building Fund, in order to take it to the Bank, as I was determined not to touch it, but to wait upon God.  My soul does magnify the Lord for His goodness.” 

Dear reader (that’s a George Mueller thing, he often addresses his readers as such in his book), I’m praying this for you and for me “Lord, set our hearts to wait upon You only and not to work an unscriptural deliverance for ourselves.”  Mueller’s trial was the financial provision for hundreds of orphans.  My trial is different than that.  Your trial is probably different too.  We’re all tempted to take matters into our own hands; to work and manipulate our circumstances to get us out of the trial faster.  Let us all determine in our hearts to wait upon God only, and not to work an unscriptural deliverance for ourselves.  And Lord, enlighten our minds as we read your Word to understand what you want of us. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What did you do for Labor Day weekend?

We spent Labor Day weekend at Camp Comeca near Cozad, Nebraska.  It was nice; more like being in a hotel than camping.  On Sunday morning we sung a new-to-me hymn.  One of the lyrics really touched my heart: “Be still my soul; the waves and the wind still know the Christ who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
What a poetic reminder!  The forces behind the trials in our lives are subject to the Lord just as the wind and waves were in Mark 4:35-41.  I’m going to tuck that lyric into my bag of tricks for when I am freaking out.  Be still my soul; the wind and waves still obey Him.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

One of these things is not like the others . . .

Peculiar, different, distinct, unique, set apart

How do you feel about these words?  Being different from the rest of a group isn’t always fun.  Did you know these words are used to describe both New Testament believers and Ancient Israelites?  In 1 Peter 2:9 KJV, we are called a “peculiar people.”  When the Lord called the Nation of Israel to be His own unique possession in Exodus 19:5, He gave them laws to make them distinct from the surrounding nations.  Some laws, like Exodus 23:19 and Deuteronomy 12:23, guarded the Jews against the idolatrous practices of the surrounding nations.  Some regulations, like Leviticus 14 and 19:7, protected public health.  Some precepts, like Deuteronomy 24:19-21, instructed them in how to show kindness to each other.  But they all helped to create a unique cultural thumbprint from the Jews.  Can you imagine the conversations around ancient water coolers (or those hand-dug wells)?
    “Why don’t you wear garments of wool and flax blended together?” asks a shepherd.
    “Because our God commanded us not to.” responds an Israelite.
    “Why follow a God who restricts you?” inquires a companion of the first shepherd.
     “Let me tell you about our God.  He divided the Red Sea so our people could safely pass.  He fed us in    the barren desert for forty years on mostly manna.  He kept our sandals from wearing out that whole time.  We serve a good and living God.  Would you like to join us?” asks the Israelite. 

I think the same is true of Christians today.  If we follow Christ, we will be a little different than the other people around us.  We aren’t just different to fulfill some need for a unique identity.  We’re a little different to draw attention to who God is. 

But sometimes it’s lonely being different.  You won’t participate in certain activities that almost everyone else is doing.  Other people may not understand your motivation.  They might call you names like ‘weird’ or ‘stuck-up’.  You’re never truly alone because God is always with you, but you might feel lonely.  I’ve found that it’s easier to be different if you’re not doing it alone.  If you are endeavoring to grow as a follower of Christ, let me encourage you to become involved in a fellowship of other believers. It’s more fun when you’re not alone. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This Question Needs Answering

It had been a busy day.  Our three year old daughter, Phoenix, was exhausted.  She napped until I needed to get Greg, our 7 year old son, from school.  When I put her in the van to go pick him up, she continued to sleep.  Even after Greg climbed into his car seat and nosily greeted both Phoenix and I, she slept.  I carried her into the house and sat down on the couch.  She snuggled up to me, tucking her head into my shoulder, pulling herself close to me.  It was such a delight to cuddle her while she slowly awoke from her nap.  It touched my heart.  It made me wonder, when we draw near to God, does it touch His heart?  Does He delight in holding us?  Let’s take a look in the Bible.

Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  This passage seems to indicate that God does delight in the Nation of Israel.  They seem to have to ability to make His heart sing.  Isaiah 62:5 also records God rejoicing over the Nation of Israel.  “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your Builder marry you, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”  Here we go again; another passage with God rejoicing over the Nation of Israel.  Must be nice, Israel.  Hosea 11 speaks of a bond between The Lord and Israel that is like the bond between a parent and child.  Verse 1 begins “When Israel was a child, I loved him and out of Egypt I called him my son.” The story continues in verse 4 as “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.  To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”  Doesn’t this sound like a parent holding a child close, cheek to cheek, delighting in the closeness?  It makes me think of a parent kneeling to talk with a child, getting on his or her eye level.  It is very personal.  All of these Old Testament passages specifically refer to the Nation of Israel.  Romans 11 announces to us Non-Jewish believers that we are grafted into the Nation of Israel.  We now lay claim to the God of Israel and His promises to them. 

Jesus teaches in Luke 15:7 “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”  That’s pretty cool, but what about specifically God rejoicing over us, not just heaven in general.  The Apostle Paul proclaims to us in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 “we instructed you how to live in order to please God.” We have the capacity to please God?  If you want to know how, read verses 3-12.  Hebrews 11:6 speaks of us pleasing God.  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  We must believe that He exists.  Additionally, we must believe that the blood of the Lamb makes us able to seek and find Him.  I know my sins are offensive to Him.  Can God get beyond the offal of my sin to embrace and delight in me?  That’s really what we are getting at here.  It’s amazing isn’t it?  Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we can move into a relationship described as “God is pleased with you.”  It sounds both too good to be true but also so foundationally true all at once.  God, you indeed surpass our human understanding!  The Creator of Heaven and Earth needs nothing: no food, no water, no shelter, no friends.  But He chooses to want me?  Limited, sinful me?  It’s in the Bible.  Don’t believe me?   Look it up for yourself in Acts 17:24-28.  Even more amazing is this: the Bible insinuates that I can I can touch His heart, so to speak.  Can it really be true?  Does He look at me and smile?  Does He really want to be close to me?

I think He does.  I read Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 62:5, Hosea 11:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Hebrews 11:6, Philippians 4:18, Luke 15:11-32 and I begin to believe that God chooses to delight in us.  What about you?  Do you think that He enjoys fellowship with you?  Lord, lead us in the paths of righteousness that go straight to the warm embrace of our Heavenly Father.