Lessons From the Porch Swing

For several months I’ve been pondering a reinstatement of my seemingly defunct blog. I’ve had many fleeting ideas that I dare not mention aloud and several that I deemed good enough to share with others, but none that have actually made it to the interwebs for publication. Well, friends, I can say that no more! As of this very moment, my blog has been resuscitated back to life (I mean, I even downloaded an app for my phone, so I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious)!

I have been toying with the idea of writing an on-going Tara-shares-her-Christian-insight blog series for, oh, 4ish years. I’m the Queen of Excuses, though! (I mean, really! If you need an excuse for anything, come to me. I’m your girl!) 

For instance, some of the bigger contenders have included:

“What if I offend someone?”

“What if someone disagrees with me?”

“What if I am wrong in something I say and I become a ‘stumbling block’ in someone’s faith journey?”

“What if someone thinks this is my attempt to tout my own self-righteousness?”

They’re all valid concerns, right? Sure. But, they’re stupid excuses, no less.

If you’ve stumbled across my humble blog and you’ve taken the time to actually read my musings, PLEASE know this: I am a human. Inasmuch, I have feelings and I tend to be overly emotional at times (read: all of the time). Also, I am far from perfect and will admit that I have sinful thoughts and desires daily. I firmly believe that I am saved by grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and not by any work or deed that I have done. I do not believe that I am infallible or am in any way better than anyone else. Please, I beg you, do not substitute anything that I espouse herein for your own study of the Word of God. And, finally, if you find fault with anything I say here, please consider how you can kindly show me the error of my ways.

Lessons from the porch swing

After twelve years of marriage, my husband and I just recently moved into our first single-family home! We never could have imagined all of the many blessings (and challenges!) that come along with being in this new setting. 

My favorite thing about this house: the porch swing!

A poor-quality Snapchat picture of my swing adventures this morning

This swing is the epitome of peace and tranquility. Tucked away from direct public view, but open enough to see the majesty of the open skies and enjoy the sweet-smelling breeze, all while being serenaded by a chorus of singing birds and humming cicadas. It’s my little corner of Heaven on Earth.

It’s here, on this swing, that I’m able to get away from the floors that need to be mopped, the sink full of dishes, the walls that need to be painted and the pile of fabric that is just waiting to be transformed into curtains. I can sit on this swing and, if only for a moment, forget the stresses of life. It’s here that I can most loudly hear the voice of God.

This series is called Lessons From the Porch Swing because, in the short two months we’ve lived here, I’ve already learned so much on this humble wooden swing, by simply resting in His presence while swaying in the breeze. I’m sharing the things I learn, likely often in the form of allegory, with the world via this series. 

Here’s today’s lesson.

Our cat, Maggie, loves the idea of going outside at our new home. We have lots of doors that lead out and anytime someone jiggles the doorknob, Maggie is there. I’m pretty sure she thinks every door in our house is intended solely for the purpose of preventing her personal escape, so when she hears the knob rattle, she barrels through the house and with reckless abandon makes her attempt to escape captivity from this horrible dungeon of doom. (I feel like she must be in her teenager stage of life.)

Little does Maggie know, we are on a corner lot flanked by two well-traveled streets. She also doesn’t know that the two neighboring lots are home to several dogs. She knows nothing of fleas or ticks that await her soft kitty skin and is ignorant to the fact that there has been a skunk roaming our yard for the past week. All she cares about is getting outside and being free.

Sweet Maggie, we are not holding you hostage. We are protecting you! We love you and don’t want you to get hurt or lost or stolen. 

If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m just like Maggie. I want to do things my own way. I want to venture out on my own. I like to be in control and handle my own business instead of having to trust someone else to help me through. I know there are risks, but I can hold my own, right? 

Sometimes, I will succeed for a short time and other times I will fail miserably. I get hurt. I get lost. Sometimes I even feel like I’m all alone with nowhere else to go.

It’s times like these that I need to consider my position in life. Where am I in my walk with God? Am I spending time in His Word or am I letting other things take priority? Am I serving others or am I stuck on my own selfish desires? 

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”(‭Psalm‬ ‭91‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

God is my protector. He is my shelter and my refuge from the trials and torments of this life. Instead of trying to find the answers on my own, I need to find solace in knowing that my Refuge is sufficient and my Fortress will keep me safe. 

Lord, forgive me for the times when I wander from your presence. Forgive me for the times I’ve been lured away by my own selfish ambitions. Draw me near to you. Help me to trust in you and to embrace your love and protection for me as I strive to abide in the safety of your shadow.

Picture courtesy of the You Version Bible app

(For the record, I think we will try a kitty harness with Maggie so that she can enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors without having to worry about her becoming a kitty pancake in the middle of the road.)


So, have you heard the news??! The Down to Earth Facebook page has FINALLY reached 200 “likes!” I’m not 100% sure why it has taken so long, but we’re finally here and that means that we can FINALLY do our giveaway!

200 Likes Giveaway

To participate in the giveaway action, there are three VERY simple steps (click on the above picture if you just want to jump to the announcement on Facebook and dive right in)!

1.) Like our Facebook page!

2.) Take our quick survey (It shouldn’t take any more than 5 minutes to complete!).

3.) Comment on our Facebook post letting us know that you’ve completed the survey.

The end! That’s it! However, if you want an EXTRA entry into the drawing, just share the Facebook announcement with all of your Facebook friends!

Easy as pie! That never made a whole bunch of sense to me. Making pie is a quite an involved process. Perhaps the saying should be, “easier than pie!” THAT I can agree with!

Anyhow, enter BEFORE April 1st at 5:00pm EDT, because that’s when the winner will be chosen.

We want you all to win, but unfortunately, we will only have one winner this time around. However, you have ZERO chances of winning if you don’t enter! Give it a sporting chance, my friend! Help us out by taking the survey and increase your chance of winning by sharing the announcement with your friends!

Thanks for all of the continued support and encouragement you throw my direction! It’s greatly appreciated and warmly received!



*Disclaimer: This contest is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook. Also, Young Living Essential Oils does not sponsor this contest. I am an Independent Distributor (#1467651) with Young Living Essential Oils and I have paid for these products on my own accord. These are products that I believe in and personally use on a regular basis.*

How to Get Young Living Essential Oils for Less than $20: Citrus Oils

I am a penny-pincher. I’m not ashamed to say it. I like to save money wherever and whenever I can. It’s not that I’m not generous or that I’m stingy, I just don’t like to be wasteful or irresponsible when it comes to resources and finances. That’s just who I am.

So, when I decided that I was interested in delving into the world of essential oils, I had to sit myself down and do some introspection. Here’s what I decided: Top-quality essential oils are not cheap. I cannot go to a consignment store and buy essential oils. I do not have the skills or resources to make my own essential oils. So, I had to make a decision about whether I really wanted to put a price tag on our health and wellness or just get creative and make room for these pharmaceutical-alternatives in our budget.

I think it’s probably obvious what I decided, but just in case you’re new around here, I decided that for our family, paying out a little bit of expense for these oils was worth more to me than having to pay out a lot of expense for medications, doctor’s visits, sick days, etc. That’s not to say that we don’t still pay for those things, but we have a new set of resources available to us in our essential oil arsenal that make those pesky expenses less frequent.

Less than $20I know from talking to many of you that I’m not the only one that was worried about the expense associated with Young Living essential oils. There is definitely a growing interest amongst folks to have a natural alternative to Big Pharma, but there are two big barriers that people face: 1) A lack of knowledge on how to actually use essential oils and 2) finances. With a wholesale discount, Young Living essential oils are definitely affordable and completely worth the investment! There are 36 oils available to wholesale members that cost less than $20 per bottle. That is less than many people will pay for one bottle of prescription medication!

When I was just starting to get my feet wet in the essential oil world, I was overwhelmed by all of the oil possibilities and I think I had the notion that I should own each and every bottle that Young Living had to offer just in case I didn’t have the one I would need if I ever got a splinter, contracted the measles, got bitten by a king cobra, needed to retreat to a fallout shelter for 17 years, or needed a cloak of invisibility from all germs, bacteria, viruses, and any other enemies that might attack. My expectations were a little bit, umm, far-fetched, to say the least. But, when I took the time to actually sit down and learn about essential oils, I realized that most of the oils have a wide variety of uses and, honestly, even the most expensive ones aren’t going to make us completely invincible.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing some tidbits of information about how these less expensive oils can be beneficial for you and start to help you break down the barriers preventing you from joining the “oil revolution.” Hopefully,you will start to see for yourself that they are truly a worthy investment into your family’s health and wellness.

Citrus Less than 20

Citrus Oils

Essential oils from citrus fruits are cold-pressed and collected from the rind of the fruit. The “juice” that sprays onto your hand when you peel an orange is not actually juice at all (unless you squeeze the flesh of the orange itself), but rather the essential oil in the rind that protects the fruit from disease and pests. Citrus oils are high in the antioxidant d-limonene. D-limonene has been shown in studies (http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/12/3/259.pdf) to decrease symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), to dissolve kidney stones, to aid in weight loss, and may even help to fight cancer! Who knew, right?! And these powerful little antioxidants are found in some of the least expensive essential oils?! SCORE!

Generally speaking, the citrus oils are very uplifting and energizing. Their aromas are pleasing to most people and offer a brightness that promotes joy and happiness.

***It should be noted that citrus oils are photosensitive meaning that some people may experience skin discoloration if the area treated with citrus oils is exposed to UV rays after application. It is recommended that UV exposure be avoided for 12 hours after topical application.***

Some citrus

Lemon essential oil: According to Young Living, lemon contains 68% d-limonene and may be useful for the skin, supporting the central and sympathetic nervous systems, uplifting emotions and for energizing. Lemon essential oil is also great for cleaning up a sticky mess (think: chewing gum stuck in carpet, price tags stuck on products, Mayflies stuck on windshields, craft projects gone wrong, etc.), removing crayon or marker from many surfaces, and for removing stains.

Personally, I love the taste of lemon essential oil in my water. I use a glass water bottle when I go to work and put 1 or 2 drops in my bottle before filling it. It makes me want to drink more water AND I’ve noticed that on days when I’m feeling congested, if I drink lemon essential oil in my water, I am able to more easily expectorate that congestion. Could be coincidence, but . . . . We have also used lemon to: help bring down a fever,  purify the air, add flavor when cooking, reduce the appearance of blemishes, and fight tough odors.

Jade Lemon essential oil: Similar to lemon essential oil, Jade Lemon contains a high concentration of d-limonene, as well. The Jade Lemon (Citrus limon eureka var. formosensis) is grown in southeast China and, unlike traditional lemons, never turn yellow. Their green rind (similar to a lime) contains very concentrated essential oils which are only released after the fruit is separated from the branch (whereas traditional lemons start to release their oils while they’re still growing). This oil has a lemon-lime type flavor that is refreshing, invigorating and energizing. It makes a great air freshener and helps to purify the air. Jade Lemon supports skin health, invokes feelings of happiness and also helps to induce relaxation.

This is also helpful with the removal of the sticky messes! I like to wear this one in my diffusing necklace when I go to work because it brings about mental clarity and helps me to feel more alert and energetic.

Lime essential oil: Also a good source of d-limonene, lime has traditionally been used to aid in the digestive process and to support a healthy immune system. It can be used to increase mental alertness and clarity of thought. Taken internally, it may help with weight management. Inhaled, some people might experience relief from nausea related to motion in travel.

I love to use my lime in cooking (pico de gallo, anyone?)! Lime is just a flavor that I love! I also use this one in my water bottle frequently. Sometimes in conjunction with lemon essential oil. My husband has used lime and grapefruit together in a capsule to help restore normal gastrointestinal function.  I have put it in my homemade insect repellant and have seen great results, too.


Orange essential oil: This oil is wonderful for invoking feelings of peace and happiness. Children tend to enjoy the aroma of this oil and benefit from the emotional balance it provides. Orange essential oil has been shown in studies to support normal cellular function and regeneration.

I like to use orange essential oil in my face wash. I find it to be refreshing and uplifting. I have been known to shake things up a bit and put this into my water bottle, too. I make a yummy fruit dip with the orange oil, too. Want the recipe? Ready, set, go!

          Orange Fruit Dip

          2 Cups of plain or vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek both work fine)

          10-15 drops of Young Living Orange essential oil

          1-2 Tablespoons of honey

          Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Adjust sweetener to taste (Greek yogurt usually requires more honey than the regular yogurt). Enjoy with your favorite fresh fruit such as strawberries, pineapple, apples, bananas, or raspberries.

Tangerine essential oil: Tangerine has an aroma similar to the orange oil. It also helps to instill peaceful feelings and calmed emotions. But, it is also beneficial for reducing nervous irritability and feelings of insecurity. It helps to encourage positive emotions and restore vitality. Tangerine essential oil can be used to help decrease appetite which may help with weight management.

Grapefruit essential oil: Grapefruit is excellent to help support the body’s natural defenses because it’s also high in d-limonene. It is commonly used to help support weight-management efforts, but is also a great oil to help nourish the skin. The antioxidants help it to support normal immune functions.

I use grapefruit in my face wash as well. I really enjoy the citrus aroma and the brightness that it bestows. I have been taking grapefruit essential oil internally to help with appetite suppression. To be honest, I don’t do this consistently enough. I need to get better about that!

Citrus Fresh essential oil blend: Citrus Fresh is a great blend of essential oils for folks who cannot decide which citrus oil they want to invest in. It’s a blend of orange, tangerine, mandarin, grapefruit and lemon with an added little kick from spearmint. It is delicious in a glass of water and perfect as an air purifier. It is beneficial to support the immune system and also as a pick-me-up emotionally. Citrus Fresh reminds me of summertime–bright, cheery, and uplifting. This essential oil comes with every wholesale membership starter kit making it easy to carry around a bit of summer cheer in your pocket or your purse wherever you go!

For immune system support, energy, uplifted spirits, weight management, ease of gastrointestinal irritation and just general good food flavoring, citrus oils are the way to go! They’re affordable in that they’re all less than $20 each (with the wholesale discount) and they’re so versatile it’s hard to “go wrong” with this little buddies!

Have you used any of these oils in your home? Which ones are your favorites? Which ones are you itching to try? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it! If you have any questions about these or other oils, I’d be more than happy to help you out, too! Just let me know.

Come back next time and learn about the different kinds of eucalyptus oils that Young Living has to offer for less than $20!

Advent Ponderings: Peace on Earth

No doubt you’ve seen the chaos of the holidays.

Stampedes of people trying to get the best sales on Black Friday.

Crazy traffic with multiple accidents caused by impatient people making rash decisions.

Families rushing from one Christmas function to the next with little time to stop and even enjoy the moment of time spent together.

Patience wearing thin, tempers on the rise. It seems that oftentimes, the Christmas season can invoke more of a spirit of unrest than a spirit of peace.

Advent PonderingsThe second week of Advent is all about peace. But, if we were to be honest, how often do each of us truly feel at peace during this hectic season?

It’s hard to experience peace when thoughts are on war and riots and hatred and illness. But, I find it hard to believe that the craziness of our current world was too far off from the chaos of the Roman world at the birth of Christ.

I mean, Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that everyone in all of the Roman world needed to be registered in their home town (Luke 2:1). There must have been an insane amount of upheaval as everyone scurried hither and yon to their respective home towns.

I actually think that it might be similar to the chaos I described above from our present-day holiday season. Can you imagine the traffic and road rage?! There might have been stampedes of people trying to get to the next town so that they could get the best room in town.

There was “no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7). It was a busy time of year for hotels and restaurants and service stations. (Do you think they had service stations?) Folks were likely upset and irritable. People probably pushed in line, stepped on toes, took the last close parking spot (presumably for donkeys and camels). It was probably all of those little things that drive me batty all year round, and even that much more at the holidays.

PEACEEarlier this week, I was imagining myself in Mary’s shoes and thinking about how I would have felt if I were in her situation. I decided that Tara Mary would have been bald from pulling out her own hair and likely would have been hoarse from yelling at folks and getting upset over trivial things. Tara Mary would have worried, “What if we can’t find somewhere warm for this baby and I’m an inadequate mother to the King of Kings?” or, “Can’t you see that I’m practically on the verge of breaking out my Lamaze skills here? What do you mean that you have no rooms available?! Is chivalry dead?” or perhaps, “A STABLE?! Do you know how unsanitary a place like that is?! When is the last time you cleaned this manger? Did you use an appropriate disinfecting solution?” Tara Mary would have borne the Son of God into a world of discord and unrest.

But, that’s not how the story is reported.

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”

~Luke 2:10-14, NKJV

The newborn King of Kings was born in the midst of the chaos and the noise, but His presence brought peace on earth. One glimpse at his tiny, perfect being inspired peace where there previously was unrest. His cries in the night sang “peace, peace” to souls worn weary by doubt, fear, and worry. His tiny little hands spoke of great strength and perfect order to a people who previously were quarreling and fighting. He truly was the Prince of Peace bringing tranquility to a hurting world.

Thankfully, Tara Mary didn’t exist. And thankfully, present-day Tara is afforded this opportunity of introspection and given the chance to make the necessary changes toward a more peaceful demeanor.

But, still I wonder what areas in my life need to be turned over to the Prince of Peace? What are the areas that are raucous with the noise of the world? What is waging war against my spirit? Where am I harboring unforgiveness? In what ways am I worrying and allowing fear to overwhelm me?

Many of these answers are far too personal and too raw for me to share with the world, but know this, I’m making a conscious effort to incorporate peace into the areas of my life that are far from peaceful this Advent season. I have some forgiving to do. I have to lay down a whole lot of worry and fear. I need to relish some moments of calm and tranquility.

Some of these decisions for more peace are made by surrendering my own pride and my own will. Some are made my simply enjoying the moment of the situation for what it is. Others are made by opening up the door to the dirty, smelly, unsanitary, unlikeliest of places in my life and allowing the holy Christ-child to take up residence there.

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

~Isaiah 9:6, NIV

My prayer for you, this Advent season, is that you would make room in your life for the Prince of Peace to reign. May you know forgiveness, tranquility, surrender, calm and true peace in the midst of all of the holiday chaos this Christmas and in the year to come.

Advent Ponderings: A Thrill of Hope

Advent Ponderings

Advent. My most favorite time of year.

It’s the four weeks leading up to Christmas celebrating the anticipation of the newborn King Jesus and looking forward to His return. It’s time for fun festivities, warm cheer, introspection, and longing expectation.

When I hear the word “Advent” I almost immediately fill with joy and peace.

You know that feeling you get when you’re baking cookies on a cold winter day. Christmas carols singing joyfully fill the air. The sweet aroma of baked goods wafts from room to room. Smiles light up everyone’s face as they anticipate that first nibble on a warm fresh-baked cookie. There is just an ambiance that cannot be compared to the warmth and nostalgia created in that place of togetherness and bonding.

That’s the warm-fuzzy feeling I get when my mind drifts to thoughts of Advent.

So, here we are in the last moments of the first week of Advent– the week of Hope.

I’ve had all week to consider my thoughts on hope and will share a few of them here with you.

Advent- Hope

So, here’s the situation with the world just before the birth of Christ. The time period between Malachi (the end of the Old Testament of the Bible) and Matthew (the beginning of the New Testament) measured 400 years. This is often referred to as the “400 years of silence.”

Can you imagine 400 years of silence?! Of course you can’t! Humans don’t even live to be 400 years old, obviously. I cannot even fathom 40 years of silence. That’s more years than I’ve been on the face of the earth. And it’s only 10% of the time that God’s chosen people had to wonder at His faithfulness. To leave them pining away for the sound of His voice, for a sign of His favor, for a hint of His presence.

When my husband is silent for too long (How long is that? It depends on the day! 30 minutes, an hour, two hours . . .), I begin to wonder what’s wrong:

     “Are you mad at me?”

     “Did I do something wrong?”

     “Am I talking too much?”

     “Do I annoy you?”

     “Is there something I can do to make you happy?” 

I go crazy! [Obviously, I have insecurity issues, but that’s another post for another time.] These brief moments us are only a very small fraction of the time that Israel was waiting to hear from God. I can only imagine they must have thought:

     “God, are you mad at us?”

     “What did we do wrong to make you stop talking to us?”

     “Are we irritating you?”

     “Is there something we can sacrifice to appease you?” 

I know that I feel completely helpless and disheartened in my husband’s silence, I cannot even begin to fathom the grief the Israelites must have felt by the silence of their God! Generations of people went without any divine word from the Lord.


But, Micah (among other prophets) had prophesied about the coming Messiah after a period of silence, saying:

Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.” (Micah 5:3-5a)

What was Micah saying? He was letting God’s people know that there was hope!

There was a long desire in their hearts for the day when “she” would give birth and deliver their Redeemer. There was a stirring desire deep within their souls for this Savior to come and rescue them, to come and take them to their home to be with their brothers in safety and security– somewhere they felt at home. They needed to feel secure and longed for the peace of knowing that God would take them in and give them a home that was theirs. Until that time, though, they were left to wander on their own trusting that God would come through just as He’d said. That He would not abandon them.

After 400 years of wondering and wandering, no doubt, they’d grown weary and worn. I can only speculate, but I believe that if the Israelites were anything like me, they might have even thought, “God’s forgotten about us” from time to time. As each generation passed, they might have felt like God would not follow through.

But, at just right time, God spoke through the angel, Gabriel, to tell a virgin girl that she would be the one prophesied to give birth to the Messiah (Luke 1:26-38).

Hope was restored!

The popular Christmas carol “O Holy Night” expresses this sentiment well:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

But, we aren’t Israelites. And it’s been 2,000 years since Jesus walked the Earth.

So, what does this really have to do with us in our (sometimes, seemingly hopeless) situation? We might feel just as weary and worn, as if we’re wandering in a desert, left to our own defenses.

But, this same hope that was given to the Israelites is our hope, as well! Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

When children are adopted into home, their new home is often referred to as a “forever family.” But, in all honesty, this earthly adoptive family is only temporal. Each of us is offered a true “forever family” in God’s family! God stands with arms wide open waiting to welcome His children home (Galatians 4:6-7).

What a blessed reassurance! This newborn baby King is not only our Savior, Redeemer, and Messiah, but also our key to adoption into a home of boundless love and grace– eternal glory in the presence of God, our Father.

I don’t know your situation, but I know that we each have our own battles to fight and hurdles to jump over. I know that there are times you must wonder, “Is it really worth the struggle?” or “Will there never be a reprieve?” I know that I, personally, have these moments much more frequently than I’d like to admit. But, please know, that sweet feeling of nostalgia and warm-fuzzies of baking cookies on the perfect winter day can be nothing compared to the sense of belonging and identity that is found sitting at the foot of God the Father, hearing His loving voice calling you His son or daughter.

As you wonder and wander, rest assured that God holds true to His promises. Hold onto the hope of His return! Hold onto even the smallest shred of faith, protect it and nurture it. Hold dear His promise to not abandon us (Deuteronomy 4:31).

There is hope!

Hold onto it, my friend and do not let go! Feel it in the Christmas spirit even now. See it in the twinkling lights. Hear it in the ringing bells. See it in the glimmer of a child’s eyes or in the smile of a stranger’s ragged face. Embrace it in the deepest recesses of your heart and soul as you think about your blessed adoption.

This Christmas season, may you truly experience “a thrill of hope” as you ponder the birth of the newborn King Jesus and His second coming to take us with him to our forever home.

Tuesday Tips: Save on your mani-pedi and a giveaway!

***Giveaway is CLOSED. Congratulations to the lucky winner: Chelsea S.!***

You have invited some friends over for afternoon tea. You set a dainty little tea cup and saucer in front of each of your companions, prepare your favorite herbal tea in your pretty little tea pot, pour a dollop of honey into each cup, set out the tray of cucumber sandwiches and scones, then smile at the fruits of your labor. However, when you attempt to divvy the beverage among your friends, nothing pours from your kettle. The large puddle on your table indicates that there is a crack in your tea pot.

How can you serve tea to your friends if you have a cracked tea pot? You must repair the broken vessel so that you can ensure that the tea goes where you intend for it to go–in the cup. Right?

In the medical field, students are taught, “You can’t take care of others unless you first take care of yourself.” It’s like the broken tea pot. If you don’t manage some semblance of self-care, you’re care for others will truly be lacking.

This principle holds true for all walks of life. Mothers, bus drivers, teachers, ministers, fire fighters, doctors, soldiers, everyone. You cannot give of yourself if there is nothing left to give. If your tea pot is cracked, you cannot adequately fill anyone’s tea cup.

I’m really speaking to myself more than anyone else right now. I’m terrible with self-care. I hate spending time or money on myself. I feel selfish. I feel like I’m being irresponsible and conceited.

I’d rather take care of everyone else under the sun before I take time for myself, but I’m trying to learn to take my own advice. I am learning that by spending even just a few minutes to make sure that I feel good (physically and emotionally), I’m more adequate in my service to others.

Taking a nap. Reading a chapter in a book. Soaking in a bath. Spending time alone in prayer. Having a cup of tea. Getting a manicure. All of these things take only a short amount of time, but rejuvenate, refresh, and instill a sense of confidence that I might not experience otherwise.

I recently discovered that I actually really enjoy having my fingernails and toenails painted. It makes me feel classy. It makes me happy to see pretty fingernails dancing across the keyboard or colorful toenails holding onto my flip-flops. Even at work, when my fingernails are often veiled in purple gloves, it’s such a pleasant surprise to see vibrant and fun colors on my fingertips. I feel like I’m a happier, more confident, healthier person when I’m caring for myself in such a simple way.

However, I cannot afford to go to the salon and have my nails redone every week. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t love a good pedicure at a salon. And what a dream it would be to get one every week! But, I simply can’t justify that expense no matter how happy it makes me. [If you get regular salon pedicures, I’m jealous of you! Think of me while they’re shaving the dry skin off of your heels next time! Actually, I’m probably the only one with that mess.]

Thankfully, my sister discovered Jamberry Nails and was kind enough to share her discovery with me! They’re adorable. They’re affordable. They’re easy to apply. And they’re more durable than typical nail polish. They’re perfect for a few minutes of self-care pampering!

Tuesday Tips

First of all, let me go on record and say that I was not contacted by Jamberry Nails or any of their associates or consultants to write this post nor am I receiving any kind of commission, hand-outs or reimbursement from Jamberry Nails for this or any other post. These are simply my own views and opinions. I just feel like it’s too good to keep to myself!


So, I know I’m a little bit behind the times and that you guys might already be in the know about Jams. Apparently, they’ve been in In Style, Marie Claire, Fitness, and People magazines and been on the Today Show. But, I pretty much never look at magazines and I don’t really watch TV in the morning (that’s prime sleeping time after night shift!). So, I’m going to give you the skinny about these awesome doo-dads, just in case you’re as behind the times as I am.

Jamberry Nails (“Jams” or “Jammies” as I like to call them) are nail wraps that you apply to your nails with a small amount of heat and a small amount of pressure. They don’t contain any harsh chemicals (do you KNOW what’s in your nail polish?!) and are latex free. And they’re not like those cheap stickers you can get at the drug store that stay on for maybe one day if you’re lucky. No, sir! These puppies stay on your fingers for 10-14 days typically. And on your toes, they can last 4-6 weeks!


It takes about 15 minutes or so to put the Jams on your fingers. You simply figure out which size fits the width of each nail, cut it to size and then apply with a small amount of heat (from a hair dryer, a rice bag or a Jamberry mini heater) and apply gentle pressure all over the nail with a cuticle pusher/orange stick. Then, you trim off the excess with nail clippers or file it down with an emery board. That’s it! Sit back and admire your handiwork! There is no drying time. So, go to bed. Get back to work. Get dressed. Do whatever it is you desire to do without fear of smudging your nails. [As a side note, they recommend that you not soak your hands in liquid for 1 hour after applying… so, don’t do dishes right away.]

My very first "jamicure." Sure, it's not perfect, but I sure did love it!

My very first “jamicure.” Sure, it’s not perfect, but I sure did love it!

When you get sick of the style you’re currently rocking, you don’t need to worry about nail polish remover or acetone, either! Simply soak your nails in some olive or coconut oil for a few seconds and then, using a handy-dandy dental flosser, bobby pin, or opposing thumb nail, gently remove the wrap. I think this is what REALLY sold me on the Jammies. I can’t stand the smell of polish remover and the thought of my fingers soaking in foil-wrapped, acetone-soaked cotton balls creeped me out. But, I can get behind some coconut oil soaking! (If you’re not weirded out by nail polish remover, I believe you can use it to undo your Jams, too.)

But, here’s the best part. My favorite salon offers a basic fingernail painting for $10. No hand massage or soaking or cuticle trimming or anything. Just nail polish.

One sheet of Jams is $15. Sounds like it’s not much of a deal, right? Wrong! You can get at least 2 manicures and 2 pedicures out of one sheet! That’s $3.75 for one manicure/pedicure! You can’t beat that!


There are so many different styles to choose from, too! From sparkles to chevrons to polka dots and stripes. There are holiday patterns and solids and French tips. Many teams and sororities have wraps made in their honor. And you can design your own! The options are truly limitless.


Jamberry also sells lacquers, too. They claim that they are “salon quality” and that they don’t contain any of the “Big 3” chemicals, formaldehyde, toluene or phthalates. I haven’t tried any of the lacquers yet. I’m so overwhelmed by my wrap choices, I can’t even ponder lacquers at this point. But, based on the quality of the wrap product, I would believe the claims about the lacquers, too.

I know you’re just waiting to get to the giveaway portion of this post, so here it is! Pour yourself a cup of tea. Go to the Jamberry website and browse around. Then, let me know which wraps are your favorite in the comment section below. One lucky winner will receive a sheet of wraps (of their choice), an orange stick/cuticle pusher, and a handmade rice bag.

DIY Manicure Kit

Pictures are just a representation of the actual prize.


So, here’s what to do (total of 3 entries possible per person–make sure you comment!!):

1. Comment below with the name of your favorite wrap.

2. Like the Down to Earth Facebook Page. Comment below when you’ve done so.

3. Like my sister’s Jamberry Facebook page, too. I wouldn’t be able to offer this great tip to you without her sharing the wonderful world of Jamberry with me. Comment below when you’ve done so.


So, inquiring minds want to know: Have you used Jamberry before? Which styles are your favorite?

What are your favorite methods of self-care? How do you take time for yourself? I’d love to have some new ideas!


*Disclaimer: I’m not receiving any kind of commission, products, or reimbursement from Jamberry. These prizes are bought by me and provided by me. These are my opinions. All pictures included here are borrowed from a recent Jamberry party that I attended and were obtained from various online sources. They were not created at by me (exceptions noted above).

Congratulations to our lucky winner!