He is Risen!

Today we celebrate Easter…the day that Jesus Christ rose from the grave and gave us hope. Hope for eternal life spent with our Lord forever.

After Jesus was crucified, thankfully, He did not stay dead. He rose again and is alive!

This world is but a pitstop, a blink of an eye, really, as we journey through on our way to an eternity spent with Him.

As I contemplate what He did for me – the sacrifice He made, my sins He took upon Himself, I am beyond humbled. Thank You, Jesus, for what You did for me. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). May I humbly remember Your sacrifice every day of the year, not just the one day marked on the calendar.

Do you know Jesus and the hope His death and resurrection brings?

Happy Resurrection Sunday to you and yours!

Nothing is Hidden

My husband, bless his heart, loves “daylight” light bulbs. (Some might say it is an obsession). Recently, he replaced all the regular light bulbs in our house with “daylight” light bulbs, including the ones in the bathrooms.

“You can see a whole lot better now,” he said.

lightbulb (2)

A whole lot better is right!

My husband does have a good point. It is easier to read, write, cook, and homeschool with better lighting.

But really, ignorance was bliss when it came to the lighting in the bathroom. Sure, I now can put my makeup on correctly without missing a spot. And I can for sure see a lot easier if something is in my eye, but…

Every wrinkle, every zit, every gray hair is now more visible than ever before. Did I mention those under eye circles from staying up too late working on my current novel?

Before the replacement of the regular bulbs with the”daylight” light bulbs, I couldn’t see any of those aforementioned things very well.

Now nothing is hidden.

Such a thought reminds me of the verse that says “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” ~ Hebrews 4:13

There is nothing that we do or say that is hidden from God. More profound is the fact that nothing we think and no emotion is hidden from our Lord. As the verse says, it is all laid bare before Him.

He knows every thought and every action – even those things done in secret. Nothing escapes His attention.

So now I am adjusting – albeit grudgingly – to the “daylight” light bulbs in the bathrooms. I am seeing the “new” me a bit clearer these days.

And as the “new” me, it brings to mind that I am a new creation in Christ, and my thoughts, actions, and words ought to reflect that.

 

 

9 recently-released Movies for your next family night

Every Friday, the Zeller family can be found popping enormous bowls of popcorn and watching a family movie for family night.

As a family who guards their eyes against many of the typical Hollywood-fare movies, we are constantly on the hunt for clean movies. People ask me frequently if there are such movies – movies that are well-done, clean, and void of language, sexuality, and gratuitous violence.

My answer? Yes! There are many, many good movies out there that fit this criteria.

How do I know? Because our entertainment center is chock full of such movies. And as one who has reviewed dozens of movies, I am always on the lookout for movies to add to my list of family-approved movies.

Below are nine recently-released movies for your next family night in no particular order:

  1. Fixer Upper – All-right, so who doesn’t love Chip and Joanna Gaines? Two seasons have been recently released on DVD; and four seasons have been released for download. Step inside the world of the Gaines family where they complete amazing “before” and “after” houses for everyday families.
  2. Wish for ChristmasAlthough a Christmas movie, this one is excellent to watch any time of the year. A mix of humor and drama, this also includes a great lesson of putting others before ourselves. wish for Christmas
  3. Priceless – Are you a fan of the music duo For King & Country? Then you may recognize the lead actor in this phenomenal film, Joel Smallbone. The movie (appropriate for those 13 and older) is a well-done drama about a woman and her sister unknowingly trapped in the sex trafficking trade. Will they be rescued in time? priceless
  4. Coffee Shop – Remember the awesome series, Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye? The producers of that series have just released this new drama (complete with some humor and romance). A coffee shop owner is about to lose her shop. What happens when love enters the picture? coffee shop
  5. The Wild Brothers Series – The Wild Family serve as missionaries in New Guinea. Come along as they share their experiences. The graphics are phenomenal, the message superb, and the family awesome. Perfect for all ages! wild brothers
  6. The Jungle Book – This new version has incredible graphics. There are a few scary scenes that will likely be frightening for the youngest of viewers.
  7. Love Finds You in Valentine – Having a girls’ night with your daughters? Love Finds You in Valentine is just the ticket with its touch of drama and romance. When a city girl inherits a farm, will she decide to keep it?
  8. Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge – With two DVDs depicting characters’ lives within a seven-year time span, viewers almost feel as though they are friends with the main characters, who go through trials and tribulations. An excellent movie of love, faith, and hope.
  9. The Peanuts Movie – Really, who doesn’t love the Peanuts? I remember reading my big thick Peanuts book as a child. While some newer renditions of movies tend to disappoint, The Peanuts Movie does just the opposite. A movie for all ages, it’s perfect for family night.

What are some family-friendly movies your family enjoys?

13 ways to help someone going through a difficult time

When my husband had open heart surgery a year-and-a-half ago, we found out quickly who are true friends were. Our immediate and extended family stood by our side, even through the numerous complications my husband faced (and continues to face). Friends, some whom we didn’t even know very well, were the first to “step up to the plate” when a need arose.

So many people blessed us during that time that we will be forever grateful.

How can you help someone going through a difficult time?

  1. Pray. And not only praying for the person in need, but also praying with them. Take a moment and lift up that person and their needs to the Lord. Several people did this for us, whether in person or by telephone, and it meant a lot.praying-3
  2. Make contact. I was surprised when I heard from a few people long after the surgery that they didn’t want to “bother us” while we were going through our difficult time. The worst thing you can do for someone going through a difficult time is to avoid contact. This is when they need you the most.
  3. Investigate. How can you help? Do they need meals? Grocery delivery? Kids taken to an extra-curricular activity? The car filled up with gas for their next doctor’s appointment?groceries
  4. Be specific. Instead of saying, “let me know if you need anything,” which leaves the person in need an easy-way-out of not asking, say, “what can I do to help?” Or “I’m going grocery shopping later today. What can I pick up for you?”
  5. Check in often. One of our dearest friends checked in a couple times a week just to let us know she was thinking about us and continuing to pray. A quick text or phone call means a lot, as does a traditionally-mailed card.telephone-call
  6. Don’t make it about you. This isn’t the time to place the guilt on the person in need because they aren’t able to have lunch with you as often as you’d like.
  7. Don’t stop caring. How many times do we stop helping someone going through a lengthy crisis long before they stop needing our help? Be there for the long haul.
  8. Think of the little things. We hear a lot about the mowing of yards or the shoveling of driveways. But what about the little things? Picking up their mail or newspaper while they are out of town overnight at the hospital, for instance. A friend of ours offered to water our newly-planted trees. That gesture was such a blessing to us.mail
  9. Be mindful of those with chronic illness. Three family members of mine suffer from chronic illness. It’s a day-to-day never-ending struggle with intense pain for each of them. Be there for them, even if they just need to talk.
  10. Don’t give unsolicited advice. Or pressure them into a supposed “cure-all” for their circumstance or illness. I.e., “If you would only take these special supplements, you would be cured of your heart issue.”
  11. Offer some respite. Know a newly-divorced mom? Offer to babysit her children while she tends to important matters. Know an exhausted caregiver? Offer to assist where needed.
  12. Be a listening ear through the grief. Know someone who has recently lost a loved one? Be a listening ear through the sadness and the memories.SONY DSC
  13. Help monetarily. If you know the person in need has accumulated numerous medical bills or is off work for any length of time, a small donation is always welcome.

What ways have you extended help to someone in need? Have you ever been on the receiving end of extraordinary kindness while going through a difficult time?

A bit more expensive (but still reasonable!) pieces of exercise equipment

Last week, I posted about 7 inexpensive pieces of equipment to jump start your workout.

Today, we’ll look at some more expensive (but still reasonable!) pieces of exercise equipment to enhance your workout.

1. A Bosu ball. I first used a Bosu ball at the gym during a weight training class and fell in love with it immediately. Easy on the back and neck and super-effective for situps and planks, a Bosu ball is a bit pricey, but worth every cent.

bosu-ball

2. A BodyBar. I have personally found the BodyBar so much easier and more versatile than hand-weights. Prices vary based on the weight. I purchased mine directly from the BodyBar website.

3. A fitness tracker. The preferences for fitness trackers are varied and range in price from economy to super-expensive. Fitness trackers can do everything from calorie count, heartrate, to steps taken, to logging in different exercises. I absolutely love the Fitbit Surge my husband surprised me with last year for my birthday.

A more economical way to count your steps would be a run-of-the-mill pedometer. Another option is the variety of fitness apps available today. While I have not used it personally, I have heard good things about myfitnesspal.

What types of equipment have you found useful for your home gym?

 

**Please be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program or varying your current workout.

7 inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment to jump start your workout

Getting into shape doesn’t have to be expensive. Below are seven inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment to jump start your workout.**

1. Resistance loop bands. Need to work your upper and lower body? Resistance bands are excellent and versatile for just this purpose. Allergic to latex? I found some bands by LIV Active in different strengths that are latex free and perfect for shoulders, upper arms, and even leg exercises.

2. Hula hoop. A great way to whittle your waist…crank the music and hula hoop to your heart’s delight! Hula hoops come in both weighted varieties and non-weighted varieties. While the weighted hula hoop works well for many, I don’t use mine much because it has caused bruising. Rather, I have found my cheap lightweight Walmart hula hoop a useful piece of equipment to integrate into my workout.

hula-hoops

3. Jump rope.Want a good cardio workout, but can’t get outside for a run? Try jump roping. Again, these come in weighted varieties, but even a standard is more than sufficient and offers heart-healthy benefits, strengthens the body, and burns calories. A portable piece of exercise equipment, it can go anywhere tucked in a purse or suitcase. My daughters and I recently headed out to the driveway and tested out our new double jump rope. With a daughter turning each end, I was thrilled to discover that I could still do double-Dutch and remember the songs from my childhood days on the playground.

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4. Water bottles. Don’t have hand weights? Try out two standard 16.9 ounce water bottles for an easy upper body workout.

5. A chair. Speaking of upper body workouts, tricep dips on a chair can work wonders for that flabby under-part of the arm that’s traditionally difficult to tone. An informative way to do tricep dips correctly with a chair can be found here.

6. A dog leash. Stretching is critical to a well-rounded workout to avoid injury. Using a dog leash to stretch the calf muscles after exercise is easy and effective. Details on how to stretch properly with a leash can be found here.

7. An effective playlist. All right, so I added this one in because as one who has taught a variety of aerobic workouts at three different gyms, I know for certain that no workout is quite as powerful and sufficient without the right tunes. Seven of my must-have songs on my downloaded playlist at present are Set it on Fire – Citizen Way, Sold Out – Hawk Nelson, On my Own – Ashes Remain, The Difference – Jonah 33, Restart – Newsboys, and This is Not a Test – TobyMac among about 500 other songs! 🙂

Join me next week, and we’ll look at some more expensive (but still reasonable!) pieces of exercise equipment to enhance your workout.

**Please be sure to check with your physician before starting any new exercise program or varying your current workout.

quick and easy delicious crock-pot chili (gluten free)

We’ve had extremely cold weather this year, so what better meal than a crock pot of chili? Here’s the quick and easy directions for a delicious dinner of crock-pot chili – one of our personal family favorites:

chiliThe night before: wash, then soak 2 1/2 cups of pinto beans according to directions on package. If you forget to soak them the night before, no problem. Simply wash the beans, then boil them until softened the day of the meal.

Brown a package of hamburger meat.

Combine the hamburger meat and the softened pinto beans in the crock pot. Add two cans of Hunt’s Dinner Starters seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili.

Add two cans of water and stir.

Turn your crock-pot to low and let simmer throughout the day, stirring on occasion.

For side dishes: fresh spinach or tossed salad and homemade cornbread. 🙂

Enjoy!

*Note: Since my husband is Celiac, this is a safe meal for him. At the time of this posting, my research concluded that Hunt’s Dinner Starters Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili was gluten free. If you have a food allergy, always double check the label and call the company (or find their website online) to determine if the product is gluten free.

We use The Cravings Place Grandma’s Unsweetened Cornbread Mix (gluten free, wheat free, nut free, dairy free) for the cornbread. We add honey to the mix (per package directions) to sweeten.

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Tweetables

Quick and easy delicious gluten free crock-pot chili recipe (click to tweet)

Perfect dinner idea for a cold day! (click to tweet)

What’s for dinner? (click to tweet)

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