Essential Oils, Emotions, and Minds.

Emotions. Mood. Passions. Disposition. Feelings. Character.

Mind. Brain. Concentration. Thoughts. Judgment. Mental Faculties.

How do essential oils affect our mind and our emotions? How can we use them to support our bodies during times of struggle, daily life, and those natural dips?

Let me preface this discussion by stating that mental wellness encompasses emotional wellness and is not the absence of all sadness, frustration and anger. It is also not simply the lack of a mental health disorder. It is multi-faceted and complex, where you are able to use your cognitive and emotional capabilities to function in society and meet the demands of daily life.

I am not diagnosing, treating or curing anything in this post. I am merely presenting strategies of essential oils, nutritional support, and how to naturally address mental wellness.

Stress, worry, sadness, grief, and hormonal imbalances cause us to struggle functioning and thriving in society today and cause us to question our abilities and struggle through life. Essential oils provide a solution to the confusing problems that we all face.

Of course we are talking about Young Living Essential Oils. Young Living does business based on the belief that God has provided natural, powerful substances that can meet the needs of families and individuals today. Young Living has one of the highest client loyalty ratings in the entire industry and has been around for 20 years. They own 9 of their own farms and partner with local farms to bring the most pure substance on the planet.

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What are Essential Oils

Essential oils are the volatile liquid that is distilled from plants. They are carrier molecules in the plant that keeps the plant safe from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. There are three ways that you can utilize the power in essential oils, internally, topically, and aromatically.

The most powerful way to benefit from essential oils is to inhale them through the diffuser because then the oil doesn’t need to pass through the digestive system. When you smell an oil, there are receptors that respond and send signals to your brain, which promotes physiological changes. The part of the brain that is involved in emotions and memories is called the limbic system, and this is where the receptors send the signals. There is a domino affect and your mood is positively impacted.

Calm

Stress is often said to cause 99% of all illnesses. We all know how we are impacted by stress, each of us are impacted slightly different. Personally I respond with headaches, stomach upset, nervousness, and I break out.. In order to calm my body I diffuse essential oils, put them on my wrists, and even put them in my bath when I am real stressed.

One of my favorite oils for this is Stress Away. Stress Away contains Cedarwood and Lavender, both of which are known to relax the nervous system and produce an atmosphere of calm. Peace & Calming is another favorite for unwinding at the end of the day or to promote peace mid-day.

Managing stress levels begins with proper nutrients. Taking supplements. Drinking NingXia Red. And eating a balanced diet. Lemon Vitality can be taken internally, and may be helpful to break down the petrochemicals that have been building up over the years of being exposed to certain chemicals in your life.

Strength

Fear has many sources. Insecurity, hopelessness, past loss, or present stress. Valor and Valor II are two of my favorite essential oils to promote feelings of strength, courage, and protection. I apply one drop to the palm of my hand, rub them together, and inhale. I set my intention and declare truth over my day. I then rub the Valor on the back of my neck and apply to my wrists. There is often some left over that I rub through my hair to use as a perfume.

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Blues is something that I am inclined towards. My family has a history of the blues and overall sadness. I have struggled with despair in the past and hopelessness is often my default emotion. Joy is a blend that has created a warm and comforting environment. Joy contains Bergamot oil, which is often known as the “happiness oil”. For this oil, I place a drop of Joy in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together, and inhale the scent. I then, rub the oil over my heart and remind myself that I am loved, I am full, and I have joy because of this.

Balance

Last year I wrote a post about how crazy my life can be, and you can find that here. The main oils that promote balance are Frankincense, Vetifer, OolaBalance, Valor, Awaken, Ylang Ylang, Palo Santo, and Mister. Valor and Frankincense help to balance the electrical field and Vetifer has a balance effect on the systems when applied to the brain stem on the back of your neck. My advice is to smell all of these oils and see which one your body wants. That is the oil you should start with!

Mental Alertness

Since I am in graduate school, mental fatigue is always around the corner. The Clarity blend promotes a clear mind and alertness. Peppermint and rosemary are in this blend and are known to promote alertness and sharpness. I like to use this oil when I am studying or when I can’t make clear decisions about a problem or issue.

Another favorite blend for alertness is En-R-Gee. This blend is uplifting, strengthening, and can boost energy. I use this blend before I work out or when I am not at my best mentally.

Supplements

Young Living also created multiple supplements to provide a foundation of nutrition. It is clear that these supplements are connected to mental and emotional health. Omegagize3, Super B, and NingXia Red are all brain supporting supplements.

Hormonal support is also very important. Progessence Plus Serum, Dragon Time, and EndoFlex are my three favorite products that support hormone production and help us clearly process the world around us. Two weeks ago I was struggling with despair and could not come out of it. I was so frustrated and could not think outside of the current situation. My husband put Dragon Time on me and I started crying. I was so tense and emotionally scattered that Dragon Time supported emotional clarity and calmed me down so I could move forward with my day.

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There are many other oil blends that Young Living has graciously created for the world. In this blog I only mentioned a small fraction of the blends that Young Living has made. A couple others are Abundance, Grounding, Envision, and Awaken.

Young Living Essential Oils, when incorporated into a full lifestyle of eating healthy and exercise. Our emotions are connected to our mental health and our mental health is connected to our physical health. Essential Oils are meant to come alongside a healthy lifestyle to promote overall wellness and promote overall health.

Oftentimes we must decide to create positivity. Pairing an oil with an intention supports this positivity because our memories are often connected to smells. Every time I smell Valor I am catapulted into courage. I declare that I am courageous and that I can do hard things.

If you have no idea what Essential Oils are or why I would choose to use them daily, read this post here. Essential Oils have positively impacted my mind and my emotions, and I am thankful to have such wonderful tools to support my daily life.

Cheers to greater mental and emotional health with the purest substance on the earth.

 

Colorado

My sister recently moved to Colorado. When I consider about timelines of this past year, I realize it will be her one-year Colorado-versary in just a couple months! Right now she lives in Aspen, which is an absolutely gorgeous little town. So many young people move to Aspen so they can work in the service industry and snowboard/ski on their days off, and that is exactly what Camille is doing. It is so different than what I imagined our lives would look like and what she would be doing with her life, but it is so suiting for the person that she is today. Adventurous, curious, wild, and free.

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Kha and I had the opportunity to visit her turf this past December, and we spent three days exploring the town, eating amazing food, and playing in the snow. Camille introduced us to her fun group of friends, all of them seem to adore her completely. Each restaurant we visited had at least one or two friends working there. This trip was full of community, laughter, full bellies, and cold toes. We used Eater to do a little research before we went so that we would have a food plan, and we are so glad we did. All of the food lived up to expectation.

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We spent one day on top of the mountains. We took the Gondola up and froze our tooshies walking around. It was so refreshing up there in the crisp air with the snow falling!

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Camille convinced me to ride down this hill on my shoes. I was absolutely terrified, but her adventurous heart and convincing charm got me to go down. I am so glad that I did because it was so fun! We rode down like 5 more times and it was really refreshing to be playful and free.

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I also learned that I will suffer and freeze for a little while longer if you offer me hot chocolate. The hot chocolate tasted so delicious after freezing my booty off. We ate lunch at the top of Aspen Mountain, and even though the meal was chili and pizza, I have not tasted a more delightful post-snow meal in my life.

After a day of playing the in the snow we went back to Camille’s house to get ready for dinner. We ate at Meat and Cheese and was so delicious. Cheese and meats with crackers and jams. Just delightful. Afterwards we made the necessary stop to get a couple corn dogs and mini donuts at Ajax Donuts at The Popcorn Wagon. VERY NECESSARY. I looked forward to those the entire day. The donuts are so cute and drizzled with whatever you want. We chose Nutella and Maple/Bacon. OMG. Mouth watering right now just thinking about them.

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The house Camille lives in is super adorable. This is her neighborhood. All of the houses look like little dream cottages from the outside. Every morning Kha went out exploring to take in all of the winter scenery.

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Camille works in the nicest hotel in all of Aspen: The Little Nell. The accommodations, location, and sheer size of the rooms outweighed any hotel I have ever stayed in. We were able to spend one night in the hotel and took full advantage. Hot tub. Breakfast buffet. Fireplace. Snacks. Everything was perfect and it was so fun to be able to spend that time with Camille. We got the full tour of the hotel and even got to see Camille working the next day! So cute in her little jacket.

After our hotel experience we had to travel back to Denver since we were flying out the next morning. In Denver we stayed at the cutest tiny house with Airbnb. We ate amazing tacos, nachos, and donuts, and got dessert at this amazing Ice Cream shop called High Point Creamery. Before we left Denver we decided to go on a little walk and do a photo-shoot. Kha had been thinking about cutting his hair, so I wanted a couple pictures to remember the long hair in all of it’s glory.

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Overall, this trip reestablished my desire for adventure and exploring. It was the next necessary step in opening me back up to trusting and enjoying journey with full curiosity. I am entirely thankful for this life-giving trip to Colorado. For all of the coffee, food, laughter, and freedom. This trip showed me that there is no embarrassment in being playful and vulnerable. We cannot wait to go back to Aspen to visit Camille again, or wherever her next destination is! We are definitely coming for a visit.

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25

I am so glad that I married a man who encourages and cultivates creativity in my life. Kha bought me my first teeny easel yesterday, and it was the sweetest encouragement to create I have ever received.

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So far all of my paintings have something to do with stop that we made along our PCH adventure. Today was Yosemite 💛

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I have always loved creating-but felt nervous of not measuring up or hating what I create. I think creativity is naturally built into each of us since we are modeled in the image of God himself and he was the first Creator.

Painting is interesting to me. Something so splotchy can look so beautiful and carry memories, emotions, smells, and that generally good feeling.

Life has been so hectic and fast lately that painting has been my opportunity to slow down, enjoy, and watch all of the pieces slowly come together. When I paint it sometimes feels like my life where I start by saying, “Well, here we go.” In the middle I always have that feeling of, “How the eff is this going to look good..?” And then towards the end when I’m touching it up and adding those little layers I am so shocked that it pulled together. Every single time I go through that process. And I’m always surprised that I still go through it. That’s life, I guess. Going through the process, still surprised that we are going through a process that is confusing, difficult, exciting, and hard.

25 years old. This is the biggest birthday that I have had since 21. This is my 3rd birthday as Melanie Arie Do. 3rd birthday in Louisville. 1st birthday of my adult life that I feel ready, strong, and excited for this next year of life. I know that Kha and I will accomplish much this year with the Lord as our guide and support and everything.

This birthday has been my favorite since being married. My work brought donuts from my fave donut place. Abby and I went to the park and ran around for an hour. My mom took me to lunch and we got to hang out. I got into organization mode and organized my jewelry on my new jewelry rack.

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Kha took me to dinner with our community group, we ate MORE donuts, and he surprised me with a piñata! Such a fun birthday. Definitely reminiscent of growing up in Arizona. 2016-10-19-14-53-06-2

We love Cherokee park in the Fall. We are going to have to head out there again for some fresh air and a break from the city life before the trees are bare. I am thankful for this city and the life that Kha and I are able to live in. Thankful that I am blessed with another year to live and enjoy and praise the Lord for the creation he has blessed us with.

Confessions of a Photographer’s Camera Shy Wife

My husband is a photographer. And an amazing photographer, at that. He loves taking pictures with a special love for film. Repeatedly he has told me that I am his favorite model, and I can honestly say that I don’t know why because I am the most awkward person on camera.

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Example A

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Example B

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Example C

No matter how hard I try to be a model, I always look at the picture afterwards and tell Kha, “You cannot post that.” For the first two weeks of our marriage I did not let him post anything of us on our honeymoon unless I gave it the green light, and let me tell you there were more yellow, and far more red, lights than anything else.

Our first 6 months of marriage I grew to be less self-conscious and would green light more pictures that he could share with the world, and over time I let him become less private about our lives. After the first year I trusted him completely and let him share whatever he wanted without protest, knowing that he would delete a post if I asked him to. The truth is, that during our first year of marriage while photos were taken, few were ever shared.

Kha would try to sneak pictures of me that mostly turned out similar to this one, where I am either completely uninterested in the photo or I simply don’t know what to do with my face:

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After our first year of marriage I became less private. Sharing more openly about my struggles and hardships. And yet I would only let Kha photograph me if it was for work:

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or if I was feeling good and we were having fun:

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The odd thing is that before we got married I was completely confident in front of the camera. I knew what to do, how to pose, what my face should look like. I had the confidence of a 21 year old that quickly went away once I turned 22, and went further away when we got married. I became insecure. Awkward. Hidden.

In the Lord’s gracious timing I found myself in more situations that would require confidence. I became a grad student studying counseling. I started working at lululemon. My life was slowly being brought out into the world and light was starting to trickle in. Confidence did not come over night and I was often stressed choosing outfits when we would be going to lunch, all out of fear that Kha would ask to take my picture. However, over time photos became more natural and I became more confident the more natural they felt.

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To be honest, I don’t know what set me off down the path of insecurity and distrust. Whether it was me chopping my hair off and losing that security blanket or me getting a new husband. I found myself insecure and married to a man who loved taking pictures of me. The simple truth that I could not control this insecurity made me even more insecure, and so on down the rabbit hole.

Thankfully, time passes and people change. And hair grows. My life feels and looks so different than it did one year ago. I am slowly accepting that I am my husband’s favorite model, and asking him to remind me when I can’t accept it.

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And if, for some reason, I am completely over being photographed, I always let Kha know by going back to being my gorgeously awkward self:

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With one year of never being photographed by my husband and one year of being endlessly (it seems) photographed, I am starting to see the value in photos and am baffled by how much I love looking back on all of these. In one way I regret the insecurity that kept me from enjoying photography and adventure with my husband. In another way I don’t at all regret it because now I understand the grand gift that it is. Because of Kha’s love for film, cameras, and photography there will always be an endless supply of pictures to look back on, and that is a great treasure that I will always keep in my heart.

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In the Middle of What Feels Like SO MUCH.

Let’s list out the things that I am trying my hand at this semester (and yes, we still go by semesters #gradschoollife).

  1. Grad school
  2. Working full time at lululemon athletica
  3. Community group
  4. Young Living
  5. Evangelism and building relationships
  6. Family visiting
  7. Maintaining old friendships
  8. Church community
  9. Meal planning and shopping
  10. Preparing meals ahead of time (#healthylifestyle)
  11. Exercising
  12. Our beautiful bear Abby
  13. Keeping our home NOT a train wreck

All of this sounds manageable in my brain (and it seems manageable to the eye). To the untrained eye, I have been living in mild (and sometimes severe) anxiety for the past two months. Day in and day out I have a pressing feeling in the middle of my chest, shortness of breath, I forget to breath, I have acne, and a tightness in my stomach. I have also had some signs of anxiety that are not physical including the sense of feeling constantly overwhelmed, slight depression (and sometimes way more than slight), the feeling of hopelessness, guilt, and paralyzing fear.

I do not write all of this for sympathy or pity. I do not want that. I am writing this to be transparent. To be open. To be seen. And. Most importantly, to build relationships that are based on authenticity.

All of these commitments that I have on my plate, on my mind, and in my days are not my commitments. They are gifts from the Lord. Each and every number on that list.  Here is the list through that lens:

  1. It is a gift to be learning
  2. I love my job
  3. I am so blessed by my community group
  4. I love Young Living oils in my life and love sharing them
  5. I gain life from sharing the Lord with people and building new friendships
  6. I am thankful for family
  7. Old friendships give such life
  8. Church community is from the Lord and fills me up
  9. I’m glad that I have someone to plan meals for and money to shop
  10. I know that a healthy lifestyle is best for my body
  11. Same with exercising (#stressrelief)
  12. Abby is so sweet
  13. An organized home gives me peace

I like the sound of that list much more.

The Lord is strategic in what gives life and what gives death. All of these things on my list of TO DOs give life if I commit them to the Lord and don’t look at them merely as my commitments. I am not committed to this list. I am committed to the Lord. It’s hard to see how this plays out sometimes and I lose sight. I am currently reading a book called How He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick (I’m on Ch. 2). Chapter 2 talks about the idea of “Identity Amnesia”. Before I tell you what it is, I need to tell you that I totally have this. You could probably guess what Identity Amnesia is by the name of it—but it is when you lose sight of who you because other things become more important or take up that space. For me, I forget who I am in the Lord. I forget that the Gospel actually applies to my life and I am intended to live powerfully out of that truth.

I am consistently choosing things that do not give me life (prime example is social media consumption levels), instead of the things that I know will serve me and instill power, hope, and love into my heart. That ting of guilt that was pressing on my heart was also keeping me from voicing this because I felt like I had to do this on my own to prove that I was good enough. After I told this to Kha he was so sweet in telling me that he is always happy to help and didn’t even know I felt that way. The power behind the guilt and the list was gone in that instant! Being known and loved is the Gospel and it brings such peace, comfort, and love into my heart.

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Here is a glorious picture of Kha and I conquering the Tough Mudder! And let’s be real, if I can do that then I can do this.

 

In writing all of this down it is my hope that the veil of night (me hiding) will no longer keep me in this pattern of anxiety and hopelessness (like when I told Kha how I felt). My list of commitments is a sign that I am in a sweet time in my life. I am busy, working hard, and transforming (let’s hope). I hope that in committing this list to the Lord all anxiety will melt away and I will be left with this knowledge of my identity and that I will remember that all I accomplish is all that I need to accomplish day to day.

The truth of this list is that most of those numbers will continue on for a lot of my life. Grad school will end in a year or so, but I will always have a job, Young Living, friends, family, and a body to take care of. Life will not look much different next semester, and yet I hope that I will look different. That my heart will look different and that the Lord’s peace will be always on my lips.

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Here is a picture of me with my sweet friend, Julianne. Reconnecting with her in Nashville was such a gift from the Lord. I cannot deny that it was from Him in His perfect timing. So glad she moved over here!!

Pray for me as I am coming up on halfway through this semester!! All glory to God.

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I love Kha so much.

How I Started Using Essential Oils

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As I started writing this post I began to wonder why I hadn’t sooner. Was it fear?  Am I shy now? Do I think I will be rejected? Will people not believe me?

Then it occurred to me. I feel that way right now as I am writing this. I am afraid, shy, expecting rejection, and disbelief. And even though I am feeling all of these things right now I am glad to be able to write this post. I am glad that I love and believe in something so much that I would power through those emotions and legitimate fears.

The Start:

Over a year ago I started my journey with Young Living Essential Oils. It was all part of the larger journey Kha and I were on towards a healthier lifestyle. A lot of this transition included our eating habits, exercise routines, and the supplements/medicines we put in our bodies. Outside of our bodies we have been focusing on detoxifying our home by eliminating some cleaning products, finding easy and healthy cleaning solutions, and non-toxic ways to refresh the air.

When Kha and I started dating, Kha was introduced to the power of essential oils through his sister and a friend. When I would complain about an ailment he would rub peppermint oil or lavender oil on me and I would notice a difference in the way I felt every time. We bought oils through his sister for our first year of marriage, and even though peppermint, lavender, thieves, and lemon were super helpful for our lives, I knew that Young Living offered so much more.

To be completely honest, a lot went down in our first year of marriage. Kha and I both started grad school in Louisville, I was teaching in preschool (#germs), Kha had like 6 jobs all over the city, and we were downright exhausted. My emotional health was at an all-time low, our spiritual health was waning, and our poor puppy was constantly stressed. Our immune systems took the biggest hit that year and after I visited Urgent Care three times in one year I knew that it was time to get my life together and order my kit.

So I contacted Kha’s sister and told her that it is time. I am ready. And so I went for it; I snagged a starter kit from Young Living. This kit came with the Home Diffuser, 11 of the most popular essential oils, and an oily family to learn and grow with.

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How I Incorporate Young Living into my Daily Life:

The Oils: Essential oils are volatile, meaning that their scent rises quickly into the air and spreads throughout a room. They are also versatile, with a wide variety of uses. Kha and I have found ways to incorporate the oils into our daily lives by either adding them or having them replace something that was toxic. There are three main ways you can use the oils: diffuse (or smell), apply topically, or take internally. I’m going to quickly list some general ways that I use the oils.

  • Aromatically – Diffuse
    • at night for restful sleep
    • during the day for mindful thought, relaxation, energy support
    • to purify the air of puppy scents and clean the air
    • to support our respiratory systems
    • to support emotional health

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  • Topically
    • add to my face lotion to promote the appearance of healthy looking skin
    • to my toes at night for restful sleep
    • to my muscles to promote relaxation
    • to support a comfortable belly
    • add to a bath to promote rest and calm
  • Internally (Vitality Oils Only)
    • add to a glass of water in the morning to start the day
    • support health regimen before/after eating
    • add to food for extra flavor
    • support digestive balance (especially during travel)

The Rest: Kha and I have incorporated the oils into our lives and have begun to dabble in everything else the Young Living has to offer. We use the supplements now to support energy levels, boost our immune systems, clean our teeth, get us the vitamins we need, and clean our home chemical-free.

This was not an extensive list because there are so many more ways you can use these oils to support your daily lives according to your needs. And because it must be said, Young Living Oils are completely different quality from any other essential oil company. Check out the Young Living Difference and Seed to Seal Promise!

How you can start with the Kit:

The amazing thing about the Starter Kit is that it comes with 11 essential oils, a diffuser (I got the Home Diffuser), packets of sample oils and sample supplements. The Premium Starter Kit gives you the largest variety of essential oils for the most affordable price, making it the best way to begin integrating them into your day-to-day. 

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This beautiful Kit comes with:

  1. Lemon Vitality Essential Oil (5ml)
  2. RC Essential Oil (5ml)
  3. PanAway Essential Oil Blend (5ml)
  4. Peppermint Vitality Essential Oil (5ml)
  5. Lavender Essential Oil (5ml)
  6. Thieves Vitality Essential Oil Blend (5ml)
  7. Copaiba Vitality Essential Oil (5ml)
  8. Frankincense Essential Oil (5ml)
  9. Purification Essential Oil Blend (5ml)
  10. DiGize Vitality Essential Oil Blend (5ml)
  11. Stress Away Essential Oil Blend (5ml)
  12. Diffuser (Home or Dewdrop Included)
  13. Welcome Booklet
  14. EO Users Guide
  15. Distributors Resources
  16. SEED Booklet
  17. AromaGlide Fitment
  18. 2 Sachets each of: Lavender, Peppermint, Peace & Calming, Lemon, Thieves
  19. 2 Samples of NingXia Red
  20. 24% off Wholesale Membership
  21. A wonderful community in the Living Well Now family

I use the oils found in the Starter Kit every day. They really are “every day oils”. And after trying NingXia Red from the kit I bought some and we take it daily to support our immune systems and stamina.

Being real, I am not a pusher (Mean Girls Ref). I only want to share the power that I have found in Essential Oils. I truly feel empowered in my daily life because of these tiny bottles. When I diffuse some of the blends I feel ready to take on the day; the Clarity Blend is my favorite right now in the day time and Stress Away is my favorite at night. After about 3 months of playing around with the oils we got into a wonderful groove of using them daily. Now 13 months after I purchased my kit I feel more confident in them than ever.

The great team I am part of? They are know as the Living Well Now (LWN) team and they are based in Phoenix, AZ. Being in Louisville, KY I have started calling myself the LWN-Bluegrass. So if you are in PHX there is a huge team out there for support and if you are in the Bluegrass it is me and some other ladies who are super passionate about the oils!

To start your journey with Essential Oils and Young Living, purchase your Premium Starter Kit by clicking HERE. The enroller and sponsor section will automatically fill in, so make sure that they are filled in with 3019819 so you can be part of my oily family! After you purchase your kit (or if you have questions before you do) email me at melaniedo (at) leafandpine (dot) com with the subject line: “Essential Oil Member” or “Essential Oil Inquiry” and I will email you back! There are two options given to you to buy the kit: Wholesale Member or Retail Customer. Buying the kit as a Wholesale Member gives you the 24% Wholesale Price on all future purchases!

Our current Promo with Young Living: When you purchase the kit before Aug. 31 Young Living will include a free bottle of Cedarwood Essential Oil (one of our night time faves). And if you add a second home diffuser (item #4683) by Aug. 28th, Young Living will throw in three 5 ml oils (Peppermint, Thieves, and Tangerine!). The total of the kit and added diffuser comes to $223.75 before shipping and tax! Seriously good deal. 15 oils and 2 diffusers for less than half of the price (retail is $453.39)! Consider it, friends.

You can also email me before, during, or after the sign-up process with your questions!

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Talk to y’all soon,

Melanie

Doing That Do Thang

Choice

There are a lot of things in this life that I cannot choose. I did not choose my body. I did not choose my parents or my siblings. I didn’t choose to be from Arizona. A lot of things have happened to me in life (scrapes, bruises, abuse) that I did not personally say, “yes, please. I choose that!” I have been powerless because of these choices that have been made for me.

I have been angry because of the sad things that happened in my childhood and the pain that I carried with me into adulthood. Relationships have been ruined. Ties broken. Bridges burned. I tried forgiving and forgetting and going about my business. Still, I find that I am living in reaction to my past. I am still not in control. All of these things are happening to me, in me, and around me that I can’t control, and I am trying my darndest to control it. To push back against these uncontrollables.

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In my day to day life I am emotionally all over the place, terrible at time-management, go-with-the-flow, and filled with regret and remorse. I have bought into the lie that because I do not have control over a lot of things, I am not able to have choice. I do whatever I “feel” like in the moment and then regret that I didn’t do something more productive.

Psalm 25:11-15 speaks volumes to me on this:

For your name’s sake, O Lord,

pardon my guilt, for it is great.

Who is the man who fears the Lord?

Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.

His soul shall abide in well-being,

and his offspring shall inherit the land.

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,

and he makes known to them his covenant.

My eyes are ever toward the Lord,

for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

There is great power in choosing the ways of the Lord. You abide in well-being and you have deep fellowship and friendship with the Lord. I have been trapped in the net of confusion, reaction, frustration, and striving. Constant striving. I have been striving for these other things that I think would go better for me than what the Lord has for me. I do not know better than the Lord. I cannot fight my way out of this net. I cannot use my strengths to eliminate the net. I need to look towards the Lord. Looking at him changes my perspective. It doesn’t eliminate the net. That net is still around my feet. If I choose to look at the Lord, I will see the ways that he has for me. In the Lord’s kindness he has prepared my path. He knows what is best for me. He has chosen the details of my life.

He chooses my path, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10).

God chose my parents. He chose my body. Psalm 139:13, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” In his kindness he has chosen my ways. He is constantly praying for me. Rom 8:27-28 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Choosing the way of the Lord leads me in his goodness. Scripture says that the Lord predestined those whom he has called (Rom 25:30). He pre-chose me to walk in his Spirit. He pre-chose my path. And in his grace he works all things for good. For my good and his glory. Choosing the path that the Lord has provided for me carries power. It carries freedom. I am able to build on that foundation.

Becoming Melanie Do was the best choice that I made two years ago and the best choice that I make every day. I choose being Melanie Do. Daughter of the King. Wife to Kha. Student at Southern Seminary. Educator at lululemon. Member at Sojourn East. Distributor and enthusiastic consumer of Young Living Essential Oils. Daughter to my parents. Sister to my siblings. Friend. Advocate. Leader. Wild. Free.

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Kha and I have been growing wildly. We have been having SO MANY difficult, convicting, and sanctifying conversations. The Lord is leading us to read certain books, open up to others, and have deep, terrifying, and revealing conversations with each other and our friends. We choose our lives. We choose working full time and going to school full time. We choose photography and essential oils. We choose our big tumor-filled dog Abby. We choose to love each other in the difficult times. In the midst of fights, we choose each other. We might be staring at each other through glassy eyes or looking down towards to ground unwilling to accept being wrong. But we are committed to always choosing each other and fighting through the muck and the net.

We Do’s are committed to the Lord. We choose the ways of the Lord. All through his grace, love, mercy, and care for us. And we are thankful and full.

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Coming Out of Privacy

I hide behind my desire for privacy. Reflecting back, before I met Kha, I was a very open, transparent, and inviting person. I really had nothing to hide and was completely open to anyone who asked a question. My desire for privacy heightened when we started dating, then as we got engaged, and finally, it skyrocketed when we got married. All facebook posts or instagram pictures posted by my new husband had to be filtered through me because I was not comfortable with sharing information with people-I wanted to be hidden and private. Information was sparingly given to the world Louisville-4and I crept deeper into my own life, separated from community and away from friends. This continues to be an intense struggle for me because this sin is chipping away at all of my relationships, and I feel so unknown by my own world around me. I am thankful for this time because it has allowed Kha and I to grow closer together, but it has been difficult because I feel further away from my community and I know that it is going to take a long time to build it all again. It will not look the same as it did before, but I know that it will be worth it and I will be changed.

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These past months have been the hardest months of my short life. I have cried as much as I have laughed and I am developing deeper into Christ while feeling so far away. Never before have I felt so hot and cold at the same time. This first year of marriage has been amazing, and I am incredibly blessed and taken care of by my Father in Heaven through my husband. I would not call this time a season because it has been so formative for the woman of God I am called to be. Suffering has been a IMG_6949common theme in this time, but so has joy. At times, suffering has outweighed the joy, and at other times, joy has heavily outweighed my bitter tears. Long nights and long talks have shaped my heart as I stepped closer to the cross. With each step I took suffering was there to overwhelm me.

This Easter my heart was held tight by my Savior. I felt goodfridaycompletely overtaken and shown that even though this suffering is not lifted from me, I have a Savior who understands as He hung NAKED and ASHAMED on the cross for my sin. I am a human soaked in sin and even though this sin will never leave my nature I have a Savior who understands. We were not intended to suffer, which is why it is so shaking. I thank my Savior for His compassion and understanding in His suffering and His death. The Good Friday service at Sojourn Community Church allowed for a deep confrontation with my Savior. My sin and my blind heart were shown to me in a deeply compassionate and loving way. I am forgiven and I am loved. I am being changed and I will be perfect, one day. I am thanking Jesus Christ for His truth. I will not be changed over night and my suffering has still not left me, but I am confident that my Savior loves me and He understands.

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Keep Me.

Keep me, O God, that I may walk in your ways. Keep me so that when I do stumble, fall, and stay down, you are with me in the stumble, in the fall, and with me until I regain my feet to stand up. Keep my spirit so that when my body empties and my soul empties, I always have a source to fill up again.
Keep me, my God, that I may remember your sacrifice for me. Keep me so that when I do forget your Son, I am reminded by your voice. Your voice in my husband, my pastor, my friend, and your creation. Keep me so that when I forget, you can speak to me in every way and you can remind me of your Son, Jesus. Remind me of his death, his suffering, his pain. Remind me of his resurrection, his joy, his triumph.
Keep me, my Father, that I might rejoice in the victory and accomplishment of your Son, of my Savior, of my Lord. Keep me, that I would not be lost in this world. Lost in what this world can give, and what it can take away. Keep me in the light of your ways.
Keep me so that I may love and be loved by you.

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Moving Limbo

Life right now is more different than it has ever been in the entire time that I have been on this earth. Graduating from university, getting married, and now moving to Louisville, KY. All three of these events are mind boggling huge and play a huge role in my life before these moments happened and what will come after. I mean, I have a college diploma that says I graduated with honors-I really do-I have a wedding band on my finger, and I have a dog sleeping at the foot of my bed who is moving to Kentucky with us.

Currently we are in Oklahoma. I had never been to Oklahoma before today, and from what I can tell the weather is always crazy and it is always green. Also, they have a lot of agriculture. If I were to put a label or location name on instagram for where we are right now I would call it “moving limbo”. The explanation for the name comes in two parts. #1. If this were a game of limbo we would still be stuck leaning back halfway under the limbo pole while everyone around us is cheering and watching to see if we will make it or not. Of course we will make it, but it is very nerve racking. #2. Limbo is often described in Catholic theology as a temporary state people live in before the decision is made for them to enter heaven or hell. You could say that Phoenix is the “hell” in this scenario because it is definitely as hot as it, but the heaven/hell specifications don’t necessarily apply. More like we are in the transition between Phoenix and Louisville. Like, we are right in between them-halfway there.

The dog that we chose to accompany us in our life of adventure is named Abby. She is a very large, black lab/newfoundland mix, who is currently suffering from separation anxiety. This is a picture of Kha holding Abby and her sisters. She is the biggest one, right there in the middle.

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All in all, life is pretty much insane right now and has been for the past three months. I don’t exactly expect life to get that much easier in the near future, so all I can hope for is a life that is wonderfully exciting and full of love. I am thankful for all of the people cheering and singing as Kha, Abby and I try to make it under this limbo stick without falling on our back. We know that even if we do fall those same people who have been cheering for our success will pick us up and make us get in line to try it all over again. Please pray for us as we drive tomorrow to St. Lois and the next day when we finally land in Louisville, Kentucky.

With Gratitude,

Melanie