A Pagan's Easter is a Christian's Redemption

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted this image.

I've heard this before.  Don't doubt that it's true.  But I never researched it or anything.  It just didn't seem important enough for me to spend time researching.

 photo Easter2_zps77f3ce51.jpg

Because even if it's true (which it probably is), it has no effect whatsoever on my FAITH and my celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Like Christmas, Easter Sunday is a Christian holiday that also has pagan roots.  I understand that a lot of Christian groups celebrate neither Christmas nor Easter because of their pagan history.

Here's the thing.

I have NO PROBLEM with their pagan roots.  I fully believe that we are able to "reclaim" traditions, customs, practices, etc... of a culture for the Kingdom of God.

So Easter is the celebration of sex and fertility?

I say GOOD!

Because within God's law- sex and fertility are GREAT things.  And they bring NEW LIFE!!

Bunnies and eggs represent fertility?  Easter is just a celebration of the Spring Equinox? Oh, you don't say!

I have no problem with bunnies (especially chocolate ones) or eggs (especially Cadbury ones).  Or Spring for that matter.  They all represent NEW LIFE.  Out with the cold, in with the new! (yes, I said cold- not a typo).

In response to that image above, I decided to "share" it and also share my reaction:

 photo Easter1_zps42b1b5d4.jpg

As for Easter Egg hunts?  All just fun and games, right?  Sure, I guess.  Pagan roots?  Most likely.

But let's take it a step further.

Eggs represent fertility and new life.  "Seeking" the eggs during a hunt runs parallel with seeking new life or a new beginning.  In our family, we call them Redemption Eggs or Resurrection Eggs and use it as a conduit to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are seeking a new life or beginning, you will find it.

Matthew 7:7 (NIV) states: "Ask and it will be given to you;  seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

My dear friends.  There is only one way to find new life.

His name is Jesus Christ.

"I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 (NIV)


Pride & Shame | {Two Sides of the Same Coin}

This is my third attempt at writing this post.

Initially I was going to dive into a very awkward and embarrassing moment in my life.

Quick Background:

I spoke up for  friend and received the backlash for it.  I was misunderstood and till this day I hope to never run into that group again.  I pray that they forgot the entire episode and when they see me they won't remember me at all and if fact, might think that they've never met me at all! Then I'd have a chance to start over and give them a chance to get to know who I am now, not remember what I did back then.

But at the end of that post I wrote something that surprised me.

I asked myself if I would speak up for that friend again, if I had to do it all over.

My response? 

Um, probably not.

I spoke up for a friend but didn't 100% agree with her viewpoint.  She was afraid to share her views and I thought her feelings deserved to be expressed- even though I didn't agree.  I became her mouthpiece and what I shared were not my thoughts but hers.  It wasn't received that way.  It was I who received the aggressive comments and sneers.  I had to deal with the embarrassment.

What happened to me was exactly what she was afraid would happen to her.

This happened over 6 years ago.  And till this day, when I think back to that moment, I'm still embarrassed.

And before I sat down to write the 3rd version of this story, I regretted the entire thing and would have never spoke up in the first place.

But as I wrote these words in my 3rd attempt to express myself, I felt a deep conviction in my soul.


Why wouldn't I speak up again?

And it's pretty simple.

Because I'm worried about what those people think of me

If I were to return to my university for an alumni event or even just to visit, would I run into them again? (Probably not).  But my fear is that I'd run into them, whether in real life or across the interwebs, and all that they'll remember is that moment.

Then it hit me.

Why wouldn't I speak up again? 

Because of my PRIDE.  

That moment has stayed with me for a very long time.  Most people probably have long forgotten about it but my shame is still there, stuck in my heart and mind.  

I can't shake it.

Does it really matter what the group thought of me?  At this point in my life, no- it doesn't.

God knows my heart.  He knows why I chose to speak out for a friend.

Should I have handled it differently? Yes.  Most definitely, yes.

And I think we all have embarrassing things that have happened to us in our past.  

Times where we've been judged wrongly or made fun of or made to feel as though we're not good enough.

The shame of being judged is still very deep within me.  I can recall a handful of other times through my "awkward stage" (years 11-13) where I was teased and made fun of- judged like only kids can judge.  

Even after graduating from high school, throughout college and starting my first "real" job- I've always been super awkward and cringe when I reflect back on my past.

Is it pride? Is it shame?

Are those just two sides of the same coin?  I'm prideful in that I worry what others think of me and filled with shame when their opinion may not be the best?

What does it matter?  

The only opinion I should be after is God's .  His opinion is the one that matters.  

So what difference does it make that acquaintances may not have the highest opinion of me? 

Or past school mates only remember my embarrassing and awkward moments?

It shouldn't.

But for this sinner?  It's very tough, my friends.  Very tough.


More Than I Can Handle | More Than I Deserve

God will never give you more than you can handle.

I've heard this phrase repeated over and over and over and over again.

Always in the midst of hard times.

Of struggle.

Of pain.

Of fear.

It's meant to bring reassurance to those suffering- to let them know that they'll get through it.

But I don't believe it to be true.

The scripture that gets misquoted is from Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

See that?

"..He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."

"..He will not let you be tempted..."


It doesn't say that you will only come across situations you can handle.

It says you won't be tempted beyond what you can bear.  And when you are tempted, God will always provide a way out. 

I don't believe that God purposely places us into situations of hardship and strife.

I believe that we find ourselves in situations sometimes where we really can't handle it on our own.

Truth is we live in a fallen world.  

Filled with sin.  

Filled with spiritual wickedness.

In this fallen world we are surrounded by an ongoing spiritual warfare- bigger than us and anything we could ever imagine.

Of course we can't handle it on our own!

But the heart of the matter here is that WE DON'T HAVE TO handle it on our own.

Sometimes our situation may seem so desperate that we can't find a way out.

Debt collectors are harassing you at home.

Your teenager only speaks to you to let you know they still hate you.

Your spouse is cold and distance.

You have a sick child.

You have lost a loved one.

It is in those situations where we can no longer handle the inner workings of life that we need to cry out to God. 

We need Him to handle it.

It is in the darkest darkness that we need God to be our guiding light.

What would happen if all of life's situations were ones that we could handle because, you know, God wouldn't let that happen if we couldn't handle it?

We wouldn't lean on God but try to fix it with our own understanding.

We will never be challenged and hence, never grow.

We will never have testimony to God but only a testimony to ourselves. 

Got that?

Our testimony won't be about God but about ourselves


I understand the heart of the phrase but I wonder if it'd be more helpful to start saying instead "God will carry you through this" or "lean on God for comfort and understanding".  

When we tell others (or ourselves) that God wouldn't give us anything we couldn't handle, we are focusing on what we can do and what we can accomplish to get ourselves out of the mess we find ourselves in.

It's not about us and what we can do because no matter what we will always fall short.  

It's about Christ and what He can do.

And what He has done, my dear reader, is magnificent.

 photo John316_zps2fade15a.jpg


UPDATED!! {How To} Transfer Reader Subscriptions to BlogLovin'

{BlogLovin' has made it even easier now to transfer all your subscriptions over from Google Reader. Yes, in a matter of 12 hours they have updated the process so you don't have to use the OPML/XML file! I've kept it in here so that my readers can have the full tutorial, just in case.}


"How To" posts aren't really my thing.

I'm not super tech savvy and learn mostly by Googling my questions.

And my stats show that most of my readers don't read my "How To" posts.

But I spent about an hour researching this and finally figured it out.  Didn't want all my work to go to waste so I had to post it =)

The latest buzz around my neck of the Blogging Woods is that Google Reader is going bye-bye as of July 1, 2013.

So what does that mean?

From what I gather, basically all your subscriptions in Google Reader will vanish.

Now, I don't use Google Reader.  I use the reading list at the bottom of my Blogger Dashboard.

I have no idea what will happen to that list- will it go away with Reader?  I have no clue.

So instead of panicking when we get closer to the end of Reader, I thought I should get it figured out now.

What am I going to do with all my blog subscriptions?

One option I found was BlogLovin'.

I've been using their widget (on my sidebar) for awhile now as a way to give my readers an alternative to GFC if they want to keep up with my blog.

{Why don't you go on ahead and click that widget to follow me on BlogLovin'.)

I don't like subscribing to email lists so BlogLovin' seemed like the next option.

The one caveat I have with BlogLovin' is that you can't see who follows your blog- it's all anonymous! BUT you can see all the blogs other users follow.

I try to follow back as much as I can (if I'm not following you, email me a link to your blog and I will follow back!). Don't know how that's going to work now.

Oh well - can't complain about an imperfect FREE product, right?

How I Moved 160+ Blog Subscriptions From Google Reader to BlogLovin'

I'm a visual person so I hope these images help!

STEPS 1 & 2:

 photo BlogLovin1_zpse9fd64a9.jpg

Go to www.google.com/takeout and select "Choose Services".  Takeout is a service provided by Google to download your user data from different services (Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Reader, etc..) 

If you just create an archive without choosing your service, you end up downloading a bunch of other data as well.  You only want your Reader data.

Select "Reader" and then "Create Archive".

After it's done creating your archive, click "download".

{The first time I tried this, not all of my files were able to be archived.  When I tried a second time, it worked.}

STEPS 3-5:

 photo BlogLovin2_zpsbe03c8c3.jpg

After you've downloaded your data, head over to www.bloglovin.com.

If you don't have an account, go ahead and create a free profile.

Click on your account name and head over to "Settings".

At the bottom of the next screen, select "Import" and then "Choose File".

Note that it says you need an OPML file.

When choosing your file, select "subscriptions" which is an XML document- apparently the same thing as an OPML file (or something like that).

Click upload, and you're all set!

{Again, this didn't work for me the first time.  It said my file was empty.  But when I tried again, voila! Magic.}

 photo Success_zps2a0fbd91.jpg

I hope this helps to ease any of your Google Reader worries.  I have no idea what will happen to Google Friend Connect or the Reader List on the Blogger Dashboard.  

BlogLovin' seems to be a good alternative.  One of the features I like on BlogLovin is that I can add blogs to certain "groups". So all of my fitness bloggers can be in one group, all my organization bloggers can be in another, all my mommy/wifey bloggers will also have their own, etc...

Please let me know if this works for you or if you have any questions.  I'm more than happy to help!

Stay Blessed!

BlogLovin' has now made it even EASIER to transfer all of your subscriptions.  Simply click on "Import" like above, but now click on "Google Reader"!

 photo UPDATED_zpscadd859b.jpg

{Work It Out} | Starting Over - Again

For as long as I can remember, I've been trying to lose weight.

Throughout my childhood I've been on diet after diet, gimmick after gimmick.

I'm a pro at starting over.

I have countless "before" photos.
My heaviest weight pre-pregnancy circa 2011

I have zero (0) "after" photos.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I never made it far enough to document any "real" progress.

Back in December I started trying to live a healthier lifestyle.  I told myself that I was getting a head start on my New Year's Resolutions (which we ended up putting aside after a few weeks).  

At the time, I was 3 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. 

Almost 40 pounds heavier than when I graduated from college- 5.5 years before.

And my highest weight ever. 

I gained, on average, a little more than 1/2 a pound every month.  

It crept on so slooooowly that I didn't even notice.  

Well, I'm noticing now!

My pants re a little tighter.  Simple every day activities take a little more effort.  My face is rounder.  

All gradual changes.

At my lightest weight circa 2007

I wonder to myself- "How did I end up here?"

"How did I let it get this far?"


I've been in denial.

I thought I was leading a healthy lifestyle but in reality I was doing the bare minimum.

A fruit here and there, a salad once in awhile, parking my car further and walking a bit more.

But these little things don't really count.  

I wasn't paying attention to portion sizes, exercising enough, or sticking to my meal plan.

I let stressful days at work justify poor eating habits because "I deserved it."

When in reality what I truly deserve is a healthy life.

So here's to starting over.


I'm going to start tracking my food again and getting some kind of exercise in every day.  

I've lost the weight before.  I know I can do it again.

I hope to be able to document my progress here.  Hopefully this will give me some type of accountability.

Along with my progress and personal insight with my weight loss journey, I hope to share information about healthy eating and exercising that I found interesting and/or useful.

Here goes nothing!


{Giveaway Time} a la Sparkly Soul

Hey there!

Just a quick shout out about a giveaway my friend Jenn is currently hosting on her blog.

One lucky winner will receive a headband from Sparkly Soul:

The details?

Answer a few questions in a comment for your chance to win.

That's IT.

No bajillion blogs to follow via GFC, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc..

No tweets, blog posts, Facebook share, Pinterest pinning, either.

So simple, right?

Go ahead and get your free entry.

{I am not affiliated in anyway with this giveaway- except that I entered!)


Because He Really Is The Greatest

Yes, this is a mushy "I-love-my-husband-to-Jesus-and-back" so if that's not your "thang" you might want to keep on keeping on with another blog today.


Plainly stated- My husband rocks.  He is so amazing.

So what warrants all this love for my better half?

I just slept for a glorious 11.5 hours.

Yes, I've slept for almost half a day.

See, I've been having a really rough week.  Just feeling "blah" and exhausted by the time I get home.

Partly because we had a busy weekend last week and I just never had the chance to catch up.

And partly because life can be, well, exhausting!

Yesterday when I came home I had the worst migraine.  I tried to get in some quality time with Phillip and Carl and all I could do was lay on the couch.  I was still able to carry on a convo with Carl and play with Phillip and his cars, but most of the time my eyes were closed and I was trying me best to just be still.

It was horrible.

Carl fed Phillip dinner and gave him a bath.

Me? I moved from the couch to the bed.

Carl got Phillip dressed for bedtime.

Me? Nada.

We both read Phillip a book and said bedtime prayers.

I returned to the bed.  I have no idea what Carl did because the next time I saw him he was leaving for his men's ministry.

This man had to fend for himself last night.  Don't get it twisted, he is perfectly capable of handling things on his own.  I try my best to bless him with home cooked meals as much as I can.  But last night? It was a no go.

So after fending for himself, he woke up at 5:30 this morning to head over to the men's ministry.

Because in addition to working 40+ hours a week, he also plays music for the men's worship team.  Every night he practices the new line up.  On Saturdays he leaves before dawn to help prep and lead the men in worship.  

I am so proud of him.  He loves to play music but usually only just in front of family.  And singing? I think he's only sang in front of his home church when he was a boy and me.  So basically just his immediate family.

Now? He's front of 20+ men every Saturday bringing praise and glory to God.  

God called him and he stepped up like a man should.


And Sundays?  He's at church by 6am to help with the set up (tables, chairs, stage, tents).  

I can't remember the last time this man slept in!

I've tried asking him if he'd rather stay home one morning- I mean the guys won't really miss him that much if he misses ONE day.

He turned it down.  He loves being with the guys and praising God.  It's a nice change from hanging with the guys at a bar or BBQ talking about, well, other things than God.

He's not just playing music and setting up equipment- he's building relationships with other men of God.

And he does it all with a joyful heart.

While letting me sleep in. 


 photo thehusband_zps6acd5628.jpg


Baby Talk: {Using ASL to communicate with your child}

While pregnant I did a great deal of research on baby development.  I came across a few interesting websites that showed how to teach sign language to babies.  I learned that sign language is a great way to provide a means of communication to children who may not yet have the ability to speak (usually referred to as a pre-verbal baby).  A lot of frustration occurs between parent and child because although the child may know what (s)he wants, (s)he may not be able to communicate.  There's no way to "get through" to the adult!  There's a lot of pointing and guessing and trial and error.

A great explanation comes from a website I found to be very helpful, My Smart Hands:

Another advantage is that signing babies tend to have high self-esteems as a result of being secure in their environments. If a child can easily communicate their needs to you then they are going to feel a sense of security. They want something, they can tell you what they want, and you can quickly and easily fulfill his/her needs. If a baby has no way to communicate their wants to you then it will take you longer to figure out what he/she wants which may make everyone a little frustrated in the meantime.There are also the educational advantages that signing brings to a child as they get a little older. Signing babies tend to have larger vocabularies once they start talking because they’ve been able to use more advanced language and are often asked more elaborate questions because their comprehension is clear to the parent.

How We Got Started

We started with a basic sign when Phillip was about 5 months old: "milk".  (Open and close one hand as if you're milking a cow.  Great image, I know). I would show him the sign before, during, and after nursing him, while also saying "milk".  We would also say the word and show him the sign when he would get a bottle.  Eventually he picked it up and would sign "milk" when he was hungry or when he saw me. 

Yes, my name was "Milk" for a good 5 months after he learned how to sign.  Go figure.

 photo ASL_zpse7708d72.jpg

Using the same process of showing the sign/speaking the word, we taught him the signs for "water", "please", "more", "eat", and "banana".  Although he didn't really start to use these signs on his own until about 12 months, he could sign them with no problem when prompted.  I'd ask if he'd like a cup of water and he'd sign "water".  I would also remind him to ask nicely and he'd sign "please" (never too early to learn manners in my opinion).

One day he was signing for a banana that he saw on the counter.  He was very excited and so desperate to get his favorite treat! All of a sudden he started to sign "eat" and then put together the signs for "more, please".  It was a very exciting moment for us, to see our persistence paying off! 

At barely a year, he was able to communicate to us that he'd like to "eat more banana, please".   

It was amazing!

Won't Sign Language Deter Him From Speaking?

Nope.  If anything, it helps to build his vocabulary.  

The answer to this is 100% no! There have been zero studies that have shown signing to hinder language. In fact, all of the studies on signing with children show that signing accelerates language in many cases. People confuse speech and language. A child who signs is using language, more language in fact than a non-signing child. Speech is the ability to form sounds to produce the language. Some children don’t develop the ability to speak until much later than other children. The reality is babies want to talk, they babble all the time. When they are able to talk, they will. It is not easier to sign than talk. It is much easier for a child to talk. However, when you don’t have that ability then signing is easier and a great bridge until speech does develop.

The Payoff

We are so glad we chose to teach him how to sign.  Meal times are not stressful at all because he knows how to ask for water or for his favorite foods. Within the past week, he's also learned how to sign his favorite toy, "ball" (touch your fingertips together like you're holding a ball).

For what it's worth, we have no real prior experience with sign language.  All the signs we've learned have been through the American Sign Language dictionaries available throughout the internet and on iPad apps.  We simply picked a few, practiced and memorized them, and then consistently used them when the word would come up during the day.  Our sitter doesn't use sign language with Phillip yet he is still able to communicate with us when he is home =)

Thinking About Teaching Your Little One To Sign?

The biggest tips I can give are: 

1) Be Consistent- your baby may take a few months before they'll be able to sign back to you.  Don't get discouraged.  Once Phillip picked up his first couple of signs, he's been able to pick up new signs even faster. 

2) Learn as many signs as you can.  At first it's helpful to start with one or two signs but the trouble we came across was that we were running out of signs to teach him! We had to learn other signs rather quickly. I'm so thankful for technology so that we could look signs up with ease.

3) Be consistent.

4) Give lots of praise! When Phillip signs, I always tell him, "Great job!" and 99.99% of the time give him what he asks for.  Granted, he really only asks for more water and bananas so I'm not indulging him much, but I want to encourage him to keep signing!  It especially warms my heart when he adds "please" to his signs- such a sweet boy =)

5) Did I mention be consistent? It's important!

Here's a short clip of him signing during dinner time.  We're learning new signs every day to keep up with him!


Mommy Confessions

One of the biggest lessons I've learned during this new journey into the Mother Hood is that whatever I planned, it's not going to happen.  OK, to be fair- most plans work out alright.  But I'm a huge planner and an only child so when things don't go my way, I get cranky.

I guess it first started during my pregnancy.  I was all set on having an intervention free birth but was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and a few interventions were now medically necessary. 

But the day I was diagnosed?  

I cried. 

I cried hard.  

At work.  And on the way home.  

And then flung my pregnant belly on the couch (as delicately as I could for safety but still dramatically for effect) and cried some more.  

I failed as a mom and I haven't even really begun!

Or the when we stopped breast feeding and I gave my son formula (gasp!) even though I vowed to breast feed til 12+ months.

I've always been hard on myself but once I became a mom (hormones, maybe?) I've seemed to turn it up a notch or two.

In my mind I was set to be a certain type of mother- the kind that is always patient, loving, compassionate, smart, and well-liked by her children.  

I would work joyously and tiredlessly after working 40+ hours a week to create a loving and cozy home for my husband and baby(ies).

So how's that working out for yah?

Obviously that was an ideal and very unrealistic expectation for me.  While I try to be kind and patient and loving and compassionate there are some days (OK, a lot of days) where I just flip my lid and lose my sanity.

Mommy Confessions

Here are some of my latest confessions:

  • When Phillip wakes up at 6am on the weekends (hey, that's sleeping in for us!) sometimes I go back to his crib and pretend it's the middle of the night.  I tuck him back in, rub his back, and tell him, "moe, moe pepe" (loosely translated- "night, night baby").

  • When Carl is at his men's ministry on Saturday mornings or helping to set up for service on Sunday mornings, I'll put on Yo Gabba Gabba, Thomas the Train, Curious George, and whatever else holds Phillip's attention for more than 30 seconds so that I can get ready for the day.  (OK, who am I kidding.  So I can lie down on the couch in peace.)

  • I Give him WAY to many cheerios.  WAY too many.  And in the car so he's distracted long enough so that we can enjoy the radio and avoid a melt-down.

  • I pretend we're all out of bananas as he asks for his 3rd one that day.  The plus side?  He picks up new signs ever day but "banana" is still his favorite sign! He'll even sign "more please".

  • Turn the switches off of his noisy toys and pretend I don't know what happened.  Phillip then walks up to me and says, "Uh-oh!" in the cutest voice ever.  I mimic him and just sympathize with a "I don't know what happened" face and a big hug.  (Why does every single toy he loves have to play music??)

I've learned to release the reigns and little and not set the bar so high.  Instead of focusing on how things should be, I focus on loving the baby in front of me and cutting myself some slack.  

And I think we're all a little bit better off now.


I Think I'm Turning Vegetarian

So it's 11:30 pm here in the islands and at a time you'd usually find me snoring in a deep peaceful slumber under the covers, I'm here on the couch and blogging.

I've just finished watching Forks Over Knives and man oh man is my head reeling.

A lot of this information I've heard before.  We use to see a chiropractor multiple times a week and he'd give free health seminars and was basically a wealth of information on nutrition and our bodies bio-chemical reactions.    

One of my real life friends and fellow bloggers, Jenn, has also posted a TON of information about the benefits of eating less meat and dairy products- even giving them up completely.  She is a raw plant-based dairy-free gluten-free sugar-free soy-free self proclaimed fitness junkie with a willingness to share all of her research.

However, it wasn't until I watched this documentary for myself did I really start to get it.  I'm not sure I'm a 100% "there" yet- but I'm making my way!

Have you seen this movie?  Are you a vegetarian or vegan, or eat a mostly plant based diet?  Any tips on transitioning from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to something more plant based?


Pin It button on image hover