When I was growing up I didn’t have a purity ring. I didn’t have anyone to teach me the right way to handle situations. I did what I thought was normal even though instinctively I knew it was wrong. As a result I was pregnant for my late, former spouse before we were married and he was not the only man I’d ever shared myself with. I didn’t know why it was wrong until I gave my life to Christ at the age of 21, just a few weeks after I married my first husband.
It became even more obvious to me when I stepped out into youth ministry and began searching for themes for summer camps and youth conferences. Purity was a hot topic. Though the scriptural foundation of abstinence and purity was on target the method of the message was lacking. As I read about and pondered all the ways to illustrate why we should stay sexually pure I became a bit disgusted. The illustrations included having everyone spit into a cup and asking if anyone was willing to drink it. The point being that is what a person who has had multiple sexual partners is equal to: disgusting spit. Really, I could have cared less that this equated me with spit. What I cared about was the message, or lack thereof.
It bothered me immensely because it took the focus off of God and away from the atoning sacrifice of His precious son, Jesus Christ. It put the focus on a night of supposed honeymoon bliss between two sexually pure people. It put the focus on the pride of saying you saved yourself for marriage. It put the focus on self. Self earned accolades. I struggled to find Jesus in this message.
As I grew in my faith I began to see another dark side to the purity issue. The other extreme that says that there is freedom in exploring one’s sexual desires outside of the covenant of marriage and despite what the Bible commands. An extreme where the very essence of who God is, LOVE, is exploited in order to fulfill the lusts of ones flesh. God clearly defines love for us in 1 Corinthians 13 and it has nothing to do with feelings or desires. Both messages failed to point people to Christ but this other extreme was much too permissive about something that Jesus, the Word of God, strictly prohibits:
I could go on and on with the scriptures that command that we abstain from sexual immorality (fornication, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and orgies) but I think those are sufficient. It is a commandment from Leviticus 17-18. This is basic stuff. The problem is that over and over Christians have strayed from the Torah, the commands of God. We rewrite and rework them based on culture, time, preference, psychology, philosophy, desires and emotions. Then we blame God and say, “You made me this way.” Sound like a replay from the garden of Eden? Satan is consistent in his deception.
God created us with the ability to choose: good or bad. For each good decision we are blessed or rewarded. For each bad decision we receive just discipline or punishment. For each repentance we receive unmerited grace. That is the mighty LOVE of Jesus Christ at work. For those like me who did sin, who fell short, and who made the wrong decision – there is HOPE. There is Jesus. And as we seek Him and walk in His ways we are washed white as snow. We become pure not because of ourselves but because of Him. I honor my own body because I honor Him.
My body is a living sacrifice.
How powerful is that?
After my first marriage ended I didn’t feel like used goods. I felt like a “new creation in Christ” (Ephesians 2) just as He describes me to be. I shared myself with no other man until the night I married my forever husband. I chose to glorify the one I will spend eternity with: Jesus Christ. I chose to abstain from sex for no other reason but to honor Him. This has very little to do with me or sex and everything to do with my relationship with my Lord and Savior. I chose to be obedient to His Word and He enabled me. The rewards, though not all were as I expected, were plentiful and more than I could have hoped for.
There is always hope, always a second chance, for those who repent and are obedient to His Word.
The post Pure Hope: Adding Hope and Biblical Truth to the Conversation on Purity appeared first on Amy Bayliss.
One of the most asked questions I get on my blog is about Cajun cooking. People want to know how to make a roux. They want recipes for gravy, Cajun style. I’m sharing how I make my basic roux, traditional black roux, and dry roux.
First, watch this video to see how to make a traditional black roux. I would have made a video but why bother when this is the perfect example of how we do it. Notice that he uses a wood spoon and constantly stirs. Also, pay attention as he describes the smells. These are the signals we look for when cooking a roux.
A black roux is mostly used for gumbos. It is more flavorful but it looses its ability to thicken the darker it gets.
For a basic roux which is used for stews, brown gravies, étouffées, and sauces you need flour (60%) and fat (40%). The difference with the basic roux is that we brown our meat first and use the fat rendered to make the roux. First, you season the meat well. Brown the meat in the pan ( I recommend cast iron, enameled cast iron, or stainless). Once the meat is browned remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon.
Add a small bit of additional fat if you need to in order to get to that 60/40 ratio. For one pot of stew I typically use 1 1/4 cups flour and 1 cup fat. That makes about 8-10 servings.
Add the flour and begin to stir and be attentive just like the video shows.
Once your roux is the color you want, add your water, broth, or stock. Beware of the intense heat that will bellow up. Stir to combine then add the meat back in and any other ingredients you want to add to your stew.
Congratulations! You just made a roux!
It is HOT here in Louisiana. During the summer I don’t want to stand in front of a hot stove stirring a roux so we tend to make lots of dry roux. The best part about a dry roux is that it requires much less fat than a traditional or basic roux.
Ingredients: 3-4 cups of flour
Evenly distribute the flour in the bottom of a cast iron skillet or other dutch oven. Stainless or enameled cast iron work as well. Place the dutch oven in a 400° F oven for an hour to an hour and a half depending on how dark you like your roux. You must stir every 15 minutes so set a timer. Be careful to stir it because you don’t want it to burn. Once it reaches a dark peanut butter color remove it from the oven.
To store it: Place in a canning jar or other container in the freezer. It will keep for up to a year.
To use it: Use the same amount of dry roux as a recipe calls for basic roux. If it says 1 cup then you need 1 cup of dry roux mixed with about 1/2 cup water. Or, you can just put the dry roux in the pot with you meat and seasonings.
The post Recipes for Gravy – Make a Roux: Cajun Style, 3 Ways appeared first on Amy Bayliss.
I finally get to share with you something I’ve been working on. It involves bible study, MP3s, video lessons, downloads and more. So what is it? I am so excited to start our first Bible Book Club at A Woman Inspired. This is our Spring session and we are studying the book of Ephesians. We hope that these studies will challenge you to dig deeper, study harder, and pray more fervently in an effort to get to know the Word like never before.
Though the complete lesson for each chapter will all be in one post, these chapter studies will take place in 5 parts. You can do them day by day or do the entire chapter’s lesson in one day. It’s up to you. However, the next lesson will not release until the following week.
Small Bites – On the first day of each week of this study you will be given an overall introduction to the chapter. This is the time to begin praying for God to open your eyes and soften your heart to receive His Word.
Get Hungry – On the second day of each week of this study you will read the chapter. An audio podcast of the chapter being read aloud is provided. We recommend reading more than once, taking notes, writing down any questions and begin meditating on the scriptures.
The Meal – On the third day of each week of the study you will get to watch a video lesson and download a handout to go with the chapter. This is to provide you with additional study materials and a record of the discoveries you make while reading through the chapter.
The Recipe – On the fourth day of each week of the study you will get a recap of the lesson, be given additional links to posts, MP3s, audios, and other resources to further your study on this chapter as well as a link to discuss the lesson on our Facebook page.
The Quiz – On the last day you will be quizzed to see how much you’ve gleaned from our study.
This week’s lesson is on Ephesians chapter one and it is being led by me. You can access lesson one here: Ephesians One Bible Study
The post A More In-Depth Bible Study on Ephesians – Free Course Online appeared first on Amy Bayliss.
I am almost ashamed to admit this but… there was a time when I did not want to be a woman. Let me clarify this, I didn’t want to be a man or anything. I still wanted to be a female, I just didn’t want to act like a woman. You see, in the house where I grew up, my feminine role model was a bit out of sorts. Maybe you can relate?
My perception as a teenager was that my mother was a childlike, Rx addicted, bipolar mess. She would spend all of our money, blame it on PMS, then throw a pity party and invite us all. I watched her manipulate us with her emotions so many times and hurt us so deeply that I swore I would never be anything like her. For me, that meant no crying, no vulnerability, no emotional attachment. I especially strayed from relationships with women. It seemed as though all of my best girl friends always betrayed me or reminded me of my mother in some way.
I didn’t let men open doors for me. That showed weakness. I told you I was a bit warped. In fact, I used to have a saying that I would use anytime I caught myself being emotional or feminine, I would say, “Ugh, I’m such a girl”. I despised it. It took years of praying and heartfelt repentance to bring me to a new place. But still, it wasn’t easy.
God answered my prayers though. He put two gentlemen in my life who saw what a mess I was and I honestly believe God used them to retrain me. When we were out and about they refused to let me open a door, pump gas, carry heavy things, and all of that other stuff. One of them, in one of the weakest moments of my life when I did cry said to me, “Don’t hide your face when you cry. It’s OK.” He was right. It was OK. The other reminded me constantly that I was indeed a girl and it was more than okay to act like one.
Had these two friends not been in my life I don’t think I ever would have accepted my husband when I met him. He was too much of a gentleman. He does so much for me, carrying in groceries, opening doors, cleans up, makes me ice cream, carries my books, and so much more and I love it! He makes me feel like a woman! This truly is what God meant for our lives as women. We are the soft, gentle, sometimes emotional ones. I embrace that now. I find joy in feminine things.
And my mom, the woman I resisted for so long, is now mom again. A few years God intervened in our life in a mighty way. She developed some health problems that caused her kidneys to almost completely shut down. We thought we were going to lose her. God healed her body and our hearts. Things haven’t been the same since. My self righteous attitude towards her is gone now. I began to see her as a person and not as a reason and excuse for my behavior. She is a wonderful woman with so much to offer. We still have a ways to go in our relationship but it is improving even daily.
I’m also letting other women in. I’ve embraced friendships and accepted the fact that sometimes, we fail but love doesn’t. If I love my friends and they love me then we will make it. I won’t say it’s easy. My protective stance still wants to jump in and push people away but I have found speaking God’s Word, His truth, over our relationships has helped tremendously. I invest in them and they invest in me.
I’ve come a long way. I’m embracing and striving for femininity more and more every day and my friends and I? We’re running this race together. My life is so fulfilled now that I don’t let my fears hinder me.
In my quest to lead a healthier, more natural lifestyle, I knew I had to find a new deodorant. There is too much research to suggest that some of the ingredients in commercial deodorants cause cancer or at least create an atmosphere for cancer to grow and thrive. We won’t get into the claims that it may contribute to alzheimer’s. To me, looking at what evidence does exist and the fact that these diseases are on the rise in countries and during our time when these products are readily available (and hardly ever questioned) is enough proof that we should just use something we know is safe.
That’s smart, right? Besides, I hate paying $5 for deodorant. This costs pennies on the dollar.
This is the most basic deodorant recipe. I find it works very well and you only need a little. I had to get used to applying it differently but after a couple of days it didn’t phase me one bit.
Mix everything together in a bowl and place in a sterilized, glass container for storage. To use, swipe fingers in mixture and apply to underarms. If you can get past the fact that this isn’t a stick or a spray then you will be in for a treat!
If you want something a bit more softening and feminine then I suggest infusing your coconut oil prior to using it in the recipe. It’s super easy and gives the deodorant that added boost. The lavender also helps with irritation from shaving.
To infuse the oil (by the way I infuse so many different things: olive oil, vinegar, you name it!) you will need the following:
I get my ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs but you can also find them on Amazon or at your local health food stores.
Gather your ingredients. Using about 2 cups of oil (melted) and a total of 1 cup of dried flowers (I mix them up) put all ingredients in the glass jar. Set out in the sun or on a window ledge for 4-5 days to allow the flowers to permeate the oil. After a few days, strain the oil using a coffee filter or cheese cloth. Use filtered oil to make deodorant. You’ll LOVE it!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through these links help to support our family and keep this site operating. Thank you!
The post How to Make Deodorant – All Natural Deodorant Recipe appeared first on Amy Bayliss.
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