Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things - October 2016 Edition

This has been a year of favorites for me - discovering some new ones, enjoying a few classic ones, and of course, spending time with a handful of breathing ones!

Therefore, I thought I'd start a new ongoing series sharing some of my current loves with you. I always love it when friends share theirs with me. I inevitably find a new product I can't believe I never knew about. Whether it's a helpful timesaver, or something that's just fun, anything that makes my world easier, less hectic, and brings me joy, is a very good thing. 

This summer I was part of a Favorite Things Summer Swap. It's a FTL Launch Team (For The Love) thing where each participant sent a box of their favorite summer products, treats, etc., to another FTL sister participating in the Swap. One day a box shows up at your house and it instantly makes your day! 

This is what my Swapple, Carrie, sent! Don't even get me started on the Wonder Woman glass in the background. IN LOVE!
My "Swapple" (yes, we've taken this FTL thing a bit too far, but it's wonderfully fun and we love each other) included this lovely tonic in my box, Bai Antioxidant Cocofusion. I was a skeptic at first because I've tried to like coconut water. I really have, but every brand I tried tasted gross. Not this one!

However, I cannot seem to find this particular version (with lime) anywhere near me. So I simply squeeze in half a lime (which I always have limes on hand). However, my favorite way to drink this tasty concoction is in my morning smoothies. I chock them full of healthy stuff you really don't want to hear about, but please ask me if you do. I'm happy to share. I'm working hard at getting more healthy things inside of me. So drinking Bai Antioxidant Cocofusion makes me feel like I've accomplished that.

At the beginning of the summer, I started losing weight. I wasn't trying. You could say it was a mixture of stress from a recent venture, the onset of TMJ which kept me from eating most anything which had to be chewed thoroughly, and a bit of a waning appetite from the two combined. 

On a side note, I no longer have TMJ! The Lord healed it in one day and I've been pain free for two whole months! Friends, keep praying, keep asking, keep knocking. We have a God who heals!

Please hear me. I could care less about my weight. I am truly happy. I love who I am, and I have never been insecure about my weight. Someone needs to hear that it's okay to be who you are, whether you have a few extra pounds or you're as skinny as a rail! If I ever begin to obsess about my weight, Lord, please make me fat! I think obsessing about being fat is worse than being fat because it's a mindset that says, "I'm not good enough," or, "There's something wrong with me." 

Good grief! Just be healthy. Take care of you the best you can, and that's been my goal this year - to take care of me and to get healthy. It was a personal mandate the Lord impressed upon me early on this year. So I've been working on that, not on losing weight. 

By September, some of my favorite tops were swallowing me up alive, and a couple of my pants/jeans that I wore all the time weren't fitting at all. We're talking a belt would be pointless! I mean who wants to look like an orphan wearing hand-me-downs tied up to look like a sack of potatoes? Not me. That's when I found this awesome online resale clothing site called ThredUp.

I am very particular about resale. I am personally not a fan of resale shops unless I'm looking for furniture. (I found the PERFECT piece for my bedroom a couple of years ago at a resale shop - exactly what was I was looking to purchase retail, but for probably a third of what it would've cost me in a furniture store.) 

ThredUp isn't your average resale clothing site. You can choose to shop by brand names, sizes, clothing specifics, and my favorite - condition of the item. I only look for things in "excellent condition. Could mistake for new," and "New with tags." This way I can shop my favorite brands and only view the items that I am willing to consider. I have found some AMAZING deals this way, many with the tags still attached and in excellent condition. With my limited budget, I've been able to get what I need as my body is transitioning and continuing to lose weight, and pay far less than I would in any store. ThredUp is perfect for me and my budget!

Another way I started investing in my health and taking better care of me was through using essential
oils. I just purchased this gem for my office after a recent health diagnosis. I was already diffusing Young Living essential oils at home, and using them daily. This little Orb™ Diffuser sits under my desk, (on top was in too close proximity) and the fragrance fills my office. I've had people come in and ask, "What is that smell? I really like that!" Well it's Lavender and Stress Away essential oils, a heavenly  blended scent which keeps me calm and happy. 

I don't sell the oils or have a web site, but I am a Distributor because I use them every day and I get greats deals and discounts as a Distributor. It's worth it if you're going to invest in yourself in this way. If you decide to become a Distributor to either sell them or simply to benefit from the discounts for you and your family, please feel free to sign up under my Young Living ID#: 3758835. These oils have helped me tremendously in my effort to become a healthier me. I've been using a few of them for over a year and the difference is significant. So worth it!

Last but certainly not least is a fun one. I am all girl, and I love getting gussied up! I know. I'm showing my age with that term. 

I discovered this new (to me) shade of lipstick at a Mary Kay Relaunch Party for my friend, Angie. I was looking to replace a color I loved in another line, but could no longer find. Once I put it on I instantly feel in love with it! I can wear it with just about anything, and I do! It's called Rosette, and it's a satin finish. Super creamy and it lasts for hours. I typically only have to reapply once throughout my day, if that. I'm currently wearing another color in this same finish called, Spice 'N Nice, and I haven't had to reapply at all today. Effortless makeup is my fav!

I hope you find some new favorite things from my list. Please share yours with me. I love hearing about products that make life easier, and are good for you. Also, in case you missed it, be sure to check out my last post about one of my new favorite books! I almost included it on this list, bit since I'd already devoted an entire blog post to it, I thought that might be overkill. 

Until next time, blessings, and please take good care of you! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Best (Christian Fiction) Book I've Read All Year

This summer I was invited to join a friend at the relaunch of her Mary Kay business. I know. I'm such a sucker for supporting other women that I said, yes, just to honor my friend and to lend my support. Plus I use some MK products and was looking for a way to get what I needed much faster. My friend carries most all MK products in stock. Yes!

I was there with a room full of ladies I didn't know except for my friend, the consultant, but in a crowd of strangers I could do what I like most - observe. So I didn't mind.

As I started to leave, one other guest followed me out the door. She wasn't leaving, but was trying to catch me as I walked out the door. The conversation went a little like this...

Other Guest: "Do you like to read?"

Me: "Why yes, I love to read. I'm usually reading three or four books at a time. Why do you ask?"

Other Guest: "Well I felt like I was supposed to give you a copy of my book. I never do this, but I felt like the Lord wanted you to have one."

My new friend's name was Cindy Schroppel. We chatted briefly about the book (Skandalon)
and then I promised to follow up and left, realizing this was most likely a God-ordained meeting. I drove home wondering to myself, "Just what was in that book?"

I'll tell you what was in it - 1) a story of redemption that almost rivals the Biblical story of Hosea, 2) a drama so well crafted that you forget that this is the author's first novel, 3) and probably the best fictional depiction I can imagine of the battle being waged in the heavenlies for our very lives. 

I read all kinds of works: historical fiction/drama, biographies, books on leadership and ministry, and books on Christian growth, probably what I read the most. But when I want to read for sheer pleasure, my go to genre is Christian fiction. To each his own! I have a stash of Janette Oake's earlier works I'd love to give away to some sweet young reader (teens-20's). It would be my honor to pass those onto someone who'd love them as much as I did. They are treasured works which helped fuel my love for reading after I left college. (I didn't like to read before then. Thanks, for ruining that for me, high school required reading lists!)  

Skandalon is that sort of book. It's not dark. It's not heavy. It's simply a very well crafted story that will have you turning page, after page non-stop, until like me, you suddenly realize you've read the first 154 pages all in one sitting! I could hardly put it down. So I always made sure I had large blocks of time to devote to reading it.

This was Cindy's first novel. The Lord told her to write a book, and so with much trepidation and uncertainty in her own ability, she trusted God and wrote Skandalon in nine months time. The result was this gem that had me riveted! There were times when I had to stop and pray because the details surrounding the things happening in the spirit realm, were so realistic that I could not go on. The Lord was doing things in me and reminding me that I don't wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). I was convicted at times, and encouraged at others. Skandalon took me on the wildest roller coaster ride the whole way through! It was awesome!

Now if you've read any of Frank Peretti's works with a similar theme, do not think for one second that Skandalon is like his books. I've read a few and while good and revealing for the reader about what's going on in the spirit realm, both for and against us, I find his writings a bit darker than Cindy's work. Skandalon is a true love story, from start to finish, that theme remains true all throughout. It's practical, laden with scripture used as a tool in intercession, spiritual warfare and worship, and it's a drama in every sense of the word. 

A few weeks after meeting Cindy at my friend's house, we met up for a lunch with another friend of hers. There are moments when you just know this is about more than just a book. God is doing something here. Neither of us is exactly sure of the magnitude of that meeting at the MK gathering just yet, but after reading her book I am most definitely a fan!

Cindy is writing a Bible study to go along with the book. It should be available sometime in January. Bible studies, teaching, and leading worship are where Cindy feels most comfortable. That's just crazy to me after reading Skandalon. I can't wait to see what words she puts to paper next, because if writing novels is among her least comfortable gifting, then good grief! Where do I pre-order her next work?