Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Swirling Bumping Thoughts

Ever feel like there's too much going on in your mind? Like you can literally feel it swirling around in there and making a mess? That's how I'm feeling this evening. Wish I could get it all out on paper, nice and organized and complete so it wouldn't bump around up there, but every time I get a piece out, ten more take it's place. I can't win! My mind palace is not as efficient as Sherlock's.

There's too many projects and plans and ideas and possibilities all floating around in my head. I don't have the brainwidth or calendar time to act on them all! And let me tell you, there are some really good ones trapped in there. Hopefully I'll find a way to organize them so I can share them with you.

I need to figure out how to better manage my time to get these extra non-work, non-church-work ideas and projects into real life. Jon Acuff may have it right with the 5Club, but I don't think my body will allow me to get up and hustling at 5am. Especially since I'm working 3-11pm this month. But I really do need to find some time (and shut off the tv) for dreaming and planning. Because usually if I have down time, I want to shut off. I sit on the couch and veg out with mindless tv and Pinterest. I've got some ideas on this, so I just need to put it into action.

Would you like to help me start on one of these projects? Leave me a comment with a conversion/salvation story from the Bible (reference appreciated). And when I say salvation, I mean a person turning to God and being eternally saved kind of thing, not like the Israelites were saved from Egypt kind of thing.

How do you find time to dream and plan for those extra things bumping around your mind?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June's Adventure: TAZA!

June's Adventure in the Year of Awesome is complete! Can't believe we're halfway through the year. Crazy! We've got some really awesome adventures planned for the second half of the year, which will make up for the past few months being a little lame (which is why they haven't been documented on the blog.) Although, March was pretty great. We tried yoga. April was an Indian restaurant, and May was a really lame museum.

So anyways. Today we went for a tour of the Taza Chocolate Factory. (Sorry for the picture quality. I forgot my camera so this was all from my phone.)

Now, you may know that I don't eat chocolate unless it's fair trade. Once I learned about the slave labor involved in much of the chocolate industry, I couldn't go near it with a clear conscience. Seriously, I had half a Snickers bar in my purse at that conference and it made me nauseous when I tried to finish it. 

But Taza is Direct Trade and publishes their full reports on their site. I also learned on the tour that they have recently incorporated a third-party to keep them accountable. So I can eat their chocolate in good conscience! YAY!!! Plus, they are better for you than regular chocolates. Most of Taza's chocolate has just two ingredients: Cocoa beans and cane sugar. 

And there are such delicious flavors! I left with the cinnamon one, but it was hard to choose between that, the coconut, vanilla, salt & pepper, and more. (I don't have a picture of the chocolate; I was too busy taste-testing. But enjoy us in hairnets!)

Our guide Allie was awesome. She was perky and super knowledgeable about the process and sourcing of Taza. And she dealt beautifully with the two older ladies who were driving everyone else nuts. They were asking the weirdest questions, and trying to seem like they knew everything, when in reality they knew nothing. And then they kept complaining about the chocolate! But Allie was polite, helpful, and just plain great. We learned a lot about the chocolate-making process, as well as differences between processes. Allie, keep it up! You were the perfect tour guide! We loved this adventure!

We had a lot of fun. And a lot of yummy chocolate. So head over to Taza chocolate sometime! We got a Groupon for it, but it would totally be worth the full price tour ticket.

What's your favorite chocolate flavor? Ever take an awesome factory tour? I'd love to know so I can check it out!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Stealing The Preacher"

The Archer men are back, and Crockett's taking the spotlight in the latest book by Karen Witemeyer!

I have loved Karen's books since I first found them a year or so ago, and have been wishing for my own Archer brother since The Short Straw Bride. In Stealing the Preacher, I get to pretend!

Crockett is fulfilling his dream to become a preacher when he is stolen off the train and given as a gift to the outlaw's daughter for her birthday! Crockett is sure this is just a quick detour on the road to God's Perfect Will, but what if God's plans are different than he previously thought? Crockett might be willing to change his plans...if a certain redhead would be part of the new one!

Joanna Robbins had been praying for a minister for their small town, but never expected her father to kidnap one for her! Despite the unusual circumstances, Joanna is determined not to let this opportunity slip away, but will Crockett be willing to help? And why does Joanna suddenly feel jealous when the town flirt sets her sights on the preacher?

This book has everything that makes inspirational romance so great: it's a western, with a strong redemption/forgiveness message, colorful characters, drama, and just enough cheese to make you smile. There was one line about Crockett's swagger that made me both groan and smile! It may be cheesy at times, but what good romance isn't?

Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors lately. Her characters are so compelling and quirky that you believe they really exist somewhere in this world. In this case, Joanna, Crockett, Jackson, and the rest of the gang are all such well-thought-out characters that you can't help but feel for them in the story. The storyline has a number of twists that pop up unexpectedly and keep you reading late into the night, to make sure your new friends make it through! But even in these trials, the characters remain true to themselves and come out stronger for it.

I loved getting to revisit the Archer's and can't wait for the next book to see how Neill finds his own love. I would also love to see a future book about Jackson. I know he's just a boy in this one, but he's such an intriguing character and I would love to get to know him more, and see his happily-ever-after come to life.

You should definitely read this book. And then the rest of Karen's books. Enjoy this short trailer for the book!

Recommended 4/5 Stars

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Early Morning Curses

A blogger I follow posted this to Instagram recently (pay attention to v.14):
I love it! I am so not a morning person...although, I'm realizing that my body does function better when I'm up early and to bed early. Darn.

My family will tell you, you can't talk to me in the morning. It takes me at least half an hour to ease into the day. I take after my dad in that way. I get up slow and don't really say anything until I fully wake up. The best you can hope for is some grunts or moans. Try to talk to me about things of importance, and you'll get blinks and stares. I am not a morning person.

But look what it says in the Bible! That a loud greeting in the morning is like cursing. I love that this is in the Bible. I think God put it in there for people like me, so others would treat us kindly before we're fully awake. Youth leaders out there, take note! This should be one of those obscure verses in your arsenal to quote to teens at youth retreats and such.

So are you a morning person? Or are you more like me?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sore is the New Normal

I've been kicking butt at the gym lately. Finally been consistent for any extended stretch. And by "extended" I mean three weeks. I know it's not really too long, but it's the longest stretch I've gone persistently. So far, I've done four days each week, with 2-3 days each week being p90x days. I am determined to get in shape this year!

Of course, it helps that my latest motivation is a friend who kinda literally died, then ran a 5k a few weeks later. I figure, if she can do that (and be a mommy), I can get my butt to the gym a few times a week. And so far, so good!

It also helps that I've been working days, instead of nights. I just pack my gym bag when I pack my lunch, bring it all with me, and change into my gym clothes before I leave work. Otherwise, I make excuses. Even if I think I'll just change at the gym, something happens once I sit in the car. Excuses show up and I skip out. So I head straight to the gym from work before I have a chance to really think about what I could do instead. The only time this doesn't work so well is when I actually get out of work on time and want to do a p90x class. Class is usually at 5, so getting out at 3 means I have a lot of time to kill before class, which leads to excuses. I did that Monday. My excuse was, "I kinda have a headache, and I should clean my house". Guess what didn't really happen?

So, my keys to learning to love the gym:

  • Prepare for it early.
  • Just go do it before excuses can show up.
  • Take Motrin and/or meclizine just after lunch if its a rough day, so that can't be an excuse.
  • Plan snacks and meals so they don't make you nauseated during class
  • Make friends with at least one trainer.
  • Follow inspiring (non-anorexic) Instagrammers and Pinners. 
  • Set goals with rewards.
  • Do a fitness challenge with friends (some fun ones coming up!)

I am determined to be in the best shape of my life by the end of the year and committed to doing what I have to do to make that happen. My plan is to make healthier food choices, and hit the gym 4-5 times a week.

What are you doing to get/stay healthy?
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