Thursday, October 3, 2013

REVIEW: GRACE unplugged, In Theater's October 4!

Tonight I had the joy and privilege to see a private screening of a new film GRACE UNPLUGGED starring AJ Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollack, Shawnee Smith, Michael Welch, and Jamie Grace. The film is from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions and is inspired by a true story. Opening night is TOMORROW night October 4th! It is a MUST see for every family with middle school/high school students! A great family movie that will promote conversations with your teens. This movie really shows how we need to stand up for our faith to not be ashamed!

I had a girls night out with my nearly 20 year old daughter. It was a sweet, special time for the two of us. We both decided that we want to go back and see it again this weekend! The music is phenomenal! The story may really resonate for any parent that strives to raise their children by teaching them to keep Christ at the center of their lives. It also touches on that fear we feel as parents to let go and allow our children to experience life even if we feel their choices are wrong.

The movie is about a talented young singer and aspiring songwriter's Christian faith and  how her family ties are tested when she defies her worship pastor father and pursues pop-music stardom. Her father used to be a top ten pop star before he became a Christian and he knows what lies ahead and the temptations that she will be faced with. It is a moving and inspiring new film that explores the true meaning of success. I liken it to a new twist on the prodigal son from a modern day perspective.

There was a particularly poignant part of the movie that put a huge lump in my throat since recently we have gone through having an almost empty nest. As parents you want your children to follow their dreams, to fly the coup, spread their wings and experience life but at times it is so hard! There are so many temptations in this world. But as Christian parents we have to trust that we have poured into our children God's love and precepts. We then have to do the hardest part of all....surrender them to Him! This wonderful movie is 118 minutes but it flew by! The audience clapped for several minutes after the movie was over. I love being able to see movies I can enjoy with my family that embody the values and ideals we believe in plus promote the message of Jesus Christ.

Go see this wonderful movie this weekend! If you need any further encouragement just check out those who have endorsed GRACE UNPLUGGED.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Everyday Matters Bible for Women (NLT)

I was asked to review the "Everyday Matters Bible for Women-Practical Encouragement to Make Every Day Matter" in the NLT. Being a member of the CWA Review Crew this is my first review.

I have many different Bibles but found this one to be particularly wonderful in helping me study God's word and to seek application in my life. The Bible is geared towards women and makes it very helpful when pouring over scripture to have the sidebars of information from listing 24 spiritual disciplines to background on each chapter available at my fingertips. I have often been a purist when it comes to study Bibles. I am very particular and have never really looked into Bibles such as this "Everyday Matters Bible for Women" but I was pleasingly surprised at the breadth of information that really spoke to me as a woman of God. I find that this Bible is an excellent study guide. It has enhanced my time in the Word and given me new insight.

In the past I have had my favorite study Bible for instance I loved my Amplified Study Bible that gave me the option of having four different versions on each page. However, it is a huge Bible to lug around and is not at all comfortable to sit, read, and pour over. However, this "Everyday Matters Bible for Women" is just the right size and I love the layout and colors. The cover is beautiful! There was only one negative for me...I am not a fan of a hardcover Bible. I guess I am too hard on a Bible with all my underlining, marking, notating in the margins that I tend to cause the binding to pull away from hardbound Bibles. My preference is for a leather bound Bible but I find myself going back to this Study Bible again and again for the awesome study helps that it provides.

 I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of  The CWA Review Crew.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Bread

I have now been gluten free and sugar free for 16 months. It has been a long, hard process. I have taken great insight from the various blogs and recipe books I have found, however, I felt almost fearful of trying any of these fabulous things! I think mainly I felt afraid due to the unfamiliar ingredients and a new way of cooking. I have grown tired of the same meals and have begun to venture out a bit. I have made several things lately but for whatever reason found that I really prefer to make a recipe fit more my taste and fast-paced life. I do not like having to use a lot of ingredients or reading so many steps in a recipe.

This week I found a fabulous Paleo Coconut Bread that I made. Of course, I had to tweak it a bit to fit my needs. I did not use the honey in the recipe and added another flour instead of all coconut. But the bread came out very tasty and moist. Today I thought I would experiment further and the Chocolate Coconut Bread is the result.

As I continue on this journey it is evident that I need to branch out and step out of my comfort zone!


Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Bread
6 eggs
15 drops of Stevia
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
1 cup of freshly ground coconut (carefully use a food processor or coffee grinder to pulverize your flaked coconut…it only took a couple of pulses and it was more like a flour)
2 cups of Almond Meal Flour
1 tsp vanilla
Whip the eggs, Stevia, and vanilla. Add the baking powder and cocoa to the coconut and almond meal flour. I mixed together with a fork to make sure there were no lumps. The coconut will have a texture and that is okay. Add your wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. The batter will begin to get thick. I used a glass bread pan but you can also use a metal pan. Grease the pan with Coconut Oil or use parchment paper. I used Coconut Oil.   
Bake for 45 minutes at 300 or until a knife comes clean from middle of bread
This is not very sweet. I think next time I may add five more drops of Stevia but I love the taste.
I served a slice with Almond Butter but you could also use Peanut Butter

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who's Really in Control?

So much friction in this country in the race for president. As Christian's we are to pray for our leaders. It did not say if we agreed with them or not. Am I going to vote? Do I care what is going on in this country? You bet I do! But I also know as a Bible believing Christian we are not to worry or fret. I also know that regardless of how many electoral votes are received and by whom, what the main stream media reports (or doesn't) or what people like Chris Matthews says it is the Lord and ONLY the Lord that will put into office who will fulfill His plans and designs. "We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall." Proverbs 16:33. Does this mean we sit back full of pride and not do, vote, and then whoever becomes President do what God's word says to do: “1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” -1 Timothy 2:1-3

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rites of Passage

All is quiet this morning as I sit and drink my coffee, reflecting over the past eleven plus years. Life is slowing down somewhat compared to the fast paced life we led nearly eleven years ago when I was newly married and went from having one child to suddenly four. They ranged in age from 13, 9, 8, and 7 years of age. Life was crazy busy blending a family and running from activities, working a full time job, and everything else that goes with having a larger family.

In 1992, I suddenly became a single parent with a four year old son. My first husband decided that being married to me was not what he wanted. I was devastated. The next nine years were incredibly difficult, heartbreaking, empowering, challenging, and yet fulfilling. It was during these nine years that I truly came to understand the depth of Christ's love for me and to see His provision first hand in my life.

In 2000, I met my precious husband. Right from the beginning I knew that he was an answer to all those tear filled prayers for nearly ten years. I could see the hand of the Lord in bringing us together. After my painful divorce I knew that I never wanted to marry someone that had been divorced and had to share children with their former spouse. I had witnessed too many heartaches within our singles ministry at church where couples would be wounded and hurt by divorce only to meet and remarry too quickly. Later when they would divorce not only were they devastated but their children were scarred. I knew that I could not handle that back and forth nature of this life given how incredibly hard it had been for my son being gone every other weekend. I knew that this life was not what I wanted or what my heart could handle. I began to pray in earnest that if the Lord wanted me to remarry that he would bring to me a man that had either never been married or had been widowed with children that desperately wanted a mother's touch in their life. I knew that I would be content to be single the rest of my life if this was not in the Lord's plan for me. When I found out that the man I had just met was widowed with three small children I could see that the Lord was revealing His plan to me and for me to be patient to see His will fulfilled.

As I sit here this morning I marvel at how fast these years have passed! I am so thankful that these precious children that have become so much a part of me and my heart have turned into the most amazing young adults one could ever hope or pray for.

Our baby graduated a few short months ago from high school. I can't believe it! It has been quite exciting the past three years having three high school graduations one after another. I don't have to run all over town anymore taking one to this practice or church activity since they all drive now.

Blending a family is difficult and there are so many areas that can tear one apart. We made a covenant when we married and vowed to never contemplate divorce. We also decided to be completely debt free but our home. We worked very hard and through seasons of unemployment, working three jobs, cutting corners we succeeded in paying off our debt. We also decided that the word 'step' would not be used in our family. God had brought our family together and we would welcome whatever the children felt comfortable with and calling me Mom was one of the first things requested. We have never let them forget their precious Mom. We speak of her often and have numerous items of her's around, photo albums, and beautiful cross stitched pictures on our walls. Some days I feel so close to her and while I never knew her I have felt a camaraderie with her. I know it sounds strange but when there have been tough times I have prayed for guidance in how she would have handled a specific issue. I know the Lord has guided us along this path of raising her precious children. What a privilege it has been for me to step in the love, cherish, comfort, counsel, and guide her darling children.

As I survey my home from my dining room table, coffee cup in hand, I am filled with gratitude that I have been chosen to be this man's wife and these precious ones mom. It is one of the greatest gifts of my life. As they are now beginning to take flight from the nest I pray that I have been able to ease the hurt of losing a Mom so early in life. Thanks be to the One that has done exceedingly more than I could ask or hope for.

I think I am now ready to tackle this next phase in life....

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crockpot Mexican Breakfast Casserole

I LOVE using my crockpots to cook meals for my family! Yes, I said CROCKPOTS! I have a very large 7 quart, a 5 quart, and a smaller one for dips and such. I love to read a recipe and then make it my own. This is what I have done for a wonderful breakfast casserole. My son requests it each time he is home from college. It is easy and fabulous!

I originally found this recipe on Pinterest. I soon tweaked it to suit my family. It is a tried and true recipe and it can be found here.

Crockpot Mexican Breakfast Casserole
One or two jars of Hormel Real Bacon bits (Or a pound of crisp cooked bacon)
One or two sweet onions
2 small cans of chopped green chilies
Garlic powder, Onion Powder, Mexican flavorings
One large bag of Potatoes O’Brien cubed hash browns
One dozen eggs
1 Cup of Milk
½ to 1 pound of Mexican blend shredded cheese or Pepper Jack….I have used all kinds of cheese in this recipe.

Spray your crockpot with cooking spray for easy cleanup or use a liner.
Next we are going to layer the ingredients. (Reserve the green chilies for later)
Start with some of the hash browns, still frozen, and layer them on the bottom of the crockpot.
Add some of the onion, bacon bits, spices and then cheese


Add a healthy dose of cheese on the top of your casserole.

Beat the eggs and milk. Add green chilies. Add more seasonings to the egg mixture. I go light on the salt due to the bacon. I go heavy on garlic and my Mexican seasonings. I have found this product Pure Shakers in the Fiesta Mexican Blend. We LOVE it! I use it to cook all the time!
Pour the egg, milk, and green chili mixture over the potatoes.

Put your crockpot on LOW and cook for ten-eleven hours or until eggs are set and completely cooked, depending on the heat of your crockpot. I usually make this around 9:30 pm at night for breakfast the next morning.

We have used chorizo and jalapenos as well in this casserole but the one version I use the most is above. You can change this up to fit your family's taste-buds. It is a great casserole!


For more great crockpot recipes head back to Kelly's Korner for Crockpotalooza 2!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pursuing Health

I have been away from blogging for awhile now. I miss writing and now that my family is rapidly growing up and heading into young adulthood I feel that I have more time to pursue again one of my passions which is journaling.

This year I have been in a great pursuit of health. I have struggled with my weight for about two decades now. Wow! Just writing that is very sobering. I have used willpower, fad diets, exercise, and other ways to lose the weight. I realized that my main issue is in my head and in fact, a control issue that I desperately needed to turn over to my Lord and Savior. This go around feels different. I am not on a 'diet' for one and the other key is I know I have to exercise every single day. Do I love it? Uh No! Am I learning to love it? Uh sort of. Do I know I have to do it? YES!

October 1st, 2011, I decided to go gluten free to see if some issues I had struggled with for more than twenty years would disappear. I was not sure if I could do it but I read many blogs, books, medical reports, and really prayed about what to do. I have seen a huge change in how I feel and stomach issues that have plagued me for years disappeared! Hallelujah!

Four years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I had no idea what to do. I was depressed and discouraged. I think more than anything I was disgusted with myself. In December I began to really get serious about testing my blood sugar to see what was effecting me and when. My poor little fingers were a battleground for several weeks. I can say now I only test in the morning, sometimes at before lunch, and always before dinner in the evening. I have seen my blood sugar drop significantly and I know when I am having issues. It has been a God-send to get in tune with my body!

I also changed my eating habits even more dramatically in December when I went lower carb and no sugar! So now I am eating lower carbs and by that I mean no empty carbs. I really keep track of what triggers my blood sugar to spike and carbs really do a number on my blood sugar. I can say that the weight is melting off of me. My husband is calling me the "Shrinking Woman".

I think more than the food changes and added exercise is what I have been doing with my mind. I truly confessed all those things that triggered me to eat sweets or to rationalize eating 'just a little' of something that I desired. I have never been a binge eater or someone that ate large amounts of calories at once. I was a snacker. I ate very healthy for the most part but I have found that all the whole grains that I was eating like whole grain pastas, breads, etc were killing me! I thought I would doing something great for my body but because of my obvious gluten issues I was not. It is a huge blessing knowing that I have found the main cause of my weight issues and subsequent illness. I have given myself permission to fail and yet in doing so my desire for my former triggers just went away. I have learned what makes my body tick and how much work it is to work off those desirable calories. I choose to eat sensibly and get my workouts in so that at night I can enjoy my treat of either berries with cream or sugar free gelatin or pudding with whipped cream. It is a little decadent and given what my carb count is for the day I decide on whether I have the pudding or the gelatin. The gelatin has 0 carbs and the pudding has around 12 carbs. Zero is always better!

Keeping track of my emotions, reason for hunger, how much H2O I have consume, carbs, protein, blood pressure, exercise, and blood sugar was overwhelming at first. Now it is second nature. I try not to beat myself up like I would do in the past. I tell myself I am not on a diet but living my life eating healthy, moving, and getting in touch with what makes me and my body function.

I am going to post a few of the things that have really helped me as I pursue better health.
Until next time....