Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Parable for Every Season

Stories were one of Jesus' favorite ways to impart truth to the crowds who flocked to listen to him. His stories were called parables and they always had a way of making eternal truths more understandable to people by presenting them in real life scenarios. A good story still engrains lessons and truths into people's hearts, especially kids! That's why I try to surround my children with beautiful books that with speak to their heart and build up their character.


 The Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs was a natural addition to our bookshelf!  This very well made children's book contains 4 previously published and very popular stories from Higgs. There is a parable for each season with most of the stories matching up with major holidays as well. This book is a true treasure to me and my little boys! I love the modern parables that speak God's truths into their little hearts and the scripture to correlate on almost every page! 
 We owned the board book version of the "The Pumpkin Patch Parable" before buying this book and it was a well loved story through out all seasons of the year! I enjoyed sharing the slightly more detailed version out of our new book with the boys thru this harvest season. We've also read "The Pine Tree Parable" and I can already tell it will be a much repeated story around Christmas time. This book is  beautifully illustrated and the stories are truly heartwarming for children and their parents. I would highly recommend it as the perfect children's gift to put under your tree this year! 

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Want satisfying meals that also trim your waistline? This is the cookbook for You!

Awhile back, I told you about a diet change I made for my family and I that has been only for the better of all of us. The Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle  has given me a great grasp on nutrition and how to prepare healthy, delicious meals that can also be slimming for Mama! In my previous post, I shared about the Trim Healthy Mama Plan Book. Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison-the sisters behind the THM revolution-wrote this great resource, chock full of all the research they spent years compiling to build their "diet plan". It is a lengthy read but I highly recommend taking the time to truly understand the foundations of this lifestyle change. Once you have a good grasp on S, E and FP meals and some of the other THM jargon, You have to get your hands on the beautiful Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook!

  The recipes in this book are really where the rubber meets the road with this diet plan and the THM Sisters have done an amazing job making that a delicious and fun adventure! At just over $15 and giving you more than 350 recipes, I feel like this book is a real treasure for a steal of a price! The original THM book was an amazing resource but very hard to navigate; it contained many wonderful recipes but the preparation directions were lacking and there were no pictures for inspiration. This new cookbook is the answer to all of those issues! This is a very well made book full of beautiful photos that make you want to get in the kitchen. I love having this cookbook on my kitchen shelves at the ready to provide me with delicious and healthful meals. Some of my favorite recipes include the egg roll in a bowl and chicken jalapeno popper soup. My husband just loves this "diet"- he gets to eat hearty food and lose weight while doing it! There's also some unique, fun treats like the lemon pucker gummies and the singing canary drink.
The Trim Healthy Mama plan has been a blessing to me and my family and I know will continue to benefit us through many changing life seasons. I was intentionally vigilant about following this way of eating during my last two pregnancies and saw a marked difference in my weight gain and well being in general. There is a noticeable learning curve and some "special ingredients" required that may make this diet seem a bit daunting, but I highly recommend making the investment in your health!

These drink recipes will be a regular in house during the holiday season!

If you want to get a feel for what THM is about before making a "commitment", I would encourage you to check out the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook page! The THM Sisters are very generous with sharing recipes and tips there!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Eggtastic Time!

This weekend I had the opportunity to host a fun, casual party for some friends and family and introduce them to some awesome brands! Tryazon is an awesome company who gives you the chance to share new products with friends and give them feedback on the brands as well. The highlighted brand was Beep Egg, an innovative hard boiled egg timer that is fun to use to boot! It's a sunny yellow egg shaped timer that you treat just like your eggs. You store it in the fridge in your egg carton and when you're ready to boil up some eggs, throw it in the pot as well! 

We started with farm fresh eggs from our happy hens! I had fun experimenting with the timer and seeing the results for each level of "doness." Plus, it was pretty fun to hear the quaint little tunes singing from the pot! 

Here's the results: hard boiled is top left,
Soft boiled is top right and medium is on bottom. I love a good soft boiled egg!

My little kitchen helper had a blast mashing up the eggs for egg salad!

I found the best egg salad recipe on Pinterest!

Here's the finished party food platter- we served our egg salad with the delicious Ines Rosales tortas Tryazon sent in our party package! They were the perfect dipper and had a great taste on their own  as well!

Here's the two varieties of tortas we were  able to try and a Beep Egg to be gifted to a lucky guest!

Our party people- we enjoyed our treats and some fun games as well! We had two more late comers who arrived after our party picture was snapped.

I'd say our egg salad and torta platter was a hit! 

What better game for an eggtastic party than Rooster Race? ;) 

We had a fun evening of good food and good company and learned about some fun new games as well!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Christmas is on it's way- time to start looking for kid's Christmas books!

I can't believe it is already the beginning of November; Christmas will be here before you know it! Christmas is one of my very favorite times with my kids. I love all the fun traditions we get to share together during cozy days at home. Last year, we started a new activity that I know will become a beloved tradition in our house-we did 25 days of Christmas books! I combined some of my favorite childhood Christmas books with some new finds and wrapped them all up. We unwrapped a book each evening and all really enjoyed sharing new and old Christmas tales  together. I've already started keeping an eye out for new books to add to our collection!
 I picked up Goodnight Manger hoping it would be a new favorite in our Christmas book tradition, unfortunately I don't think it made the cut. I love the illustrations, Jane Chapman creates the cutest children's book characters. We have most all of the Bear Snores On books and the illustrations make them some of our favorite books. Goodnight Manger boasts some adorable pictures but the message isn't quite the Christmas story I want my kids remembering. The jest of the story is that new mama, Mary is trying to get little baby Jesus to go to sleep but they keep getting "interrupted" by the visitors and the commotion of the first Christmas night. If it were any other story about a mama and her tired babe I would probably find it to be a cute tale. Though Mary was very much a new mother- exhausted and spent from labor- the bible says "she treasured these things up in her heart." I think she welcomed and celebrated those who came to worship the new king rather than find them to be a nuisance.
 I wish I could have enjoyed this cute, quality made book with my boys for many holiday seasons to come but I just don't feel right about the message.
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Last Days-clues from the True Source

The world is a crazy place. You don't have to look around very far to see the evidence of that. There are wars and rumors of wars, famines and diseases- many signs of what the bible says will be going on when the Lord returns. There are days I sincerely pray, "Come soon, Lord Jesus." There are also plenty of people gaining fame and fortune for interpreting bible prophecies to mean that the End of Days are imminent. Blood moons, Jewish holidays and political situations- all portends of the last days. I like to be informed of current events and how they pertain to biblical prophecy but sometimes it can just get depressing and confusing. There are a lot of opinions out there and a lot of times they are contradictory and most often proven wrong.  It was refreshing to pick up a book about the last days straight from the original Author's perspective.

The Last Days According to Jesus by R.C. Sproul was an enlightening and even encouraging read. I appreciated how Sproul took all the major bible passages and broke them down while analyzing them along side some of the top end times views. He looks at the Mount Olivet teaching, letters from Paul and John, Revelation,  the resurrection, the new millennium and the antichrist. He also expounds on Jesus' meaning of  "generation," "ages," and other commonly used but hard to decipher phrases. I am in no way a theologian, just a mom who loves to read and has a hunger to understand Jesus' teaching more. I can't say I fully agree with all of the opinions in this book and I don't necessarily think it's possible to know we have 100% correctly deciphered each bible prophecy. I do think it is each individual's responsibility to do their due diligence to decide on their own views on eschatology.
I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion

Every Little Thing Matters

Growing up, I really felt that to be the best servant of God I could be I would need to be a missionary. And so, even though the idea scared me and didn't necessarily feel like my calling, a missionary is what I was going to be. Deep down all I really wanted to be was a wife and mother but that just didn't seem like a big enough dream to claim. It was too safe, too comfortable and surely not enough. But God gave me the desire of my heart and I married a very good man and had 3 little boys. Life got busy just taking care of the needs of my family and it started to feel like being used by God was going to be put on hold for this season of life. As much fulfillment as running a household and raising my children brings, I sometimes yearn for a little bit bigger impact with this one short life I have. So I keep praying God would use me in my little corner of the world and would lead me to opportunities, even if it means outside of my comfort zone.
 I have found ministries to invest in that I get to see God work in on a regular basis. My husband and I open up our home each Thursday night to a diverse group of teens for youth group. They are rowdy and rambunctious and some weeks it feels like the bible study doesn't sink in much at all, but they keep coming back and they keep bringing their friends. God is working there. Then there is the Godly Moms' group my church has been hosting for a few years now. It is a program that really fills a need in moms looking for community and encouragement as they try to do their best to live out this big calling that is Motherhood. We have women from several different churches come and scores of children each week. There is always challenging teaching, encouraging discussions and lots of "me too" moments. So, I have slowly come to find that this chapter of life doesn't mean my usefulness to God is put on hold. I have even come to relish living a small life made up of ordinary days.

Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are  by Deidra Riggs was the perfect read for this time of slow realization. Deidra first helps us realize that we can't do any good thing on our own. Even as we want to be the Good Samaritan in the sphere of our lives, we are first in need of some saving grace ourselves. Then we must be able to let go of the burden of our shame and let ourselves be identified as washed clean by Christ and prepared to be used by God, in every little big and little thing. If we can trust in the Lord to walk us through our fears and into big dreams that He has made us distinctively for, we're in for a great adventure!
Many times when God places a dream just for us in our hearts, it's easy to dismiss it with a "that's something for someone better equipped than me" or " that's already been done." And even if we do actually take heed to the pull of our hearts, we will usually quickly find that we don't get to see thrbs e big picture. We have to just take a breath and take the next small step in faith. Like Gideon, God works in a big way when we are small and seemingly at a disadvantage.
The chapter that made the whole book for me was chapter 7- The gospel needs to be lived. I really appreciated the reminder of what the gospel means to us in everyday and needed to hear what Deidra had to say about it. I don't go to a "relevant" mega-church and I am not a modern day Proverbs 31 woman with the perfectly style wardrobe, well behaved genius children and it all documented on her adorable blog with thousands of followers. I am the mom living on the farm with her slightly crazy little boys and who has plenty of her own "hot mess" moments. I go to a little community church in the country. I see women who are living out very similar lives to mine but they sure do see to be doing it a whole lot better than me.(and most definitely with more style!) I love the line Deidra uses against this mindset- "Let me warn you right here and now, and let me be clear when I say it: it is a dangerous thing to think that we can measure the impact of the gospel in our lives against the very same gospel in someone else's life." That is a challenging, yet refreshing charge. I really love how Deidra goes on to remind us that the Gospel doesn't need our help to make it more trendy and relevant; the gospel stands on it's own. How freeing- His word does not come back void.
This book was a great encouragement to me; a reminder that if I give my best to His purposes, God will use every little thing for His glory.
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.