Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not My Decision

I sat down to write a blog for the September blog, but this came out instead. I'm not a poet by any stretch, but it encapsulates my inner battle while dealing with costochondritis for the last (almost) seven months. These are my thoughts just put down--they're not meant for publishing.

Not My Decision

I sit alone in a prison
Not made by me
It was not my decision.

Aching body, jaw clenched

I wait alone in a prison
Not made by me
It was not my decision.

In a crowd, with smile pasted

I walk alone in a prison
Not made by me
It was not my decision.

Holding His Book, the tears flow

I read alone in a prison
Not made by me
It was not my decision.

Before the throne, I make my plea
To make my leave

To never be alone in a prison
Not made by me, for
It was not my decision.

His eyes gaze into mine
He takes my hand

To guide me from my prison
Not made by me, and
It was His decision.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Across the Wide River - a Kregel Review

Across the Wide River, written by Stephanie Reed, is an inspiring tale (based on real individuals and real events) about a young boy and his family's experiences as pro-abolitionists. This story is earmarked for teens, but honestly it could be read by younger children and adults can certainly appreciate it as well.

In Across the Wide River, main character Lowry Rankin, an ordinary boy yet extraordinary in character, finds himself in situations where he witnesses the plights of slaves. Having watched his own black friend nearly beaten to death, Lowry finds himself in agreement with his family that slavery is wrong.

Lowry, as an adolescent, struggles with his own problems with self-esteem because of being bullied by those who disagreed with him and his family's beliefs in abolishing slavery. Lowry battles between acting on what was right or whether to turn a blind eye to slavery.

This book was thought-provoking and moving. I highly recommend this book to all teens and adults who appreciate historical fiction. If you're interested in more information about the real Rankin House and story, click {here}.

I received Across the Wide River as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Kregel Blog Tours. My comments and opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mine is the Night - a Waterbrook Multnomah Review

Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs was a breathtaking book that read like a classic to me. It had a Jane Eyre feel to it, I thought, and it had me in anticipation from start to finish.

Set in 18th century Scotland, Mine is the Night is a story of two ladies' journeys from prosperity to poverty. Due to the loss of her husband and her sons (Jacobites) after they were lost in battle, widow Marjory Kerr and her widowed daughter-in-law Elisabeth set off for the Kerr hometown of Selkirk to begin life anew. Running from dragoons who would surely capture them and turn them into the King for their treason frightened them, but they found Selkirk to be fairly safe.

After being reluctantly accepted by the townsfolk, Marjory and Elisabeth, with the help of their cousin Anne who provided shelter, began to support themselves. Marjory learned to cook and care for the home (having been a mistress of a large home with servants, she'd not had to do that before), and Elisabeth became a seamstress in town.

After admiral Lord Jack Buchanan was awarded an estate in Selkirk by the King, Elisabeth applied for a servant's job--as seamstress. She was quite a talented seamstress and caught Lord Jack's eye immediately.

What results is a story that will warm your heart. The story has a Ruth-Naomi-Boaz feel to it that is sure to please.

I had never read any of Higgs' books, but now I'm definitely ready for more. This was a winner!!

I received Mine is the Night as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thunder of Heaven - a Zondervan review

Ok. Let me just get this off of my chest:


Thunder of Heaven is absolutely incredible. When I was given the opportunity to review this second book in The End Series written by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall, I knew it was going to be good. I didn't waste any time trying to read the second book before having read the first, so luckily I found it at the libary. By the time Thunder of Heaven arrived at my door, I'd read Edge of Apocalypse and was ready to roll. :)

Thunder of Heaven is a book that has a similar feel as the Left Behind series. It's captivating, full of drama, and it leaves you on the edge of your seat. The End Series, however, focuses more on military aspects than the Left Behind series does, but don't let that discourage you from reading if you're not entirely too thrilled about reading military jargon. I'm normally not interested in military or political fiction, but this book has completely changed my mind. Coming from a girl who tends to prefer chick lit, that's saying a lot! ;)

Main character Joshua Jordan, retired colonel from the Air Force, is the head of a secret "round table" of individuals who meet regularly to try to protect the country from disaster when the government seems to turn a blind eye to danger. So Joshua Jordan and some of his pals created a RTS (Return to Sender) antimissile defense system, which had first been used in the first book (Edge of Apocalypse) to detract certain demise intended for New York. The RTS system was considered controversial, and Joshua Jordan was considered a criminal for using a system that hadn't been given the OK by the government.

Joshua's wife Abigail, their son Cal, and daughter Deborah are thrust headfirst into chaos when threat comes from Russia. Joshua and Deborah head to Israel to attempt to help the Israelis thwart an attack, while Abigail and Cal work to keep things together as the round table is being brought to justice for their secret meetings.

Even though this book is set in the future, it has an intensely current feel to it. LaHaye and Parshall do an excellent job fleshing out the characters, portraying the feel of corruption, and leaving the reader turning the pages furiously in attempt to absorb it all!

I hope that they're working on Book 3, because this chick is ready for more!!

I received Thunder of Heaven as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Zondervan.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Health & Beauty Products I LOVE!

I was just thinking the other morning while I was doing my morning "beautifying" routine that I need to make a blog entry about the products that I love the most. There are certain beauty and health products that I would truly hate to see go away because I absolutely love them. And here is a list of those things I LOVE (in no particular order).

Coconut Oil
I have recently bought coconut oil in order to make homemade deodorant. I LOVE it! Not only can it be used in the making of deodorant, coconut oil is also very good for you. It can be used for dry skin and irritating skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. (Combine it with honey, and it feels so awesome on the face!!) My grandfather is a barber, and I remember he always had a jar of Coconut Oil in his shop; it's a great dandruff-buster and hair conditioner!! It also is a healing agent for cuts and scrapes. I hear that coconut oil rubbed on the forehead is also good for stress. (Haven't tried it yet myself though.) It also supposedly helps in digestion, vitamin absorption, irritating bowel problems (IBS), stimulates metabolism, and improves thyroid function. Coconut oil is a must-have for me from now on!!

Bare Escentuals bareMinerals
I LOVE this stuff! This makeup is the only makeup I've ever had that has not broken out my skin. In fact, it has done the opposite!! The acne that I used to have all the time--great big zits, y'all--are all but gone. I just thought that I was one of those unfortunate adults who was cursed with acne forever. Obviously, I still get little teeny things when hormones hit that crucial stage during the month, but as for the huge, ugly beasts that I got regularly, they are gone. I highly recommend this makeup for any adults (and teens) who struggle with sensitive skin like I do. It's a little more expensive than the typical Cover Girl products I used to buy, but it lasts me a long time (especially the blush). Typically, the foundation lasts three months and sometimes a little longer. So when you consider $16 on foundation for three months' time (especially knowing that it won't break your skin out!), that's a pretty good deal.

Organix shampoos and conditioners
This brand is my absolute favorite. It's an organic shampoo and conditioner (and sulfate free!) that leaves the hair's natural oils intact. I use the "flavor" you see on the left because my hair tends to get dry. There are other blends like, but not limited to, cherry blossom ginseng, coconut milk, vanilla silk, teatree mint, and coconut butter.

This shampoo can be found at most pharmacies and stores like Walmart. I'm able to buy each bottle around $6 at Walmart, and they last me about three months. (I wash my hair every other day.)

Renpure Organics
This is another organic shampoo and conditioner that I like. I also use the "flavor" that you see on the left: it's the pomegranate, papaya and olive leaf. I came upon this brand by accident. I'd sent my husband shopping at Walmart one day and he came back with this instead of my usual Organix brand of shampoo. I was a little worried at first, but when I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised. It works about as well as Organix, and is just slightly cheaper than Organix. I am able to buy it just shy of $6 at Walmart. They also have other blends. Check them out!

Essential oils
A few years ago, if someone had talked to me about the use of essential oils, I'd have thought they were old school. I won't discount traditional medicine, but the use of essential oils in treating simple problems (and even some complex ones!) shouldn't be forgotten. Grandma's use of cloves for your toothache wasn't just some back hills remedy. It worked.

I LOVE lavender. I absolutely love it, and have used it so often for healing acne and boils and the like that it has become a staple in my medicine cabinet. Add to the fact that it's soothing and relaxing, and you've got a winner.

I also regularly use lemon oil, peppermint oil on occasion, Thieves oil (though I'm mildly allergic to cinnamon, so I have to use with caution), and tea tree oil. If you don't know much about the healing properties of essential oils, I highly recommend you look into it!

Melt and Pour Soaps
I love making my own soap. There are companies out there like Bramble Berry who sell organic melt and pour bases so that you can make whatever flavor of soap you want. Twenty-five pounds will cost you about $40, but you can make a looooot of soap with 25 pounds! Add some essential oils like Rosemary or Tea Tree and some fragrance oils that you like, and you're set!

Amber necklace
I was first introduced to amber for headaches by my friend Kristin. She'd found a website called Inspired by Flynn. The website features necklaces, bracelets, etc. that have healing properties. You can read here about the healing properties in amber.

What are the health and beauty products that you cannot live without? Please share!!

I have not been paid to review any of these products. My opinions are my own.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Of August Lineage

Recently, my sons and I were talking about the timeline for heavenly events. My boys, 11 and (just today) 7, have grown up in church and so it's not unusual for us to talk about the Bible, the Lord, or even things complicated like prophecy. Revelations is an especially interesting topic to my eldest son Daniel. He's fascinated with events leading up to the rapture and what happens afterward. And the great thing is, I'm fascinated with that timeline as well! :)

So when Daniel asked me about how things will work during the tribulation and the thousand year reign, I was excited. He always tends to ask me difficult questions while we're driving and I can't dig my pocket-sized Bible out of my purse (it comes in handy when I'm not driving! lol).

I always get excited to talk about the calling up of believers, the millennial reign, and New Jerusalem. The fact that I have been adopted into the family of the most Righteous on High (Eph. 1:5) never gets old, because by my own merit I'm not worthy of heaven.

Ephesians 2:8 tells me "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." [Emphasis mine] There's nothing on this earth that I could do to earn God's gift. That verse specifically says that salvation IS A GIFT! The Merriam-Webster online dictionary's definition (specifically the second one) of "gift" is:

something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation

God doesn't require us to pay Him back for that gift of salvation. He doesn't offer salvation expecting something from us in return. He gives salvation simply because he WANTS us to have it. God created man so that He might have a relationship with him. He wants to have fellowship with His creation. Even when Adam and Eve sinned and men and women continually showed God that they were sinful and at times unlovable, God didn't give up on His creation. He sent Jesus to the earth to be "the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2) Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, when He was rejected by His very own lineage, allowed the Gentiles to be adopted as part of the heavenly, the august, heritage.

I'm so glad I'm part of the family of God!!

(Fast-forward to 1:40 for the song :P)
From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I'm not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God