Monday, June 24, 2013

Wildcrafting with Kids

My little girls just turned five years old. They are growing up! And with their new maturity they're more interested than ever in knowing what I know and helping out in big ways. The other afternoon I was working in the garden and my daughter came up to me with a bunch of weeds in her hands asking if she could pretend it was lettuce. The weed she had picked was plantain, my favorite backyard herb! I climbed out of the garden and did an impromptu lesson on how to identify it and what it was good for. They of course remembered that plantain is the herb mommy chews up and spits on them when they get bug bites! Gross, yes, but much better than getting an infected spider bite or a swelling hornets sting.

Herbs are medicine in a way that few give them credit for. Plantain has compounds in it that actually draw the poison out of the bite and reduce swelling. Don't ask me how or why, I just know that it does. Last night my husband had a massive bite on his forearm so I chewed some plantain and held it on his arm with a gauze pad. After a few minutes the itching stopped and the swelling was reduced.

Now... all that chewing and spitting is pretty gross right? So, this summer I hope to be more prepared for bug bites! I'm dehydrating the plantain right now and am going to infuse olive oil with it. Then I'll make it into a salve. All of this is really easy, you just have to make a little time for it.

You can dry the herb by laying it out on screens or you can pop it in a dehydrator on the lowest heat setting. Around 90 degrees. Drying the herb before infusing the oil will help keep the oil fresh longer by reducing water content.

Once your herbs are dry, and you'll need a lot, so teach your babies how to wildcraft and go pick some, you can put them in a mason jar, fill it at least 3/4 full and over with the oil of your choice. (You can also purchase plantain from The Bulk Herb Store)

Grab your crock pot and fold a tea towel on the bottom, place the jar of oil and herbs on the towel and fill up nearly to the rim of the jar with water.

Turn your crock pot on to low, making sure the water never boils, and let it go for about 3 days.

Check it, turn it off for a time if you think it'd getting to hot. This process will draw the healing properties out of the herbs into the oil.

Strain it all out and pour it into a double boiler or just a metal bowl on top of a pot of gently boiling water.

You will need to add beeswax to make the oil into a salve. I just eyeball it... but I think the ratio is about 1 ounce of beeswax for 1/2 cup of oil. You can always add more wax by melting it down again if it doesn't set up as hard as you'd like.

Pour into a mini mason jar, or a metal tin and apply to all bug bites and scrapes as necessary!

Not sure that I need to say this but for the record I am not a doctor, or medical professional of any kind, though I am called Witch Doctor by those who love me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Free to Try, Free to Fail, Free to Succeed

A week ago I climbed a mountain. I really, truly, scaled a huge rock and stood hundreds of feet above the tree tops. I was actually climbing higher than a hawk was soaring. It was incredible. I was able to share the experience with my dad and brother as a Father's day/my birthday celebration. It's something we will all cherish forever. 
Standing on the summit

As I look back on that experience there is one thing that stands out to me more than anything else: there is no way that I could have done it with my strength alone. I am not strong enough, or fit enough to climb to the summit. I'm not even sure that I'm brave enough. But I prayed, I prayed before we left, I asked friends to pray, and every step I took, every time I wasn't sure about my footing I prayed. And after I found my footing I prayed again! God so sweetly helped me up that mountain. 

My dad says that how we do anything is how we do everything. I did this climb by praying every single step, and in many ways its the same way I'm living my life. A few months ago my husband left his full time job at a great company to go full time at his own business. It's been a lot like climbing a mountain. We prayed before we decided to make this move, asked everyone we knew for prayer, we asked God if this was what He wanted us to do, and then thanked Him as He perfectly brought everything together. Truthfully, going full time at our own business is just like climbing a mountain. It's scary. The same thoughts sometimes fill our minds; what if we slip, what if we misstep, what if we only make it half way and have to find our way back down? But more than any fear, we have calm assurance, trust in our savior that He is leading our steps, helping us find our footing each time and taking us to the top. And so we pray, we pray without ceasing about this, and many other things. 

The last time I climbed Nelson Rocks I wept as I crossed the rope bridge. I cried saying, "I've never done anything with my life! I will never do anything! I'm so afraid to fail and even more afraid to succeed." Something about walking suspended over the tree tops can bring some issues out! That was ten years ago. As I crossed the bridge this time I was able to do so rejoicing. God has brought me so far. He has taught me the depth of His love and the complete forgiveness that He paid for me. I am free to try, free to fail, free to succeed because I am God's and He cares for me no matter what. So, I sang as many verses as I could make up of the David Crowder's cover of "Thank You for Loving Me." I sang thank you for saving me, thank you for changing me, thank you for directing me, thank you for healing me, thank you for blessing me. I could sing thanks to Jesus forever. I am just so thankful. I am just so loved by God and its so freeing.
God's beautiful work.

I know that our Lord cares about our lives. He cares about me climbing a mountain with my family and He cares about our business. I know that He has a wonderful purpose for us that we are living out right now. I am enjoying the climb. I'm loving the beauty of His creation and plan, I'm rejoicing with each step and I'm excited to see what He has in store for us. I want to serve Him more than anything else. I want Jesus to be glorified in my life. I know I am a flawed human being, but I also know that I am redeemed, and am being transformed, and that God chooses to use broken humans for His glory! 

All photo credit goes to Michael Valentino