my quiet time routine

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before i jump into this post, i just want to say that not every day looks like this for me. sometimes i’m too busy or tired or whatever. i’m not perfect. i go with the flow of life. your quiet time doesn’t have to be this perfect thing. it’s not supposed to be. the most important thing is that you have a relationship with the God who loves us.

also, i once heard someone say this during a small group study: “God is going to be okay if you don’t have a quiet time. You aren’t going to be okay.” our quiet time is just a literal time to spend in communion with the One who created us.

okay, so all of that said, this is how i (generally) spend my daily quiet time. it’s broken up into two parts- morning & night:

MORNING:

-in the mornings when i drink my coffee, I read a short devotional to start my day off. right now, i’m reading embraced by lysa terkeurst. it’s pretty good so far.

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after i read this, i usually spend some time in prayer. i keep a prayer journal & if i have time that morning i will write out some prayers in there. my morning study is generally short and sweet, because i choose to do the bulk of my bible studying at night! (you may choose to do yours in the morning, whatever works is okay!!)

NIGHTTIME:

-first, i go to a relatively quiet space. aka my bedroom.

-second, i turn on some worship jams to play in the background. i really like the spotify playlist called Songs of Glory.

-next, i grab my journaling bible ( i use this one), my pens ( i use these), and my highlighters (I linked them here).

-when i’m doing an in depth study, i usually like to follow a plan or a study. if i’m not doing that, i usually will tackle a certain book.

-i take it verse by verse. my top tip for people just learning how to read their bibles is to  try not to read a whole big passage at one time. take time to get to the “meat” of each verse.

-i note take inside my bible. this is so helpful for me, because I’m such a visual person. i like to box in a certain part of a verse or verses, and then make an arrow to commentary i wrote out on the side. here is an example:

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-you will also notice in the picture above, that in the yellow box i wrote “refer to 2 Corinthians 3:3-6.” this is a reminder for me, for when i go back to this passage that this same topic/subject/reference also occurs in 2 Corinthians. It is just a way for me to grasp how much the Bible intersects/weaves throughout. It is really cool to see how God foreshadows so many things throughout scripture. Linking passages together gives you a clearer view and understanding of what you are studying. 

-i might also use these notes to take space to understand the context. like: what time period is this? what city is this? who are these people? what were social norms at the time? you’ll notice throughout, that i’m focused on getting an overall view of scripture. 

-if i happen to read a passage or a verse i do not understand, i do several things. first, i re read the passage & pray God will reveal it’s meaning to me. second, I read the passage in another translation (like in my HCSB). third, I look up commentary on the passage (i love John Piper). if after all this i’m still confused, i star the passage & make a note to ask a church leader/pastor about it.

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-next, i might journal & write down more in depth notes regarding the passage. i’m more inclined to do this if i’m following a particular study. journaling is your time to get your thoughts out on paper about the passage. it’s almost like having a conversation with yourself, because you are really expressing whatever you learned/felt about the passage.

-after you do your studying (however long is up to you. mine differs on the day), I really encourage you to spend time in deep prayer. express to God your thoughts and feelings about the passage. express your concerns. seek His wisdom on how to further His kingdom more. show gratitude for all the blessings He has given you.

prayer is really what i consider the main “relationship piece” to your study. yes, definitely the Holy Spirit can speak to you while you are reading scripture, but there is nothing like spending time just talking with God.

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REMINDERS:

-it’s okay if your quiet time doesn’t look like mine

-your quiet time is YOURS, spend it how you want

-quiet time doesn’t have to be a singular chunk of your day. it could be random moments throughout it.

-studying the Word is how you ween off the “milk”, and get to the “meat” of your spiritual journey.  “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” -HEBREWS 5:13                                                                            (get acquainted with that righteousness, girl!!)

i hope this was helpful for at least one person!!

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” -Romans 15:4 

xoxo

my current happy list//

hi ya friends!! happy summer (like WOW, already?!), i thought i’d do a fun post & share what’s on my current happy list. grab an iced coffee & enjoy!!

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  1. my new baby cactus that i named Clyde. i found him at the natchitoches farmer’s market last week. i think he is a golden barrel cactus, but someone please correct me if i’m wrong!!happy 3
  2. speaking of farmer’s markets, my local one has supplied some pretty awesome finds lately! these LA blackberries grown just a town away, were absolutely delicious! anyone else feel closer to the earth and God’s creation when you eat local? happy 1
  3. these pilot frixion pastel highlighters can seriously make a bible journaling girl swoon. not only are they pretty, but THEY ERASE!! hallelujah!! you can literally find them at walmart (here’s the link) #notsponsored #lolwalmartwouldntsponsormeanyways
  4. the sunshine!! this white girl is trying to work on her tan 😉 happy 7
  5. encouraging friends. victoria you made my happy list; surprise, not so surprise. thank you for always going out of your way to be the best possible friend and encourager!! i treasure your Godly advice and wisdom. #thelmaandlouiseforever happy 8
  6. Harlow’s donuts. if you know me, you the obsession I have!! also shout out to my sweet friend amanda for helping me continue the addiction with a gift card!! love you!
  7. the smell of rain.
  8. random wildflowers growing along the edge of the highway. find beauty in the broken people!! happy 2
  9. the book victoria gave me to read, 25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Love, Sex, and Intimacy by Dr. Juli Slattery. i’ve only read a couple chapters & some that victoria shared with me, BUT ITS SO GOOD FRIENDS. here’s a fav quote: “Your body was created to be sexual and to experience sexual pleasure as part of the image of God. Your sexual drive speaks to the innate, God-given passion to connect, commit, celebrate, and share yourself in the most intimate way with another human being.” Sex is not “bad” or “shameful” as some christians tend to associate with it. Sex is beautiful and intimate, and is intended to be experienced within the confines of marriage.
  10. mint and blueberry water. go try it, it’s good. also go check my insta highlights for it, you won’t be sorry!!
  11. the Spanish language. it’s hard and confusing at times, but it makes me SO happy to be attempting to learn it. happy 9
  12. MercyMe- Grace Got You. SUCH a good song!! here’s the link for a listen, guarantee you’ll be smiling while also performing embarrassing dance moves (oh wait, that might just be me?)

what’s making you happy right now?! comment below!!

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xoxo

 

april book review

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i have to admit something. i’m a bibliophile. ever since i could sneak my mom’s harlequin romance novels (haha), i’ve always had my nose in a book. Gilmore Girls is my all time favvvvorite TV show simply because of all the book and movie references. i could totally see myself being BFF’s with Rory Gilmore.

i don’t think i’ve ever related more to Rory then when in her graduation speech she said, “I live in two worlds. One is a world of books.” anyways, i digress from the topic of Gilmore Girls, because let’s be honest I could discuss that for hours.

i was really inspired by Giselle at HopelessBookLover to start sharing and talking about the books I’m reading. so i decided a fun way to that is with a monthly book review! yay!

this month i’ve read much more than the four books I’m going to share, but these books made the most impact. i simply can’t get them out of my head. kind of like I have a little book hangover.

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  1. MISS MATCH by Erynn Mangnum 

it should be noted that this is book 1 of the Lauren Holbrook series. Y’ALL i relate to Lauren (the main character) SO much in this book, of course minus the matchmaking ;). Lauren loves chocolate and coffee and rom-coms, and is set on staying single. she puts herself in comical situations, and i spent majority of my time smiling and/or laughing at her antics. i loved that while this is technically a “christian” book, it also portrays REAL LIFE. people can i say how hard that is to find in a christian romance novel?! as a twenty something this book felt like a glimpse into a close friend’s (and sometimes my own) life. i have a feeling Lauren and I would be good friends in real life. great job ms. mangnum!

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2.   KEEP IT SHUT by Karen Ehman

let me be transparent and honest when i say i bought this book as a sort of joke. my mom has always said that i have a sassy mouth, but i never saw this as a “real issue” in my life until recently. i started realizing words have real power. in this book Ehman gives not only practical, but biblical advice when dealing with matters of the tongue. one phrase that really stuck with me was to pause before you pounce. i recommend EVERYONE to read this book!

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3.   DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY by Katherine Reay

if you are a fan of the classics, then my friends, this delightful book is for you. so many references from Austen, Shakespeare, and Dickens to make any literature lover swoon. while reading this book i experienced a myriad of emotions, but all impacted my heart. laced with humor, love, and sorrow this book is best enjoyed with a hot cup of tea & a cozy blanket (also perhaps some tissues too, if you are sensitive like me).

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4.    ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING by Max Lucado 

i mentioned here, that i have struggled with anxiety for the last few years. from pinning stress-less lists to trying herbal supplements, i have searched for a way to help alleviate that impending and crippling fear that anxiety brings to my life. while yes, essential oils 100% help with this, the power and peace of God is how i continue to face the fears in my life. this book was a reminder that His peace is everlasting and surpasses all understanding. Lucado reminds readers to peer through the scope of God’s sovereignty with prayer in order to face fears. if you or someone you know is struggling with maintaining an outlook of calm over his/her life, please go get them this book. like NOW!

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hopefully you enjoyed my short reviews! even if you decide that these books are not for you to read, I hope it inspires you to take a look at your bookshelf (digital or physical—i see all ya kindle readers out there)! maybe it’s been awhile since you lost your self in reading a good book, or you simply just need a good recommendation, whatever it is, GET READING FRIENDS. reading makes you happy, 100!!

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xoxo

melrose plantation//

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“History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity.” -Dexter Perkins

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exploring the beautiful Melrose Plantation.

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this weekend my mama and I traveled to the beautiful Melrose Plantation located in Melrose, Louisiana (just about 10-15 miles away from Natchitoches). they hold an annual weekend Arts & Crafts Festival where different vendors from around the state can sell their goods. this year for the festival the weather was sunny and breezy, and I got to wander the grounds with a refreshing glass of homemade sweet tea from Sweet Tea Y’all. 

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the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHC), gave wonderful tours of not just the Big House, but about other buildings such as the African House, Bindery, Yucca House, and Weaving Cabin. i loved and appreciated their passion for preserving the history and spirit of Melrose.

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the Big House tour was probably my favorite because you felt like you stepped back into time. the creaky flours, quilted bedding, and ornate furniture brought each tourer a sense of nostalgia and reverence for what used to be. the most spectacular thing that occurred on our tour was that we got to hear a lot of our tour from Miss Cammie’s great grandson who made a surprise visit to Melrose that day. (how cool!!)

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i mean who wouldn’t want a library like that?! most of the books on display in the library of the Big House were actually written by authors who stayed at Melrose. Among the writers who visited Melrose were Erskine Caldwell, Alexander Woollcott, Alberta Kinsey, Caroline Dormon, Rose Franken, William Spratling, Gwen Bristow, Ross Phares, and Ruth Cross. Francois Mignon was also a famous writer who came to Melrose for what was a planned six week visit that then turned into a thirty-two year stay!

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the history of Melrose is simply fascinating. From the Metoyer Era to the Henry Era, the walls of Melrose have certainly witnessed incredible sights. The person I was most enraptured with hearing about, was the famous artist Clementine Hunter. Clementine started out as a 12 year old field hand at Melrose, who later became the employed cook of Mrs. Carmelite Garrett Henry. Now you have to know Miss Cammie, as she was affectionally known,  was a lover of the arts, and she invited artists and writers around the country to stay at Melrose. This was not a vacation for them, for Miss Cammie had great desire to be intricately involved in their creative processes. One day, as Clementine Hunter was set about doing her cleaning and cooking tasks she stumbled upon a set of paints left behind from a previous artists’ stay. These paints led her to create what is now called “insider art” which depicts the perspective of African-American plantation life. Her work is considered primitive, as she had no formal education and could not read or write.

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we got to actually view Clementine Hunter’s most famous work, The African House Murals. her work was real and touching, there was no fluff. One of my favorite quotes from Clementine Hunter says, “Painting is a lot harder than pickin’ cotton. Cotton’s right there for you to pull off the stalk, but to paint, you got to sweat your mind.” one of the things that made me smile while learning about Clementine was that she would paint on anything. on snuff cans, bottles, and even rocks. her artwork is an extension and expression of who she was and what she experienced.

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the above photo is the view of the back of the Yucca House. this was one of the housing areas for writers and artists alike as they came to stay at Melrose. peering inside we viewed an old typewriter, a bed, a fireplace, and various other essential items.

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I found that the seafoam green color of the doors and shutters of the Yucca House was really beautiful. it is a color reminiscent of its former glory.

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the oak trees at Melrose are astoundingly beautiful. wandering around the property viewing them, makes you realize they are just another stitch in the deep rooted historical fabric of the plantation.

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of course my trip to Melrose would not have been complete without a sweet tea & meat pie. The meat pies were sold by members of the St. Augustine, Isle Brevelle Catholic Church. This church is a marker in the lineage of the Cane River gens de couleur or free people of color, and pin points the settlement of their European ancestors in the French colony of Louisiana.

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dear Melrose:

you have enchanted me and inspired me. you have made feel deeply. thank you for giving me the chance to appreciate where we came from and where we are now.

xoxo                                                                                                                                                         Riah Brooke

sources:

Melrose Plantation

Melrose Plantation History

St. Augustine, Isle Brevelle Catholic Church

Clementine Hunter 

good enough//

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for most of my life i can always remember moments where i was striving for perfection. i have a vivid memory from when i was about 8 years old. i was at a dance recital, and i had my hair fixed into the perfect ballerina bun waiting to go on stage to perform. i remember even then, feeling knots in my stomach. i did not want to mess up the steps. in practice all the other girls would pick up the dance moves a lot faster then me. this caused my teacher to naturally push me to do the same. i kept striving to be as good as the other girls. striving to be good enough to dance along side them. looking back this was the beginning of the end of my dancing. this constant feeling of not being good enough took the fun out something i had once enjoyed. (on a lighter note it should also be known that i’m not a very good dancer, i just have fun doing it)

 

 

(these pictures are from when i loved dancing!!)

i put immense pressure on myself (and sometimes still do) to be good enough. to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good christian, a good student. i judged my success in each of these different parts of my life on a fictional “good enough” scale i created in my mind. 

let me tell you it was exhausting. trying to do things in your own strength and power generally just doesn’t work out too well, friends. in the end i always found myself overstretched and ultimately failing in each area. what i didn’t get at the time was that i was attempting to pour too much of myself into different areas of my life (externally) that i wanted to improve, before I was filling my soul internally. now what does this mean? simply that i was not allowing Jesus to fill and satisfy me, so i was looking for something else, in my case perfection, to fill that void. 

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the voice inside your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough, it’s a liar. look at what Ephesians 1:19 says. the author is telling us that the power we have inside of us as Christians is great and immense. he even says “I pray you understand.” each time i have read this verse this part just keeps standing out to me. i think mainly because it is so applicable. many of us don’t understand that the same power that Jesus possesses lives in us. take a moment to really rest in that truth. how can you not be good enough? you have the mighty power of God inside of you.

now to be completely vulnerable and honest, lately i have began to feel like i am not good enough or qualified enough in certain areas in my life. for example, when asked to lead a Wednesday night small group at my church a few months ago i was slightly terrified. even though it was something i had a great desire and a pressing on my heart to do, i still had thoughts of doubt. immediately questioning myself on how i was to teach women who were 1. older (wiser) than me and 2. way more “spiritually mature” than me. but then, recently in this same small group (haha @ God) i discovered the verse of Hebrews 13:20-21:

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 

did you grasp onto the part where it says He equips us with everything good for doing His will?!?! he prepares us. he makes us good enough to handle whatever situation he has called us into. how powerful! (also in case you were curious, God has allowed our small group to flourish into a setting where women can not only fellowship, but help share the burdens of this world together!!)

this verse really has nestled down deep in my soul. especially as i embrace God’s call on my life for international missions, but also as I am beginning to experience His call for me to be involved in women’s ministry. friends, both of these things scare me. but, and here is a BIG but, God has equipped me. I am good enough. I am qualified enough. I am equipped enough. I am all of these things through His power. 

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so what is the purpose of us being equipped? well verse 21 in Hebrews 13 tells us. it is to bring glory to Jesus. so in the end, i feel it is important for us to remember that we aren’t ultimately here for ourselves, but here to do what Jesus calls us to do. friends, i encourage you to shrug the lie off that you aren’t good enough, and embrace the truth of God’s goodness for us. 

we serve not only a faithful God, but a sovereign God as well. remind yourself of that when you feel unqualified and not good enough for a task He has called you for.

xoxo

 

nourishing words//

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“If the words you spoke appeared on your skin would you still be beautiful?” -unknown

words. i’m a bit obsessed with them. they can be kind, beautiful, hateful, ugly, positive, negative. these adjectives can certainly describe the people who use them too. words have profound affects on our human souls. 

if you do not believe in the power of the words you speak, take a moment to remember how God formed creation. Genesis 1 is full of “God said, and there it was. light, water, sky, sun, moon, stars, creatures, plants. all made when God spoke.

if you are a christian, this same power lives in you by the presence of the Holy Spirit. your words matter. your words hold power. so use your words wisely. use your words to speak life.

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let’s dive deep into a passage of scripture that more closely reveals the sacredness of the words we speak. proverbs 10 unveils the 7 aspects of the lips of the righteous.

  1. Well of life: The mouth of the righteous is a well of life,
    But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.” -proverbs 10:11
  2. Discernment: “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding,
    But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.” -proverbs 10:13
  3. Self Control:In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
    But he who restrains his lips is wise.” -proverbs 10:19
  4. Valuable:The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
    The heart of the wicked is worth little.” -proverbs 10:20
  5. Nourishing:“The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.” -proverbs 10:21
  6. Wisdom:The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
    But the perverse tongue will be cut out.” -proverbs 10:31
  7. Acceptable: “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
    But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.” -proverbs 10:32

do what you canwith all you have, wherever you are.

out of all the above verses, proverbs 10:21 stood out to me the most. it made me think about how i speak to not only others, but to myself as well. are my words full of grace and love, which are the essential nutrients to nourish a soul; or are they full of hate and loathing, that are damaging to a soul? are you damaging or nourishing?

think back to the times of the city of Jericho. for six days the people of God marched around the city in complete silence. (first of all, can you imagine not speaking for that long?!? girl i sure can’t!!) on the 7th day the walls immediately fell when the people shouted. the people of God waited for His direction before engaging in the power of their tongues. here we see because their tongues were guarded, they received a great reward. [reference Joshua 6:20]

speaking negatively can take a toll on your spirit, but guarding our speech can bring about spiritual bounty. 

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proverbs 18:21 tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. it would make sense that since the words we speak so carelessly have power, that the words of our prayers have power as well. as christians we should have “reverent submission” to God in our prayers (like Jesus did in Hebrews 5:7), that will lead us to living a holy life.

you see, our words aren’t really a mouth issue, they are a heart issue. so dear friends, let God mend your heart. He is the only one who truly can. once your heart is aligned, your words will follow.

xoxo

essential oils 101

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you might be asking what the heck are essential oils? i feel you. that was me, up until about 2 and a half years ago. i had just gotten into holistic health and came across one of my favorite blogs recommending them for anxiety (which hi, my name is Riah and I struggle with anxiety). so after some research and encouragement from my cousin Becca (who i mentioned here), I jumped on the essential oil express train. then BAM, now i’m an oil freak. or witch doctor. or hippie. or whatever the cool word on the block is these days.

definition: essential oils are distilled from botanicals such as trees, flowers, shrubs, or seeds.

you, like even my own mom (love you mom), are probably shaking your head and asking how do you even know those work? to answer this question, i encourage you to check out this study here. the results from this study give us a clearer insight on the fact that fragrance inhalation affects the adrenal system through the sympathetic nervous system. how cool that one scent, like essential oil of pepper can stimulate the adrenals causing an increase in adrenal response, but rose oil relaxed the adrenal system?! my mind is blown y’all. #witchdoctorpower (Christian friends, don’t freak out, I’m just kidding)

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speaking of christian friends (see what i did there), i love the fact that essential oils have a biblical and spiritual connection. Randi Minetor, author of Essential Oils of the Bible: Connecting God’s Word to Natural Healing, says “In biblical times, essential oils were used for everything from the holiest ceremonies to everyday needs. Today, we too can harness the all-natural power of essential oils to soothe, heal, and sanctify our bodies and homes.” like WOW friends, i love love love that. also this book is full of super simple remedies and discusses the 30 types of essential oils mentioned in the Bible. just saying, i had no idea how essential (haha) essential oils were back then until i read this book.

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my main caution about essential oils for the newbies out there: not all brands are created equal. you need to decide which brand is best for you and your family. this means please do your research people! do not waste the twenty bucks on the bottle of “frankincense” that you found while randomly scrolling on amazon. not a good idea, as it is probably a fake fragrance sold in order to appear and smell like frankincense. you won’t reap all the benefits of real frankincense essential oil (and it may be harmful!!). i personally use and love doterra essential oils. to read more about them, you can click here.

on another note, if you have pets or children, be extra cautious in how and what you are using. some essential oils that can be great for YOU, might not be so good for your new puppy or infant. my advice: RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH

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now you’re sitting there thinking okay girl i have all the facts, now what? how do i use them? well there are three main ways to use essential oils!

  1. aromatically: inhale the scent of the oil by diffusing or smelling directly from the bottle
  2. topically: this is applying the oil to the skin (important to use a carrier oil here)
  3. internally: ingest with a liquid or in capsule form

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essential oils link together both our bodies and our minds. as a believer in holistic health i believe that our emotional and physical wellbeing are interconnected. essential oils can help balance that connection. for example, frankincense has anti-inflammatory properties and helps physically treat things such as arthritis, asthma, skin inflammation, while emotionally frankincense invites us to become more focused & conscious and our spirits to be more courageous. Fun fact: Frankincense was used by Egyptians to address both spiritual and physical weaknesses. They believed frankincense was powerful for both strength and protection.

“Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” -EZEKIEL 47:12 

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Luke 10 describes to us the story of the good Samaritan. it describes how he bound up his wounds, poured oil and wine on him, and then took him to the inn to be taken care of. (see verses 30-34). I like how Minetor says that oil begins the healing process in her book Essential Oils of the Bible: Connecting God’s Word to Natural Healing. she also refers to the passage in Luke 10, declaring “when essential oils are combined with loving care, they can be part of the greater good we bring to others.” I find this fascinating as it further proves that God designed our minds and bodies to be interconnected. the physical, mental, and spiritual working in unison.

i so encourage you to dive into the wonderful world of essential oils. here are some helpful links if you are interested in learning more:

-What are essential oils

-Safety

-Essential Oils of the Bible

-Use essential oils effectively 

The aromatherapy bible

Doterra products 

The Science/Research behind Doterra

be blessed & stay oily my friends.

xoxoxo

*books featured in pics above: Gracelaced (this a great devo if you are in need of one), The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing (a good resource), and Essential Oils of the Bible. you can find all these on amazon!