Archives for July 2013

june/july beauty favorites

I realize I’ve been slacking a bit on the “writing type” posts, but as with everything in life, inspiration seems to ebb and flow.

There’s been so much going on and changing, and some REAL LIFE stuff happening that is both challenging and wonderful, and so I’ve been trying to be present and simply soak it all in.

It’s been a crazy year, and although difficult at times, I was reflecting just today that looking back on it all, I realized I wouldn’t change a single thing.  I’m in SUCH a different place both emotionally and spiritually than I was a year ago, and it’s all because God allowed LIFE to happen in ways I never would have chosen.  And as a result, I am stronger in my faith and even more hungry for Him…

Through all of this, I’ve been slowly and intentionally writing and rewriting many posts along the way.
And hopefully SOON, I’ll feel ready to stop editing and START POSTING!!!

In the meantime, thankfully there’s still YouTube!

And for your viewing “pleasure” for today, I’m sharing Part I of my June/July Favorites! I have discovered and rediscovered some pretty amazing gems and I’m so excited to share them with you guys!!!

{this does include two products that were sent to me for review ONLY if my experience was good AND I was impressed with the product. as is always my deal with sponsors, fyi.}

Stay tuned (and subscribe!) for Part II next week!

Candace’s Blog Post on our fun day in San Diego! (and P.B. oops!)

~ Marc by Marc Jacobs Sunnies via SmartBuyGlasses  (also loved these Tori Burch ones as well!  so MAJ!  maybe next time!)
~ Heart Sunnies via little random shop in P.B.
~ Monoi Tiki Tahiti Coconut Oil
~ Mereadesso Lip Treats
~ Porefessional by Benefit
~ Curls Creme Brulee by Curls
~ NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils in French Fries and Sparkle Leopard
~ NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in 722 Hera
~ NYX HD Concealer in Beige
~ Maybelline Master Precise Eye Pencil
{all my above favorites and more are linked and easy to find on my Luvocracy page!  Check it out to find the best prices!!!}

What have you guys been loving so much these last few months?

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confessions of a homeschooling mama & curriculum tips

If you have comments, ideas, questions & suggestions…leave a comment below!
Confessions Part I

Curriculum Mentioned:
Adventures in Odyssey 90 Devotions for Kids
Jesus Calling for Kids
Building Christian Character
Teaching Textbooks (Math)
Time Grammar Rules
Bedtime Math

{links = amazon affiliate}

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can i possibly make a difference?

“Can I possibly make a difference?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have asked this question.
Not always out loud really, but in my actions.
In my writing…
…mostly in my heart.
and in my prayers. 

“Lord, am I really supposed to be this way?  And how can you possibly use someone like me to make a difference and live a life that is worthy?”

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The more I tend to bare my heart and soul with other women though, the more I realize how similar we all really are.
And how we are all asking, in our own ways….

Am I worthy?
Will I ever be able to truly make a difference?

Sometimes I think we believe we have to do something big and grand and noticeable for this to be settled within us.
We think we have to DO and BE a certain way in order to meet the criteria we’ve set for ourselves in order to meet whatever “worthy” looks like for us.

I do this.
Daily.

I’m terrible at math, and yet I always see to want to look at numbers.
How much do I weigh?
How many inches am I losing?
How many people are reading my blog?
How many comments am I receiving per post?

And if it’s not ALL that I hope it to be or what I’ve compared it to others, I think…
“You see, Lord?  I’m not enough.  People don’t see.  I’m not like the rest who are making it.  I’m not worthy enough to make a difference.”

But that’s my humanness.
And God’s math never makes sense anyways.

First?
It’s not about NUMBERS, or WHEN WE GROW UP, or WHEN WE FINALLY HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER….It’s about being exactly WHO we are right now, WHERE we are in life at this moment, and using all of that to do SOMETHING for someone else. 

Second, the more I search, the more I’ve been discovering that the question isn’t so much “what is God’s will for our life” that needs to be our concern…
I believe it’s more of “What is His will for us TODAY?  And how can we make a difference RIGHT NOW?”
Who can we reach?
Who can we love?

It’s about today. 
Because today is the life we’ve been promised.

Finally….and this is IMPORTANT:
We are worthy because we were created. 
We are worthy because Jesus lived and died for us.
And we will make a difference, despite how flawed we believe we are, because He created us just so, and he “saw that it was good.”

So I’ve been learning to take all my MANY shortcomings (trust me, there are many, just ask my husband.  or actually, don’t!), and I daily bring them to Him, and ask humbly…
“God, show me how to use this (good or bad moment/issue) for your glory….and just use me anyway!  Allow me to make a difference.”

I make this the prayer of my heart.
And then each day, I show up.  (after 10am preferably)
And I find the opportunities God has laid before me in THAT DAY.

Today we are worthy. 
It is today that we must choose to love, smile, and pray for someone other than ourselves.
It is today we can hug a friend that is hurting or write a note to encourage someone.
It is TODAY we can be the love of God…despite where we are in life or what our faults may be. {again, I speak from experience.}

And in that one little moment that we set ourselves aside and instead choose to show God’s love…
The angels start partying in heaven because, “Lord Jesus, look at how that worthy person has made a difference!”
{is that maybe when an angel gets her wings too, or am i confusing stories?}

And it is then that we finally receive the answer to our hearts deepest desire.“Am I worthy?  Can I possibly make a difference?” 

His answer is,
“Yes.  Absolutely.  I created you worthy.  I made you to make a difference.  I see you, and I love you.” 

And that is the truth we hold on to.

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the circus is coming!

Experience The All-New Design Of Circus Excitement: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents…
BUILT TO AMAZE!

CIRCUS logo

Coming To San Diego, August 8-11, 2013

{For the second year in a row, my family and I have partnered with this event in exchange for tickets to the show.  It has become a family tradition that my kids love and look forward to every year.  It’s now come to the point that if we ever decide not to work with them as a sponsor, we would still go yearly.  It truly is an experience of a lifetime!!!}

(San Diego, Calif.) – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze!, an extraordinarily engineered circus experience custom-built for family fun where Children Of All Ages® find out what it takes to construct The Greatest Show On Earth®. The visionary blueprints have been assembled with a contemporary toolbox of unparalleled imagination that will be unleashed from shipping crates right before the audience’s eyes for the all-new circus spectacular Built To Amaze! at the Valley View Casino Center from August 8-11.

Ringmaster Andre McClain takes the Ringling Bros.® reins accompanied by his horse Comanche, to lead his funny and mischievous circus supervisors to construct a fantastic design of heart-pounding and wondrous performances sure to amaze and thrill audiences. With more than 110 of the world’s best artists & athletes representing 17 countries along with 95 exotic and domestic animals assembled together, Built to Amaze! is highlighted by several unique acts this year including:

~ Nine-time international award-winning comedic animal presenting duo Alex and Irina Emelin of Russia introduce their uniquely-designed brand of magic and humor with their remarkable trained animals including poodles, ferrets, rabbits, snakes and more!

~ The Trampoline Tower Tumblers, a troupe of 10 competitive aerial athletes from the Ukraine who launch themselves from trampolines to scale, repel and pass through a three-story high translucent tower

~ The popular King Charles Troupe hailing from New York City brings one-wheeled excitement to the ring with a spirited and comedic basketball competition featuring 10 whirling unicyclists

CIRCUS Danguir Troupe balancing on shoulders full group

In addition, the show features the electrifying high-wire acrobats, daredevil stunts on The Steel Vortex, the youngest female Human Cannonball, remarkable hand-balancing duos, the always hilarious Clown Alley…and of course, no Ringling Bros. circus experience would be complete without our four-legged star performers, including the majestic Bengal tigers presented by the charismatic “Taba” and a fun-filled Asian elephant dance party.

Be sure to arrive early to join us for several exciting interactive elements before the show starts! Opening 90 minutes prior to each performance, all ticket holders are invited to tour the Animal Open House to get up-close with our amazing animals. Then one hour before show time, families can step onto the arena floor to meet our circus performers and animals at the interactive All Access Pre-Show, FREE admission to all ticket holders.

WHEN:

Thursday, August 8 – Sunday, August 11

Thursday, August 8 7:00 PM

Friday, August 9 11:00 AM & 7:00 PM

Saturday, August 10 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM

Sunday, August 11 1:30 PM & 5:30 PM

WHERE:

Valley View Casino Center (formerly San Diego Sports Arena)

3500 Sports Arena Boulevard San Diego, CA 92110

Ø FREE PARKING in all official arena parking lots; visit arena website for more info

TICKETS: Ticket prices are $20, $25, $40 (VIP), $55 (Front Row) and $90 (Circus Celebrity)*

Special Discounted Opening Night tickets for only $10 each (select seating only; not valid on VIP/premium levels)

All seats are reserved; tickets available for purchase online through Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the Valley View Casino Center Box Office.

*tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees.

(this is a sponsored post in that my family was offered tickets to attend the circus!)

 

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to buy or not to buy: mini reviews on my june products

To know when I post my YouTube videos, be sure to subscribe!

xo

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inspiring links: fitness, faith, parenting, family, food & beauty

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Where I’ve been and what I’ve been loving this week on the WWW!

FAITH/PARENTING:

After my “faith crisis” and especially after these last couple trips to the D.R., I can feel God in the works of changing me.  It’s as though He’s given me new eyes and a new heart.  And when I read this article on how to rescue our families, I was absolutely challenged and inspired.  In fact, I think all parents would be blessed in reading and following his advice.  How can we rescue the family? (John MacArthur a.k.a JMac as we call him in our house.)

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PARENTING:

A friend sent this to me this week since we are both in the throws of sibling conflict.  Having tried every method and read every book, I was all about learning another way to find peace.  Take a read and let me know what you guys think. 3 Steps that Transform Sibling Conflict into Sibling Comaradare  (Psychology Today)

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RELATIONSHIPS:

After a women’s bible study I attended last weekend, our associate pastor came through and handed us an envelope to give to our husbands.  It was a perfect match to everything we wives had just learned in Titus 2, and I may have encouraged Jimmy to read it every day if he could. =)  This is definitely a letter EVERY husband (or soon to be husband) should read, and I’m not even kidding you right now.  Print it out and hand it over to your man ASAP.  Dear Husband (Barabbas Road Church)

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FITNESS:

Burn away fat cells with this simple trick…  I’m intrigued!  Especially with my anniversary trip only 4 weeks away….I gotta get vacation body ready!!!  If you’ve ever tried this method and have thoughts on it, I’d love to hear! (Dr. Mercola)

Speaking of getting vacation ready, I’ve been upping and intensifying my workouts this week and decided to add a bit to the end of my TAM Meta workouts.  I start with one of my new fave YouTube channels Blogilates:  This particular inner thigh workout KILLS, but oh my goodness, in SUCH a good way!!!  (YouTube)

And then when my thighs are dead, I finish up with some extra arm work.  This week I used Tracy’s Hampton Arms, which I’m pretty sure nobody can finish without resting their arms at least once.  If you can, I am in AWE!!! (YouTube)

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FOOD!

We’ve been trying to pin and then ACTUALLY make the healthy meals we find this week to stop our bad problem with eating out.  This was by far my favorite meal of all AND the most easy to make! Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas (The Girl Who Ate Everything)

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BEAUTY:

Ipsy: Join me on Ipsy and subscribe to the Glam Bag! You get 4-5 beauty products every month delivered to your door, for just $10. (Michelle Phan curates the bags!)  Check out my Instagram pic to see what was in this months bag, which was worth well over the $10 I spent!  Score!!!

I’ve also been totally hooked on my Conscious Box Subscription as well.  Every month, the box gets better and better, and I discover new organic and natural products that I love.

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Now it’s your turn!!!  Leave a comment letting us know what blogs, links, or videos YOU loved most this week!

xoxo

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top 10 summer essentials

Products Mentioned:
True Naturals Sunscreen
MD Solar Sciences Sunscreen
Cenoire Nano
Makeup Forever Aqua Rouge
Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Lotion
Monoi Tiare Tahiti Coconut Oil Vanilla
Maybelline Baby Lips
DermOrganics Argan Oil
Garnier BB Cream

~~~~~~~

Your turn!!!
What are YOUR Top 10 Summer Essentials???

 

 

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social media & digital discernment: a bloggers mid life crisis

This is the problem I have with Facebook and social media:

And it is that there is so much more to me that you don’t see.

facebook

Facebook is not the whole story.

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{the one moment of peace before Taylor got attacked by ants and Chloe was too hot, and Jimmy became bored.}
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Sometimes I get lost in my day of laughter and joy and fun with loved ones and there isn’t one picture to prove it happened.

Sometimes I have an ache so deep, a fear so intense, that I could never share it publicly in that moment.

Sometimes there are moments and feelings that words or a status update could never begin to capture.

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{i was having a panic attack and taking a bath to soothe my emotions while he read my bible to help me.}
~~~~~~~

Sometimes that smile I show in a picture you see, is actually a smile masking a world of insecurity behind it.

“Don’t smile too big, you’ll show too much of your gums.”
“Suck in your tummy, and make sure to angle those thighs…”

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{“you’re not tiny enough, pretty enough, but pretend anyway…”}
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{deep in the trenches of anxiety and insomnia. i hadn’t eaten or slept much in weeks and could only smile with the help of medication}
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My marriage has had it’s struggles, big ones, and in those times it simply remained between my husband and I and the Lord.
Facebook never knew.
But you saw pictures of us smiling and it seemed all was well.

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{smile though your heart is hurting…}
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Sometimes a person and their life are so much more than the images and status updates you’ll ever see online.

Even with a person like me that shares so much…
There is happiness and joy…hurt and sorrow…that are sometimes too much or too precious to ever reduce to 180 characters.

We have access to so much of peoples lives, and yet I think we often forget that what we see is TRULY just the tip of the iceberg.
There is so much more to it than we may ever know or see.

It haunts me to see social media being used in a way (often unintentionally) that is hurtful or confusing to us all.

It causes hurt and envy.
It creates judgement and pride.

“Why wasn’t I..?”  

“Why can’t I…?”  

“I would never…!”  

“So glad I don’t….!”

What began with Facebook making me cry, has lead to me really searching my heart in regards to writing and social media.

I’ve often referred to “this place” as The Bloggers Mid-Life Crisis.
Which for me, tends to happen at least once a year.

I’ve been here before, kind of, but it’s never been quite like this.
This time I realize it goes far beyond Blogging & Social Media.

And the other night I found myself taking notes and realizing it truly is a heart issue.

“What is this all for?
All that we put our everything into?

‘Look at me! It’s all about me!!  Look here, and now here, me again!!!’

I’m so very guilty.
But I long to make it different.

How can I continue to do what I love and long to do, and make it less about me and more about Him?
How do I stop conforming?
How do I change from my core?

I know I need to stop looking at what others are doing, and instead take a long hard look at myself and fix what is so broken and sinful in me.”

Those were my notes that then lead me to this article, Social Media & Digital Discernment, by my favorite Pastor & Teacher, John MacArthur.

It was this quote that I haven’t been able to shake, and I realize it needs to be my new motto for not just social media & blogging, but for my life:

“Like Paul & every other believer, my life is no longer my own. The focus must not be on me, but on Christ. When someone hears from me publicly, I want it all to point to Him.”

Maybe the answer isn’t quitting the online community altogether, but rather changing how we use it.

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break my heart for what breaks yours

I found myself humming the lyrics, “Break my heart for what breaks yours….,” on the plane ride out to the Dominican.  Those words became so much more than lyrics as they found themselves in my prayers later that night.

I had no idea what I was asking for…

daniellanuno1

I saw them sitting there with their hands neatly folded in their laps.  His eyes cast downwards, and her beautiful doe eyes opened wide with wonder.
I watched for a moment before introducing myself and took them in, allowing my heart to capture them as they were.

I felt called to set aside everything else that day knowing that God had brought these orphans there for a reason, and so I set out to truly know their hearts and souls.

But the more I knew with each question asked, the more my heart was gripped with an ache it had never known before.
I had no idea it could become even greater.

They had no parents.  Both had died and their 16 year old sister, too young to be left in charge, had been mistreating them.

They knew their ages (she is 8, he is 10), but not their birthdays.

They didn’t go to school, maybe never had, and neither child knew how to read.

When I asked what their favorite thing to play with was, after a long pause, they told me there was nothing.

And when I asked what their favorite food was, again, they looked up into my eyes and their blank stare told me everything I needed to know.
What is a favorite food, when food isn’t even promised?

I quickly made them each two peanut butter & jelly sandwiches along with their own water bottles, and within minutes the food and water was gone.

Best to eat quickly before someone else has a chance to take it.

With food in their bellies and after hours of intentional time had passed, Daniella began to lean into me for snuggles, which I valued more than she knew.

daniellanunosmiles

daniellame

I asked them to come back the following day, promising them lunch, cake and more water.
They left with smiles and hugs, and seemed excited to have a plan.

The next day brought with it a rainstorm that wouldn’t end.  And as I watchfully stood at the doors of the church, I had a sinking feeling that the downpour was keeping them from the hope they had possibly gone to sleep with.

I couldn’t leave without seeing them again.
I had made promises, and I wasn’t about to break them.

When the day was done, we got into our car and set out to find where they lived.
To get them back in school I had offered to help with supplies, so I had an excuse to show up unannounced.

When I found their “home,” I knew my heart would never recover.
There was a heaviness that words will never capture.

You can never know that kind of pain until you are standing at the door of hopelessness.
We can never know their kind of pain, until we live that kind of hopelessness.

We think we understand, but we have no idea.

olivares

{similar to the building where we found Daniella.}

There she sat with another young girl, two teenagers (one with a baby on her hip), and a sketchy older man sitting on a motorcycle.
We were warned by the teen who had helped us find her that the man was a gangster of sorts, not one to be messed with.
And yet, as it turned out, he was the one who seemed to have all the questions to our answers about the children.

To this moment, that still doesn’t sit well with me.

I asked Daniella to show me where she slept and she lead to me a concrete room which I can only describe as resembling a jail cell, yet far worse.

She was sleeping on a mattress, solid black with rot, with only a thin dirty sheet thrown on top.
There were no toys, no bathroom, no food, no light, no hope.
{video of it here}

She told me she mostly slept there alone, while her two brothers and abusive sister (who had a 1 year old baby of her own) slept elsewhere.

daniellahouse3

daniellahouse2

Daniellahouse1

I pulled her close and held her as tight as my arms would allow while I choked back the sobs that were catching in my throat.

The very same sobs I am choking back even now.

I told her I loved her.
It was true, so much more than I expected.

I promised her I would be back, and that I would help however I could.
I told her she wasn’t alone anymore and that God had brought her and her family to me for a reason.
I asked if she believed me, and she pulled away from my embrace long enough to look at me with her big brown eyes and nodded her head yes ever so slowly.

I ached as I left her there, alone…and the moment the car door closed behind me, I cried like I have never cried before.

I had asked God to “break my heart for what broke His,” and I knew He was only allowing me a small portion of that.

It’s now been 4 days since I left them, and there hasn’t been a day my eyes have remained dry.
My heartache is no less.
I can’t forget them…
Because I know HE hasn’t either.

It can seem overwhelming.
There are so many more like them and there is so much to be done to truly make a difference.

But God didn’t bring them all to me.
Instead He brought me this one family.

And I hear His spirit whisper to me daily, “It all begins with one.”

daniella

And so I’ll be back.
And soon.
I have promises to keep.

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