Book Review: Love Does

DISCOVER A SECRETLY INCREDIBLE LIFE IN AN ORDINARY WORLD

BY BOB GOFF

My beautiful cousin Hilary sent me the book Love Does. To be honest, I do not know when she sent it. I put it on my bookshelf and then kind of forgot about it. It wasn’t until I was talking to Hilary and her brother, Matthew, that Love Does was mentioned. At first, I denied even having the book (oops). After a quick check, I found it, then apologized. It wasn’t long after that I started reading it. It always amazes me how I pick up books just at the right moment that I am supposed to. I don’t think I was ready to read the book when it was first sent to me, but now this was the right time. I’m glad and grateful I did because it changed my life.

One of the first things that caught my attention was Goff’s silliness and lightheartedness. Don’t get me wrong the book was impactful and meaningful, yet it had this humorous and light feel. It showed me that as a Christian, I don’t have to be so serious. I’m still learning and growing in my walk with Jesus, but I found it comforting that I can still be my silly self.

Love Does showed me that love is an action. It’s not just a word, but a movement. There are so many ways to love. Goff talked about his friend Doug that he admired and how he lived his life with an adventurous and loving attitude. This friend shared Jesus with Goff. Goff states, “Like Doug, Jesus wasn’t a religious guy… He helped people. He figured out what they really needed and tried to point them toward that. He healed people who were hurting. He spent time with the kinds of people most of us spend our lives avoiding… He was all about engagement… That’s one of the things I saw in Doug… I liked that Doug could be friends with Jesus and still shoot pellet guns. I didn’t think that was allowed, but apparently, it was.”

Reading that was so freeing for me! Some Christians are so focused on rules and religious aspects that they miss the whole point. Sometimes I’m guilty of that as well. I’ll think, “oh you have to do this that way, or you can’t do it like that, people might judge you for it, etc.” At the end of the day, God knows my heart.

While reading Love Does I also learned the power of asking for things and saying yes more. Goff shared a cute story about a guy named Ryan who was essentially a stranger. Ryan randomly asked Goff if he could use his backyard to propose to his girlfriend that he was madly in love with. Goff was surprised but said yes. Ryan then asked for more things and in return, Goff said yes to more things. As a result, it turned out to be an extravagant night for everyone involved! If I am being honest, I don’t always ask for the things that I need. Sometimes there’s fear or self-judgment involved, but if I focus on the love of God like Ryan loved his girlfriend, then I dare to ask for things above and beyond! It’s a practice for me, but I’m getting better. In Love Does there are many examples of bold faith and how things can change, just by saying yes, shifting your perspective, and exuding love that Jesus so freely gives us.

Goff spoke about his friend Don who was dying from cancer. As I was reading this chapter I was on a plane to Florida. During this flight, I was extremely paranoid and full of fear. My head was circling with negative thoughts of plane crashes and severe scenarios. However, something shifted in me after reading this chapter. “God is good, all the time. God is good.” Even if the plane crashed, God was good, even if (fill in the blank) __ happens God is good! Not just sometimes, always. I’m here today, sober and healthy. God is good, when I go, God will still be good. I believe in heaven and seeing my loved ones again. Knowing that, what could I fear?

Lastly, I am guilty of judging myself as a “bad Christian” because I don’t have a bunch of scripture verses memorized. In my justification, I do have a terrible memory problem. I am aware that God’s words are my defense, strength, and daily bread. With that being said, Jesus doesn’t want perfect people to just memorize scripture. He wants people to LIVE scripture! The best way we can do that, that I can do that, is by loving my neighbor. Instead of having a Bible study with his guy friends, Goff calls it “Bible doing.” “At our Bible doing, we read what God has to say and then focus all our attention on what we are going to do about it. Just agreeing isn’t enough. I can’t think of a single time where Jesus asked His friends to just agree with him.” That absolutely blew my mind. That is my goal now. That is how I want to live my life and like Goff said early on in the book, I didn’t think that was allowed, but apparently, it was.

Love Does permitted me to be more of myself. It inspired me to continue discovering the endless ways of how God loves me, how I love Him and what that means for how I treat and care for others. Most importantly, how love does, it’s an action. I am forever grateful for learning this.

I just started Goff’s 2nd book/3rd book, “Everybody, Always” so I shall be reviewing that next! ❤

Some of my favorite quotes:

“I think God sometimes uses the completely inexplicable events in our lives to point us toward Him. We get to decide each time whether we will lean in toward what is unfolding and say yes or back away.” 

“God is big enough and loves me enough to say He forgives me, I should actually believe Him. I mean, I shouldn’t keep feeling bad about all of the times I’ve messed up because that’s ignoring what God said… When I don’t trust God’s forgiveness, it’s kind of saying I really don’t believe he’s that good.”

“God doesn’t talk to me in an audible voice because God isn’t a human being; He’s God. That makes sense to me, because human beings are limited and God isn’t limited at all. He can communicate to us in any way He wants to anytime He wants to. Through flowers, other people, an uncomfortable sense, a feeling of joy, goose bumps, a new found talent, or an appreciation we acquire over time. It doesn’t need to be a big mystical thing…”

“We’re God’s plan, and we always have been.”

“I think Jesus had in mind that we would not just be “believers” but “participants.” 

“If you are a sincere friend, folks around you will quickly understand that there’s no hidden agenda and nothing on the other side of the equals sign — just you.”

“…When I don’t know what to do to move my dreams down the road… I usually just try to figure out what the next step is and then do that… for most of us, that next step is as easy as picking up the phone, sending an email, writing a letter, buying a plane ticket, or just showing up. After that, things start happening.”

“… He doesn’t pass us messages, instead He passes us each other.”

“The world can make you think that love can be picked up at a garage sale or enveloped in a Hallmark card. But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright…. What I learned from Randy reinforced the simple truth that continues to weave itself into the tapestry of every great story: Love Does.”

★★★★★

Book Review: “The Blessed Life”

Unlocking the rewards of generous living BY robert morris

I read this book at the beginning of quarantine last year. The concepts and values that I learned have stayed with me. So much so, I decided to finally write about it.

To be honest, I still consider myself a “baby Christian.” But I am not sure how much longer I can get away with this act. I started my relationship with Christ in July of 2016. That will be 5 years this summer! Once and a while I’ll say “oh I don’t know that much about __, I’m still a “baby Christian” or something to that nature. However, I am on a mission to continue to learn and grow my faith! This book was extremely helpful in doing just that.

As a new Christian, when it comes to tithing I was always confused. How much do I give? What do others give? Why do I give? Since starting church I’ve also been a struggling entrepreneur that would frequently find myself in between part-time jobs. I would volunteer too. To me, that counted as “tithing.” However, as great as volunteering is, it’s not tithing.

After reading The Blessed Life I understood why I tithe, how to tithe, and all of the blessings that come with tithing. To my surprise, it’s not just about giving money, it’s so much more than that.

“It always requires faith to give the first. That’s why so few Christians experience the blessings of tithing. It means giving to God before you see if you’re going to have enough. By tithing, it is as if we are saying to God, ‘I recognize You first. I am putting You first in my life, and I trust You to take care of the rest of the things in my life.’”

I not only started tithing, but I also set up my business to give the first as well! It has been a blessing in both areas of my life. Again, it’s not a huge amount of money (right now), but it is something. It’s also not about the money, it’s about the posture of my heart. It is about being a steward. How do I expect God to bless me with more if I don’t give a portion of what I have now?

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to grow a stronger, deeper relationship with the Lord and to be blessed!

Some of my favorite quotes:

“The tithe, the firstborn, and the firstfruits all belong to the Lord.” (Exodus 13:2, Exodus 23:19, Malachi 3:6)

“All tithers give the testimony that they are blessed, and all nontithers give the testimony that they can’t afford to tithe.”

“Tithing is not law to me—it is life!”

“There is a second principle of multiplication: Only what is given away can multiply.”

“The truth is that God not only uses our stuff to test us, but He uses other people’s stuff as well. In other words, how we respond to someone else being blessed says a lot about the condition of our hearts.”

“God is not against us having nice things. On the contrary, He loves to see His people blessed. But motives are everything!” Proverbs 16

“A valuable practice is to pray about every significant financial purchase and wait overnight before you commit.”

“The truth is no amount of money will ever impress God. There is only one thing you can possibly give to God that would constitute an extravagant gift—yourself.”

Lastly,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Morris shared many tithing testimonies and how he’s been able to bless others. Morris makes everything relatable, tangible, and overall inspiring.

On an extremely personal note and I guess my own little testimony: I started reading this book on May 3, 2020. On June 17, 2020, I wrote on page 47, “Lord, from here on out I will tithe 10% of all income; myself and my business. I love you. I promise I will try my best to always stay true to my word.” I finished reading The Blessed Life on September 26, 2020. Not even a full month later I randomly applied and was accepted to be on a reality zoom cash show via a local radio station. I came in second place and won an advertising campaign for my business! Which is set to launch in May, almost one full year later. I didn’t put the pieces together until now, but wow, it’s incredible. I am not sure what’s going to come from it, but I’m expectant because I believe in an expectant God!

To continue being honest, I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with money. It was frequently a problem in my childhood home growing up and now as an adult, I have learned that it takes time, patience, and knowledge to be responsible when it comes to money. Reading this book has helped tremendously! Lastly, I don’t always tithe perfectly. However, I continue to try and put God first in all aspects of my life, the best I can, one day at a time.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

★★★★★

What I ate on The Daniel Fast

The Daniel Fast is extremely rejuvenating. It gives me the opportunity to connect with God and to also be mindful what I consume for my mind, body, and spirit. I will be writing another blog post about what specifically came up for me during this Daniel Fast, but for now I wanted to share the food that I ate.

The recipes are either from Pinterest, Susan Gregory’s book (https://www.daniel-fast.com/), Google, YouTube or my own creations. I added the link for the recipes. 🙂 If there’s not a recipe for something, message me and I will get it for you.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Animal Products, Added Sugar, Yeast, Refined Grains, Processed Food, Fried Food, Solid Fats, Chocolate, Caffeine and Alcohol.
    • Since I suffer from terrible migraines, I did not eliminate coffee. There is a method to slowly decrease your coffee intake before the fast, but I didn’t do that. I shall try again next time. Besides coffee, I only drank water.

Foods to Eat:

  • Whole Grains, Beans and Legumes, Nuts and Seeds, Vegetables, Fruit, Oil (coconut, avocado, evoo), Unleavened Bread, all Herbs, Spices and Seasoning, Soy Products, including Tofu.

Tips & Tricks

  • Before starting the Daniel Fast I would suggest doing a ton of research on what meals to eat and snacks to have on hand. The point of the Daniel Fast, is not to starve. Research on Pinterest, online, or if you have the Susan Gregory book there are tons of recipes in there as well.
  • Do it with a friend
  • Keep a journal and write everything down
  • Smoothies make a great snack and are so versatile
  • I don’t suggest eating out
  • Create Menus for the week and post on fridge (see below)
  • If you find a recipe that you like, but it has chicken or fish you can sub with tofu or veggies or just take it out
  • Remember this isn’t a diet, or a fad, it’s a fast to pray and grow closer to The Lord
  • Have fun with it, get creative, experiment and get outside of your food comfort zone

Preparation:

  • On Saturdays during the fast I spent about an hour+ looking for recipes and snacks for the week and making menus (see at the bottom)
  • I hung the menus on my fridge so when I was looking for food, especially snacks, I didn’t have to rummage through the drawers (& be tempted by my dad’s snacks who was not on the Daniel Fast.. hello Oreos!). Instead I knew exactly what I had and where.
  • On Sundays I did the food shopping then meal prepped.
  • All of these tips, tricks and preparations helped me have an overall successful Daniel Fast with lots of homemade healthy and tasty food!

FOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

VEGAN PIZZA WITH VEGGIES, VEGAN MOZZARELLA ON A QUINOA DOUGH

FALAFEL GREEK SALAD

LENTIL SOUP (crockpot)

TOFU AND ROASTED VEGGIE TACOS

5 Minute Banana, Whole Wheat Flour Pancakes with a Blueberry Compote and Orange Zest

I was in a rush to run errands with my sister, but I really really wanted pancakes. Once that pancake craving comes in it’s hard to resist! I couldn’t find anything on Pinterest in such a hurry so I just threw this all together and it worked out!! Next time will definitely add walnuts to the batter.

  • PANCAKES: threw a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup soy milk, 1/4 tsp of baking powder, 1 banana, 1cinnamon and pumpkin pie seasoning into a blender which made a lovely thick pancake batter.
  • BLUEBERRY COMPOTE: put the blueberries in a small pot on the stove with low heat, 1 tbsp of water, 1/4 tbsp of lemon juice. I stirred frequently adding more water and pinches of lemon juice until it had the right consistency. This was used as my syrup since I couldn’t use maple syrup. So good!!!

Veggie Burgers topped with Vegan Mozzarella, sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms and a side of shoe string French Fries from the air fryer

  • VEGGIE BURGERS: from Susan Gregory’s Daniel Fast Book
  • CHEESE: https://www.noracooks.com/easy-stretchy-vegan-mozzarella-cheese
  • SHIITAKE: sautéed on the stove with a little avocado oil
  • FRENCH FRIES: shredded thinly tossed with evoo, salt, pepper, touch of thyme and in the air fryer for 20-25 minutes.
  • PICKLED CABBAGE CASHEW DIPPING SAUCE: soaked cashews – drained, salt, pepper, pickled cabbage, squeeze of lemon and salt in the blender until smooth.

BANANA OATMEAL COOKIES

COOKIES: https://www.onecleverchef.com/3-ingredient-banana-oatmeal-cookies/

Instead of chocolate chips (recipe) I added raisins and walnuts!

PESTO WITH WHOLE WHEAT PASTA + TOMATOES, ASPARAGUS & PEAS

PESTO: https://pinchofyum.com/healthy-baked-pesto-rigatoni

I did not add the parmesan cheese (recipe).

I love recipes like this because you can add whatever veggies you’d like. I’ve cleaned out my fridge before lol.

Another PIZZA because PIZZA….. ❤️

WILD RICE SOUP (instant pot)

I love this recipe so much. I found it a couple of years ago and I find myself making it every few months. It’s healthy, filling, and just soothes the soul. https://www.veggiessavetheday.com/vegan-wild-rice-soup/

TACOS AGAIN BECAUSE YA KNOW, IT’S TACOS!!!

This time I made it with baked Tofu, Shiitake Mushrooms and homemade Refried Beans.

GRANOLA BARS

These were a bit tedious, but oh so good! The flavor had so much depth and they were very filling. https://thebananadiaries.com/healthy-homemade-granola-bars/

SOME SNACKS

HUMMUS: https://www.cookingclassy.com/hummus/

can’t find the exact cinnamon chickpea recipe, but it was similar to this, minus the seasoning.. https://createmindfully.com/crispy-nacho-roasted-chickpeas/

menus

I did not take pictures of everything that I made, but if you have any questions about anything, please let me know.

Happy Daniel Fast and God Bless! Xo

My Morning Routine

Through many trials and tribulations I’ve realized that for me to be spiritually fit and ready to take on the day, I have to have a morning routine. Days can be unpredictable and challenging. When I spend time in the morning to nurture and prepare myself I am setting myself up for success. I also need to spend time with God first and foremost.

My #1 morning rule is not to go on any social media until after my morning routine. When I go on social media before setting myself up for the day, it throws me completely off balance and interrupts my focus and vibe. I used to tell myself “let me just check one thing real quick.” It’s never one thing, and it’s never quick.

Here’s what a morning in my life looks like…

Wake up — on a good day without a migraine. I try to thank God once I rise, but some days I forget. But every day I wake up is a blessing!

Make my bed*

Feed Lily

^^ this is Lily. ❤️

Make a pot of coffee

Let Lily out

Before I pour a cup of coffee, I drink 1 full glass of water and usually have a little morning snack. Lately, I’ve been loving these homemade oatmeal and peanut butter bites.

Let Lily in

Pour a cup of coffee with oat milk 🙂

Go downstairs to my office/ladies lounge

I grab my readings and journal and place them on the coffee table

It’s time to start my readings and journaling so I sit in my comfy pink chair with my fuzzy blanket and…

● Open my Bible app on my phone

● Read the passage of the day and if I have any Bible Plans I read them

● I put on the Armor of God  https://libertyfellowship.com/ARMOROFGOD.HTML

● Pick up Jesus Always and read the message of the day

● I then write 2-4 pages in my Journal. I try to write whatever comes to my mind and to get everything out that’s possibly been circling around. That’s what I’ve learned from the Morning Pages from The Artist Way. However, sometimes I try so hard to control what I write so that it sounds “neat” (work in progress). I also tend to write about how my day was yesterday and the things I have planned for the day.

● Then I write a gratitude list down the left column of my journal

● After that, I read a few pages from another helpful little book. This is when I turn my will and my plans for the day over to God.

● Now it’s time for meditation anywhere from 5-15 minutes

● Last, but certainly not least, I pray.

● Before I pray to the Lord, I thank Him. I take a few breathes and just thank Him for this day that He has created.

● I am currently doing the Experiencing God Bible Study (it’s been amazing). If I have enough time I’ll do that after praying. If not, I’ll aim to do it at some point throughout the day.

On an average day, my morning routine could take anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours. This isn’t something that happened overnight. It took time to realize what works and what doesn’t work for me. Today, I am grateful for having this morning routine because it sets me up for success spiritually and mentally.

Also, I don’t do this perfectly. Some days I rush through it so I can get to commitments. Other days I wake up feeling lousy, especially since I suffer from migraines. On those days I hazily get through it and that’s okay, I continue coming back to it no matter what. 

*I used to not make my bed. When I wanted to start making healthier changes in my life it started with a simple thing like making my bed. It felt good to do every day then shortly after it became a habit. I eventually added other feel-good healthy habits to my list and they continue to evolve and grow, just like me.

I’d love to hear what your morning routine looks like, so feel free to comment below!

Book Review: “The Gifts of Imperfection”

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. By Brené Brown

I recently read this lovely gem of a book, by the lovely gem of a human, Brené Brown. It left quite an impact on me. Sometimes, okay fine, a lot of times I aim for perfection. However, perfection is an illusion because there’s no such thing. We are human, we are flawed, and that’s okay. This book helped me embrace my flaws, my imperfections, and to live more authentically.

Everyone’s path is different and the only way I can continue to embark on my journey is by living authentically. It’s easier said than done, but Brené explains it in this book in such a helpful way. She shares her experiences and relays tips and ways to “dig deep.”

Brené also talks about shame. I didn’t think I had a lot of shame, but after reading and asking myself some questions it became very prevalent. It was then that I realized, not only had I been ashamed of my shame, but it was stopping me from living my best, authentic life.

The Gifts of Imperfection also talks about the journey of wholehearted living, being enough, letting go of what people think, creativity, play, rest and so much more.

I am still guilty of aiming for perfection, and that’s okay. At least I am mindful of it. In the meantime, I am continuing to cultivate more self-love and self-compassion. If I mess up, that is okay. If I say the wrong answer in class, that is okay. If I double-post an Instagram story with a bunch of changes, that is okay. I don’t know why that embarrasses me so much. Anyway, this book claims on the cover “your guide to a wholehearted life” and I can attest to that being true.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

“When we value being cool and in control over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulful expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves.”

“Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.”

“We don’t change, we don’t grow, and we don’t move forward without the work.”

“…courage has a ripple effect. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver.”

“Comparison is all about conformity and competition.”

“Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude,”

Lastly,

It was challenging to pick just these quotes as there were many to choose from. If you are having a difficult time dealing with your imperfections, being your authentic self, or just want a good inspirational and positive read, then I highly suggest getting this book!

★★★★★

My Veneers Journey

I highly respect and admire transparency in others, so I try to be transparent as well. Why not, right? My experiences can only help others and this isn’t something I’m ashamed of, nor should I be. Before veneers, I was extremely insecure and embarrassed about my teeth.

As seen in the cover photo and video below, my front left tooth and the tooth next to it were several shades darker than my other teeth. I believe this was a result from having a cavity filled in my front tooth years ago. It bothered me so much that I subconsciously talked differently with my lip to try and cover my tooth. I technically started this journey 4-5 years ago when I started asking dentists and whitening professionals about how to whiten my teeth. Everyone said the same thing, there was nothing that would fix it besides veneers.

My first (& expensive) consultation was a nightmare. They wanted me to get 10 veneers on top and 10 veneers on the bottom. It would have cost over $50,000 😱.

When I went on my second (& free) consultation for veneers with Dr. Pollack at Beautiful Smiles*, they suggested that I only needed 4 veneers on top. I just knew this was going to work! I didn’t tell Dr. Pollack’s office about documenting my experience because I wanted it to be as real and authentic as possible.

I can honestly say that this entire veneer process changed my life. A year and a half later and I am just as happy as I was the day of the reveal! 😁

The video below includes: story time, whitening experience, thoughts the day before my temps, reveal of my temps, day I got my permanent veneers, my sister and dad’s reaction, and a 1 year update!

God Bless & thanks for reading/watching!

*Dr. Pollack and his wonderful Team at Beautiful Smiles in Millburn, NJ: https://www.beautifulsmilesnj.com/

Do you have veneers? If so, how was your experience? Are you happy with them? If you want veneers, why? Or comment below with any questions or concerns you may have. I’d love to read and chat.

How I Stayed in Shape During Quarantine

YouTube is the home of (brb googling) “5+ billion videos!!” That’s a lot of videos. At the beginning of the quarantine, I didn’t do any exercise, besides lifting food to my mouth. Does that count? I think I was just trying to figure out what was going on in the world. That and to be honest, I often used any excuse not to work out.

However, come May, I found the “Move With Nicole” YouTube Page. She’s a “Yoga/Fitness Enthusiast” who posts Pilates and Barre at-home workout videos. I gave them a try and quickly became a fan.

I appreciate Nicole’s videos for several reasons.

  • range of intensity
  • not a lot of jumping
  • she’s calming, yet motivating
  • often doesn’t require equipment
    • Usually just yourself and a yoga mat.
    • One of my favorite workouts does include a chair, but that’s easily accessible.
  • works and isolates the target areas
  • There’s a nice range of times:
    • For example: 30 min Full Body, 20 min Total Core/Ab, 10 min Pilates HIIT.
    • It makes it easier to commit because even doing a 10-minute video on a busy workday, or lazy day, is better than doing nothing day.

When I started back in May some of the exercises in the videos were difficult to accomplish, but like anything, the more I practiced, the better I became. Resulting in being able to complete moves I thought nearly impossible before.

Also, Nicole is consistently creating new videos. I am a huge fan and I’m grateful that she shares her skills and talent with us. If you’re looking for something new, with a range of time and difficulty to help get you in shape, then check out her page:

https://www.youtube.com/c/MoveWithNicole/featured

Extra Notes:

I have been working out on and off since I was 15-years-old. I never knew what my favorite style of workout was until I started Pilates and Barre. I like that they leave me feeling elongated and toned. Lifting weights and using machines make me feel bulky and thick. It might be okay for me to do here and there, but not very often. That’s the way my sister likes to workout and that’s okay. For a while, I just thought I was lazy because when my sister would ask me to work out, and she asked me a lot, especially at the beginning of quarantine, I would always say no. Then it hit me one day, I just don’t like that style of working out. -mind blown- 🤯 

I also started running during the quarantine. Well in my mind I am running, but if you see me, I am most definitely jogging. I’ll probably save that for another post, but it was a great challenge and something fun that kept me busy in the warm spring and summer quarantine days.