Mission: Family Advent Activities

Photo Credit: http://wyandotteccc.org/2012/11/advent-christmas-jesus-is-coming/

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Most people may groan and complain when they see Christmas decorations on store shelves after Halloween, but I get giddy.  Don't get me wrong, I don't skip through Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving as a time to be intentional about giving thanks, especially in the midst of our busy lives.  BUT CHRISTMAS BRINGS OUT THE LITTLE GIRL IN ME. 

A Cardioholic's Guide to Effective Walking

I love to workout.  If you are my friend, or you have been following me on facebook, you know that my workouts always consisted of sweat fests- intense cardio and strength.  I love my Beachbody workouts! I genuinely enjoy the sweat fests from Turbo Fire, P90X3, Insanity Max, Cize.  But for the next 10 days, I will be toning my fitness routine with power walking*.You can read more about it here.

Should you skip a workout?

Whether you're an avid exerciser or a beginner, there will be days when you won't be able to work out.  How do you know if you should skip your workout or push through?

Take a lesson from me... there are some days when you SHOULD skip your workout and allow your body to recuperate. Check out my blog post at the Read Pray Move for a detailed rundown of when you should and should not skip your workout.

If you want to start a workout program but don't know how or where to start, I would LOVE to chat with you about your fitness goals. Email me today to schedule a FREE consultation!

Apple Recipes

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," unless of course it's a caramel apple. It is apple picking season.  You don't have to stick to the same old apple pie recipe.  If you have to or choose to eat gluten free or paleo, there are so many recipes out there to help you enjoy all that apple that you picked this weekend. Here are some apple recipes.

RPM Apple Crumble (two recipes that I shared).

Apple-Spinach Chicken

Clean Eating Pumpkin Spice Apple

Gluten Free Dairy Free Apple Crepes 

Homemade Applesauce

Paleo Apple Banana Muffins


I really did not want to write this.  It is embarrassing...

I ran to the garbage can and spit out the sour cream and onion chips.  How did that happen?  I stared at the empty bowl that held a bowl of ice cream a few minutes ago.  That was my breakfast- ice cream and potato chips.  Me- the self proclaimed "fitness enthusiast," the one people went to for help with their fitness.  I had ice cream and chips for breakfast.  I was in a slump that day.  Another very bad case of the blahs.  Woke up late.  Didn't have time to spend time with God.  One son missed his bus and I felt like a failure as a mom.  I had my sister's upcoming bridal shower and I panicked that I may have failed in ironing out the details and the shower was going to be a complete embarrassment.  My ice cream debacle screamed "FRAUD! FRAUD! FRAUD!" in my head.  I was an emotional mess- on the border of self loathing and self pity. LOVELY.  Read the entire post on the Read Pray Move blog.




I wanted to turn off my phone.  It would be so much easier to shut everyone out and just live a life without conflict.  I would be much easier to keep a wall up and keep people out.  I hurt people. People hurt me. I disappoint people. People disappoint me.  It is ALWAYS those closest to us, isn't it?  And sometimes, nobody can make you feel like a completely, messed up piece of trash like those you are closest to. They have seen you at your best and seen you at your worst.

BUT GOD... God calls us to love unconditionally.  Through all the dysfunction, the hurt, the conflict, God calls us to LOVE each other as He has loved us (John 13:34).  How did He love us?  Oh yes, He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us (John 3:16).  He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

That is how God wants us to love.  So I will pick up the phone and speak life.  And when I fail? I will be humble and admit my error.

7 Days in Prayer Challenge

Not Fine Friday... Number My Days

My paternal and maternal grandfathers went home to be with the Lord years ago when I was still a child.  For about twenty three years, I had another grandpa right here in the United States.  We did not share the same DNA.  His blood didn't run in my veins. But he was Grandpa. And to my children, he was Great-grandpa. I loved the conversations of faith that we had, as scarce as they were.  He was a great man who was always interested in everything you had to say. He was such an even keel, cool, calm and collected man.  He would have conversations with my son about Lightning McQueen and Ben 10 as if those were the most interesting things on the planet.  My boys have a Hess truck for every Christmas they have been in this world thanks to Grandpa. Unfortunately, he went home to be with the Lord this past week.  My heart aches because I don't think I ever let him know just how much he means to me and my family.

It is a hard hard lesson for me.  I don't like the awkwardness of calling people when sometimes I may have nothing to say.  But I have to look past that awkwardness and just say, "How are you? I love you."  And if they don't pick up, leave a message.  If they don't call back, who cares?  Job 14:5 tells us, "You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer" (NLT).  During the prayer service and also during the Mass, the priest spoke about my grandfather's service to this country and also to the patients at St. Francis Hospital.  Grandpa lived a full life and loved on people, even strangers who didn't reciprocate or appreciate his service.   One of the verses that the priest read was John 14:27, "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid" (NLT).  Grandpa continued to visit and volunteer the patients regardless of their reaction to him because he had that peace- the peace of who he is in Christ and his purpose, which is to serve Christ.  You see, Jesus didn't just extend the gift of peace to his original twelve disciples.  This gift is for you and me.  His hands and feet of this generation.

I am committing to let the peace of Christ flourish in me, too. We are not guaranteed tomorrow or even the next hour.  I don't say that to be morbid, but rather to encourage you and also encourage myself.  I want to rest in my identity IN CHRIST so that I express my love to those I love regardless of the awkwardness I feel. I want God to "Teach (me) to number my days, that (I) may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, NIV).   Sometimes we take God's gifts- a new day, the people in our lives, the cool breeze in our hair- for granted don't we? (Or am I the only one??)

Go ahead, pick up the phone and let your loved ones know you love them.  Don't let your spouse walk out the door without saying, "I love you." Go to that teenager that just made you want to pull your hair out and hug him- even if he pushes you away. Let us accept the wonderful gift of peace that we have in Christ so that we can love without abandon.


I wasn't sure if I wanted to admit my major life fail but I decided to share it to encourage others who may have the same struggle.  We are an imperfect people with a perfect God.  On the last Friday of every month, my friend Christa hosts #NotFineFriday where other bloggers share their "not fine" moments and share how God has swooped down and redeemed them or works with them to overcome these moments.  Check other "not fine" moments on Christa's blog.

Recipe: Steak and Mushroom Omelet

We had left over steak the other day. I love my steak medium rare and sticking leftover steak in the microwave just doesn't sound appealing to me. Depending on how much steak I have leftover and what kind of steak it is, I would either use it for an omelet for breakfast or make a Filipino dish called adobo out of it. I didn't have enough for adobo so I made steak and mushroom omelets for breakfast today.

It's pretty easy and great for breakfast and even lunch!  Here is the recipe:

1 tsp coconut oil, divided into (2 1/2 tsps) (you can also use butter or oil of your choice)
1/4 cup left over steak (cut into small bit size pieces)
chopped tomatoes
chopped mushrooms
chopped onions
(you can use bell peppers or other vegetables you want)
(sorry i didn't measure, just eyeball how much you'd want in your omelet)
1 egg and 1 eggwhite (scrambled together)
Salt & Pepper to taste


1. In a small pan, heat 1/2 tsp coconut oil in medium heat .
2. When oil is heated, add onions and mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes until onions are transparent.
3. Add tomatoes and steak. Saute for a few minutes.
4. Place the vegetable and steak mix on a plate and set aside.
5.  Heat the other 1/2 tsp coconut oil in the pan.
6. Add the egg, spreading it evenly with a spatula.
7. While the eggs are firm on the bottom, but still slightly runny on top, sprinkle all of the fillings over the egg. Add salt & pepper to taste. Continue cooking until the eggs bubble on top.
8. Use a spatula to gently flip the omelette to the other side. Keep cooking for another minute or two, it is no longer runny.

Where can we find truth?

I couldn't believe what I saw on the Facebook news feed. Someone actually posted a fake article about a third teen dying from a recent car crash in my area.  My heart broke when I read about the horrible car crash that killed two teens on impact and later seeing that a third teen died in the hospital.  Why would someone do make up a story about someone's death? This incident reminded me to check the source before buying into a story first.  Then again, sometimes, even so-called trusted news outlets can't be trusted either.  I have long given up on reading newspapers.  I find myself double checking with other sources before I buy into a news story.

There is only one source that I can always count on for truth- the Bible.  I am blogging over at Read, Pray, Move about God's Word today.  Please click here to read my post.

Minecraft- a learning tool?

So this is a random post from someone who typically writes about faith, family or fitness, right?  Well, in a way this is a family related post.

Every summer, I put together learning assignments for my boys to prevent the dreaded summer brain drain.  It isn't always easy- especially when we go away or when it is a Vacation Bible School week.  There are some days when I let them slide.  This year, however, big boy is in that irritating tween phase where they like to try to push and test boundaries.  So, I'm being firm and consistent.

Anyway, today was his first writing assignment.  The assignment was to write a persuasive essay about a topic that he feels passionate about.  Like most 12-year-olds, Minecraft happens to be on the top of his list.  I wanted to share the essay he wrote about Minecraft. I edited his commas and apostrophes but I kept the substance and content alone.  Keep in mind that this is a 12-year-old's essay...

     In my opinion, I think Minecraft is a good learning tool and you should agree.  It was developed by a Swedish game developer named Markus Persson or "Notch."  Its release date was May 17, 2009 and it turned into a multimillion dollar video game.  To some people it's a video game, but to others as well as myself, it is a great learning tool.
     So you're probably thinking, "Minecraft, a learning tool? No way!"  or "It is a video game."  But have you really explored the world and Minecraft or Minecraft itself? Schools worldwide use Minecraft for math and maybe science.  Sure it has the hostile mobs that you kill but it shows the strength of your sword.  I learned that diamonds are the strongest gems and maybe even the strongest substance in the world, just from killing zombies, creepers, and skeletons.  It also teaches you a lot more about rocks and minerals.  It shows how certain items are harder to get than others.  For example: emerald is really rare.
     Minecraft can be used in the math department too.  From simple geometry to area and parameter.  How? If you are building a house but don't know how to make it as big as you want it to be, you can use the area formula.  If you want your floor to be a full 25 blocks total. EASY! 5 by 5! It can be used in art also.  Want a cool statue? Just use pixel art.  If you want to dye your leather armor, pick certain colors to mix up the dyes.
     As you can see, Minecraft is not just a video game but a learning tool hiding in plain sight.  It can also stretch your creativity and imagination.  Figure out a way to make a working car without downloading a mod. Make a house with working appliances.  In other words... MINECRAFT IS GREAT!! :)

It's not too late to get your child(ren) into some summer learning.  I'll be posting some resources and ideas on Monday.

Easy Recipe: Chicken and Kale

What I love about summer in New York is being enjoy Farmer's Markets.  At this time of the year, the markets have my family's favorite fruits and vegetables for sale.  Berries, kale, watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers!

This Sunday, I cooked up a quick and easy to make dish with chicken, and kale and carrots which I purchased from a local Farmer's Market on Saturday. It was something I put together and I don't exactly know what to name it so I'll just name it

RPM Approved Chicken and Kale Dish

Approximately 2lbs of chicken cut up in 2 inch boneless pieces.
16 oz of kale
8 carrots, peeled and cut about 1 inch long
6 cloves of garlic (add or subtract cloves according to your preference)
Smoked Paprika
Garlic Powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or Coconut Oil if you are doing Paleo)

1. Season the chicken with paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2. Heat up the oil in the pan in medium heat.
3. Add garlic into the pan.  Cook until golden. Do not let it burn.
4. Add the chicken and sautte until it is brown.
5. Add the carrots.
6. Cover the pan. Cook carrots and chicken in medium heat. Stir occasionally, until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
7. Add the kale and add seasoning as needed.
8. Continue to cook in low heat for about 10 minutes.

Serve with cauliflower rice (for Paleo or RPM friendly), brown rice or whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta. 

I served the chicken dish with gluten free pasta and ended the meal with refreshing watermelon.

Afterwards, the boys roasted marshmallows outside. Yes, marshmallows aren't exactly healthy. However, I believe it's ok to allow children to have sweets in moderation. Besides, in the case of the marshmallows, my boys DID work hard on making the fire pit with their cousin.  They also worked hard getting wood for the fire and even splitting the wood with an ax. What's a campfire without marshmallows??

A little bird told me that my friend Christa Cordova is sharing another delicious summer recipe over at the Read, Pray, Move Ministry Page. Be sure to hop on over there to check out this summer must have! Especially if you've overindulged during the Fourth of July weekend. <3

Does God Really Care About THIS?

"Cast ALL your cares on the Lord, because He cares for You" (1 Peter 5:7, emphasis mine).

God has been making this verse real to me lately. Why was I even surprised?

Last Friday, I set about to do my shopping list for the holiday weekend.  My boys love their Applegate Farms hot dogs (I wrote about healthy barbecue ideas here).  Before I headed out to my twenty minute drive to the nearest grocery store, I checked Applegate's website to see if my local ShopRite carried them.

Not only did my local ShopRite carry Applegate products, many other stores in my surrounding area carried Applegate as well!

One of my many concerns about our move is finding gluten free, dairy free and organic options.  The supermarket chains near me are ShopRite and Price Chopper.  My past experience with these chains in other areas have not been positive when it came to gluten and dairy free options.  They often had limited products and were pricey.  I was pleasantly surprised when I went my local ShopRite and saw a HUGE selection of gluten and dairy free, organic, and even paleo friendly products!!!

On top of that, there is a farmer's market less than five minutes away from me that is open every Saturday.  How AMAZING is that?!?

Big boy with his new found friends.
Another concern I have is whether or not my boys will adjust and make new friends.  A few weeks ago, we met our neighbors.  They had two boys who were much older than ours but they clicked with my eldest immediately.  The neighbors' boys tried to get younger son to warm up but, like, me,he takes awhile to warm up to others and hid in the car.  These neighbors invited us to their Fourth of July barbecue.  Son #1 met two children who attend his new school- a girl in his grade and a boy in the eighth grade. Son #2, my shy, off-standish child, met a boy his age (went to a different school) and eventually warmed up to the other children.

SO what's the moral of the story?  God has a magic wand that HE waves to grant our wishes? Of course, NOT!

GOD CARES about EVERY DETAIL of our lives.  God already knew wher
e we were headed. As with a lot of things in my life, moving right here is no coincidence.  This food thing may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to me. This little It's just another reminder that GOD CARES. REALLY, He does.

I was reluctant about the move for so many reasons.  There WERE a lot of pros about the move, but I was comfortable where we were.  We have developed relationships in our old home.  The boys and I have friends in the community. However, I decided to trust my husband and went along with this new adventure. The transition from waterfront suburbia minutes from the ocean to the rural mountains will be a growth opportunity for our whole family. With the transition comes a list of cares and concerns some small, like the ones I shared here, and some cares are big.  However, I am keeping 1 Peter 5:7 in the forefront of my mind and heart, knowing that God cares for every area of my life.

Delicious (and clean eating) Fourth of July Recipes

What is clean eating?  

There are various definitions of clean eating. And here’s mine.  It is simple really. Instead of counting calories, you focus on cutting out processed foods and eating WHOLE foods.  This means staying out of the center aisles of the grocery store and sticking to (if possible, organic) fresh fruits and vegetables, (if possible, grass fed) meats, and (if possible, organic) full fat dairy.  Try sticking to organic, but I know that this isn’t always available.  Clean eating also means reading labels of EVERYTHING.  

Just remember, healthy and clean eating does not equal unpleasant food.  Here are some delicious healthy, clean Eating Fourth of July recipes. 


Grilled Zucchini Slices Who doesn’t love zucchini? (skip the parmesan for diary free option) 

Pesto Caprese Penne Pasta Salad (I personally prefer gluten free pasta over whole wheat pasta.) 

Dairy Free Pesto (use this in place of the pesto recipe above) 

Also, you cannot go wrong with your good old fashioned salad. I like mine with spring greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, some sweet peppers with Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.


Green Chile Burgers (it says pan fried but you can totally grill these) 

Sometimes, you just have to have hot dogs.  I love Applegate farms products, my boys do too!


You cannot go wrong with fresh fruit.  The best part about summer is local fruit is in abundance- cherries, berries, watermelon are everywhere!  You can also have pineapple and mango.

And of course, who doesn’t love cake? 4th of JulyWatermelon Cake 


OK. OK. So alcohol isn't exactly "clean eating." However, what's a BBQ without a little drink? My dear family and friends can tell you that I am the lightest drinker on the planet.  I opt for water (and maybe a cup of coffee) on get togethers- yes, even when we're out to eat. I turn heads when I hold alcohol in my hand. I don't like beer. I enjoy white wine, specificially Moscato. I also enjoy Sangria. Here are some not so bad for you drinks if you'd like to make some festive drinks.

Fruit Cocktail Sangria

Mason Jar Margarita (because I have a pack of Mason Jars that I bought from a JoAnn Fabric sale)


If you are hosting a 4th of July BBQ, you can now offer gluten free burger and hot dog buns for your guest with Udi’s brand.  When my son first started on his gluten free journey six years ago, hardly any of the supermarkets sell gluten free products.  Thank God, it is now easy to find these gluten free products.

If you are looking for Auto Immune friendly recipes, please check out my post in Read, Pray, Move (readpraymove.org).

These recipes can also be used throughout the summer for any of your backyard barbecues!  As always to key to healthy eating is moderation and balance! Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

What are your favorite summer recipes? Please share them in the comment section!

Slow to Listen, Quick to Speak, Quick to Anger,

7:30 a.m. That's late for me. But I didn't move from my bed. I tried to listen for sounds from the boys' room. All I heard was gentle snores from my 12 year old. "May the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. Please, Lord?"

Last night's mishap flashed into my mind, as well as the look of hurt in my 8 year old's eyes. He said his thumb hurt and I lashed out "Stop making excuses! We had a deal! You played earlier but now it's cleaning time!"
Image Credit

His response was, "You see? You don't care about me!!" That was all it took to get me on a rant about the MANY times he's disobeyed. The MANY times I've let him slide.  The MANY things I've done for him. You know, the mother rant... but even I can sense the icy edge to my words- like he was a burden.  I don't call my children names like stupid or moron or loser. Thank God that in the midst of my anger I watch that I don't say those words.  BUT my expression, my tone, my face, probably give them the impression that I don't think much of them.

If this was the first time I've let resentful and angry words come out of my mouth before, I would say that he got the better of me. It would probably be easier to forgive myself. BUT it wasn't the first. I've done this many times before not just to him but to his big brother as well. And to my husband, too.

I can tell myself that they push my buttons.  J is my button and boundary pusher. I can tell myself that I have the right to demand respect from my family and their lack of listening skills brings out the monster in me. 

Whatever happened to, "Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful to build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). If I had a nickel for every time I quote that verse to my children... There's something to be said about LIVING out the verses myself instead of just speaking it, though, right?

I am embarrassed to admit that within weeks of participating in Bible Studies that are supposed to help me with my tongue, I go back to my verbal diarrhea problem. (I am very sorry for the visual. I do hope you are not having breakfast now. But that's how I see my angry words- a disgusting, unpleasant mess). But that's the truth. I can throw the white flag and just accept me for being the foul mouthed, angry mama that I am. I can call myself a failure of a mama.

Or I can run to Jesus and admit my weakness. I can run to Jesus every morning and embrace His mercy and grace. I can come to Him with a humble heart and admit that I. NEED. HIS. TRANSFORMING. POWER.  I desire to be a woman who is "Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).  

So, this morning, I woke up and prayed for God to help me watch my tongue and guard my heart again.  And perhaps I'll play this song over and over again:


My friend, Christa Cordova, is hosting #NotFineFriday today.
Check out her website for more #NotFineFriday stories of
pain, struggle, grace and redemption from
everyday people like you and me!

A Lesson in Leadership from Joshua

I am currently doing a Summer Bible Study called #Biblein90 facilitated by my friend, Christa Cordova.  A week ago, we were in the book of Joshua and I didn't get too far into the book before I unpacked a chuck full of much needed godly wisdom.

Joshua 1:9 is often quoted at this time of the year in graduation speeches, graduation cards and greetings.  We are all familiar with the verse: "Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous. Do not be afraido; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  

However, when we read the entire  Joshua 1, we see that it isn't just a little pat on the back kind of encouragement. It is a command to Joshua as he prepares to lead God's people.  God was telling Joshua to lead His people HIS way and it required Joshua to FULLY trust God.

God puts Joshua in charge of His people after Moses died.  Moses was a hard act to follow, wasn't he? If we trace his life from the beginning, we can God's hands ALL over his life. When Moses was born, Jewish baby boys were being executed all over Egypt and his parents come up with the idea to put him in a basket and who else found him, but the Egyptian princess?!?!?!? Isn't that just a BUT GOD moment?  Moses' life was full of BUT GOD moments.  He wasn't perfect by any means, BUT GOD showed up time and time again to do great things with Moses. MOSES WENT TO MOUNT SINAI AND WAS GIVEN THE TABLETS. Throughout the 40 years, Moses alone spoke with the Lord on behalf of the Israelites. MOSES WAS A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW indeed. The end of Deuteronomy tells us this, "Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel" (Deuteronomy 34:10-12, NIV). 

Then comes Joshua. Joshua is mentioned in Exodus and we know him as a warrior type. When God chose Moses, Moses was NOT a warrior. If I was Joshua, I'd be  questioning my qualifications to take over for Moses. But of course God had it covered. God made sure that the transition between Moses and Joshua would be smooth. He made sure of that YEARS before Moses' death. Here's a great breakdown on the succession: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200902/200902_000_moses_joshua_succession.cfm .

Now let's go back to Joshua 1. Joshua 1 opens up with the Lord speaking with Joshua, reassuring Joshua of His promise. God also reassures Joshua that He has Joshua's back. In verses 5-9, God encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous. But within those verses God also tells Joshua what his responsibilities are as the leader. Verses 7-8 "Be careful to obey the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of Law depart from your mouth; meditate on  it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written  in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

I don't have the time or even expertise to do an in depth look to tie in this Old Testament
text with the New Testament. Meaning, we refer to Old Testament laws (book of law) as the Old Testament law and because of Jesus we have been saved by grace so we don't necessarily have to follow the Old Testament laws to the letter...And I don't want to have a debate on Old Testament v New Testament. BUT in Luke 12:48, we see Jesus saying, "From everyone who is given much, much will  be demanded." I'm not the first nor the last to say that this verse applies to those in leadership roles.
To me Luke 12:48 goes hand in hand with God's command to Joshua in Joshua 1:5-9. God doesn't just reassure Joshua "I've got your back. You got this. Go get the Promised Land." God instructs Joshua on how he will succeed. I think the command to be strong and courageous (which God repeats three times so we know He means business) is the command to be strong and courageous enough to follow God's Ways, God's direction, God's laws, NO MATTER WHAT ANYBODY ELSE MAY SAY OR DO. To be strong and courageous in the Lord means praying, "THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH,  (and as I often add when I pray the Lord's prayer) and in my life AS IT IS IN HEAVEN."

You may not be in an official leadership position in an organization. However, you may be in a leadership position in your home as a parent. As parents we are called to "Start off children on the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).  Parenting is a leadership role.  I know I need this reminder.  I need to be strong and courageous as I try to point my children to God. I also need the reminder that as I try to do this, I must remember that I also need to be accountable for living a life that is in line with God's Way.