Category Archives: Cool Stuff I Recommend

Lifesaving 101- How To Save a Child

I swallowed against the tears that burned my throat while I listened to the children sing.

Children from all over the world– Uganda, Nepal, the Philippines– representing the faces of the millions who are suffering every day from the most basic of situations– food to eat, preventable diseases, proper places to sleep, clean water.

I know about these problems–I’m pretty up to date on current events and global crises. I know that children all over the world, even here in our own country, suffer from situations that are preventable.

And in recent months God has been nudging me, pushing me, speaking to me. Do something.

Putting a face in front of me–a smiling child raising a little voice to God in grateful praise– well, there was no way I could win the war against the tears.

I looked over my 5 year-old’s head to my husband. Tears were streaming down his face, too.

This was God’s message to me in that moment–the time is now.

The children who performed at our church were from The Children of the World International Children’s Choir on their Overflow Tour, sponsored by WorldHelp. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. Perhaps you’ve seen them perform at a church or school near you.

If you have, I’m sure you have had the same stirrings in your heart– to see their faces and hear their voices– the ones who have been rescued. To know that there are thousands, millions more who need help.

But how can I help? I thought. I’m just one person. I can’t leave my kids and go on a mission trip to Africa or India. I know that I’m called to someday, but not right now. And as much as I’d love to open my home to every single kid in the world who needs love, it’s not possible. What can I do?

And God spoke. You don’t have to do everything–just do something.

I’m so blessed to be married to a man who has a heart for children. He works with them everyday as a middle school teacher, and when the leader of the choir group began speaking about child sponsorship to our congregation and what it could mean to the life of one child, I looked to my husband. He didn’t even take a breath before whispering a resolute, “Yes!”

Our family is now the proud sponsor of Carlos, a two year-old little boy from Guatemala. For $30 a month, we’ll be allowing him to receive three meals a day, clean water, medical care, an education, and most importantly, the message of Jesus Christ. Once our paperwork is processed, we want to sponsor more.

I don’t tell you this to brag about what we’re doing. I tell you this so that you’ll realize that $30 a month is all it takes to save a life and introduce a soul to the saving power of Christ. And there are millions of lives and souls who need to be saved.

We’ve made this sponsorship a family affair. Our oldest son was instrumental in helping to choose our sponsor child. Carlos was our choice because he’s the same age as our two year-old. As a family we pray for Carlos, we talk about how his life is different from ours, and what we can do as a family to help those in need. We want our children to be spiritually civic minded, aware of needs in the local community and internationally.

One of the major problems facing millions of children today is the lack of clean water. One of the little girls who sang with the choir, Brenda from Uganda, shared her story. She’s nine years old. She’s experienced hardships in her nine years that I will never, ever have to face. I’ve posted her story here to share with you.

Providing wells for the people who need clean water not only helps their community, it gives the workers means to share the Gospel with people who so desperately need to hear the saving words of Christ.

Not all of us are called to missions. Not all of us are called to be the hands and feet on the ground, but every single one of us are called to help.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 6:15

I urge you to consider sponsoring a child through WorldHelp, making a donation toward the water project, or even donating toward Operation Baby Rescue.

What is Operation Baby Rescue? Check this out:

If you are interested in helping in any capacity, I encourage you to research the WorldHelp organization and read about their partnerships and work throughout the world. Not only are they saving lives, they’re saving souls. Use the link or click on the WorldHelp button on the right of this page.

If you aren’t called into the mission field, you can be an arm-chair missionary and save lives through your compassion, your love, your finances and your prayers.

Closer to home there are plenty of American children who need help.  Our church has created a program called Backpack Blessings in which we’ve partnered with one elementary school and every Friday we send children home with backpacks full of enough food to last them the weekend. We are trying to directly impact the lives of  physically, emotionally and spiritually hungry kids.

I encourage you to be resourceful–how can you provide the things that children in your community and the world so desperately need?



Share with me: In what ways do you and your family help in your community, your state, even internationally? Share your ideas–I might want to implement some of them into my own family and community!


Filed under Cool Stuff I Recommend, The Christian Walk

Friday Favorites– Natural Supplements You Should Know About

If you are anything like me, then you fall into one (or all) of the following categories:

Have a full time job
Have more than one full time job
Never get enough sleep
Are at the beck and call of multiple people 24/7
Are still perfecting the art of multitasking
Put “relax” on your to-do list
Hear the voices of fictional characters in your brain all day long

Okay–maybe not that last one. Maybe that one is just me. Anywho…. 

I’ve stumbled upon a little problem as a writer: ENERGY.

I find that I have trouble keeping myself focused during my key writing time, afternoon, when my kids are doing quiet time or taking naps. All I want to do is take a nap, too.

And at night, when I should be relaxing and catching up on much needed sleep, my brain runs at 9000 miles an hour, a lot of the time spent obsessing over my stories. (Any other writers out there often tormented by your characters at the most inopportune times?) I can’t relax. I can’t turn my brain off to sleep.

My mom recently introduced me to some products that are absolute life savers. And the best part? They are ALL NATURAL.

They are so great, in fact, that I just had to share them with you.

For energy, I introduce to you Reserveage CocoaWell True Energy with AdaptoStress 3.

I think these supplements are ah-mazing. And remember–they’re all natural. The active ingredients are cocoa powder and green tea.

When I take them, I don’t feel buzzed and I’m not bouncing off the walls all hyped-up or anything, but I am focused and I truly do have more energy. I’m not sure that they eleminate any stress in my life, but they sure help me feel alive enough to face it head-on. I don’t take these everyday, but I do take them when I’m drained or when I know I have a long day ahead.

*Find it at your local health food store, vitamin shop, or on Amazon.

And when my brain won’t turn off, I help it out with The Vitamin Shoppe brand Advanced Sleep Formula.

This is also an all-natural product. Its main ingredient is tryptophan (the same stuff found in turkey.) It does not make me “sleepy”, but it does help me relax and fall asleep–and stay asleep.

I don’t react well to sleep medications–it usually takes me a whole day to get over the groggy feeling that I get from Nyquil or the like, but with this stuff I don’t have that problem. There’s no groggy after-effect the next day. Just a night of good sleep.

Find at The Vitamin Shoppe, or check out their website.

I know I sound like an infomercial. I’m not being paid for promotion. I promise. These two products just really, really work for me and I want to share them with you. 

And let me throw in a little disclaimer: Even though these are all-natural products and I think that they are magical, I don’t take them daily. I use them only when necessary. All-natural or not, I don’t think it’s a good idea for my body to become completely dependent on supplements to sleep or find energy. And I’ve never actually taken them on the same day, so I don’t know how they would react with each other.

But if you are like me, occasionally you need a little help. I hope these favorites of mine will help you!

Share with me: What natural supplements do you take that you love?


Filed under Cool Stuff I Recommend

The Hunger Games of the CBA: My Favorite Reads of 2011

I wanted to read more this year. I wanted to read every book on my TBR (to be read) list, but I just didn’t have time.

So I’ll add that to my New Year’s resolutions–make time to read. I’ll put it in between “exercise more” and “hire a nanny.”

Anyway, with what little time I could devote to my favorite pass-time, I hit the jackpot with some great reads this past year. I usually try to keep track of them under my “Recent Reads” page. 

And I did have some favorites, so I thought I’d highlight them.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

 The Hunger Games

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

So, I was a little behind the times in finally getting around to reading this series, but I’m glad I waited because I loved it, and now we’re even closer to the movie (for the first book–The Hunger Games) being released in March!

**Yes, I’m excited!!**

Here are my thoughts on The Hunger Games:

Although they are categorized YA, I wouldn’t let my young teen read them. The violence is pretty gory and the themes are very adult, and pretty much the only thing setting them in the YA category is the fact that the main characters are all teens.

I don’t usually enjoy any sort of sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic stories, but these gripped me and drew me in. Yes, they are set in the future, so you have to make exceptions for the possibilities of what technology and science might allow someday.

And yes, Ms. Collins, I totally got your anti-war propaganda, but the story was so compelling and action-packed that I could ignore it and just enjoy the characters you created.

When I say action packed, I mean it. These books are serious page-turners.

I will say that I was devastated horrified annoyed angry very disappointed with the ending of the series. I could go into a lot more detail, but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

I enjoyed these books so much that after I finished them, I was in a serious funk for a few days because of that ending. Even now, I don’t want to think about it. The writer in me wants to re-write that ending, but I don’t do fan fiction. I’ll just settle for hoping that the change it somewhat in the movies.

Someone once asked, can books like The Hunger Games be written for the CBA (Christian) market?

Well, I argue that they already have.

And so, I introduce you to

The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren
Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent

While most American teens would kill for an Italian vacation, the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. And they’re not happy to be back. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds…until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century. Gabi emerges in the middle of a dream–or nightmare?–with hot Italian knights in a fierce battle. And so begins her quest to return home…while wondering if she wants to at all.

–Are those covers not absolutely gorge??

Of all the books I read this past year, this series was my favorite. An there’s a 4th book coming!! (yay!! *does cartwheel*) Again, it falls into the YA category (CBA market), but as a grown woman with children, I could still get into the story and enjoy every single moment of it.

The one thing I most wanted from the Hunger Games series was for Katniss to consider or acknowledge a higher power, even just once, during the many ordeals she faced. If I put myself in her shoes, I would have been doing an awful lot of praying.

And yet what was lacking for me in the Hunger Games was done with perfection in the River of Time series. Gabi, our heroine, has an understanding of a power greater than herself. It’s nothing overwhelming or would be off-putting to a non-Christian, I think. But the subtleties are there, done with ease and the lightest touches of that desire every human has to understand the greater meaning of it all.

These books are serious page turners with non-stop action. Being a history person myself, I loved the setting of medieval Italy, even if I had to allow for the fantasy of time-travel. It was all done so well that I could totally believe Etruscan tombs with “magical” properties.

Yet, because they were historical, I found them much more realistic than The Hunger Games, to include the violence, which was not only historically accurate, but necessary. 

Did I mention romance? Again, done with perfection. Lisa Bergren includes just enough steam to get the blood boiling without going overboard. I don’t do “sweet” romance, so what I love about these books is that the romantic encounters are realistic without being inappropriate. Bravo. I could actually believe that the characters were passionate about each other. And I’m not gonna lie– there were a few times when all I could think was, “Wowza.”

Oh, and did I mention that the books also made me laugh? Lisa’s characters are infused with wit and charm.

So, why do I say that these books are the Hunger Games of the CBA? 

Because they push the envelope.

Although the River of Time books are very different from The Hunger Games, both are full of intensity, deal with the idea of violence for survival among teens, and require you to step outside your view of reality for their settings and events.

I enjoyed both, but the River of Time series definitely gets my vote for my favorite read of the year. I hope you’ll check them out and recommend them to those who like to read romance, historical, fantasy, or YA. There’s a little something here for everyone.

Thanks, Lisa, for entertaining me in 2011! Can’t wait to read what you’ve got in store next! Check out her website at here.

Share with me: What was your favorite read of 2011?


Filed under Books, Cool Stuff I Recommend