Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How I started to cover my head during worship

Photo from Garlandsofgrace.com

A year ago I began to study a debated passage of the New Testament - the command in 1 Corinthians 11 that women should worship with their heads covered and men with their heads uncovered. My husband had mentioned to me previously that he thought this passage still applies to today, but he emphasized to me that he did not want me to cover my head for that reason, but only if I was personally convinced to do so by study of Scripture. I wasn’t planning on studying the topic at the time, but I happened to search for sermons by a pastor named Milton Vincent to listen to while I cleaned the kitchen. I saw that Vincent has a series of sermons on the head covering passage and my curiosity was piqued. It was a long sermon series, and I was particularly struck by Vincent’s unwillingness for it to be the case that this command applies to today - he said that coming to this conclusion was “the most traumatic interpretative decision in my 10.5 years of preaching.” Nevertheless, in a very thorough exegetical study of the passage and the historical context, Vincent came to the conclusion that head covering does indeed apply to today. And in listening, I became convinced with him.

In addition to the direct teaching on head covering, for many years before I had already  been a Complementarian. That means that theologically, I believe that the Bible teaches that men and women were created by God to be equal in value and even in ability, but different in roles. This has a specific application in marriage as God has chosen (not due to value or ability) for the husband to be the head and the wife to be the helper, for the husband to lead and love his wife by sacrifice and service, and for the wife to submit to her husband with respect. As relates to the church, women are an essential part of the Body of Christ, with many ways to use their gifts and abilities, but God has restricted the main governing and teaching roles for men. That is already a very counter-cultural belief, even among many of my Christian friends. If you are not yet a complementarian, I would suggest you do some study of the topic alongside head coverings if you feel interested in it. (I would be happy to suggest resources to start your study.)*

Since I already had this view, I was easily able to see how the idea of head covering is a very concrete and beautiful out-working of the same biblical beliefs I already held. As the husbands, or men in general, uncover their heads in worship, they are to be reminded of their role to communicate with and submit to Christ as their authority, to be more and more an earthly picture of Christ’s image and glory. As women cover their heads, they are to be reminded of God’s desire for women to support the godly men around them, specifically their husband if they are married, and to be willing even to set aside even their own beauty and accomplishments in order to do this. In doing this, women mirror Christ, who emptied himself and chose not to do his own will in order to do the will of the Father. Head covering is a simple, physical symbol like baptism and communion that carries great spiritual weight and meaning.

Well, once I was convinced that it is still God’s will for women to cover their heads during “prayer and prophesying,” I was in the position where I had to decide whether to obey or not! So I have been wearing a head covering while at church and community group. No other ladies in my church cover and I have only discussed it with a few friends, but now after one year I feel ready to talk about my choice in writing. I think my brothers and sisters at our church have kindly accepted it as one of my quirks (yes there are others...)  and I mostly do not feel uncomfortable covering my head around them. Some people may not have noticed it yet and may just think it’s my style. I guess it is now!

Sometimes I also cover my head at home during bible study or focused times of prayer, though I am not rigid about covering my head every time I talk to the Lord throughout the day. I have not been practicing the discipline of prayer enough lately, but when I do I find that covering my head gives me a sense of peace and focus. As a prayer practice, it also reminds me when I haven't been praying much (like now). It reminds me of the shelter of the Lord over me, and is especially comforting when I am troubled about something.

In my relationship with my husband, I have found that the head covering provides a concrete conscience check as to my attitude toward him. Have I been submissive? Have I sought to serve and help him? Am I contentious, even about small things, with him? I’m realizing that even in small things where we disagree it is good to tell him my opinion, but if he chooses to do it his way, not to argue with him and wear him down to doing it my way. Wearing a head covering while going out the door to church has sometimes kept me from complaining when we are late and I am tempted to blame him!

I do have to examine my attitude as I wear head covering. I don’t want to cover in pride or to look down on my Christian sisters who don’t cover. As I have continued to cover, I think it has grown more routine for me so that I compare myself less with others as relates to this topic. I remind myself of all the wonderful Christian ladies, including my mom and aunt, who have mentored me spiritually, especially in biblical womanhood. None of them cover. I do not think that head covering is a “core” issue of Christian belief or practice. I do believe God is gracious to us even in our misunderstandings or differing interpretations of God’s Word and how we live it out, and his grace shows forth in these ladies’ fruitfulness and femininity. However God’s graciousness to us in our errors doesn’t mean that there isn’t a correct way to understand God’s word, even in such “minor” matters as head covering. In choosing to obey in  this small respect I also find my heart challenged by the question “what else in God’s word is there for me to obey?” There are many clear commands of God, and perhaps some, like head covering, that I am not yet aware of. I am learning, slowly, that obedience bears good fruit. It’s a lesson I think I’ve flunked before. I hope my heart stays soft to continue learning this lesson.

This blog post serves as the description of my own journey with head covering so far. I have chosen not to try to detail the reasons I think this is the correct interpretation of this debated passage. I have found The Head Covering Movement to be a good place to read for defense of this understanding. I found it while listening to Vincent’s series. At first I was suspicious of an entire site dedicated to the topic. I wondered if it would be legalistic, but after a year of following the articles written by Jeremy Gardiner, the founder, I feel confident in sharing from his site. He passionately wants to see a revival of this neglected Christian ordinance, but recognizes that this is something that cannot be imposed and must be an action that is an outflow of the heart. He defends salvation by faith and the areas of Christian liberty that can be found in different expressions of head covering. Another thorough introduction is the ebook Covered Glory by David Phillips, in both the full version and condensed Kindle version.

My next post will examine more of my thoughts on the topic of head covering and how it relates to matters of sexuality that are currently being hotly debated in the Western world.

* I would also note that just like any movement or belief, within Complementarianism there are those who go beyond scripture or become imbalanced in applying it, recent examples being seen in those who teach "Biblical Patriarchy" and minimization of abuses against women. These things make me so angry. But the existence of error doesn't mean that there isn't a true and biblical way to live out these beliefs.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring Sniffles!

Last week I had a few rough days of it with allergies. Essential oils helped relieve the symptoms, though a smart woman would probably have taken some over-the-counter meds as well. :)

1) Ingestion. the "Allergy trio" consists of 3 drops each of lavender, lemon, and peppermint with carrier oil in a capsule. I have previously used this with great results for more mild allergies than I had this time.. This time, I left out the peppermint since I'm breastfeeding and it can reduce supply. It didn't work as well without the peppermint, though it helped. 

I had read that Digize (normally used for digestive troubles) can help with allergies too, so I started adding 2 drops of Digize to my capsule. It improved the effect! 

Upon further reading, I read that Fennel can help with allergies (and it actually increases milk supply as well). I don't have fennel alone, but it is in Digize and perhaps that is what helped. I am adding Fennel to my Essential Rewards autoship for next month. (As an added benefit of using Digize, my digestive system was gently cleaned out... hope that's not TMI!)

The oils taken internally plus using the diffuser helped the most when I was falling asleep.

I have read that a drop of lavender in raw, local honey can be helpful as well.

2) Diffused: I diffused the Allergy trio, including the peppermint, with good effect. It worked best when I was nearby the diffuser. It probably would have helped more if I had been more diligent about using the diffuser. 

3) Topical: I sometimes applied Lavender to my nose, and diluted even inside my nose. Lavender applied around the eye (avoiding getting it in the eye) also helped a friend whose eyes were swollen from her allergies.

Nasal rinsing using the neti pot also helped. I added 3 drops of lavender to 1/4 cup of iodine-free salt and mixed well. Then used 1/2 teaspoon in the neti pot.

4) A non-oily help was something new I learned - lymphatic massage (click for link). I had a plugged Eustachian tube from  the allergies and this is what cleared it up. I could really feel the drainage from my head down into my body. I am sure this will be especially helpful next time I'm clogged up from a cold.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A month of sickness - remedies that worked and didn't

Flashback to May! I wrote this post in June after going through the illnesses I describe. I feel a little funny getting so obsessed about being sick, but it's important to stay healthy when pregnant! This is somewhat of a record for me as I progress in my exploration of natural health.

 One thing that contributed to my illnesses is that pregnancy affected my strength and immunity (the body suppresses some immunity to not attack the fetus). I am grateful I haven't had morning sickness per se, but I did have some food sensitivity, aversion, and lack of appetite. It is improving some, but that was also a change. I also made a wonderful trip early in May to visit my cousin in Idaho. I was with Jedidiah, while at the same time Avinash went to India for his brother's wedding. I don't regret the trip at all, but an unfortunate occurrence was that there was a flight delay that caused me to miss my connection, and I arrived in Houston at midnight, exhausted.

I am pretty sure my body picked up some viruses in the travel, and I was unfortunately susceptible to them. A day after my return I threw up - was this morning sickness? Pretty soon I was sure that it was a stomach bug. I got better, though weak, just in time for my mother's visit with my two younger brothers. That was another joy, and she took care of me while the boys played with Jedidiah. At the end of their visit, though, I started to get a sore throat.  (Read the rest at your own risk - being sick is gross!) That sore throat morphed into quite the cold - phlegm, exhaustion, and an eye infection to boot. When I could feel a sinus infection setting in, I went to a doctor and with my midwife's blessing started taking an antibiotic that helped me get better. I don't like taking prescription medicine, so you know I was sick!

Then Avinash came under the same cold. His symptoms included a lot more painful coughing, and he still has a lingering cough that appears in the evening. He took a lot of OTC meds and also visited a doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic but suggested he try to recover naturally. He seemed to be, until one night he was struck with a new and painful sore throat. Scared stiff that he might be coming down with strep, we hurriedly went to fill his prescription. So far, nothing worse has appeared!

Thankfully, Jedidiah showed only a bit of congestion and coughing, but his symptoms were minor. He did get the eye infection, however. We received help from a friend who is an eye doctor, who said it was bacterial and gave the go-ahead to use antibiotic eye drops on him.

We are thankful to be well now!

Whew, what a saga. The reason I'm writing this all down is that I want to note what natural remedies helped, and what didn't work this time (but might work later), and what I hope will work next time (or prevent a next time). I like the idea of natural remedies (of course, being crunchy), but we discovered first-hand that sometimes allopathic medicine is needed. However, I do believe natural remedies can bring symptomatic relief, perhaps sometimes as well as OTC medicines. If used aggressively at the onset of an illness, they may be able to prevent it.

Some remedies that really worked:

  • Neti potfor nasal congestion - This really helped me with my symptoms. It did not prevent the sinus infection, but it was still a source of relief when I was able to wash the gunk out. Avinash also found some relief from this. We discovered that it is better to use distilled water. (At first I was boiling and cooling tap water. Hm, with the chemicals in tap water and the hassle, that just wasn't worth it.) We used Celtic sea salt, which dissolved easily and was gentle on the nasal passages. Iodized salt would have burned. I learned that it was good to continue using the neti pot at least in the morning and evening even as I recovered.
  • Gargling - sore throat and chest congestion - I wish I had started this sooner when the sore throat first appeared. Avinash especially found relief from gargling with salt water and a bit of turmeric (an anti-inflammatory spice). Sometimes gargling made me gag, maybe because of pregnancy.
  • Steam detox bathscough - Avinash's body is unfortunately not good at expelling the gunk. He would cough and cough and nothing would come out. (Walgreens-brand Mucinex did very little to help with this!) His body would start to ache in different spots from the coughing. Poor guy. I would prepare a detox bath for him, mixing 1 c. of epsom salts with 1/4 c. of Redmond clay, then dissolving that in the hot water. (Mixing the two first kept the clay from clumping in the water.) More on detox baths. This really helped his body to relax before going to bed.
  • Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils cough - I did not have high-quality essential oils, so I did not apply them on the skin. However, while Avinash was in the bath I would also put our crockpot dish in there with boiling water to contribute more steam. I would them add 8-10 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint oils. This really helped open the breathing passages while Avinash was taking his bath. 
  • Steam in the bedroom - cough - In the bedroom we would also put already-boiling water in the crockpot with some essential oils added and the lid off. It did heat things up, but steam enters the air better than what is diffused from a cold-water humidifier. This really helped me keep from coughing, though there were a few nights when Avinash's cough was just too severe.
  • Massage - painful cough - On a couple of those worst nights, where Avinash was sore from too much coughing, he felt better when I massaged him with coconut oil and arnica massage oil (Weleda brand that I had on hand).
  • Honey, ginger cough - Honey really seemed to help, taken directly off a spoon. Sometimes so did ginger & honey tea (just ginger cut up and boiled in water, then honey added.)

Not sure if these helped or not:

  • Chestal honey homeopathic cough syrup - We gave this to Jedidiah some, though his cough was not severe. I also took it some. I think it helped, but honey alone may have been just as good.
  • Homeopathic eye drops for Jedidiah's eye infection - did nothing
  • Supplements - My midwife had given me a "Ward off virus cocktail." I believe these may help, just like vitamin C, if taken preventatively or at the onset of symptoms. They didn't seem to help with kicking the infection, however.

Remember next time:

A friend suggested treating the eye infection with a bit of raw honey. Another suggested cleaning the eye with a cotton ball dipped in room-temperature black tea.

Coming soon:

My exploration of essential oils begins! Further strategies to hopefully stay well in late pregnancy, which coincides with flu season!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade Detergent Update and Elimination Communication Update

Two quick updates!

I am enjoying the homemade laundry detergent I made. It cleans equally well, if not better, than the cheapo detergent from Walmart that I was using (and now have little motivation to use up.) I like it that it is unscented, except for the slight scent from the Zote soap. It takes poop stains out of the diapers pretty well.

Also, at 11.5 months Jedidiah's elimination communication (which is mostly about pooping in the potty, not so worried about pee) is going ok but not great. He does not come to me or signal when he is about to poop in his diaper. If I notice him pooping and take him to the potty quickly enough, sometimes he poops there but sometimes the interruption stops his urge and he doesn't go. He doesn't mind pooping in his diaper, though after he does so he does want to be changed. I have been intending to call an EC mentor about this. I think I need to be more alert based on timings, as I was when he was small, especially after waking up and after eating a meal.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I love sleeping with my baby

Jedidiah whimpers in his sleep. We are already lying on our sides, facing each other, so I barely rouse myself and reach for him, un-clipping my nursing tank. I pull him toward me and he swivels his head slightly, homing in on the right spot to put his mouth. We nestle together, my left arm above his head, my right arm holding him close, his legs fitting into my lap, with one leg resting on my thigh.

I feel the gentle pulling of his sucking and my milk starts to flow. The peace of the night and the white noise of the air conditioner are enlivened with his tiny swallowing noises. Without waking up, without crying, he is comforted.

My right hand touches his silky hair, the solid curve of his skull. His delicate, intricate ears, his soft, padded cheeks. Down his back my hand goes to his full, chubby thighs and his toes, pushed up against the joint of my thigh and pelvis.

I am comforted too, and sleep comes to us both.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sweet Potato Hummus

I adapted this recipe of Sweet Potato Hummus from  this recipe I found online. My recipe makes quite a lot, but somehow between the two of us and through sharing it with friends, it always seems to disappear! It is a good dish to take to parties. You could halve the recipe if you don't want a large quantity on your hands. Another note about the recipe is that homemade hummus requires a food processor. I have tried making hummus in an ordinary blender in the past, and blenders don't seem to handle it well. Perhaps one of the fancy blender brands such as Vitamix could handle it. The measurements in the recipe are not exact. I usually eyeball them, so adjust to taste!

  •  1 lb. dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 medium), in large cubes
  • 4 medium lemons, juiced
  • 6 tablespoon tahini
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos, tops cut off and de-seeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chile powder
Suggested accompaniments
  • pita
  • crackers or chips
  • cucumber
  • carrot
  • jicama
  • red bell pepper
  • tomato 
  • celery
  • cilantro
  • lettuce or spinach
  • avocado or guacamole
  • use your imagination
  1.  Soak the chickpeas for several hours in water. (This can be sped up by soaking them in hot water for less time.) Add the sweet potatoes, making sure water just covers the sweet potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Boil until the chickpeas are done, approximately 30-40 minutes. Let cool. (Do not throw out the cooking water.)
  2. As the chickpeas cool, prepare the other ingredients. With a slotted spoon, ladle half of the chickpea mixture into the food processor.  Add roughly half of the other ingredients. Process, adding the cooking liquid until desired consistency and smoothness is reached. Err on the side of slightly more liquid, since the hummus will thicken with time. Adjust flavors by adding more salt, more lemon juice, salt or chile powder etc. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients.
  3. Serve warm or chilled with cut up vegetables and pita.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Have You Tried Homemade Laundry Detergent?

Today I made homemade laundry detergent for the first time. This post has nothing that the blogosphere does not already contain. It is simply my record of what I've figured out from reading multiple sites. If you google "homemade laundry detergent" you'll come up with oodles of recipes.

By all accounts, the concoction works well, even for cloth diapers. It is more eco-friendly than regular detergent with its various chemicals and big plastic containers, and more cost-friendly than the fancy eco-friendly detergent you find in stores.

The tricky part was wading through all the different recipes. They all have borax, washing soda (by the same Arm and Hammer company that makes baking soda) and laundry soap such as Fels-Naptha, Zote, or Dr. Bronner's soap in them. The simplest recipe had two parts of the borax, two parts washing soda, and one part grated soap.

Fanicer recipes add Oxi-clean, baking soda, Purex crystals, or essential oils. I ended up following this one from askannamoseley.com. I liked how she reviewed the different cleaning powers of the ingredients.

I didn't follow her recipe exactly, since from seeing all the blogosphere variations I concluded that is not too important. I used less baking soda and Oxi-clean. I would prefer using less Oxi-clean anyway, since it is not a natural ingredient, though it is much nicer than bleach.

  • 1 box borax
  • 1 box washing soda
  • 1 14.5 oz bar of Zote laundry soap
  • 1 lb. baking soda
  • 1 lb. Oxi-clean (or actually Clorox' Oxy-Magic). 
By mistake I thought I needed two big bars of Zote soap. Actually, I would have needed two small bars of it. One big bar was enough, so now I have one left over for next time.

I plan on using 1-2 Tablespoons per load, depending on the size of the load and since my apartment doesn't have a High Efficiency washer.

I'm excited to do the laundry and see how it turns out, especially for the diapers!