Monday, April 25, 2011

Giveaway winner

First of all, I would like to give a huge thank you to all who came to visit my blog and to all who entered the giveaway.  Every entry that was received, put a great big huge smile on my face.  It looked a little something like this:
Photo on 2011-04-24 at 16.55 #5

Here is the winner:

True Random Number Generator  12Powered by RANDOM.ORG

** Note: I just realized that the max field reads 100 when put on my blog.  On the site, I really did put in the min 1 and max 16 for how many comments there were.  I don't know why it shows up as 100 here.  I copied and pasted straight from the site.  Weird.  Just wanted to throw an explanation out there for the large number field.  I really did take every step I knew to take to make this as fair as possible :-)

Katie said...

What a simple yet so challenging question...I think that one of my favorite things about myself is my hair. For a long time I despised it, but have always received so many compliments about it, somewhere along the line I guess I just decided to receive those complements as truth!


Thanks again for everyone who entered.  I really truly wish that I could send everyone a copy of this book, but one is all that I could do for now.  I am thinking that I will give away more of this very book in the future though (stay tuned).

Stay posted for upcoming giveaways.  I have some things in the works that might be paving the way for many more goodies to give away.  I am also planning to do a giveaway for my 100th blogpost.  So, check back for more freebies.

This past weekend I came across some things in the blogging world that really brought a smile to my face.  I plan on sharing some this week, so come back and check it out.

So, basically, I guess what I am trying to say is, "Come back" :-)  And thanks to everyone who entered.  You are all wonderful!

I am now off to do some art journaling.  It's been too long since I have spent some time with my art journal and there is lots in this head of mine that needs to be creatively thought through :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Currently reading...and my first blog giveaway!!

------- This giveaway is closed ---------

So, there's this book...

I talked about it in my last blog post...raved about it in my last blog post.

Was halfway through on my last blog post and now I am on Chapter 1.

Chapter 1?  You might say, "Um, Melany.  Isn't that a little backwards."

Nope.  I finished it and then started right back on Chapter 1 :-)  Yes, I am reading it again already.

Oh my word.  Never in my life has a book hit so to the core as this one.

It really did meet me on a journey towards worth.  I needed this book.  I was desperate for this message.

I have been believing lies for a very very very long time.  For a very very long time I have looked in the mirror and hated what stared back at me.  No matter what anyone else had told me, I have always had a hard time seeing beauty in myself, but that ends here.

I have felt so unworthy of blessings and have beat myself up.  I have been my own worst enemy.  I have spoken too many words of death and defeat over myself and believed things that were not true - and it ends now.  No more.

I guess that I am so addicted to this book because it has been the icing on the cake of a journey God has had me on - a sweet sweet covering with roses and sugared grapes :-)

It feels so good to look in the mirror and see a beautiful face staring back - to see a woman worthy of love and blessings.  I am looking at that face in the mirror with new eyes.  For once, I am starting to like what I see :-)

I posted on Facebook the other day that if I was rich I would buy this book for every female that I know.  It's true - I would.

Alas, I am not rich BUT I do have a piggy bank :-)

So I emptied out my piggy bank and bought another copy of this book to give away.

Isn't my piggy cute?  I love him :-)

It's my very first blog giveaway!!!!!  Yeah!!!!  I am so excited!!!!  Can you tell?

So, here is how it will go:
Just leave a comment and answer this question:
What is one of your favorite things about yourself?

I will get you started with an example - One of my favorite things about myself is my laugh - I have a great laugh :-)  And I laugh a lot (just ask anyone that has been around me for more than 5 minutes)

Now it's your turn - I know there are so many fabulous things about you.  Tell us one of your favorites...
    ... it could make you a winner :-)

Ps. If you read this blogpost off my Facebook, you may also leave a comment on Facebook to count as your entry.


Winner will be chosen on Monday, April 25.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Currently Reading (a new favorite?)

I am reading a book that absolutely has me captivated and is pretty much moving "Captivating" by Stasi and John Eldredge down a notch on my favorite books list.

The book is called "God Loves Ugly (& love makes beautiful)" by Christa Black:

I saw an ad for this book in Relevant Magazine.  It is based on a song written by Christa Black called "God Loves Ugly".  I went to itunes and downloaded the song and after listening to it knew that I just had to have the book (you can listen to the entire song here).  I was then disappointed to find that the book is not available as a digital edition, but sort of felt like this is a book that I would want to pass along for others to read anyway.

So my copy arrived last week and I started it yesterday.  I am now halfway through and I'll tell you what, this book absolutely hits it on the head for me in so many areas.  My gosh!!!  There is a sea of pink highlighting the pages of my copy.

I know that it is probably mostly gals that read this blog, so I am going to speak to the ladies and say, "Girl!  Go get this book!"

On the back cover of the book, there is a question posed:  "Do you ever look in the mirror and hate what you see?"  (I know that for me, I rarely look in the mirror and DO like what I see - but God is changing that)  The synopsis on the back cover continues to say: "Your eyes can lie. [Amen to that!] Rejection, shame, and self-hatred can poison perceptions and hinder us from seeing and believing what's actually true .... You were made to live free.  Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, depression, addiction, or just feeling a little insecure, God Loves Ugly will shift the way you think, motivate permanent change, and inspire your heart to find peace."

I can honestly say that if I had the money I would buy multiple copies of this book and just give them away - the message is THAT important.  For me personally, God has been hitting the subject of worth, beauty, and love in many different areas of my life.  I was actually thinking earlier of how much I am loving this journey that I am on.  My life is just being so filled with affirmation through books, music, and things that others have spoken to me.  I just want to keep filling into the tank because pouring affirming words into ourselves is pouring His truth in.  (I also have a story from this past week of some lies that I have found as well and what I did with it.  I will share that story in a few days.)

So, ladies, read this book.  I think that I will actually be putting it on my list of books to read at least once a year.  It's good, good, good!!!

Freedom Friday - Reject Apathy

One of my favorite magazines is Relevant Magazine.  I have been a huge fan since the magazine came into existence.

In this edition of "Freedom Friday" I wanted to highlight the "Reject Apathy" feature of Relevant Magazine.  They have an article in each edition of Relevant and also have their very own website that is a wealth of information with articles and videos.  Check it out by clicking here.

There are 5 different categories highlighted on the website:

Loss of Innocents: Rape. Child soldiers. Sex trafficking. Abortion. Slavery. The innocent and their innocence are stolen and destroyed around the world every day. Lending our voice to theirs can bring justice. Supporting victims for the long haul can bring healing.

Creation Care: From deforestation to coal mining, climate change and our interaction with the earth have severely impacted the poorest of the poor and their ability to survive. Paying attention to our lifestyle and how that affects the environment as well as facilitating sustainable agriculture globally can go far in lessening our negative impact on the earth and its inhabitants.

Preventable Disease: Today, HIV, malaria, measles, tuberculosis, pneumonia and diarrhea—all completely preventable diseases—will kill tens of thousands around the world. But there is hope. These diseases can be stopped—and it can be done in our lifetime.

PovertyIt’s about more than money—poverty is a lack of dignity. And true restoration will take more than a simple donation. Our hearts and our daily lives must become attuned to the poor—globally and locally. We must see how our lives impact theirs and seek sustainable solutions.

Unjust War: The effects of unjust war on the vulnerable are vast and devastating. We can become advocates for the voiceless victim—a light in one of humanity’s darkest places.


So, go check some things out.  Educate yourself and pass the word along.

Have a wonderful Friday :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Currently Reading (a change in perspective)

My final thoughts about the book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond:

I posted about this book a few days ago here.  I was a huge skeptic at that point, but you know what - a lot changed.  In the matter of 24 hours, a lot changed.

In the midst of these closing thoughts, I have to go down the "life with God" track a little bit.  And I love that it is necessary.  I love that God is a part of every aspect of my life and that writing final thoughts about a book I have been reading means that I have to share about what He is teaching me.

I have been doing this Bible study through DC Metro church called Breaking Free by the wonderful Beth Moore.
This past week, I procrastinated big time on my homework and wound up having to do pretty much all of it on Tuesday (the day that my group meets).  So here I was poised to do my Bible study homework having just the previous night written about the skepticism I have about love, and what was the subject of my Bible study that week - Love!  Coincidence? - I don't think so.  It was through doing that homework that God really reminded me of the fact that I am worthy of radical love.  I learned a lot about myself and my viewpoint (which are both currently under construction).

After doing that weeks worth of homework, I went back into reading this love story called "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" with different eyes.  Eyes that were not blinded by skepticism but realized that yes indeed and most definitely these things do happen and they will someday happen for me.

Final thoughts on the book:
It's good.
It's real life (which has lots of ups and downs).
I highly recommend it.
It makes me want to move to Oklahoma and go from ranch to ranch looking for the single cowboys, which has never been my type.  I lean more towards the rugged in an adventurous, stubble faced, laid back, jeans and t-shirt wearing, risk taker sort of way.  I guess this book challenged my views in many ways :-)

Now, if you will excuse me, I have lots of packing to do...Oklahoma beckons me.

I am, of course, kidding about the above statement (just wanted to clarify).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Currently reading (this can't be for real)

I am currently reading a book by one of my favorite bloggers The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond).  Her blog is absolutely wonderful.  You can find it here.  You should check it out if you are not already a follower.  She is super funny, has great recipes, and is an amazing photographer ... actually, maybe you should NOT go check out her blog.  It sets the bar way too high :-)

For my birthday present, my parents went to a book signing and got me autographed copies of both her book and her cookbook.  I was beyond thrilled to get them last month.  They are not only autographed by Ree, but her husband (the Marlboro Man) was there to sign as well.  Evidently everyone at the book signing swooned to have such a dreamy surprise guest ... well all the women that is.  Not so much my dad, the lone male who did not really realize what he was getting himself into by attending (but had a fabulous time anyway).  I would love to have some pictures to show you, but my mother (the one who always has the camera ready) did not have her camera.  For the love! :-)

So I started reading this book today:  The Pioneer Woman - Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (A Love Story).  It is the story of how the Pioneer Woman met and fell in love with her Marlboro Man.  You can also read the blog chapter version here.

I started this book today.

I am almost half way through already.

I started swooning at about page 18.

I have to admit, as I have been reading this story I have found myself thinking, "Is this for real?  There's no way.  This sort of stuff only happens in movies.  No guy is actually that chivalrous.  Guys don't actually pursue a girl that way in real life, do they?"

Through all my skepticism, I don't doubt the validity of this story.  My mom told me today that after meeting them, you can tell that "It's for real."  So, it just so turns out that these things do happen - and that can give a gal some hope ;-)

So, all that to say - I am reading a really good book right now.  I recommend it as a good read.  It has led me to realize that I am a little bit of a skeptic over the whole love and romance thing, but I probably would not mind that skepticism being challenged :-)

Now, if you will excuse me I am going to go settle in for the night with a good book :-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I gotta try this

I just found a recipe that I am really excited about.  I have not tried it yet but I felt that if I blogged about it perhaps I would feel more motivated to actually make them sometime.

So, how does.....
      ..... homemade bagels sound?

I think it sounds like this......
      ..... mmmmmmmmmmmm....bliss.

I'll let you know :-)

Here is the link that inspires me - Homemade bagels

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life is like cooking a whole chicken

It's Friday and normally on Friday I try to do a Freedom Friday post, but this Friday I have something else in mind.  I have some thoughts in my head that I just wanted to get out.

So, about an hour ago I finished making up some chicken salad to take to a picnic shindig with some fabulously wonderful ladies from church.  Chicken salad can be a pretty big undertaking.  There's cooking chicken, lots of chopping, and lots of mixing and testing (I love making things that are thrown together).  In my opinion, the best way to make chicken salad (or chicken and dumplings, or chicken noodle soup) is to use a whole chicken.  My mom gave me a recipe for "Usable Chicken" that is my go to chicken base.

I had a revelation today as I was shredding the chicken for my chicken salad.  "Man, cooking a whole chicken is messy...just like life."  I think we would all agree that sometimes life is messy...really messy.

As I went through the process of making this chicken salad, it really became a thought process about life.  So let me take you through the process with me.  Welcome to my thoughts :-)

Cooking the chicken:
You take a whole chicken, dump it in a pot (being careful not to get the germy juice anywhere), cover it with water, and put in your seasonings.  The best way to cook it is slooowly.  In fact, it is best to put it in a crock pot for 6 - 8 hours.  So there it is, sitting in hot water, but the process seasons to perfection.
- Have you ever felt that way?  Like you were just sitting in hot water.  Sometimes, we focus so deeply on the fact that we are sitting on the stove that we don't even realize that the experience is seasoning us to perfection.  Yes, it hurts, but it prepares us to be a part of something wonderful.

Draining the broth:
When the chicken is cooked you take it out and prepare it for the dish.  What is left in the pot is this:
Trust me, you do NOT want to throw this away.  This broth makes wonderful soup :-)  It can be the base of another really wonderful dish.  I am thinking that mine will turn into some lentil soup ... yum.
- As with life, sometime the cooking process leaves us with some stuff that we would like to throw away.  But think again, perhaps God wants to use it for something else that He has in store for you.

Tearing apart the chicken:
In preparing the chicken for whatever I am cooking, this is the part that is really messy.  The chicken has been cooked so beautifully that it pretty much just falls off the bone.  There is the process of taking off the skin, filtering through to get out all the bones, and either shredding or chopping the chicken.  In the case of making chicken salad, I like to shred mine.  It means taking the chicken in my hands and tearing it with my fingers until it looks like this:
- Have you ever felt torn to pieces?  Have you felt like you have been pulled to pieces?  When we feel torn to pieces and pulled apart by God, trust that the process is done with the most loving hands.  And really, it is the process of sitting in the water over a hot surface that makes the pulling apart easier - that we may just fall off the bone like a perfectly cooked chicken.

The bones:
Well, I throw them away.  They have served their purpose and I am done with them.  I am not going to add them to my dish (we don't want anyone choking) and I don't add them to another dish.  They have seasoned well and now I am done.  They get thrown away.
- There are some things that we just need to throw away.  Let God do His business, trust that it is done, and then walk away from it.  Live in victory!

Making chicken salad:
Chicken has been shredded.  Things have been chopped.  Now time to throw it all together.  To my chicken I add mayonnaise, celery, grapes, and salt and pepper to taste.  All of it combines to make a beautiful dish.  As my grandmother would say, "Look at all the pretty colors."
(ok, maybe you can't tell by this picture - just trust me)
- When we are done being prepared it's good.  Things have been added to us that make us better and even more flavorful.

This dish will sit in the refrigerator overnight, getting even better and better until lunchtime tomorrow.  I personally think it tastes pretty good.  I hope that others agree.  I enjoyed the process.  Thanks for joining me in my thoughts.  Have a wonderful weekend :-)

p.s. Sorry for the not so wonderful quality pics.  My camera battery was dead and I took all the photos on my phone - let's hear it for improvisation :-)  I also feel the need to state, that I am no longer sick and this dish is safe to eat.  There was no sneezing or coughing in the making of this dish :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm in love with a man

I'm in love with a man...

He lavishes me with love like none other.

A bouquet of roses is not enough - He lays an entire field of flowers before my eyes.

As I sleep, He watches over me and whispers words of love.

When I grow weary, He picks me up and offers a strong shoulder to lean on.

When I am in the midst of the storm, He offers peace and puts forth His hand to save me from sinking.

He loves me too much to see me stay where I am, but encourages me to forge on and take risks.

When I fail (as I so often do), He brings loving rebuke when necessary and grace in my rebuilding.

He has shown me the purest love in laying His own life down and bearing my cross ... my sin ... my shame.

He is altogether perfect and I am all together flawed.

Yet, through His eyes, I am radiant beauty and worthy of so much love.

I am smitten, enthralled, and head over heels.

My heart has been given away to my Jesus, my Savior, my Everything ... and I don't want it back.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hey Mom - Look what I made

I don't get sick.  It has been a looooong time since I have been ill.  My super immunity streak ended yesterday.  Boo!  I have actually had a fever.  This is a pretty big deal for me because I am usually the one that is able to stay healthy even if everyone around me is sick.  Well, here I am, forced to stay in bed.  I'm bored and have a case of cabin fever.  It makes my face look like this:

Ok, my pity party is over now... moving on ...

I have been wanting to post some projects that I have finished and have been meaning to post pictures of.  I like finishing projects :-)

I made this Anthropologie-esque necklace based on this tutorial.  I love love love my necklace and have received lots of compliments on it.  I think that it is probably my favorite accessory right now.

(Forgive me for the horrible pictures on this one)  I made this super chunky cowl from a pattern made by Hey Jen Renee.  I can't find the actual pattern link.  This one was made to be a cowl that you double up around your neck, but when I do that I feel like a football player.  I like it as a big infinity shawl.  It's comfy cozy...and it helped me master the seed stitch (all you knitters know what I am talking about there).

These slippers were made using this pattern.  They are cute and lightweight.  I wish that I knew where they are right now.  I would like to be wearing them :-)

I have a few other projects that are finished, but I do not have pictures of them and quite honestly I just don't feel like getting my camera out right now :-)  Gives you something to look forward to.

Since I greeted you with a frown, I just have to leave you with a smile:

...because that is one of the things that I do best :-)  ... and it's good medicine .... good for the heart, good for the soul, good for the face.  Smile on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Freedom Friday - The CNN Freedom Project

Major news broadcasting Network, CNN, has launched a blog aimed at raising awareness on issues of modern day slavery.  If you are a Facebook friend of mine, you have probably seen me post some videos and stories from this site.

When I first heard about this site being launched by CNN, I was so encouraged to see a major news broadcasting station take the reigns and use their sources to raise awareness.  If you are a blog reader, I highly encourage you to add this blog to the list of those that you read on a regular basis.  I have found it to be a good source of information, especially for videos.  I even used some of the videos at the most recent Human Trafficking Awareness and Prayer group at my church.

Access the CNN Freedom Project blog site by clicking here.

And here is a video from the blog that I found interesting.  It is a story on a TV show being aired in Israel that deals with issues of human trafficking.  This show is entering its second season and the rights have been sold for an American adaptation.  What do you think about the idea of having a TV show that covers these issues?

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