Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Confession Time

OK. Here I sit, suffering, due in part to a horrible cold I happened to pick up about a week ago and the other fact that for the last two years, I have an addiction. One that started with seasonal allergies but for the last hour have been documented in hundreds of forums all over the internet.

Nasal Spray! I am addicted. Yes that's right for the last two years, faithfully I have been using it to breath, because without it, my nasal passages block up worst that cement being poured into them and allowed to harden. So what's a person to do besides be honest and come clean? Well the latest findings I have researched is one of three things:

1. Quit cold turkey, which sounds easy until you attempt to try it and live for the next hour or so, breathing out of your mouth until your throat drys out and you develop a horrible cough.

2. Try diluting the spray with saline by 50% and keep using it as you normally would, adding more saline as your bottle empties. (This one will probably be my final option)

3. Only use it on one side, allowing up to three to four days for one side of your nose to open up again and heal in other words using the spray like you have been just on the other side. The belief is, as long as you can breath out of one side, you'll be likely to deal better than the cold turkey option. This one I am trying today, along with prayer that God will help me deal with this addiction. Once I break free, I vow never to go back. So far, I've made it through the first four hours with one side remaining blocked, but using spray to keep at least one option open.

People have claimed all kinds of horrible concoctions from pepper spray if you can believe that one, to steroids shots or worse case, surgery. I have to get rid of this addiction and of course, trying to do this while you have a horrible head cold is the absolute worst but if I don't do this now, there will be no way out. By the way, allergy and sinus medication via pill form does not help at all to reduce the symptoms. If it were that simple, I'd simply take pills until my nose stops rebounding and then simply stop taking the pills.

I'd love to hear your comments and could use those prayer warriors to really lift me up at this time. I'll keep you posted and let you know how it's going.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Risk It!

Passing along a great message I got in my email from Charles Swindoll! It truly does speak to this time and our generation of believers, are you willing to risk it?

Risk It!
by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Esther 4:12--14

What does it matter if I get involved or not? It matters greatly---it matters to your character! Yes, it's true that God has other ways to accomplish His objectives. He has other people He can use. He isn't frustrated or restrained because you and I may be indifferent. But when that happens, we are the losers. When we have been called "for such a time as this," how tragic it is if we don't stand up in that hour.

There will be no celestial shout urging you to take a stand. Nor will a flash of lightning awaken you in the midst of your slumber. It doesn't work like that, so don't sit around waiting passively. Numerous needs and issues surround us. They summon us to stand up and be counted. While we will not be able to respond to all of them, the solution is not to respond to none of them! So let me ask you: What are you doing to stand up, to stand alone, to answer the call of God in this hour? Allow me to spell out a few issues and needs worth considering.

Are you involved in helping dysfunctional families? How about those who are homeless and hungry? Or those who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol? What do you do for the orphans and widows? In "such a time as this," what do you stand against and stand for? Do you take a stand against pornography? Do you support any part of the cause of the pro-life movement against abortion? Where do you stand as it relates to the absence of masculinity, the whole extreme feminist movement? What about the horror of sexual abuse that has become so rampant in our society? Or prejudice against other races or nationalities? What about the developmentally disabled? This is an urgent hour of need. Are you there, ready to be salt and light, in this hour?

Not until you believe one person can make a difference will you be willing to take a risk. Quit being so careful about protecting your own back. Stop worrying about what others will think. You don't answer to them. You answer to Him. He will help. He will give you wisdom and courage. You may be only one, but you are one. So, take a risk!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In the Not So Distant Future

Seems like lately the future isn't looking so bright when you think of things from a world perspective. The jobless rate is still slowing moving upward, the health care crisis is way beyond control and even the economy is slipping in a downward trend. Have you noticed lately the prices of everything seem to be climbing but the overall product weight is shrinking, which means we are in fact paying way more for a whole lot less. Just check the size of your potato chip bags lately?

So what does the future look like? Will it get any better or are we sitting on the verge of a far worse depression then the one that hit us in 1929? I mean can anyone get a loan anymore with a fairly decent rate? Now banks, like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase are going to begin to charge their customers a $5 fee to use their debit cards every month. That will add $60 to the banks bottom line for every single customer that uses their debit cards. Isn't that a bit ridiculous? Trust me, as a BofA customer, I am not happy and unless they change their business practices, I will be shopping for another bank.

However lately the talk on the Internet and through the social media channels is that something is brewing and it doesn't look good. In fact just watching the stock market go up and down like a Merry-Go-Round is enough to make you sick. One person commented to my husband about why we aren't investing our money in anything lately is that "We" are hurting the economy. Huh? I mean are they going to help us out when "their" investments turn out to be a bad idea? Yeah right and if you believe that one, I have a bridge I'd like to see you here in the desert.

So are any of you making any plans now, to prepare for what might come? I know a few of my friends have started growing their own food, are learning to can foods and store items that they can use for awhile and some have started trading out their US money for gold. Do they know something we don't?

You know who won't be at all affected if the US economy goes belly up? The Amish! They have been self-sufficient since the beginning, learning to rely on what they can grow, and are not dependent on the economy for anything. I think there is a lesson to be learned in the process of history, and there is a valuable lesson to be seen there. We need to be more self-reliant and serving our communities and neighborhoods more. For if the way the world is going, we can only pray that God will rapture the believers before it all goes south! At least I know where I will spending my eternity and that is the only security I need. Makes me wonder just what the year 2012 will bring?

I'd love to hear your thoughts so please share them with me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Go Against The Flow

As most of you know I've had the opportunity to review some amazing books this year and I have to share a story that came out of one of them and how it took me back to a particular time in my past that had a great outcome. Hang in there, it's well worth it.

One of the best jobs I've ever held was a Senior Training Specialist, (a.k.a. as a Supervisor/Trainer) for AT&T Wireless back in the day and loved seeing people's responses whenever we had a test coming up to measure how much new employees for Customer Service were retaining. Testing is necessary so we can see if we, as trainers, are moving too fast or too slow in what we were teaching them and we had the creativity to design our own tests.

A colleague of mine, Tim and I, decided since the Technical Troubleshooting with our representatives was the most difficult portion of the training they had to master, we would try a simple but well thought out test for a multiple choice test. No matter what the questions were the answer would always be the letter C. For all 30 questions. Not only did this make the grading easier for us, we wanted to see if anyone would catch on to what we were doing. I have to tell you in all the groups of representatives we tested, no one, not one, scored a perfect 100%. Even though after grading them and handing them back, we explained the answer key. We told the representatives that every single answer on the test was the letter C.

Do you know that almost every single person admitted to catching on to it, but doubt their own answers simply because it went against everything they considered? I mean how could every single answer be C, so they opted to chose other answers instead. How simple it would have been to trust their instincts and simply answer the questions based on their knowledge and let the results speak for themselves? Why does that happen? Why do people not trust their answer to be right despite what the trend shows?

I never really thought about it all until I read the book, Situations Matter by Sam Sommers. In it, Sam explains from a psychology perspective why people react the way they do, and why in crowded situations do they respond differently then when alone? He documented many instances of people acting against their nature and doing something completely different and in some of those cases the outcome was tragic.

Consider one such example, now labeled the Liverpool 38, in which two boys in Merseyside, England both ten years old, kidnapped a two year old, James Patrick Bulger from a busy shopping mall and later murdered him. Even though the two boys were caught and tried, the evidence later showed, 38 other people that had contact with the three boys that day and no one intervened at all. Some said, they thought the two older boys were simply brothers taking a younger one home, others thought something odd was happening but since no one else was taking action, neither did they.

When a study was conducted later using the details of this case in a psychology class, students responded that the majority of them would have taken some kind of action and never let this progress as far as it did. So why did every single one of the 38, in a crowded mall and street fail to react. Would those same students if placed in the situation that day really act like they said they would?

I see this same thing occurring when as Christians almost day, we make decisions that go against what we believe for the sake of not rocking the boat or causing waves or simply because we don't think one person can make a difference. However consider your response to the Liverpool 38, what would you have done, honestly? Would you have stepped up or would you leave it up to someone else to say something, to do something, to intervene? In the case of the Liverpool 38, one person could have save the life of another.

In the case of our testing methods, one person could have achieved success by simply going against what he thought was happening and trusted what was right on the inside. Too often I pass many Facebook posts and offers of help and no one does anything leaving the responsibility up to someone else to step up. If someone else took the initiative first, its funny to see how many others would jump on board. I challenge you today, to go against human nature, and go against the flow.

Do the right thing, say something, inquire as a concerned person, consider others feelings for a change and simply refuse to do nothing! Your actions could very well change everything for the better, just look at what Jesus' actions did for the world. It's still something we all talk about and model our behaviors after, because it's right!

Romans 12:2 ~ "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting Down and Dirty

Have you ever seen a chinchilla? They are one of the cutest animals God ever made! Their heads kinda look like a mouse's, their bodies resemble a rabbit's, and their long puffy tails look like a squirrels. Chinchillas are naturally found in the Andes Mountains in South America, so they prefer dry and cool weather.

One of the most unbelievable things about chinchillas is their fur. If you have ever touched one, you know exactly what I'm talking about. They have fifty or more hairs coming out of one follicle in their skin. (To give you an idea of what that's like, we humans only have one hair per follicle). Their fur is so soft and fluffy!

Chinchillas aren't super aggressive, but they do have one funky way of defending themselves. If an enemy grabs onto its fur, the chinchilla will actually release that fur from its body in order to get away.

Anyone who has a pet chinchilla will tell you that the most entertaining thing about owning one is the dust bath. In order to keep a chinchilla's fur clean, you can't wash it down with shampoo and a hose like you would a dog. A chinchilla cleans itself with dust. The dust is superfine powdery stuff made especially for chinchillas. Every now and then, you take a bowlful of chinchilla-cleaning dust and set it down near the rodent. He'll very happily climb into that container and start flipping around and rolling around in it like it's the best thing that's ever happened to him. The dust gets into his fur and cleans all the oil and yucky stuff that gets in there. It's funny that dust - really fine dirt - gets the chinchilla clean!

When you want to be clean from something bad you've done, the only way to do that is by telling Jesus about your sin and accepting his forgiveness, just like David did in today's Bible verse. God has forgiveness for anyone who wants it. We just have to want to jump in and give it a whirl!

"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." ~ Psalm 51:7

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Missing Out

Why are we so often put to the test to see how we will act as Christians only to fall flat on our face? Sometimes it feels as if we fall more than we succeed. At least that's how it feels lately to me.

I struggle at times in knowing where my place is in our home as a wife. I know my husband is supposed to be the spiritual leader and I am supposed to let him lead, but what if he truly doesn't want to? What if he isn't willing? Who takes the lead then?

Oh, I have been struggling with this very issue lately, wanting to give my hubby all the love and support and encouragement the Bible calls for, but when it seems like he doesn't want to take the lead or simply casts his family aside, what is a Christian woman supposed to do? How are we supposed to act?

Deep down inside, I know what I should do, set my feelings aside, control my emotions and harsh words that really want to say what's going on inside, but then again, I also don't want to be taken advantage of, like none of this bothers me in the slightest. How do you remind a husband what his duties and priorities are for his family?

Being a Christian doesn't mean life is supposed to be easy, in fact, I think once we turn our lives over to God, I believe in fact, it gets harder. There is an ongoing battle to tear down what God has built in our lives no matter how small it may be. Kinda like whenever you play with little kids and build things out of blocks, there biggest temptation is to knock that over, sometimes before you're even done, only to laugh and do it all over again. I feel that is exactly what the enemy seeks to do everyday in our lives only it seems the battle is never-ending and in fact, is taking a stronger attack then ever before.

I saw this happen the night, Steve and I went to see the movie Courageous. If you haven't seen it, please do. It is truly life-changing and it's made to be that way. Immediately afterwards, I could tell, Steve felt like he had let us, as a family, down in ways, as the movie portrays just how important the role of a husband and father is in a marriage and family. Deep down inside, I'm thinking, "I am so glad this really clicked for you, now maybe things might be different. We might do things more as a family now and less as individuals living in the same household, where everyone comes and does their own thing." But I don't say anything except to say that sometimes I even let this family down. But I'd like to see us work towards making things better!"

He agreed but now it seems like nothing has changed. It's what I call the weekly challenge. You see things and want to do things differently to improve your life but it only lasts for a week and then old habits and patterns develop and life falls back into the same routine. I am a competitor and fighter by nature, meaning I will do whatever it takes to make things right, especially when it comes to making our family and marriage stronger, yet I know deep down inside, I can't keep doing it by myself. I wear out. I fall short. I lose it, more days than I win.

Yet I know God will never fail me. God even know is fully aware of these things happening. Just sometimes, I wish He would throw me a clue in what to do. But for now I just pray. I pray not so much for God to work on Steve, but that He would change my attitude. Change what I need from my husband and instead, try to get me to forget it. I feel I'll lose Steve in the process. I feel like perhaps he gets a stronger appreciation from his co-workers and clients than he finds in us. Don't get me wrong he's a great father and a wonderful provider, but I need the other half of my life. I need a husband who is someone I can lean on, someone I can come to for security, someone who will always be there for me.

So if anyone can help, please let me know what I can do and if you find my husband, can you please let him know he's needed at home, he seems to be missing the bigger picture?!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Picture Faith

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." ~ Romans 8:37

This verse is one to memorize and file someplace handy on the shelves of your mind. Every day we face challenges of varying degree, but even seemingly small challenges can have large implications later. We must determine from the outset, like at the beginning of the day, that we are going to adopt a victorious outlook. If we know already how the story ends, that we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us, then we can begin with gratitude, no matter where we find ourselves from moment to moment.

A dieter has to be able to see herself thin. An athlete has to be able to see herself making the play or winning the race. An alcoholic needs to be able to see herself sober. Just as in order to be successful you have to visualize your success; in order to be faithful you have to visualize God triumphing over your challenges. Making a "faith picture" with our future helps us both to clarify our direction and desires, as well as open ourselves up to the power and possibility of God. Try this next time you are up against the clock, a wall, a challenge, a mystery, or a force to be reckoned with.

Have a truly blessed weekend! If you need prayer, please leave a comment or email me directly. I'd be honored to pray for you!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Betty Crocker Box Tops for Education - Giveaway and Review

Now that school is under way for all of us, I am sure many of you have been collecting Box Tops for Education found on products that help our local schools. However did you also know that they can be found on some of your favorite Betty Crocker products?

This school year, giving back to your school can be as easy as looking for the Red Spoon on your favorite Betty Crocker® dessert mixes, the only brand in the baking aisle with Box Tops. Whether you´re collecting for new computers, library books, or a playground, through the Box Tops for Education® program you can help make a difference. Last year, your contributions earned more than $59 million for America´s schools!

So now why you are busy making treats or adding finishing touches to your meals you can also help out our schools in the process with every Box Top for Education coupon you clip and send in with your child to school.
  • Now, you can find Box Tops for Education on all Betty Crocker baking mixes, including new Fun da-middlesTM, individual cupcakes with a fun, creamy center.
  • This back-to-school season, look for double Box Tops on specially marked packages of Betty Crocker baking mixes.
For more information on the Box Tops for Education, click here.
To find Box Tops of Education on Facebook, click here.
To learn more about the products Betty Crocker has to offer, click here. Or on Facebook.

To make this offer even sweeter, Betty Crocker in conjunction with Blog Spark is offering an incredible giveaway opportunity! Here's what you can win in addition to Betty Crocker's Brownie Mix:

  • Cupcake iclips (magnetic book marks!)
  • Cupcake bag
  • Cupcake notepads
  • Box Tops for Education pencils
  • Neoprene Lunch Sack
Here's all you need to do to enter:

1. Be a follower of my blog, Reviews From The Heart.

2. Be a resident of the US or have a US shipping address! Please No P.O. Boxes.

3. I need a way to contact you if you're the lucky winner, so please be sure to include your email address along with your comment. You can use the words (at) and (dot) instead of the symbols.

4. Leave me a comment telling me which of your favorite Betty Crocker dessert mixes you plan to purchase to collect the Box Tops and help your local schools or how Box Tops for Education might help improve your child´s school.

The giveaway will end on October 13th and I will notify the winner by email at that time.

"Disclosure: The Betty Crocker products, information, and giveaway have been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark for my honest review."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slow Cooker Apple Bread Pudding

Slow Cooker Apple Bread Pudding

Comfort food at its finest! This slow-cooker bread pudding tastes decadent, thanks to its moist texture and a generous sprinkling of chocolate chips. So go ahead and enjoy—it’s actually lower in fat than you’d expect.

6 cups crusty bread (such as French bread or a baguette), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (preferably a day old)
2 medium-size tart apples, peeled, cored and shredded
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup fat-free egg product or 4 large eggs
3/4 cup water
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, preferably low in fat
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup apple juice

step 1: Coat the insert of a large (6-quart) slow cooker with a light application of butter or margarine. Add the bread pieces to the slow cooker. Distribute the shredded apple on top of the bread layer. Then sprinkle the raisins and chocolate chips over the apple.

step 2: In a medium bowl, combine the egg product with the water, condensed milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice; whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the slow cooker, pressing down with a spoon or a spatula to make sure the liquid ingredients completely moisten the bread.

step 3: Cover the insert and cook on the low setting 3 to 4 hours, or until a knife inserted in the center of the bread pudding comes out clean. Begin checking the pudding after 3 hours, and continue to cook for increments of 10 to 15 minutes until the pudding is done.

step 4: While the bread pudding is cooking, make the yogurt sauce in a small bowl by whisking together the yogurt, sugar, apple juice and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Refrigerate until needed.

step 5: To serve, spoon the bread pudding onto plates and drizzle with the yogurt sauce.


Firm, tart apples are best for this recipe because their flavor isn't overly sweet, and they hold their shape. Look for apple varieties that are good for baking, like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Jonathan.

If you prefer to prep the bread pudding in advance, you can assemble the ingredients through Step 2 and refrigerate in the covered slow-cooker insert for up to a day before cooking. Take the pudding out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. Then remove the lid and sprinkle the mixture with 1/2 cup of water before replacing the lid on the insert and turning on the slow cooker.

There are variations to this recipes but definitely a way to celebrate fall and all those amazing apple recipes! I haven't personally tried it but sounds amazing.