Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
This Thing of Ours, How Faith Saved My Mafia Marriage by Cammy Franzese was a great read! In this book, Cammy tells the story of her life. She started out as a young professional dancer who fell in love with Michael Franzese, a film producer and a member of the infamous Columbo Mob Family. She tells of her childhood with a father who was a civil rights activist and a Christian mother who taught her stick to the choices she made with her life. She writes of her experience as the wife of a Mobster, including spending eight years in the beginning of their marriage raising their three kids by herself.
Cammy never knew he was involved in the mafia until after they were married, with a child, and Michael was in prison for various crimes. While he served his time behind bars, she had no choice but to rely on God to see her through. And during Michael's second sentence in prison, he also found Christ. Michael decided to leave the Mob, and now shares his story of redemption with churches all over the country.
All in all this was a really good book. The only negative aspect of this book is that the author skips around a bit chronologically with events and, in the process, divulges some information that sort of "gives away" the ending of the story. Personally, I think those particular things would have been a bit more exciting left at the ending. But other than that, I enjoyed reading this book and getting an inside look at the family life of someone involved with the mafia.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze.com and was asked to review it.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Through his wife and sons going on a missions trip to the Ukraine a couple of years ago, Mr. Taunton and his family decided to adopt a 10-yr-old orphaned girl name Sasha. The entire process took a year, and when they finally made the trip to finalize the paperwork and bring Sasha home with them, they witnessed what living in a grace-less society was like. In his book he describes in detail what he and his family endured in order to rescue their beloved Sasha from the poor conditions she lived in in Orphange #17. Now, over a year after bringing her to their home in Alabama, she is living proof of how grace is so important to each and every one of us...and especially in society as a whole.
I will be honest, I didn't know if I would like this book and thought I would have to trudge through it, however it really gave me some new insight into international adoptions and also into what socialist (or ex-communist) countries are like.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I have another book review for you! I received a copy of this book from Zondervan and was asked to post my review of Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas. This was a really good book! The main topic of this book is that our spiritual health and fitness is directly related to our physical health and fitness...they go hand-in-hand.
In his book, Gary shares insight from his own personal experiences with losing weight, as well as stories from other people who have lost weight and now live more fulfilling lives both physically AND spiritually. The Bible tells us that our bodies house the Holy Spirit, yet so many of us grow comfortable in our unhealthy, and often lazy, lifestyles. If it requires work or pain, we're not interested. Gary urges us to take that next step to wellness and endure a bit of pain and being uncomfortable because the benefits far outweigh the costs!
One part of the book I really enjoyed reading about was Chapter 10 entitled, "Muscular Christianity". Muscular Christianity was a movement in the late 19th century that "expressed manliness and physical fitness as high Christian ideals." I had never heard of this movement, however so many of its principles should ring true in our lives. We should never become obsessed with fitness, but we should adopt a lifestyle in which our bodies are in good enough shape physically and we have enough endurance to accomplish anything God asks of us. If our bodies are housing the Holy Spirit, shouldn't we take care of them and keep them healthy and fit? Gary writes about how this message of physical fitness is very rarely talked about in churches today. Other sins are addressed such as adultry, murder, and greed, however gluttony and laziness are not touched. Why? Because the issue of obesity encompasses so many. We would rather not hurt someone's feelings than caring about them enough to shed light in, gentleness and love, on their sins (because obesity is almost always caused by overeating and being underactive when genetics are not a factor) so they can carry out what God has called them to do. We are allowing them to not live up to their full potential and, in many cases, even rob themselves of extra years of life due to poor health caused by obesity and inactivity.
Gary's book is full of interesting insights and information from various authors throughout history who wrote concerning the tie between physical and spiritual wellness. It sure has made me ponder some things and has convicted me to look at health and fitness in a new way in order to further God's kingdom!
Monday, December 5, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
The story starts out with Jonathan Rush, who is the CEO of a very successful businessman from Miami, traveling to Alaska to search of some answers concerning his birth mother. His mother had given him up for adoption at the age of 4 and 31 yrs later, he still doesn't know her reasons for it. He knows nothing about his mother, not even her name, and only has a couple of memories concerning her. As an adult he has struggled with anger and bitterness, which has caused him to have three failing marriages, an addiction to painkillers, and almost his life through an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Jonathan's pastor counsels him and suggests to go to Fairbanks, Alaska to find the answers from his past.
Without giving away the end of the story, I will say that it is a happy one! It is a story about how Jesus gave us grace and offered forgiveness to us for our sins, and we, as Christ-followers, can do the same to others!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
1 lb ground beef or chicken
1/2 onion (optional), chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or can use kidney or pinto)
1 can corn (or can use frozen)
Shredded cheddar cheese
4 Flour tortillas, cut in half to make 8 pcs total
Brown mean in skillet with onion. Add cumin & chili powder (don't have actual measurements on this...so just sprinkle some in!) and 1 c. taco sauce. Mix. Once meat is browned, add black beans and corn. This last time I made it I added a can of diced tomatoes, so feel free to add those too if you'd like!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I will be honest, I did not enjoy reading this book. Not this is doesn't contain a lot of true and helpful information, but the author's writing style just did not appeal to me at all. As I read the Introduction, I knew this would not be a very easy book to read. The book is full of useful information, but makes for very dry reading. Please do not let this review sway you into not reading this book for yourself, but be warned that if you like books that are written in a way that is easy to read, then you may want to get this one on a CD or choose a different title.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
1. I couldn't seem to find the right schedule for doing the oil-cleansing method. I read that a fellow blogger only used it once a day which posed a lot of questions for me. Do I do it only at night? But my face is usually way oiler feeling in the morning...should I do it then? And what do I do after a run when I'm all sweaty and my face is in desperate need of washing? I did try it in the morning for a few days, and I tried it in the evening for a few days. I just couldn't seem to get on a schedule with it.
2. Remember the step where you heat up the washcloth with really hot water and then stick it on your face? Well...that is hard to do in the shower! If you just use water that is the same temp as your shower, it doesn't seem hot enough. The alternative is to move the shower head out of the way and turn off the cold water completely, then soak your washcloth and stick it on your face and hold it there for 1 minute without getting scalded by the water coming out of the showerhead. Then wipe the oil off and turn the cold water back on a bit so you can actually stand in the stream of water again. Then cross your fingers and hope that there is enough hot water to finish tending to the rest of your body! (This happened to me today by the way)
3. I am pretty sure I am suffering from the effects of peri-menopause a few month on and a few months off. Well after about a 6-month hiatus, it decided to return. With it, it brought mood swings and acne. So I just couldn't bring myself to put more oil onto my already icky looking oily face. Plus I was just plain hormonal and the last thing on my mind was using the oil-cleansing method. lol
So...even though I didn't last the whole 30 days using only the oil-cleansing method, I do have a couple of positive outcomes:
1. During the time I used this method, I did need any moisturizer. I actually found myself THINKING I needed it only because I am so used to using it each and every morning, but my skin did not feel dry.
2. My skin felt softer.
3. Since I have completely stopped using this method (for probably the past 3-4 weeks) my skin feels so dry and just looks drab. It seems that I can't use enough moisturizer and honestly it just feels irritated all the time...almost like I'm having a reaction to something. So today I thought I'd give the oil-cleansing method a try again to see if it would restore my skin to what it once was. I tried it, and my skin once again feels hydrated, soft, and not irritated.
So...from my short-term experience, I'd give the oil-cleansing 1 thumbs up for all the beneficial effects, and 1 thumb down only because it's such a pain in the hiney to work into my schedule! lol I need to keep reminding myself that these new products are not loaded with chemicals and ickyness, so of course it's not going to be the SAME as what I'm used to. I am going to give this method a go once more and report back my long-term conclusion!!
Have any of you tried this yet??
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I'm sorry to report that my brain and heart are overflowing with thoughts right now. Thoughts I'd love to write about and share with you! I apologize because when I feel this way, I ramble. So that is what I imagine this post to be...a LONG RAMBLE. With that said, if you're not up to following my thought process right now, then feel free to log out and join in on the next post! I also should add that my hubby will be
ecstatic ECSTATIC that he won't have to be the recipient of my randomness tonight! Sometimes when I'm in moods like this I see him look at me in utter disbelief...or maybe he's in awe of how insane complex my mind is! Anyhoo...here are some of my thoughts...
- Did you know that you can mess up your hip from running on uneven pavement? I will share this thought first since it's fresh on my mind...and hip. I have noticed the past 1-2 weeks that my right hip is really sore after running. Not immediately after running, but maybe a few hours, but definately by the next day. Not a muscle soreness, but sort of a pain that runs deep into my hip. This has been bothering both physically and mentally and I kept ignoring it thinking it would go away. Well, it has gotten worse. Bad enough that the past couple of days has been pretty uncomfortable and I've found myself not really wanting to walk around much. So today I called the chiro. Upon explaining the pain and the fact that I'm training for a half marathon to him, he asked if the pavement I was running on was flat. I answered no. Did you know that our state routes (and most other paved roads) are sloped from the middle to each side of the road? You incredibly intelligent readers probably already knew that but I never did until I started running on them. Don't get me wrong, it makes total sense to slope the roads...but it's wrecking havoc on my right hip. Ok, I guess it's not my hip, but actually my sacrum...the lowest part of my spine that is close to my pelvis. (Don't I sound so smart???) So anyways...the doc adjusted me in several places (when your sacrum is out your neck is too..another thing I learned today!), and sent me home with a chilled ice pack to put on my
hipsacrum. It doesn't appear to be unmanageable or life-threatening, but I'm not allowed to run on sloped roads for at least this week and I have to utilize my lovely ice pack whenever I'm in pain. Hopefully I'll be back to running pain-free soon! So there you go...don't you feel enlightened? I told you I would ramble.
- The second thing that I want to ramble about was the sermon that Alan Root gave last weekend at my church. It was nothing short of amazing to me. Besides the fact that we got to act like kids again and sing his fun songs geared towards children, but his sermon really touched me. The whole sermon centered around the idea of restraint. I won't go into all of the details of the sermon, but he said something that really has had me thinking. The passage he read was Matthew 11:28-30: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I have heard this passage many many times, but I see it in a whole new light now. Alan painted such a beautiful picture in my mind of what Jesus was saying and it will stick with me forever. I have always just taken this passage to mean handing my burdens over to God and letting him carry them. And in essence that is what it is about, but Alan taught me a deeper understanding of it. A yoke is a tool used to hook two oxen together so they can plow fields, etc. He told us to imagine ourselved yoked to Jesus. allowing Him to carry most of the load. Allowing Him to lead us and guide us and teach us. He said to picture Jesus as a strong Brahma bull and us as a weakling. God wants to helps us through this life He's called us to live. He wants us to attach ourselves to Him and for us to learn from Him. I guess it got me thinking about my own personal yoke with Jesus. Am I carrying most of the weight? Am I the weakling trudging through life trying to pull way more than I can physically handle because I have too much pride to admit I can't do it alone? Am I allowing my partner Jesus to carry ANY of the load? Do I ever unhook myself from the yoke, walk away, and make Jesus do all the work Himself? Do I ever make Jesus wish He had a different partner to be yoked to? A more willing partner? A not-so-stubborn partner? This illustration has really humbled me and forced me to take a look at my spiritual life. I admit that there have been MANY times I've allowed Jesus to do all the work himself...or even find someone else to do MY work. I haven't yoked up with Jesus long enough for Him to teach me and to really truly learn from Him. Honestly, I'm saddened by my lack of faithfulness at times. I can't tell you how this has touched my life...and I pray it touches yours too.
- On a more fun note, my husband informed me that I am now confident. Me: "What?" Hubby: "You're different. It's like you have more confidence." And I started thinking about it, and yes, I do. Can't really explain how or why or when this all started, but my best guess is that is started when I went on my Emmaus Walk this past April. At one point during the Walk, we were asked to lay our burden. the thing that hinders us the most, at the foot of the cross and not pick it back up again. EVER. When I examined my life and the hindrances I have, the one thing that came to mind was my lack of self-confidence. And as I thought more in-depth about it, that was my ONLY hindrance. I don't say that to brag that I only have one...it's more like that ONE hindrance is so HUGE that it encompasses ALL of my life. It affects me as a friend. It affects my marriage. It affects how I am as a mother. It affects how I act as a child of God and how I handle the calling He has placed on my life. I am reading a really good book entitled, Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst and I read something yesterday that really summed up how I used to feel and act on those feelings. Lysa writes: Like many women, I'd struggled with a flowed perceptions of myself. My sense of identity and worth were dependent on the wrong things - my circumstances or my weight or whether I yelled at the kids that day or what other people thought of me. If I sensed I wasn't measuring up, I kicked into either withdrawal mode or fix-it mode. WIthdrawal mode made me pull back from relationships, feearing others' judgments. I built walls around my heart to keep people at a distance. Fitx-it mode made me overanalyze other people's every word and expression looking for ways to manipulate their opinions to be more pleasing toward me. Take, for example, the crazy question I asked my husband every time I felt insecure while getting ready in teh morning: "Does this make me look fat?" This question had nothign to do with my outfit. It was an attempt to get him to say something, anythign to make me feel better about myself. I could manipulate a compliment, but in the end, I still felt so empty. This is how I lived pretty much all of my adult life...feeling awful about myself and constantly looking for compliments or any hint that I was accepted by others....even from my husband! At some point...and I think that point occurred at Emmaus, I laid it down. I've tried to pick my insecurities up a few times since then, but now I see myself in a completely different light. I have adopted an I-Don't-Care-What-People-Think sort of attitude, but in a good way! I have come to realize that people will judge me whether I'm skinny, fat, beautiful, or not-so-beautiful. Whether I stay at home with my kids, or whether I have a career. How I parent, or don't parent my children. People WILL judge me no matter what...but I am not going to let it bother me or affect me. I am who God made me. Period. I am not perfect, but each day I am striving to listen to God and to become like Him. I used to look in the mirror at myself and feel completely disgusted at what I saw. Now I can look in the mirror and see a woman who changing from the inside out...who is actually...pretty. I am starting to have a runner's body (which I LOVE and have waited SOOOOOOO very long for!) and I am content with who I am. In fact I have embraced who I am wholeheartedly. I am no longer my own worst enemy...Me, Myself, and I are now the best of friends! lol And apparantly hubby has noticed it and finds me all the more attractive because of it!
Well, I think my rambling has come to an end. I'm speechless...literally....I can't think of anything else to write. And that doesn't happen very often! So I guess now would be a great time to put this post to an end. Until next time my friends!! :)
Monday, July 25, 2011
Anyways...here it is:
I AM RUNNING A HALF-MARATHON IN OCTOBER!!! Yes, I'm stupid. And yes, it is WAY out of my comfort zone...or at least it was when I decided to run it about 11 weeks ago. The 13.1 mile finishline is slowly coming into view now that I'm midway through my training. I know I can do it...but do I want to go through this pain and all this training in order to accomplish it? Not really. I'd much rather sleep in on the morning I have to run...or realx with my family on Sunday evenings when I need to do my LONG (and I do mean LONG) run. But I've committed to run this race, so I'm going to persevere. This week I will be reigstering for the race, so it will be official...I'm way too cheap to pay $60 for an entrance fee and not show up! lol Besides, I get a free shirt out of the deal! I do love freebies! lol
All this running makes me think of the following verse from the Bible:
Therefore since we surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I can relate to this passage so much right now! Each race has a "cloud of witnesses" watching me to make sure I am running the race and crossing the finishline. And most times they are cheering me on, encouraging me to keep running. Just like our spiritual "run", a physical run is hard work. And it can often be painful. I have found just the past two weeks that when I stop to take a short breather for a minute or two, it is actually more painful than if I had just kept running. (See any parallels to our spiritual run?) Sometimes we trip and fall (luckily I haven't had the pleasure of eating pavement however I know it happens). Sometimes I come across roadblocks, angry dogs, or the stench of roadkill, but I have learned to adapt and keep running. (or yell "NO!!!!!" at the angry dogs and stare them down...lol) Through all of this, the pain, frustration, exhaustion that I experience while running is nothing compared to what our Lord Jesus endured on the cross. And it is His strength that keeps me going...persevering until I see the finishline for myself!
I have so much more that I want to write about, but it is time to take the girls to VBS and savor a whole 1.5 hrs to myself! I will write more soon...I promise!!! lol
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I do have a pretty cool goal that I have set for myself for this year, but unfortunately I don't have the time to post it all right now. I'm heading out on a run in a few mins and will try to remember to post when I get back providing mass chaos hasn't occurred once the kiddos are up. But I will give you a hint: it has to do with running. Happy Guessing until next time! :)