Friday, March 29, 2013

Unexpected Love: God's Heart Revealed in Jesus' Conversations with Women

Recently I had the opportunity to read Julie Zine Coleman's Unexpected Love: God's Heart Revealed in Jesus' Conversations with Women.

Unexpected Love chronicles the stories of 9 women in the New Testament whose lives were changed by their contact with Jesus. These women include Mary, the mother of Jesus; the hemorrhaging woman; the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet; the Syrophoenician woman with the demon-possessed child; the adulterous woman who faced stoning; Martha; the Samaritan woman at the well; Salome, James & John's mother; and Mary Magdalene.

The thesis of Unexpected Love is that Jesus, in His death on the cross, removed the Curse that we were under due to Adam & Eve's disobedience, and in so doing "intended to restore women to the glory that they had at creation. Nowhere can we see that intent better displayed than in Jesus' conversations with women" (xv).

Each woman has a unique story with very different circumstances and situations, from rich to poor, Gentile to Jew. The only guiding thread between the women is their need for Jesus and His love for them. 

It's beautiful, really: the love Jesus shows to women. Before Christ, women were socially inferior, with very few rights and certainly not valued as men were, especially Jewish men. But Jesus changed all of that. His life and death made a way for women and men to be on equal footing: The ground at the foot of the cross is level.

I chose this book for a deeper understanding of God's feelings towards women, and I must say that I had to bribe myself in order to finish it. 

There are real gems in Unexpected Love, like this passage:

I like that there are discussion questions and a journal prompt at the end of each chapter, so you can do a group study or work independently. I did enjoy the journaling as it made me dig deeper into my own thoughts about Jesus' love for me, and I will probably come back to them again. But, overall, I didn't feel like I took a whole lot away from reading the book.

If you are a new Christian or have only a basic understanding of the Bible, then Unexpected Love is a great book to introduce you to women of the New Testament and their social status.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

This post does contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog and procuring books for my children.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

If You Only Do One Thing This Easter, Do This

Easter Eggs
Photo Credit

Easter is only a few short days away, and I'm not ready. 

The girls' Easter baskets and the Resurrection Eggs are in our maxed-out storage unit underneath piles and piles of "stuff." I haven't made the Resurrection Rolls or even dyed eggs yet, and at this rate, it doesn't look like either will be happening at all this year.

In an effort to save money, I opted out of buying special Easter dresses and hats for the children and found cute spring dresses for cheap at a consignment sale. 

To be frank, my heart just hasn't been in the Easter spirit, or at least not in the commercialized, you-must-do-this-Easter-craft-and-buy-this-cute-gingham-bunny-dress-now! spirit, which is so pervasive everywhere you turn. It's so easy for me to succumb to Mommy guilt, but I've decided not to this year.

Instead, I'm happy and my spirits are high with the sunshine of Spring because I know that my Redeemer lives! 

So, I'm shutting my eyes to Pinterest and pulling out the perfect, mess-free, no supplies needed Word of God. This week my girls and I have been reading and talking about Jesus, and the relevance and significance of His life, death, and resurrection for us today.

Photo Credit

We're reading and talking about Jesus...

  • His baptism (Matthew 3:13-17), which attests to His obedience to His Father; 
  • His miracles, which reveal His compassion and empathetic heart for the despised and afflicted; 
  • His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a young donkey (Matthew 21:1-11), which shows His humility; 
  • His agonizing prayer in the garden (Matthew 26:36-46), which affirms His humanity; 
  • His death on that cruel cross (Matthew 27:35-44), which shows, once again, His obedience and His victory over sin and death; 
  • His resurrection (Luke 24:1-12)--the tomb could not contain Him; and 
  • His ascension to Heaven (Luke 24:50-53), which promises He will come again! 

And while I wish I had time to do all of those fun crafts I've pinned to my "Easter Crafts" board on Pinterest, if I don't do anything but tell my girls the story of Jesus, I think I've done enough. 

If YOU only do one thing this Easter, tell your children about Jesus: His life, His death, His resurrection. That is of more value than new plaid shirts, white shoes, and chocolate bunnies. 

My richest blessings to you & your families this Easter. 

{P.S. If you do Easter crafts and buy fun Easter goodies for your kids, way to go! I applaud your energy and zeal (& my kids would love to have you as their mom). 


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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

10 Things I Learned From Running My First 5K Race

Running a 5K was one of my personal goals and a family goal for 2013

So this past Saturday, my Dad, my husband, and I ran our first 5K race for Special Kids of Tennessee, "a Christian non-profit organization that provides therapeutic rehabilitation and professional nursing services to children with special needs." 

While I wasn't sure at all what to expect from a 5K race--I even asked a friend what I should wear :)--here are 10 things that I learned:

1. Running for a good cause matters. 

Throughout the course there were Special Kids' friends and family members holding posters with pictures of these sweet children and cheering the runners on. Every time I saw one, tears filled my eyes because God has blessed me with three healthy children. It pains me to see an innocent child hurting, and yet what can I do? Running a race to raise money for families who need services for their children feels like one way I can help. That is a HUGE motivator!

2. Recreate race conditions prior to the race. 

Since October when the time changed and we had to start running indoors, we've been working the treadmill. With three small children, taking an early morning run at 30-40 degree temperature, is just not feasible, nor is running when Daddy comes home and there's no sunlight. 

After running this race, my hips and calves ached from running on asphalt, nor was I prepared for the frigid temps that left me gasping for air at the end. Preparation is key to success, and a few practice runs on the weekends on similar terrain and at similar temperatures would definitely help in the future. 

3. Stretching good is very important. 

In all the bustle and excitement of a big race, I was distracted from doing what I needed to do and neglected to warm up appropriately. It wasn't until half a mile in that my legs started loosening up when I should've stretched while standing in the corral waiting to run.

4. Smiling while you run makes a difference.

Before the race I read countless articles on how to prepare for a 5K. One tip that really struck me is to smile. My attitude dramatically improved while running when I smiled--to the runners around me, to the volunteers handing out water, just to my self. Smiling gave me a little extra oomph to keep going. Plus, I have a lot to smile about :)

5. It's okay if your Dad beats you.

My Dad is 57 years old and in excellent shape. I didn't realize how fit he was though until this race when he bobbed back to check on me and then sprinted off. I even heard him joking with other runners who were doing their best not to stop breathing. My Dad came in 5th place in his age division. I know that if he'd wanted to, he could've finished much faster. I'm so proud of him! He truly inspires me to keep running!

6. There's strength in running among others.

Male Runners
Photo credit: Sheffield Tiger
The most important motivator for me to run is my husband. Knowing he's running with me--even though we may be treadmills apart at the gym--pushes me to keep going and not stop. At the race, though, I didn't stay with him because we have different paces. But the other runners surrounding me became the motivation I needed at times to persevere; they brought out my competitive side, which kept me focused on the finish line. 

7. Running is 90% mental, 10% physical.

This adage, which I think hearkens back to Yogi Berra, is true about anything you do. If you set your mind to it, no matter how weak your body, you can achieve it. Just like in natural childbirth, if you determine in your mind that you will not succumb to the physical pain but instead trust in the Lord and His ability to strengthen and sustain you, then you will succeed. 

I truly believe in this because there have been times in training when my legs wanted to stop moving and my chest felt ready to explode, but when I took those negative thoughts captive, I was able to control my body and keep running.

8. Endorphins are a powerful drug!

I think it was lunch time before I finally came down from "the high" of running and finishing a race. Before the race, I didn't think I would ever desire to run again. In fact, a few days before, my husband and I had discussed not running any more because it just wasn't enjoyable. But after the race, all I could think about was the feeling of achieving something I didn't think I would ever do. It's an incredible feeling that--once again--I can only liken to natural childbirth. Very powerful stuff!

9. I will remember my music next time.

Generic Touchscreen MP3 Player
Photo credit:

I intentionally didn't bring my iPhone to the race because I thought it would be too big of a distraction. Next time I'm coming prepared with some upbeat tunes! I could've really used some Imagine Dragons or Foster the People to keep me going.

10. Yes, there will be a next time!

 Hard work pays off, and when you achieve a goal--whether it's running a 5K or whatever--you don't want to stop. Races give you something to work for and are great motivators, especially when running on the just no fun. Plus, I'm determined to stay fit and in shape because I feel so good! 

So, my husband and I are looking to up the ante with a 10K. 

What about YOU? Have you run a 5K before? What did you learn from your experience? 

Blessings to you!

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Linking up with: The Better Mom, Raising ArrowsTime-Warp WifeArtful TuesdayTeach Me TuesdaysTop 10 TuesdayTitus 2 TuesdaysLeaving a LegacyWomen Living Well WednesdaysRaising HomemakersRaising Mighty Arrows 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Menu Plan for the Week of March 24: Spring Cleaning Our Diet

With the beginning of spring, I'm "spring cleaning" our family's diet. I'm replacing the heavy, stick-to-your-rib meals of winter with light, energizing, and flavorful seasonal fruits and vegetables. 

There's something invigorating about eating what's in season. Not only are you saving money because seasonal produce is cheap and on sale, but fresh fruits and vegetables picked and eaten in their prime mean a nutritional boon for you!

What's in Season Right Now

  • Artichokes
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chard & other greens  
  • Lemons
  • Lettuce
  • New potatoes
  • Peas & pea shoots
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries

My favorite place to shop for inexpensive seasonal produce is Aldi. This week asparagus, sugar snap peas, carrots, radishes, and lemons are on sale, and with the exception of radishes (which we don't like), we stocked up on spring goodies. 

Here's what's on our menu for the week:



  • Scrambled eggs, toast, & jam
  • Grilled cheese with vegetable soup
  • Easy herb roasted chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, & steamed green beans


Source: via Keri on Pinterest


Source: via Keri on Pinterest




  • Buttermilk biscuits, sausage, eggs, & grapefruit
  • Easter lunch at my grandmother's house
  • Supper at my parents' house

That's what we're eating this week. 

What's on your menu?

Blessings to you!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Menu Plan for the Week of March 17

Spring is in the air, and life is getting very busy once again! This week I am visiting a local Classical Conversations Open House to see if this is good fit for our oldest. 

It's also the week of the big race! My dad, husband, and I are running in our first ever 5K to support Special Kids in Murfreesboro and fulfilling a 2013 goal.

I've really been struggling with meal planning as of late. It just gets so mundane that I get tried of doing it. So, I have been spending an hour this afternoon searching for new recipes online. I've pinned these and other great recipes on my Pinterest Menu Plan board. Plus, if you're interested, I also have a great Colon Healthy Recipes board. I add to both boards all the time, so if you need a meal idea, check out these two boards for sure. 

Here's what our menu looks like this week:

Source: via Keri on Pinterest

Sunday {St. Patrick's Day}: Slower Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage

Monday: Taco Casserole with lettuce & tomatoes

Tuesday: Lemon Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken & Spinach and Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls

Wednesday: Pinto Beans, Broccoli Mac & Cheese, and Cornbread

Source: via Keri on Pinterest

Thursday: Chef's Salad with Rolls

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

What's on your menu this week?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Finding Rest For Our Souls


"And ye shall find rest unto your souls."


Physical rest is a blessing at the end of a maddening day. To be able to prop my feet up, kick back, and relax with a book is heaven on earth. Especially when I've been knee-deep in stinky diapers, puzzle pieces, and baskets of laundry to be folded (I love washing the clothes but hate folding and putting them away). 

But spiritual rest--the rest that comes only through the blood of the Lamb--is perfect bliss. It's comfort in knowing that I don't have to do it all. That the dishes can sit in the sink a little while longer while I pray. That I don't have to fret about the potential buyers coming to look at our house, worrying that they'll see the marker on the walls or the poop stains on the carpet (yep, sad but true) because none of it matters.

Rest for our souls is perfect peace, and when we lay our burdens on Jesus, He promises:

"And ye shall find rest unto your souls."

How do you view REST?

Five Minute Friday
Joining Lisa-Jo @ 5 Minute Fridays. Hope you'll join us!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

5 Tips for Managing All The Books in Your "To-Read" Pile

Those are all the books I'm attempting to read right now. 10 books! Do you know what happens when I try to read 10 books at once?

NOTHING gets read. 

Can you relate? 

"So many books; so little time." But when I do have time, I don't know what to read. So, I read a little here, a little there, and then I never get anything finished. 

Some books are required reading like Unexpected Love, which I'm reading for Booksneeze and Othello, which I'm reading for the "Classics Catch-up Challenge." 


Others are library books that I have to read within 1-2 weeks like Making the Most of Your Child's Teachable Moments, The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction, and The Last Kingdom


Two books are ongoing reads for different Bible studies I'm in: Sick of Sex and The Ten Commandments of Parenting


The others are books that I really want to read right now: The Still Point of the Turning World and The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

So what's a bookworm to do? 

1. Prioritize. 

If you have books you have to read like for a publishing company, an online challenge, a Bible study, or book club, then by all means those books should get precedence! 

I confess that there's something stultifying about books you're required to read, even if you really wanted to read them initially {think "required reading for school"}. Still, make those books your priority so that after you read them, you can grab a more pleasurable read or something from the backburner.

2. Purge. 

It isn't possible--for me at least--to read 10 books at once. As I'm discovering, doing so only leads to literary amnesia: I can't remember who's in which book or what's going on; it's all a blur. Instead, know your limits (mine is 4, but only when I'm getting sleep), and purge everything else. 
  • Put books back on the bookshelf 
  • Return books to the library for later
  • Give the book back to your friend with the caveat that you'll "be back"
Then, create a Goodreads shelf for books "To-Read Next," so once you finish a book, you have another one in line. {Don't you hate not knowing what to read next? Now you can stop the needless worrying :)}

3. Stop the insanity! 

I know we have free will, but every. time. I go to the library I feel compelled to drag home a few new books. And every. time. a friend recommends a book I borrow or buy it. 

Instead, I have to learn to say "no" for now, and add those gems to the "To-Read Next" shelf. It's so hard not to give in to the temptation, I know, but don't overwhelm yourself.

4. Read! 

I know that's obvious but if you intend to read those 8,000 books on your 2013 reading list, then you've got to set aside time to do it, whether while you're on the treadmill, in bed, or in the car (audio books, people, not bound books). {Check out my post for tips on how to find time to read.}

If you've got some required reading that's killing you (i.e. Wuthering Heights or Anna Karenina), give yourself an incentive to finish. For example, as I waded through Anna Karenina, I kept telling myself: "When I finish this book, I can read something fun."

5. Repeat. 

I know right now that I'm going to have to invoke the "Prioritize-Purge Cycle" at least twice a month because, well, I'm a slow learner and a bit stubborn. But I believe that it will work. 

A Few Extra Tips

* If you have a block of time to read during the day, set time limits. I do this at night: from 8:00-9:00 p.m., I read my "Have-To Read" books first--for 30 minutes-- and then finish with a fun read just before bed. That way I get in both my required reading and something light and pleasurable, too.

*Look for audio books or MP3s so you can listen to books while driving, exercising, or cooking dinner. 

*Download a few books on your Kindle or iPad or use the Kindle app on your smartphone so you can read books on the go.

What about you? 
How do you manage your "To-Read" book pile? Do you struggle with "So many books; so little time"?

{This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!}

Other relevant posts:
For the Love of Reading: A Busy Mama's Tips for Making Time to Read
My Reading List for 2013...Tentatively
Reading the Classics: Why It Matters

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Linking to: The Cozy Book Hop, Raising Homemakers