Sharing my faith and my life one day at a time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad

I am not new to books that talk about style, fashion and makeup. In fact, I have been blessed (as gifts by very thoughtful people) with many excellent publications from InStyle, Lucky, Nina Garcia, Tim Gunn, Kate Spade, and Bobbi Brown.

However, there is something so fascinating about a book talking about the same things but from the perspective of our Creator -- the very One who fashioned each of us so that we may be the highest representation of what He sees as beautiful. Interesting isn't it?

More about that later. First and foremost, the book is loaded with practical advice for both the clueless and the fashion-savvy.

What does it cover? You will find a generous amount of information on the following:

  • Figuring out your body type
  • How the right hair color will bring out your best natural features
  • How your clothes can go far with gorgeous accessories
  • Investing in correct underwear
  • Minimizing the pains of swimsuit shopping
  • Basic makeup application
  • Searching for that flattering pair of jeans (this one helped me a lot!)

Now the better stuff. Author Shari Braendel deals with deeper issues that women typically associate with beauty.

  • Some of us believe that there is one body type that is considered more attractive than the others
  • Some of us feel like they have to spend so much on clothing that we give up looking nice altogether
  • Some of us associate modesty with boring and outdated
  • Some of us have a hard time grasping the idea of being "fearfully and wonderfully made"
  • Some of us just have no clue how deal with all this looking good stuff
  • Some of us feel defeated as we compare ourselves to other women

Braendel made a very thoughtful attempt to clear these issues out before the practical lessons. It was not in-depth but it was a strong start.

I hope that it will encourage the book's female readers to dig deep into the Word in order to figure this part out. I feel that it is necessary to sort out the junk inside before doing work on the outside.

(Note: I highly recommend getting the Kindle version of this book. Great reference when you go out shopping!)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Link Love: June 22, 2011

I am loving the warm summer month of June! And what I am loving more is the fact that today I will be sharing with you some awesome links I have found on the Web lately.

Hope that you find at least a couple of stories that will bring delight to you!

My entryway and a Huggable Hangers giveaway by I'm an Organizing Junkie
A lady had an entryway closet that looked exactly like ours. Therefore, her organizing project inspired mine. In fact, I copied it down to the last detail!

Five Simple Steps to Tone Your Thighs by Tip Junkie
An easy step-by-step guide to get rid of that thigh jiggle. Bookmark this if you want to look like a million bucks in your summer shorts.

10 Tips to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons by Simple Midwest Mom
Too busy to get into couponing? There are still many other ways to cut back on your grocery expenses.

How to Lose Friends by In The Name of Love
A well-written blog post by Bianca Juarez about cultivating friendships -- something I am still trying to figure out up to this day.

Happy Mother's Day by Jill Thomas Photography
A gorgeous maternity photo shoot of actress Autumn Reeser. I loved her in the television show No Ordinary Family.

How Should We Respond to Osama bin Laden's Death? by
It was difficult for me to process my feelings and reaction to bin Laden's death. Josh Harris wrote a very thoughtful and helpful perspective.

Simple Tips to Grill the Perfect Burger by Lifehacker
I have never grilled a burger but this article makes it so easy. You will see me flip some patties soon!

Eight Easy Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog by Style Me Pretty
Helpful tips by Abby Larson. Beginners will learn a lot of this post.

Erasing Hell by Francis Chan
The most beautiful response to a theological debate that has produced the good, the bad, and the ugly.

How You Can Come With Us to the Philippines by Chatting at the Sky
I am doing everything I can to get more people to sponsor a Filipino child through Compassion International. Please take the time to read this.

Dating Delilah by Judah Smith
A youth pastor wrote purity from his own perspective. The ebook is free to download.

What to Do with Old Cards and Letters by Simple Mom
I managed to keep all cards and letters since I was in elementary school! Yes, believe it. Now I know what to do with them.

One Habit that Radically Changes a Family by A Holy Experience
Six ways to develop the habit of daily family Bible reading.

Why Is It So Hard to Connect Spiritual Value to Our Work? by The High Calling
Our spiritual life should stand out in the workplace. The way we do our work must be driven by our deep love for Jesus. One of the many great posts in an excellent blog about being Christ-like in the marketplace.

iPad Resources by Andy Naselli
I haven't seen a good iPad 'must-haves' list in a long time. Andy Naselli wrote a very good one.

A Balanced View on Singleness by Boundless
Are you single and Christian? A deeper look on pursuing marriage honorably.

Catalyst Adoption Story
I love how Catalyst uses its influence to encourage believers to adopt. This story by Andy and Tanya Ehlers is making me seriously consider foster care in the next couple of years.

Japan: three months after the quake by
Haunting photographs of Japan three months after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami rocked the country.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What I Learned from the Best Hostesses

If I can describe the kind of life Robert and I have lived since 2008, it is a picture of consecutive transitions that involved traveling through different cities, and staying in each place for about 7-14 days at a time. We were fortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of many gracious hosts who treated us with so much kindness and made us feel like we were part of their families.

Now that it looks like we are going to be living in Nashville for a while, what can I do to extend the gift of hospitality without having much experience? I definitely have the heart to serve and offer a room to anyone who needs a place to sleep at night.

Today, I am grateful I can look back at those times when hostesses created extraordinary teaching moments to someone like me who barely had any time to settle in one place for too long. I knew having us around required extra work on their part but they always made us feel that it was a pleasurable thing for them to do.

Here are some valuable lessons that I have learned from the best hostesses.

1) Provide a generous number of bathing essentials. Sometimes it's hard to work with a single piece of towel. It's nice to have at least two bath towels, and additional ones for the face and the hand. Same goes for toilet paper. The most awkward thing for a guest is to ask for extra rolls of toilet paper because he/she went to the bathroom too many times. Another thoughtful gesture is providing basic toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, Q-tips, cotton balls, tissue, lotion, shampoo and conditioner.

2) Make it easy for guests to locate things.  It is very considerate to make guests' basic needs accessible. These include (but not limited to) extra towels, pillows, blankets, iron, toiletries, snacks, and drinking water. Include a welcome note with the password of your home wireless Internet for that extra touch. If you want your visitors to easily clean up after themselves, leave rolls of paper towels and a bottle of all-purpose cleaning spray by the bathroom sink. Want your guest to avoid the awkwardness of fixing personal, private mishaps? Discreetly put a plunger in the corner of your bathroom. Include a bottle of air freshener so they can comfortably mask personal scents. And oh don't forget the wastebasket!

3) Have their favorite morning drink available. Find out the favorite comfort morning drink of your guest. Everyone has one! Nothing says "It is my joy to have you over" than freshly brewed coffee or tea especially made for a friend. Another thoughtful touch: leave a $5 Starbucks gift card and a city map in the guest room as a welcome gesture!

4) Provide closet and/or dresser space. I am not sure if many can relate to this but when I reach my intended destination, my first order of business is unpacking and making sure I know where my things are. An empty section of a closet or dresser is heaven-sent when I take on this task!  Provide several hangers so that guests get a chance to smooth out the wrinkles of their clothes. Include a travel-sized spray bottle of Downy Wrinkle-Releaser. An added bonus: a full-length mirror available in their bedroom!

5) Stock the room with reading materials. Another demonstration of thoughtfulness is leaving a couple of magazines, a newspaper, or a "local scene" newsletter. Giving the guests a chance to unwind before bedtime lets them know that you care about their rest. One creative hostess even left a language book and some chocolates! And don't forget to provide proper lighting to complement their reading time.

Hospitality comes in different shapes and sizes. And I feel so blessed to have seen a lot of those different shapes -- all are more than wonderful and taught me in huge ways.

The five practical ways of being a great hostess was impressive to me not because my needs as a guest were met (although that in itself is a beautiful thing). It was the heart behind those acts of kindness. There is something extraordinary that takes place when members of a host family allow themselves to be used by God through a home-cooked meal, an engaging conversation, and shared laughter.

Isn't it very loving to provide that kind of warmth to people in today's cold, disconnected world? I am excited to talk more about this subject in my next blog post: The Heart of a Gracious Hostess. Watch out for it!

1 Peter 4:9 (ESV) says,
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."

Tell me today:
What ideas do you have to make a guest's visit more enjoyable?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Best Swimsuit Cover-ups for Summer 2011

Did you enjoy my post about the cutest one-piece swimsuits that I found on the web? A really nice swimsuit can be accentuated by an equally beautiful coverup.
(And the opposite can happen as well. A bad coverup can visually ruin an adorable-looking suit.)

Here are some gorgeous coverups that look wonderful to wear for the summer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Verse Download: Processing Forgiveness

Are you good at forgiving others?

This is a question that I assumed I will confidently say "yes" to all the time. I always knew in my heart that I am deliberate in overlooking offenses, or at least wanting to do so.

Today, I took a look again at one of my favorite Bible verses on forgiveness.

Luke 6:36-37
New International Version (NIV)

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

I looked up the meaning of the word "forgiveness" in Greek. It showed that it means "to release."

I had to take a hard look and ask God what this really meant.

You see, I found it very easy to "release" the person, the action that offended me and being able to have a relationship again with the intention of moving forward.

However, I felt that God pointed out to me (oh so clearly!) in my heart that I have trouble releasing the pain associated with the offense.

Releasing the person (check)
Releasing the offense (check)
Releasing my pain (?)

God, this means in order to completely experience freedom from forgiveness, I need to share my pain with You.

"Yes, child, I want You to unload it all on Me. I am listening."

But I willingly forgave the person and what she has done.

"But what about you, My child? I want to heal the hurt that you had to endure. I want to comfort you. I want to nurse you back to a place where you can laugh again."

I know You can do that. But seriously, You really will do that for me?

"I love you outrageously. Of course I will do that for you."

I am scared of getting hurt again. That person just might do it to me again even if I genuinely tell her she is forgiven. I cannot deal with this kind of pain one more time.

"It's not about trusting her. Forgiveness isn't really forgiveness when it becomes conditional. Do you want to trust Me in all of this? Do you have faith that I can restore everything the way it was before?"

Father, thank You that I can look to You, surrender my pain, and break free from my fear. Thank You that today, I can celebrate complete forgiveness -- the kind that only comes from You.

What steps should you take today to bring about restoration when you have been hurt?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Best One-Piece Swimsuits for Summer 2011

Thinking of something cute to wear when you go to the pool or the beach?

I am going to make a confession, I prefer to be very modest when it comes to swimsuits. Being older, married, and working with high school girls (and, of course, a much slower metabolism!) gave me the wisdom form the philosophy that the more skin that my husband exclusively sees, the better. 

Today, I very much prefer looking for really cute one-piece swimsuits. And it does not have to look dated and boring at all!

Here are some that caught my eye recently.

Tell me today:
Any cute swimsuits that you would like to wear this summer?

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Simple Blogging E-book

Do you only have a few hours a week to spare on working on your personal blog?

Have you been meaning to start one but there is fear that it might take up way too much if your time?

If you see yourself wanting to grow your blog but your lifestyle does not allow you a lot of time in front of the computer, I am recommending an e-book that might have the answers you are looking for.

I stumble upon so many resources that help bloggers become better at what they do. I rarely promote them unless I truly believe that the content helped me and know it will help you too.

The Simple Blogging e-book will teach you how to focus on the core message of your blog, stand out from the rest, and efficiently use your time getting it done.

The author of this book is the lovely Rachel Meeks. I love her blog on living a simple lifestyle. If there is anyone who is an authority on the "less is more" philosophy, it is her.

If you finally want to get your blogging life together this weekend, buy this e-book today for only $8. You will immediately access a 143-page PDF document that will dramatically help you manage your blog better.

Tell me today:
What intimidates you most about blogging?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A song of ascents

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: Bridges on the Journey

If you are a follower of this blog, you probably know by now that I am a big fan of Bible studies published by NavPress. Although I get the study books for free, it is such a pleasure to go through them and write my reviews.

Bridges on the Journey does not disappoint. While the study appears to be basic and foundational to someone who has been walking with the Lord for a long time, it asks really hard questions that require the reader to stop all distractions and truly look into her deepest heart issues in approaching spiritual disciplines.

In my opinion, it was exactly what I needed.

It was through Bridges on the Journey that I found new excitement in getting up at 5 in the morning, playing my favorite worship song, reading, and writing my heartfelt love letters to my Father. My recent transition to Nashville has been quite an adjustment; and this study was instrumental in keeping my sanity (due to homesickness) intact.

The only that will make this study better? Going through this study with other women who are hungry to re-establish her sense of self-awareness in terms of communicating with God.

I personally find it difficult to not have someone to do a personal study with from a discipleship standpoint. However, I am filled with joy knowing that this book helped me lock-in my intimacy with Jesus in such a crazy personal season.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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