Friday, October 30, 2009

World Vegan Day!

World Vegan Day is Sunday, November 1st! You can read more about it here:

Why not take the extra hour you gained as a result of Daylight Savings Time ending and whip up an easy risotto? Do something good for the environment, your body and animals around the world.

Below is my favorite risotto recipe so far:

Vegetable Risotto

Classic risotto is made with an Italian short grain rice — arborio rice – simmered and constantly stirred, so it slowly absorbs the cooking liquid, resulting in a creamy, delicious dish.
2 c sliced fresh mushrooms (button, portabella, crimini — your choice)
½ c onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
3 c vegetable broth (1 c reserved)
3/4 c broccoli pieces
3/4 c fresh tomato, remove seeds and dice
1/4 c shredded carrot
3 Tbs basil
2 Tbs parsley
Cook onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender, but not brown. Bring fresh veggies to a boil in 2 cups veggie broth. Add rice and cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly, add 1 cup broth and stir another 15 minutes. Stir in carrots and tomato. Cook until rice is creamy and just tender; stir in basil and parsley and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Be a Hero This Halloween -- Feed Minds

Kids in America collect 3 billion pieces of candy each Halloween. Be a hero this Halloween and feed minds instead. Check out this site:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Reviews: Wisdom Hunter and Shadow Government

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur follows the life of a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher who, eventually, comes to realize the love and grace of God and the error of his legalistic, intolerant, know-it-all ways. He undergoes a series of crushing traumas that cause him to question everything he’s ever been taught (and subsequently taught others) including the existence of God. Eventually, he is reconciled with God with a more clear and valid theology and a more loving nature and his beliefs are strong and unshakable because of the depth of his questioning. Unfortunately, I grew up with a pastor such as the “before” version of this main character so I identified well with the book.

I also had the opportunity to take the “plank” out of my own eye before worrying about my brother’s splinter. There are times that I get too judgmental over the “right” or “wrong” doctrine when, in fact, some things are non-negotiable, but a good many are unknowable. This book does a great job gently and kindly bringing you back to the truth of the Bible versus the cultural spin we put on scripture and call it the truth. I think just about everyone needs a reminder of this now and then.

Wisdom Hunter was a great, fictional story of spiritual maturity, repentance, forgiveness, mercy, grace and restoration. Also hard to miss is the theme that when we try to control our own lives, our circumstances eventually spin out control, but when we surrender to God’s ways and God’s timing, he never forsakes us.

I would strongly recommend Wisdom Hunter as an excellent read with fiction that easily translates into spiritual reality.

Unfortunately, I don't have any copies of this book to give away, but you can buy the book here:
Here't the summary from the publisher:

Pastor Jason Faircloth knows what he believes. His clear faith, in fact, is why he is one of the most prominent pastors in Atlanta. He relies on it to discipline his daughter, his wife, his church. He prays daily that others would come to see God’s ways as he does.

And it is about to cost him everything.

Groping for answers in the face of tragedy, Jason begins a search for the only family he has left: the granddaughter kept hidden from him. Soon he finds himself on an international adventure that will take him straight into the depths of his soul. He is determined not to fail again.

A fast-paced suspense novel rich in spiritual depth, Wisdom Hunter explores what it means to break free of Christian legalism—and discover why grace can mean the difference between life and death.

Shadow Government by Grant Jeffrey discusses the technological age of the 21st Century, the “flattening” of the world with the spread of globalization, changes to modern governments and politics and how this all merges with up end-times prophecy and the ability of the Antichrist to rule the world. While I do agree that Big Brother is a real threat to our personal freedoms and that modern institutions do have a number of factors in place to align with Biblical prophecy, I thought Shadow Government was a little paranoid and far fetched in some areas. The points raised by Grant Jeffrey are certainly ones we should think about, but I didn’t find the book entirely credible to take all its claims at face value.

I don't have any copies of this book to give away, but you can buy the book here:
Here's the summary from the publisher:

Security cameras, surveillance of private financial transactions, radio frequency spy chips hidden in consumer products, eavesdropping on e-mail correspondence and phone calls, and Internet tracking. No one is protected, and privacy is a thing of the past.

An ultra-secret global elite, functioning as a very real shadow government, controls technology, finance, international law, world trade, political power, and vast military capabilities. These unnamed, unrivaled leaders answer to no earthly authority, and they won’t stop until they control the world.

In Shadow Government, prophecy expert Grant Jeffrey removes the screen that, up to now, has hidden the work of these diabolical agents. Jeffrey reveals the biblical description of Satan’s global conquest and identifies the tools of technology that the Antichrist will use to rule the world.

Readers will have their eyes opened to the real power that is working behind the scenes to destroy America and merge it into the coming global government. Armed with this knowledge, readers will be equipped to face spiritual darkness with the light of prophetic truth.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pack Your Own Bags!

I thought I'd share a piece of wisdom from Graham Cooke's A Way in the Wilderness:

There's a difference between luggage and baggage. When you go on vacation, you pack your own LUGGAGE. You are excited and happy and you look forward to the process. You fill it with your favorite things -- the things that make you look and feel good, the things that make you comfortable. And you always leave room to bring something back.

BAGGAGE is always packed by someone else and it makes you feel terrible about yourself. It's the lies other people have said about you -- the life they've given you -- that's heavy and destructive and hurtful.

We need to stop carrying around our baggage. We need to leave it at the cross (the execution stake). We don't want to just empty it out -- we want to leave the whole mess there, bags and all, and burn it!

We pack our luggage with God. God is never past/present with us; He's always present/future with us. We pack our luggage and LEAVE ROOM TO BRING SOMETHING BACK (the future version of us we will become).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun Fall Reading -- Book Reviews

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh is "Sweet Home Alabama" all over again. Luckily, I loved the Reese Witherspoon movie so I enjoyed Leaving Carolina. In Leaving Carolina, the main character leaves her past and her hometown in the South when she runs away to the big city, changes her name and loses her accent. More than a decade later, circumstances force her to return home where she has to face the demons from her childhood . . . and possibly discovers romance while she’s at it. Leaving Carolina is a fun, light read with a theme of healing childhood wounds, forgiveness and finding your authentic self.

Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of this book to give away, but you can buy it here:


Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Limelight by Melody Carson is the story of an 80-something lady who was rich and famous – in all the worst ways -- but must learn to live like “normal” people when her wealth disappears. In doing so, she comes to realize what’s important in life, come to peace with her past and is able to reconcile a number of her relationships. I enjoyed this book, although I have to admit the main character took a little long to “gain perspective”. I say this because her attitude set my teeth on edge so much, I wondered how long I could stand to listen to her whining before she finally “got over it.” I’ll say this for Melody Carson: she paints a very funny picture. Some of the scenarios the protagonist goes through before seeing the light are hilarious! This is a good, light read.

You can buy the book here (no giveaway copy):

Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.
Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

Melody Carson knows the heart and mind of a teenager. I recently read her book, What Matters Most (Book 3, Diary of a Teenage Girl series, Maya) and was amazed by (1) how little high school has changed since I left many moons ago; and (2) how hard it is to negotiate the emotional, social and sexual obstacle course of the teen years. I still remember every awful thing about high school and you couldn’t pay me enough to do it again. But if I had a friend like Melody Carson, I might survive a little better. I found her book to be realistic (oh so realistic) and her wholesome “advice by example of her characters” well received since it’s not preachy and offers practical guidelines for how to behave. Of course, I love the fact that Maya is an environmentalist and her "green tips" are posted throughout the book. Based on my reading of this one book, I would strongly recommend the series to anyone with a pre-teen or teenage girl.

You can buy the book here (no give away copy):

Maya’s Green Tip for the Day: Recycled fashion is one of the most fun ways to go green. A pair of jeans could be transformed into a denim skirt. A sweater into a vest. A bunch of old ties into a dress. A blanket into a poncho. Accessorize it in new way–with beads, buttons, appliqués, buckles, stencils, or ribbons…your imagination is only the limit. (65 words)

Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've been listening to an 8 disk teaching series by Graham Cooke entitled, "A Way in the Wilderness". He talks about the lessons God teaches us as we go through "wilderness experiences". Graham teaches to love the "valleys" even more than the mountain top experiences because it's in the times of God's hiddenness that we really learn the lessons of how God thinks. If we can live by faith in the wilderness, we can do anything.

Alan Redpath once said, "There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose."

A lot of people I know and love, myself included, are going through wilderness times right now. It's hard. It's unpleasant. It's especially draining when the battles last months or years.

But I have a feeling. A teeny, tiny feeling in the bottom of my heart that a lot of these long, long wilderness times are about to be over. I think we're almost at the end of the valley and starting the climb to the mountaintop.

I hope I've learned well the lessons intended for me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mixed Messages

Gandhi said, "My life is my message."

Think about the message you want your life to convey: your priorities, the type of person you are, what you value, the image of how you perceive yourself.

Now think about what message you send in how you live your life?

Do they match up?

Probably not. Don't take that as a scathing criticism; mine doesn't either.

The important question is, "Now what are you going to do about it?!"

To read more, visit today's post on Zen Habits entitled Life is Poetry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog with a Purpose

Today is Blog Action Day, the day when bloggers all over the world blog about a common topic. The timely topic for 2009 (how's that for alliteration?!) is Climate Change. You can read more about Blog Action Day here.

So what can you as an individual do about Climate Change? The single greatest thing you can do is write your elected officials on all levels and vote for those politicians who support environmentally sound practices. There are a million little things each of us can and SHOULD do every single day to support green living, but when a global sized problem exists, global sized solutions are required and the only way to do that is on a large political scale. Read Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman for a detailed explanation on what can be done if only we had politicians in office willing to tackle climage change in a meaningful way.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Pam of Boulder, Colorado, our winner of John Bevere's new book Extraordinary. Thanks to everyone who entered. Please check back for more reviews and give aways.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

If you've been reading my blog at all, you know I'm a huge fan of New York Times columnist and best selling author several times over, Thomas L. Friedman. I recently caught up on reading his column. Here's another case where I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself!

Change the World

Here's Reduce Footprint's Wednesday Change the World Challenge:

Put on your walking shoes because this week we're going to walk ... not just idle walking ... we're going to clean as we go. Yep, this week, please go for a walk ... at least once ... and pick up litter as you go. If you're feeling ambitious, go every day. Once you've got your bag of litter, recycle what can be recycled before tossing the rest in the trash bin.

Isn't that a great challenge? Not only will we get some exercise and breathe in some fresh, fall air ... we'll be cleaning up trash as we go. We can all agree that litter is an eye-sore ... but if you're wondering why litter is bad for the environment, read about it HERE.

My mom and I do this all the time. Don't underestimate the influence you have on people. When we started walking our subdivision picking up trash, we were the only ones. Now several other neighbors do, too, and one told us we inspired her. I'd like to think that anyone who sees us, whether they're driving by or looking out their windows, might think twice the next time they litter or walk past someone else's litter. Tip: keep a set of garbage bags next to your walking shoes so you don't forgot to take them with you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review and Giveaway

Extraordinary, The Life You're Meant to Live, by John Bevere is an excellent foundations book. Unfortunately, in these times, its message probably contains foundational teaching that a lot of seasoned believers should know, but don't . . . or don't apply it to their lives. Basically, John Bevere challenges you out of your spiritual mediocrity and into a life where you are sanctified, set apart unto God, and, thus, able to move in the full power, promise, blessing and authority promised by God. We get in this rut of thinking, "I can't do great things. Only the first century giants like Paul and John could do such things." Or, "I'm just a sinner, forgiven, but warring every day without progress against the flesh." Extraordinary teaches those beliefs are false -- and shows you how to live life better -- as God intended.

I really enjoyed this book overall. Unfortunately, a few of Bevere's scriptural interpretations were off base (in my opinion), but I'm quite sure I don't have it all right either! This was a good book with a relevant message for all believers, new and seasoned alike.

I have one copy of Extraordinary to give away. To enter the random drawing, just e-mail your name and mailing address to The winner will be drawn on Friday, October 9th. Good luck!

You can purchase the book here:

Below is the summary from the publisher:


There’s a question that troubles many believers: “Why am I not experiencing more joy, more hope, more satisfaction, more intimacy, more power, more everything in my Christian life--didn’t Jesus promise that?”

He did promise an abundant life, but too many people are trapped by the curse of “the ordinary.” They have accepted the wrong idea that following God means losing individuality, creativity, and a passion for achieving lofty goals.

Nothing could be further from the truth! John Bevere builds a convincing case, straight from Scripture, for a way of living marked by extraordinary experiences and accomplishments—the life God always intended for his children.

Here is a guide to understanding God’s incredible plans, and how to enjoy a life where he adds the “extra” to “ordinary.”

Author Bio:

John Bevere is an internationally popular conference speaker, teacher, and author of bestsellers, including The Bait of Satan, Drawing Near, and Driven by Eternity. His award-winning curriculum and books have been translated in over sixty languages and his weekly television program, The Messenger, is broadcast around the world. John and his wife, Lisa—also a bestselling author and speaker—reside with their family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit his ministry website at


Last night I read something in Vegetarian Times that has captured my thoughts. An actress being interviewed said that she and her husband decluttered by each choosing one item from their house every day for 30 days to get rid of. Also, if they wanted to bring a new item in, they had to dispose of one additional item. How marvelous! Imagine if everyone in your household got rid of one item every day for 30 days. Preferably, the items would be donated, sold or recycled rather than trashed. For a family of 5, that's 150 items! Think of how much stress those items would represent. Think of how much work (cleaning, storing). Think of how much SPACE you'd gain.