Friday, January 31, 2014

First Friday Book Review - Made to Crave

Title and Author: Made to Crave: Satisfying your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by: Lysa TerKeurst

Release Date: January 2011

Page Length: 218 pages

How I got the Book: local public library

Find OnlineGoodreads Amazon

Description: "Made to Crave is the missing link between a woman's desire to be healthy and the spiritual empowerment necessary to make that happen. The reality is we were made to crave. Craving isn't a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of Him. Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction. If you are struggling with unhealthy eating habits, you can break the 'I'll start again Monday' cycle, and start feeling good about yourself today." 

My Thoughts:
I picked up this book from the library and started reading it that night. Next thing I know I'm several chapters in and I realize I have to slow down! I probably could have finished this book in just one or two sittings- Lysa is that good! 

With real-life stories and fresh perspective, you can't not read this book if you have made the decision to lose weight in this new year. 

But What Makes This Different?

Lysa shares with us her personal journey of making eating healthy and exercising a spiritual habit and discipline. She reminds us that this journey of losing weight is WAY more than just counting calories, saying "no" to all things yummy, and dragging your butt to the gym. While those are good things, to make changes that stick, you have to make this a spiritual journey.  

Here's one passage that stuck with me... 

"Yes, I want to lose weight. But this journey is so much more than just that. 
It really is about learning to tell myself no and learning to make wiser choices daily. And somehow becoming a woman of self-discipline honors God and helps me live the godly characteristic of self-control."

When I read that passage (and chapter), it made me realize that I have to rely on the Holy Spirit to help me walk away from poor food choices. That this journey would not only require my physical strength, but also my spiritual strength and commitment. 

Multi-Faceted : 

Yes, this book is multi-faceted. It addresses every area or struggle that we will go through on the journey to better health. I was blown away by that! Here's a snapshot of what I'm talking about...

  • Lost weight before and now are struggling to keep it from coming back?
  • Been tempted by food in times of celebration (vacation)? Or in times of struggle (piling bills)?
  • Hate that word "diet" or "resolution"? Us too. Lysa says, "I'm not on a diet. I'm on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness."
  • Eating for happiness, or in denial of something? Trust me, I've been there too!
  • Do you think reaching your goal weight will make you truly happy? Think again: "If my happy was missing when I was larger, it will still be missing when I get smaller."

I love that Lysa meets us where we are as women. Broken. Confused. Self-Conscience. Eager for change, but not knowing what to do. Not knowing what will really work this time. If you identify with any one of these, I urge you to check out this book. Read. Pray. I promise God will meet you to help with your next steps. 


Incredible read! Although I picked this up from the library, I will definitely purchase to add to my personal collection. This book has been the key for me to change my focus in losing weight, exercising my body, and praising God for the ability to do it! I feel confident in my goals and dreams now more than ever before! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monthly Meal Planning Made Easy!

I have been cooking for my husband for close to three years now, and I feel like now I've finally got the hang of it! 

I used to plan meals on a weekly basis. I'd pull out a few recipes, make my grocery list, and be on my way! But then, at the end of the month, or weeks that were extraordinarily busy, we'd both look in the pantry and wonder what happened! Where is all the food? 

No worries! We can just hop in the car and 15 minutes later have some brown-bag, or cardboard box, take out meal. Convenient, yes. Cheap or nutritious, no!

Hence, monthly meal planning! 
I've found that we don't argue as much about "but there's nothing in the fridge" when I monthly meal plan. We also aren't as tempted to go out to eat when food is slim. 
There's no guessing or planning during the hectic work week. Everything is ready to go! 

Wanna know how I do it? Here's my secret... 

  1. Start off with my "Monthly Meal Planning Made Easy!" worksheet. Here is where you can start filling out each of the categories of different types of food for the month. 
    • New Recipes: something from a new cookbook, ideas from Pinterest, etc
    • Family Favorites: food you love! i.e. chicken fajitas, chicken parmesan Those recipes you don't need to follow instructions for you've made them a million times. 
    • Slow Cooker or Grill Food: challenge yourself to use that crock pot or grill! I usually make these meals when I have more time (day off of work or the weekend)
    • Frugal Meals: yep, we have to stick them in somewhere! We usually do soup and grilled cheese, pancakes for dinner, spaghetti and meatballs.
    • Chef's Night Off: you deserve it! Let your husband or the kids take a night to plan something! They need to hone their skills too!
    • Planned Events: here's where you can fill in the days you'll be out of town, have a dinner date planned, etc. Yay for a night off of cooking!
    • Recurring "Themed" Nights: Does your family always order pizza on Friday? Or have a Taco Tuesday? I would encourage you to create a new habit! One (healthy) idea includes Sunday Salad night. We also do Leftover Thursdays!
  2. Once you've come up with all of your meals (should be about 28 to 30 meals), you're ready to start planning! 
  3. Grab the "Our Family Meals" worksheet I've created and start using your sheet from step one to fill in each day. 
    • Start off easy with your Planned Events and Recurring days. 
    • Then schedule your Chef's Night Off days! Wohoo! 
    • Work through the rest of the categories til you're all done!
  4. You can shop for your monthly meals on a weekly basis, or a monthly basis. I tend to do a little of both, to make sure I have the freshest food. 

Let me know how it goes! Happy cooking y'all!

Friday, January 3, 2014

First Friday Book Review - One Thousand Gifts

Title and Author: One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Release Date: January 2011

Page Length: 240 pages

How I got the Book:

Find OnlineGoodreads Amazon

Description: "Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. 'How,' Ann wondered, 'do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long---and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?'

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted ... a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved --- by God."

My Thoughts:
Wow, if I thought last month's book (The Resolution) was a challenge, One Thousand Gifts definitely packs a punch! I cried reading chapter one. My heart was racing, tears streaming down.. definitely impactful! 

After diving off the cliff for chapter one, we get into the author's story and journey as she discovers "eucharisteo". 

"I thumb, run my finger across the pages of the heavy and thick books bound. I read it slowly. In the original language, 'he gave thanks' reads 'eucharisteo'
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning 'grace'. Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. 
Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds is derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning 'joy.'

Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo."

Ann's book centers around the ideas of grace, thanksgiving, and joy (the eucharisteo explained above). While her writing style is definitely unique, it made me feel like I was privilege to all of her thoughts through her journey. 

One surprising thing I found was the theme of death in this book. It starts off that way in chapter one (sorry spoiler!), and is laced throughout the chapters. Most writers won't go there. Even I had raw emotions and reactions to revisiting the theme of death while also thinking of eucharisteo (thankfulness). 

Why One Thousand?

Ann guides us through her personal journey writing down one thousand things she loves. 

"...just the common things and maybe I don't even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down - it is sort of like... unwrapping love."

As we read the book, she keeps sharing her list all the way up to 1,000. Once she reaches that goal, we begin to realize that there should be no end to listing out the gifts God gives us and that we are thankful for. Once you get to 1,000 you tend to be seeing God's gifts in your life without prompting and without the need to write down. 

One Last Thought: 

One thing that really struck me in this book was the idea of time and thanksgiving. When I give thanks, I slow down to life's pace. Do you ever feel like you are just ahead of time? Rushing through months or weeks of time? Ready for the next thing. Here's what Ann says to combat it.. 

"I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down and it's giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough. 

I am thank-full. I am time-full."


Very good read! Take your time and read only one chapter at a time. They are meaty chapters that will get you thinking! If you can work through Ann's writing style, I promise you, you'll be blessed by this book!

In some ways I feel like I've only experienced a part of what Ann challenges and calls us to do. I know I will read this book more than once in my life. The second time, I'd like to work through the devotional journal. I think I'd also like to spend time diving into Ann's blog at A Holy Experience. Looks like she's got both encouraging and challenging material !

As a side note, for those wanting to document your 1,000 gifts using photos, download the One Thousand Gifts app! It's free and simple to use!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year. New Attitude. New You. --2014 Edition--

Wow! Another year come and gone... I can't believe it's now 2014! 

Let's see, it's been...
8 years since I graduated high school
5 years since I was baptized
3 years since we said "I do"
2 years being homeowners
and just 1 year with this blog! 

Many of you remember me sharing about my vision board this time last year
If not, you probably have heard me talk about all through November and December of this year.

To recap...  

A vision board is just a collection of pictures, thoughts, words, and ideas to help focus your year. No ambitious "goals" or lofty "resolutions", just a collection of inspiration that speaks to you!

I was SO READY to do this again for 2014! 

I collected magazines starting in May for this! During our Christmas break from work, Daniel and I spent time cutting out photos from magazines and putting together our individual "visions" for this new year. 

We typically start thinking and reflecting around November. For whatever reason, early November seems to be my "reset" time (not January, like you would think). During the month of November I'll start thinking about the past ten months- what I've learned, where I've grown, what surprised me during that time. 

I'll also start to dream about the future. The upcoming year. 
All new and bright, and full of hope and promise. 

That's where the vision board comes in. I put together a collage of different ideas, goals, and dreams for my new year. Sometimes I even start early on them (like in December, not waiting for January 1). 

For 2014 I hope to... 

Really focus on fitness- I want to be slimmer and stronger
Spend time crafting and being creative 
Take care of myself by both relaxing and pampering
Further my growth and encourage others by reading one Christian book a month and blogging about it
Really focus on 5 quality friendships
Spend more time travelling and camping
Cooking more often, especially for holidays
Invest in better cookware and serve ware pieces
Make our backyard a beautiful and relaxing haven 

I can't wait to see how this new year turns out! Happy 2014, y'all!