Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Building Our Mud House

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Yep, you read that right… we are building a mud house.

Really, it is a house made of adobe bricks.

For those who might not be familiar with adobe bricks… they are basically bricks made from a mixture of mud and some form of dry matter like straw or leaves, but here they use pine needles.

In Honduras, building a house of adobe is much cheaper and more efficient then wood or concrete. Especially when built the right way. I will share, with pictures, later on how they make the adobe... it is a very interesting process!

It has been exciting and overwhelming building our new home. Exciting because we are now making our home here in Honduras permanent. Overwhelming because we have never built a house before... especially a mud house!!

Thankfully, my dad was here for two months to help start the building process for the house. He has almost 30 years of experience with building homes in the USA. Even though building with adobe has been a new learning-curve for him… he has been so valuable with helping us make decisions and being our middle man between us and Pasito, our foreman.

But he is back in the states now.... Waahh!  Thankfully, he will be back in June to help finalize our house (hopefully!).

Because of his absent, it has been more challenging doing it all.. the ministry, our family, the house, the calls, the decisions, etc... but we are trusting in the Lord and so thankful that my dad is simply a phone call away when we need to ask questions or make sure things are going the way they are supposed to happen.

Every Saturday afternoon, we head over to our home and look over everything the men have done the past week, make sure everything is done the way we want and discuss different projects for the next week. We go there at least once or twice during the week in the mornings to talk to the men, but I enjoy going Saturday afternoons because everything is quiet... peaceful... and I am able to drink in the views surrounding our new home.

So soothing and breathtaking!

My husband, Jon, has been pulled, stretched and challenged beyond anything he has experienced with the building of our house. At least three times a week he has been calling my dad, updating him on the house, asking questions and being the middle man between my dad & our foreman. Going back and forth in English & Spanish and trying to keep it all straight in his head. He often says he has no idea what he is doing and if he is doing things right and hoping that he is doing things right, but...

I am moved by his efforts to do the best he can do with what little he knows about building a house. His efforts makes me pray for him all the more and love him all the more!

Making phone calls is one of his least favorite thing to do, but he makes those phone calls for me... knowing that I would do it if I could.

I would love to take this responsibility off his shoulders, but all I can do it stand next him and help him carry the burden to the best of my ability.

I know God is using this time... this season... to make my husband a stronger man for the future of Rancho Oasis. Please pray for him when you think of us!

As for me, it has been a challenge to be flexible with how I want my house to look.

I have all kinds of ideas, dreams and specifications of how I want my first (and hopefully last) house to be build. I even have a board on Pinterest dedicated to everything I would love in my "future" home!

I am very thankful that my mom helped draw up the plan for our house. She patiently drew up plan after plan after plan until we were finally satisfied with the layout of everything.

Honestly, I was super nervous when we started the foundation of our house before my dad arrived back in February. I did not want a repeat of mistakes that happened to the house we tried to build on the current property that we are living on at the moment.

So far, things have gone well and I pray that it will continue to go well till the very last detail.

Through it all... I have been challenged to be flexible and content. Especially when a change or two has to be made when a detail doesn't work out the way I hoped it would.

As you can see from the pictures... our home is pretty big, but for a couple good reasons.

I wanted an area where we would be able to host meals for large groups/teams in my home or somewhere around my home and my parents suggested a courtyard in the center of the house.

I loved the idea, but struggled to make a decision because I didn't want to have a large house... especially when our neighbors live in very small and simple homes. I didn't want to be viewed as a rich gringo family with a huge house, but in their eyes... we are rich, no matter how small and simple we try to live.

Through much prayer, we decided to go with the bigger house and courtyard for two reasons... one, to have plenty of space for our ministry partners to eat meals with us and to do Bible studies together as the ministry grows and two, to exercise my gift of hospitality by having teams & visitors in my home for meals.

Many of you know I love to cook. I enjoy cooking up good food for teams (usually have anywhere from 10 to 30 people at once!) that come alongside us for a week or two... so, it made more sense to use our home rather than build a separate building for meals with teams and large groups.

Now, I have to share with you a fun thing we are doing around the house.

Wine bottles in the walls.

Yep, you read that right. Let me explain...

Look at the picture above... see the small windows on the right wall and the 3 skinny windows straight ahead? Those windows will be filled with wine bottles of all colors. Pretty cool, right?

In the two pictures below, you will see bottles in the walls. When the afternoon sun hits it just right.

Does it look awesome?!

Well, they look pretty cool right now, but I will for share pictures later once the walls are done and the light is hitting the bottles just right. Then, they will be pretty awesome  :)

I have a love for glass bottles... especially wine bottles. No... I don't drink a lot of wine, but I do like to enjoy a nice wine once in a while. Haha! Anyway, I enjoy looking at them even more and using them to decorate my house with flowers or just simply as it is.

You are probably wondering what method I use to cut the bottles.

After trying all the different ways to cut a wine bottle... my dad found a method that consistently cut through the glass with very little cracks. 

My dad made a simple frame that we stick my heavy duty glass cutter in and roll the wine bottles on it just below the neck area, then we do a careful combination of heat and cold for the neck part to fall off. Next we tape two bottles of the same width together. I will have to show you guys step-by-step pictures later... when my dad comes back in June.

Please keep us in prayer as we move forward to complete our home. We are trusting in the Lord for His provision to be able to pay the men and buy materials needed to complete the house.

Our home is providing consistent jobs for several men who were not able to find work for several months before we came along. Many of these men are Christian men, including the foreman... who is a pastor of a local Baptist church.

Every time we go over there... there are smiles on these men's faces and gratefulness in their eyes for the jobs they have to provide for their families.

Unfortunately, we recently had to let some men go because we are not able to pay them. We are praying and waiting on the Lord's provision to be able to put those men back to work!

Please pray along with us!

I am excited to be sharing all this with you. I was so encouraged by the responses to my previous post and truly believe that they are confirmations from the Lord that I am on the right track!

I hope you are equally encouraged and blessed! Have a wonderful week celebrating the resurrection of our Lord!

Until next time...

"Where thou art, thou is home"
Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ready to Make Noise, Again!

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I’ve been too quiet around here. The past few months has been quite a ride for us and I just couldn’t seem to keep up with everything. Especially here at JMN.

My heart wasn’t in it anymore for a time.

I was tired of trying to keep up with everything that keeps a blog going… taking pictures, pinning on Pinterest, posting on FB, emails, affiliate links, tracking traffic and writing.

Especially writing.

Having a blog is a lot of work, but I realized recently that it doesn’t have to be that way. I am not keeping a blog to make a business out of it like most of my blogger friends… so why am I trying to do everything they are doing? They hire VAs to do most of that work! I guess part of me likes the idea of earning a small income on the side to help bless my family and our ministry.

That idea is not a priority because God has been so faithful to provide for our needs. I don’t need to be a work-at-home-mom. I already have a full plate with my growing (and noisy) family, trade school and working alongside my husband in the ministry of Rancho Oasis. Plus, we have a new property where we are building our new {permanent} home!

Life is very full and overwhelming at times right now.

The last few months of silence on here has been good for me to reset my priorities, refresh my heart and rethink my motives with blogging. To spent more time with my family. To be more focused on our day to day to life. To seek the Lord on what HE wants me to do with the blog.

Pull the plug or change the tune?

I know what He wants me to do and have known, in my heart, for a long time 

Before, when I was posting somewhat regularly, I really wanted to be more real in my posts… sharing about our everyday life as missionaries and a family living in a third world country and my deafness. I just couldn’t seem to pour out the words that have been sitting in my mind and heart for so long… so I just focused on recipes and sharing a little DIY here and there.

It was easy…. and safe.

But I am now ready to make noise again… I am ready to pour it out and get noisy!

But… honestly…

I am a little scared.

Scared that what I share will be silly or not good enough, rejected, criticized and leave me discouraged all over again, but I can’t let fear stop me from doing what I know I am supposed to do. I also can’t let what other people think or say stop me from doing what I must do!

What am I supposed to be doing?

Journaling… sharing about my life and our ministry in Honduras along with recipes and other things, but be more focused on just being me, here on the blog.

I am no super-mama or anything like that… I am just a deaf mama, wife and missionary. Yes, I am unique… not because of how I described myself, but because of what is written in Pslam 139.

"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex (unique)! Your workmanship is marvelous... how well I know it." Psalm 139:14

Now, I am excited to begin, again, what I intended to do when I first started my blog.  I have so much to share with you… especially about our new {permanent} home and how we are building it. It has been a fun learning experience for me.

I am even more excited to share with you the news that I will be moving over to my own domain very soon… like in May or June! You can see that I now have www.just-making-noise.com, which is under construction right now.

Thank you for being awesome, faithful readers by showing your wonderful support, using my affiliate links and sharing words of encouragement through emails or comments. Quite a few of you emailed me over the last few months, asking why I haven’t been posting and shared with me words of encouragement & prayers.

Those emails have done so much for me! Those simple, yet uplifting words from pure strangers is a beautiful example of how God can use anyone to reach out to me in a powerful way.

Again, thank you and I am so grateful to have a special group of readers who enjoy the blog. Please continue to lift my family up in your prayers when you think of us.

Until the next post… Hasta luego!

Monday, January 20, 2014

10 Reasons Why You Should Soak Nuts & Seeds

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Have you ever thought about soaking your nuts and seeds before eating them? Are you already soaking your oatmeal and grains? Then you should include nuts/seeds because they all have 2 things in common... they contain phytic acids & enzyme inhibitors that can cause problems for our gut if not properly removed or reduced.

Today I am over at The Nourishing Gourmet sharing how soaking nuts & seeds helped my digestion, what I learned about nuts & seeds and how you can learn to properly prepare them in 3 simple steps.

I used to cringe at nuts & seeds growing up. I wasn't fond of the waxy, slightly bitter taste or the bland texture. My parents would often put out a bowl of trail mix… I would always eat the M&M's and dried fruits instead of the nuts.  When I did force myself to eat a handful or two, I didn't like how I felt afterwards… my stomach would sometimes feel heavy & aching. My head would hurt. My mouth sometimes felt funny and I often got tired & cranky.

I was told these guys were supposed to be healthy and a great source of energy for those who were active in sports!! Not so for me. I thought it was because I'm more of a "carb" person and couldn't handle a lot of protein.

Fast forward to several years later, through research I learned that I was basically experiencing mild nut/seed allergies and that my body was telling me my digestive system was under a lot of stress trying to digest them.

Now, I can digest and throughly enjoy nuts/seeds with no problems! You can continue to read my story over at The Nourishing Gourmet, but before you head over there to read how soaking nuts & seeds helped my digestion... please read through these 10 reasons why you should soak nuts & seeds.

Soaking Nuts & Seeds...

1. Helps deactivate the phytic acid.
The biggest defense mechanism in nuts & seeds is the phytic acid. When something that contains phytic acid is eaten, the acid binds itself to minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, manganese and chromium in the gut, which prevents the  digestive system's ability to break the nut or seed or grain down properly (that's why, often, when you eat nuts or seeds… you see undigested bits in your stool the very next day!).

2. Reduces giotrogens.
Goitrogens is are known to suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can cause a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid), slow down the thyroid, hypothyroidism other autoimmune thread disorders. Soaking helps reduces goitrogens and actually increases the necessary minerals needed for a healthy thyroid!

3. Helps neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
Enzyme inhibitors neutralizes vital enzymes that your body naturally produces and can lead to many illnesses that results of an unhealthy, enzyme-depleted gut. Signs that your body is lacking enzymes are bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, irritable bowels and gas. A lack of just one enzyme in the body can lead to many problems and you will only live as long as your body has enzymes… which is why it is important to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors to keep them from robbing your body of its natural enzymes. Soaking increases the natural enzymes within the nuts & seeds, helps provide greater absorption of the its' nutrients and increases digestibility.

Most health experts say it is enough to take digestive enzymes to help neutralize the enzyme inhibitors, but why spend at least $20 for a bottle of digestive enzymes when simply soaking and dehydrating is all you need to do and costs next to nothing!

4. Encourages the production of beneficial enzymes.
The salt used to soak the nuts & seeds help activate enzymes that neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors. These good enzymes aid the gut to be able to digest and absorb nutrients properly. 

5. Increases vitamins absorption, especially B vitamins.
When the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are removed, it basically sets the vitamins and minerals free to be easily absorbed by the body.

6. Helps make the proteins more easily available for absorption.
Phytic acid inhibits two specific enzymes needed to make the proteins easier to digest and absorb, Pepsin and Trypsin. Pepsin is needed to help breakdown the proteins in the stomach and Trypsin is needed for protein digestion in the small intestine. Tannins also prevents the body from properly absorbing the proteins and is removed during the soaking process.

7. Prevents mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
Diets high in phytate (phytic acid) cause mineral deficiencies. Again, we know that when phytic acid is eaten, the acid binds itself to minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, manganese and chromium in the gut. Thankfully, soaking helps deactivate the phytic acid to allow the minerals to be absorbed in the body.

Studies show that we absorb about 20% more zinc and 60% more magnesium from our food when phytic acid is removed. It is important to note that phytic acid does not leach minerals that are already stored in the body... it only prevents the absorption of minerals from food where phytic acid is present.

8. Neutralizes toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
Nuts and seeds are high in fibre, which is the most important, non-digestible component of food. A high-fibre diet supports a healthy digestive tract by sweeping debris from the colon, much like a broom. Fibre from the nuts & seeds help exercise the intestinal tract and hold moisture in the colon, softening the stool.

9. Prevents many health diseases and conditions
When consuming too much phytate (phytic acid) in nuts, seeds and cereal grains for a long period of time... the body becomes seriously deficient in minerals, vitamins and enzymes, which can lead to anemia, low zinc levels, rickets, osteoporosis and other illness related to low mineral absorption. If you struggle with any of these conditions/diseases you should not be eating unsoaked nuts.

10. Improves flavor & texture.
Many of the nuts & seeds, especially walnuts and almonds, have a delicious flavor after they've been soaked and rinsed. That is because the tannins found on the skin of most nuts & seeds is removed via soaking.

When soaking for as little as 20 minutes, the soak water turns a murky brown color. After several hours, much of the dust, residue and tannins from the skins are released into the water and the soaked comes out more palatable and sweeter.

You will notice that soaked walnuts does not have that astringent, mouth-puckering taste… this is because when soaking walnuts, the tannins are released and rinsed away, leaving behind a softer and more buttery nut. Same with pecans!

Note: the soak water should always be discarded and never used as water in a recipe or given to your animals.

Ready to Get Started?
You can easily learn how to properly prepare your nuts & seeds using 3 simple steps and the soaking times varies for each nut and seed. Be sure to give this a try at least once... that's all it took for me to be won over!

Think you will start soaking your nuts & seeds? Your gut will profusely thank you if you did!

Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity by Dr. Edward Howell 
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Should We Make Our Plans & Goals?

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Wow. 2013 literally flew by. At least for me, it did.

It seems like every year flies by a little faster. Am I the only one that feels that way? I still remember the days of my youth where I felt like some days would never end. Now, fast forward to today… I would give anything to have those days again!

As I look back, I wish I could've slowed down some of those days. Makes me think of the story in the Old Testament where God stopped the sun… I wish He would make the days slow down enough for me to be able to look back more clearly and reflect on all that has happened in the year of 2013.

Most of the year was a blur, but I do, thankfully, have precious moments and times that I will treasure in my heart and mind for years to come.


But… now that we are in 2014, everyone has been talking about making resolutions and setting goals for the new year. Everyone is asking these questions…

What do I want to do different this year? What do I want to do better? What do I want to avoid? What to do I want to change? What do I want to accomplish? What… what… what.

Thinking through those questions and reading up on plans, resolutions & goals posted by friends on Facebook,  it occurs to me that you and I can make all the plans & set all the goals we want, but it is God who directs our steps (Proverbs 16:1 & Proverbs 16:9). It is God's purpose that will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21)  Plans will succeed when we commit our actions to the Lord. (Proverb 16:3)

Without God… my plans & goals are meaningless, directionless and even a bit self-centered.

With God… my plans & goals will most likely change or never happen or will happen somewhat, but that's the beauty of faith. Truly, it is not me or you making things happen… it is God who works in me to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Ephesians 4)

I can make all the plans and set all the goals I want, but if I am not living a life of surrender…faith… love… and sacrifice, then they will mean nothing and accomplish nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)

The main thing you and I must remember to do is surrender our mind, heart, soul and body over to Him… daily... then the year ahead of us will be what He wants it to be and it will be a great year, no matter what happens!

Honestly? It is so much easier to just go along for the ride, look forward to the adventures ahead and enjoy the fact that God is in control. He's driving and I am the passenger. I can enjoy the scenery going by, one day at a time.

But it's not always easy to do that.

Yes, I have my days where I don't understand where He is going or don't like where He is taking me or why He is allowing something to happen or get mad when He doesn't take me where I think I should go, but really… why try to understand everything along the way? (Proverbs 20:24)

He is God.

For the past 6 years since we moved to Central America to start RO4Y… I have not made much of an effort to set goals or resolutions for the new year. Why? Because His plans and goals for my life are so much better. (Psalm 40:5)

Of course, I've made plans and goals over the years, but many of them were not just for me... but for the Lord and/or my family and/or other people. I make my plans and goals praying that God will ultimately direct my steps as I step out to act on the plans/goals.

Almost always, my plans change or takes a different direction....

I didn't plan to start up a trade school.
I didn't plan to have 4 kids.

I didn't plan to move from Costa Rica to Honduras.
I didn't plan to move back to Iowa after 2 years in Mexico.
I didn't plan to become a missionary.
I didn't plan to get married at 18.
I didn't plan to quit riding/training horses for a time.

These are big things that happened in my life starting most recently. All of them God's doing and looking back... I wouldn't change any of them.

Yes, I have my days where I wished my plans had happened instead of God's plans, but then I am reminded of this verse along with the others listed above...

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

There is no better place to be than in the center of God's plan... even if that means being in rural Honduras for who knows how long. This, my life now, is where I am supposed to be... a wife of a great man, mama to 4 amazing kids and missionary to the Honduran people.

In the end of it all, I just pray for the strength to daily choose to embrace the life God has given me. It is hard sometimes, but... the one plan/goal I do have that helps me get through the hard days and will hold on to till the day I stand before Jesus.

Is to hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant"... in stereo with my healed ears.