Gluten Free Sunscreen

Yep, you read that one right. Gluten free sunscreen. This is something that I never thought about until last week when I promised to take Annie Oakley (my youngest) and her friend to the pool. It wasn’t until a few hours later, after we were home and out of the sun that my skin began to itch something fierce. This is a reaction I often have to lotions and dish soaps containing gluten.

It didn’t take me long to start checking our sunscreen. Fortunately, it wasn’t the sunscreen. However, during my search I did find out that only a few sunscreens are gluten free, Coppertone being one, which is also probably one of the cheaper of the gluten free brands.

I know, it’s odd. And many people will tell you, professionals even, that it is impossible to become glutened by topical products. I know from experience that it IS possible. AND if you have small children that put their fingers in their mouths they can become glutened that way as well.

Sooooo…. there you have it. If you’re gluten intolerant, Celiac ect check your brands before you buy.

Rainbow After the Storm


There is so much truth in the old saying, “it is better to give than receive.” Being on the giving end of the charity spectrum, it may sometimes feel a bit awkward to find myself the receiver rather than the giver. But how humbling it is when I do find myself on the receiving end of selfless and sometimes sacrificial love.

Recently, my six-year-old son came down with a tooth ache. My fourth and first-grade daughter and son were participating in school fine arts. To add to the load of music practice, homework, my own writings, committee meetings, and the 1-hour+ drive to fine arts competition, our school’s auction was planned for that same week.

Rushing to put the finishing touches on auction committee paperwork and last minute driving time to pick up outstanding donations, I was running on empty. To further stretch my nerves’ limit, my young son’s condition was worsening. His tooth kept him up at nights, and while I inspected, and cleaned, and made him do mouth rinses, his poor gums continued to ache. A trip to the dentist was inevitable.

The x-rays showed no infection, but by the time the dentist examined his mouth, his gums started to bleed. There was a little pocket of swelling inside his mouth, and for the time being, anti-biotics were necessary.

Well, that bought us 18 hours. The next morning, my son woke up to a very puffy cheek and half-swollen eye. I’d heard infections in the gums are exceptionally dangerous for children, so I placed an emergency call to his pediatric dentist. Because of the severity of his condition, it was imperative we wait until the 24-hour period to allow the anti-biotic to fully circulate through his system. I thank God we were able to get him into the dentist later that day. The tooth needed to be extracted.

Not to get into too much detail…it was the hardest appointment I’ve ever had to sit through. There was nothing I could do but sit and watch as my son’s molar was painfully pulled with little help from the anesthesia. I left the dr. office just as drained as my poor baby, but I was thankful he was all right and that the Lord prevented a worse outcome.

It was right after this horrible occurrence that a little act of kindness was bestowed upon me and my family. When I returned home, I had a message saying a meal was already on its way to my house. Tears filled my eyes; unshed tears that I forced myself to hold in for the sake of my recovering little boy.

It had been years since I found myself on the receiving end of kindness. And it reminded me how sweet and humbling the feeling was.

Two hours later, a family from our old church stood on our front porch with an abundance of food. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand how much that small act of kindness meant to me or not. But when everything around us was falling apart that week, it was encouraging to know that someone was thinking of and praying for us—even if it came in the form of one meal I didn’t have to worry about preparing for my family. Through that storm, I was able to see a rainbow, promising hope for a better tomorrow.

Contributed by Rachel Muller

Favorite Dairy-Free Blogs and Websites

Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite blogs and websites that deal with food allergies. Some are vegan, while others strictly dairy-free. Check them out!

(1) Milk-Free Mom

(2) Bunny Kitchen

(3) Go Dairy Free

(4) So Delicious Dairy Free

And on Pinterest

If you have some great sites for tips or recipes, please share them with us…

Monday Meet: A Legacy of “Living Out Loud”

paynecreekcascadeNestled at the bottom of Bankhead Forest in Northwest Alabama lies a little community called Wren.

Accepting the mandate given by Jesus Christ in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” this community of believers, down through the years…have been living out loud through evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry and worship since 1947.

Recently, the Young Adult Men’s Sunday School Class led by Rodger Nix, heard of a young couple with many needs who had moved into the community. The father was battling cancer; the mother was working alongside him in a tree-grinding business trying to eke out a living for them and their four-year-old daughter.

The little church they attended helped as much as possible, but were unable to provide that which the family needed most–better housing.

Knowing his time on earth was drawing to a close, the desire of Gregg’s heart was to see his wife and daughter settled in a warm, comfortable home before he passed from this life.

By talking among themselves and spreading the word around, others in the church and community joined in with the Young Adult Men’s class and started remodeling a little house about five miles from the couple’s mobile home. Materials were donated, monetary gifts received, and skilled laborers donated time and talent. The women joined the effort by providing household goods and furnishings.

A few weeks before his death, Gregg asked if he could come in person to express his gratitude to the church and the volunteers for being the hands and feet of Jesus, to him and his family.

As the family stood before the congregation, there were not many dry eyes that Sunday morning.

Not many weeks after that, Gregg went to be with the Lord. The house was not quite ready for his wife and daughter to move into, but he died, knowing an earthly home would soon be ready for his little family to move in.

II Corinthians 5:1 says: For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Gregg was at peace, knowing he could look forward to living in a house not made by human hands, but by the hand of his living Heavenly Father.

Contributed by Vona Elkins Bankston

Gluten Free- Something to think about

I have read tons of articles, both opinionated and research related, on gluten free. Some say gluten-free is a myth, and that in all actuality going gluten-free is worse off. Others are die-hard gluten freers. Some say you can’t get glutened from topical products. I happen to know better as I’ve suffered reactions from shampoos, lotions, make-up, toothpaste etc that contained gluten.

For years I suffered with annoying little sores on my scalp, especially at the base of my neck. I know this is going to sound weird, but it wasn’t until I became very ill and knowing I had been careful with what I ate I began to investigate other possibilities. Would you believe that my mascara, which contained gluten, was the culprit? So I started looking at other products. My shampoo– yes, as soon as I used a gluten free shampoo the sores disappeared. Toothpaste– as soon as I used a gluten free paste, the irritation on the sides on my cheeks went away. Dish soap, hand soap…. the list goes on.

Here is a post on gluten containing ingredients. And here is another list. Pretty extensive, huh? Makes one wonder how it’s even possible to be completely gluten-free.

It’s difficult, but possible. And necessary if you’re as sensitive as some of us are.

My suggestion to you is to research each product you use, and do it often as many times product formulas change. What may have been gluten free last month, may not be this month.

Sweet Freedom A La Mode

Don’t miss your chance to own Sweet Freedom A La Mode, a book of short stories by authors Jennifer Slattery, Susan Aken, Max Anderson, Melissa Finnegan, Jennifer Hallmark, Delia Latham, Paula Mowery, Ginger Solomon, and Carole Towriss.

Leave a comment below and I’ll put your name in a drawing for your own pdf copy of the book!


sweet freedom book 2For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away. 

How can one take a step toward that freedom when the road appears shrouded with insecurities and doubts? These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities. 

Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand? 

Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom. 

We pray our stories demonstrate what it looks like in the day-to-day…and provide a little insight into how one grabs hold of that treasured state of heart and mind.



Monday Meet: The Crystal Bowl

The next two weeks, we’ll be joined by a dear friend of mine, Vona Elkins Bankston, as she shares some wonderful acts of kindness…


chicken saladI answered the doorbell and there stood Carla. She had called earlier to say she was returning my crystal bowl. Earlier in the week, I had carried her some chicken salad in it. She entered with a smile on her face and a red bandana around her head. She had no hair underneath for chemo treatments had caused it all to fall out. I breathed a quick prayer, Lord, Please help me to be able to encourage her.

I knew what ovarian cancer could do, because it had taken the life of my dear friend, Janice, a few years back. Like Carla, Janice had been a vivacious, energetic lady with many talents. She had a caring heart and helping hands. People were drawn to her like a magnet. She loved working in women’s ministry. We had prayed together and cried together. We had sung together and laughed together.

Once when we were on a trip, I looked into the mirror and said, “I’m having a bad hair day.” Janice quickly jerked her wig off and said, “I’m having a no-hair day.”  “Oh no.” I thought, how insensitive of me. Then we just laughed together–What else could we do?

I visited her often during her illness. One day, as the time was drawing near for her to depart this earth, she presented me with one of her rings as a token of our friendship. “God has been teaching me so many things,” she said, “I’m having such sweet fellowship with Him.” She seemed so at peace with her condition; I knew it had to be a God thing. Our tears mingled together as we said our goodbyes.

After she was gone, I felt compelled to follow her example more faithfully. I delivered what seemed like tons of chicken salad to sick families. I always put it in a pretty crystal bowl that had once belonged to Janice, the same bowl Carla was returning to me.

Carla and I had a nice visit that day. I learned she was facilitating a divorce care group, leading a Bible study, working part-time as a pharmacist, in addition to being a wife and mother. Here again was an example of God doing extraordinary things in a person’s life in spite of what seemed like insurmountable circumstances.

My mind returned to something I had written years ago. A mountain top is a good place to visit, but you can’t live there forever because there is no fertilizer there. It’s down in the valley among real people, with real problems, that we find nourishment that will enable us to grow deep into the soil of God’s love.

Like Janice, Carla was living deep in the soil of God’s love and it was sustaining her. After saying goodbye to Carla, I walked into my prayer closer and said a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s grace, a grace that is sufficient on good hair days, bad hair days, and no-hair days.

Contributed by Vona Elkins Bankston