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Solitude

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter...I've got 'em all. My generation is full of social media junkies. People rave about how Facebook put them in touch with friends they've lost contact with or how Facebook let's them keep up with their family who live far away, yada yada yada. And as a girl who has family spread across the continent, I think it's great! But Facebook and other social medias can have their darker sides. Maybe we've seen people going on vacations or buying new, pretty things and it stirs up a little jealousy or materialism in us. Maybe we've felt the need to show off a little for all our online friends. Or maybe we've seen what our friends have said online and just been annoyed. Whatever it is, we've probably all had moments like these. Now, I'm not trying to say that Facebook is pure evil and you should never use social medias! But I do think we could all use a bit more disconnect in our lives.  A writer I enjoy, Marya Mannes,  once said, "The great omission in American life is solitude...that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit." And in Mark 6, we find Jesus telling His disciples that they should find a "quiet place". There's something that happens when we get alone and quiet ourselves a bit. It lets us pay attention to ourselves and helps reconnect us to the most important thing in our life, our own spirit.

So if you're a social mediaholic like me, take some time this week to consciously disconnect. Maybe you can give yourself a time limit or maybe you just don't get online at all for a whole day. And if you want to see how someone's day is going, just give them a phone call rather than checking their Facebook. It's more fun that way!

Marriage Survival During the Hustle and Bustle

 

Communication breakdown!  I can become very agitated when my plans don’t go smoothly because of a communication breakdown in my marriage. No matter how crazy things are in my life I can still keep it together if I feel my husband and are on the same page.  However, I can get real stressed if we are not jiving and working together.

 If you have been married long enough, you know having “personal” alone time, as a couple, can be a challenge with the hustle and bustle of life’s responsibilities. Good communication between a couple does, indeed, involve listening and expressing feelings to each other.   However, believe it or not, my husband and I have learned to incorporate simple communication skills that we use in business each day to eliminate stress and ensures that we are spending quality time together. This may not sound romantic or exciting, but making good use of technology, has strengthen our relationship.   

 For your marriage relationship to stay connected,  try practicing the following three tips:

  1. Send appointments

Have you had a miscommunication in your marriage when one of you forgot the other was working late; forgot about a dinner out with friends; or forgot about a soccer game for one of the kids? In today’s age, most of us are using our phones or computers as our calendar.  When one of us schedules an event that may affect the other, we simple send the other an appointment notice so that it automatically goes to the other’s calendar.  It is AMAZING how this simple step has saved us so many arguments and misunderstandings.  

  1. Schedule dates on calendar or in Smart Phones.

We have set out at the beginning of many weeks with good intentions to have lunch together. Then by Friday, we suddenly realize that so many things came up or it was simply forgotten, and we missed our lunch time together.   I have been guilty of putting “us” on the back burner when something else comes up that I think is more important. We now schedule are lunch dates just as an appointment.  There is something about having it in writing that makes us accountable to stick with it. 

  1. Turn it off

Technology is good at times, but it can be detrimental at other times.  There is no way we could have quality conversation and time with our spouse with the TV blaring in the back or trying to multi tasks on the computer or phone.  Use technology to schedule those times, but remember to have true communication and enhance your marriage, TURN IT ALL OFF. 

 So as you are sitting down looking at your fall calendar with schedules and activities, don’t forget to actually SCHEDULE and plan with your husband.  Don’t hink it will just happen. 

Proverbs 21:5 in The Message says:

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.” 

 Don’t let the hurry and scurry of life get you behind on your relationship with your spouse.  Sit down together and figure what is the best way for you as a couple to keep it fresh with minimal stress.

 One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 5: 8.  Quoting from The Message Bible:“Keep a cool head.  Stay alert.  The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.” 

  NAPPING!  That is very convicting. When we are napping from our marriage and not giving it the attention that it needs, the enemy sees an open door to come right in.

Eat the Heat: Jalapeno, Mango Salsa

Salsa comes in all intensities and there are innumerable ways to prepare a tasty one.They are low in calories, usually contain no fat and  if you eat 1/2 c. of  fresh salsa, you can check one of your daily recommended fruits or veggies off the list. This recipe asks for jalapeno which will make a mild-medium salsa. If you want more of a bite, use serrano peppers and if you live on the edge, use habanero peppers.

 

Ingredients

12 roasted tomatillos

2 medium tomatoes

2 c. fresh mango

3 lg. seeded jalapenos

1/3 c. red onion

2 T. fresh ginger root

1/8 c. lime juice

a handful of fresh mint

salt and pepper to taste

Makes 5 c. ( great for a party)

 

 

                                   

         Salsas are a great playground for a creative mind and they're simple to put together.

 

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and chop!!

 

 

 

                                                                    That's it!! The salsa is ready!!

                          

This recipe is great with chips, or as an accompaniment for baked or grilled fish or chicken.

 

Welcome to Mommy-hood

  Officially I have been a mom for 13 months. Being a mom has been by far one of the most challenging hats I've had to wear. The first couple months friends reassuringly let me know that at the 3 month mark "It gets better." Oh how that little statement rung in my ears. As smart as I like to think I am, I never realized being a mommy would take so much out of me. I mean I have been around plenty of children new and old. I knew how to change a diaper, make a bottle, put a baby to sleep, make silly faces, and not to mention calm a crying baby in my adolescence. I considered myself a pro long before I even met a man who was qualified enough to give me his little swimmers!

I discovered quickly that I was no pro, but a beginner. The statement is not a self defeating one, but rather a coming to terms with it announcement to self. What's the use in being in denial, right! I had been fighting the fact that I could not figure my child out, that is for the time being. After countless conversations with God on why he was not answering my prayers, and why he would not make it better. Not to mention the daily melt down in which I had not bathed, not slept, and attempted to eat, but my little eater decided he was hungry too... I had come to the bitter sweet conclusion that it would take time to figure out anyone, let alone my own child. Mommy-hood as far as I can see is all about cherishing the small accomplishments, literally living one day at a time. It's all about throwing a party when baby sleeps for 3 hours, and letting go. Letting go of all your preconceived ideas of what it means to be a mommy, and for me clinging to God for strength.

Most mommy pros will say to their child, "If you only knew." When my dear mom would make that statement, I am reluctant to say I would "gently" roll my eyes and think if you only knew what? Ha! Now I know mom, now I know!!! If you only knew the sacrifice, the patience, the joy, it requires to be a mommy. What a delicate and oh so sweet relationship God created between mother and child. I encourage any new mommy out there to remember you are not alone, God has not forgotten you. Mommy-hood is not easy but it is so worth it. After now 13 months of watching my little guy grow....although I might do some things a little differently given the chance, I would in a heart beat do it again. So don't just hang in there, take your time to learn and grow. And please give yourself a break we've all made mistakes. So cheers to sleepless nights, cheers to poopie diapers, cheers to not knowing everything, and cheers to you for being so brave! Welcome to Mommy-hood, God chose you.

Guest Contributor: Lisette Espinosa

Spicy Black Bean Dip

As the sunshine shows up again this spring, so are  backyard barbecues . A great hostess is always looking for  yummy appetizers and sides for her guests as they wait for the entree to come off the grill. This black bean dip is the perfect third in a trio with garden salsa and guacamole. All the ingredients are economical and make it a great choice for a gathering in your own home or to carry with you to a potluck. Ingredients

3c.  cooked black beans

1/4t. oregano

2 canned chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce)

11/2 c. chopped onion

1T. balsamic vinegar

1/3 c. chopped cilantro

Blend beans (with liquid), chipotle peppers and balsamic vinegar in the blender and blend until smooth. Add chopped onion and cilantro.

The smokey flavor of chipotle makes this dish fabulous  with chips or raw vegetables. If you like,  use it as a sandwich spread or on your favorite wrap.

If you're concerned about calories, fat grams or carbs, it's also a healthy alternative to a sour cream or mayo based dip.

Fingerprint: Uniquely Marked for a Purpose

“Heart to heart bilingual communication” might well summarize Yvonne’s book.  Based on real-life events from her life or the life of someone close to her, Fingerprint relates “heart-warming” as well as “gut-wrenching” accounts of life at its best and at its worst.  With English on one page and Spanish on the facing page, Ms. Sánchez provides inspirational reading for many around the world. Based on the principle that it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit, Fingerprint offers twenty-one days of devotionals to draw the reader’s heart closer to God in a subtle, powerful way. Fingerprint exhibits effective use of both English and Spanish to enable the readers to review a variety of aspects of life and come to a point of feeling the finger of God touch their heart and lives. Each day’s reading includes a brief Bible scripture, a real-life story, an opportunity for a personal reflection, a prayer related to the lesson of the day, and an Old and a New Testament scripture for additional reading.

Overall, Fingerprint is a well-written, powerful, heart-to-heart, daily devotional which can easily lead the reader into a new habit – seeing God in every circumstance of life and experiencing the life-transforming touch of God’s finger touching the heart.  I highly commend this inspired devotional to you! It would make an awesome gift for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or Mother’s Day.

Fingerprint: Uniquely Marked for a Purpose Author, Yvonne Villareal Sánchez

Come out to meet the author on Saturday, February 26th from Noon to 6:00 p.m. at Che Bella in Austin, TX

Or

To purchase Fingerprint: Uniquely Marked for a Purpose, click here

Book Review by Guest Contributor Dianne Myers Haneke PhD





Professor Emeritus of Literacy Education, Dianne Myers Haneke PhD enjoys writing inspirational and informational materials to encourage individuals in their relationship with God.  Dianne has authored five books to date, taught writing classes at Concordia University-TX as well as at Shoreline Christian Church, edited a variety of manuscripts, and mentored several aspiring authors to get published. She and her husband John have three adult children and eight grandchildren. Hanekes enjoy music, motor-home traveling, and photography in their retirement and are home-based in Manor TX.

Hungry for Hummus?

Chickpeas are the core ingredient to this healthy food, loaded with protein. Hummus is popular in the Middle East and is also commonly found in Mediterranean-style meals. However, it is now quite popular in the US, costs pennies to make and less than fifteen minutes of prep time. My recipe is a "mas o menos," which means more or less. Adjust the ingredients to your particular taste.

Ingredients

1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo, with liquid

juice of 1 fresh lemon

2 T. tahini*

2 cloves of roasted garlic**

1/8 c. olive oil

salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve with pita chips, raw veggies or use as a spread on a sandwich or wrap.

*Sesame seed paste can be purchased at any grocery store with a healthy food section.

**My daughter taught me to a quick-roast garlic, just place the cloves in a nonstick pan on medium heat and turn them until they're lightly browned on all sides.

Variations

Substitute any of the following for a twist:

roasted red bell pepper, roasted jalapeno, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives

Motivation to Change

Motivation to exercise and eat right! Why don’t we have it? How do we get it? Change in our routine may be necessary from time to time.  Have you ever thought if I have to get on that treadmill one more time or hear that instructor tell me what to do with her bubbly smile, I will scream?  If you are not willing to try something new, you will eventually quit all together.

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut doing the same things over and over and then wonder why nothing is working and why we have lost our motivation.  We want to be healthier, stronger, have consistency in our habits and of course, see results, but we are not always willing to change a behavior.  So we lose our motivation to keep going because we are bored and begin to think nothing is working.

Another reason we may lose our motivation is that we are holding to the same thing that motivated us in the past and then wonder why it is not working.  It may be time to think of a new motivation.  For example:   20 years ago, the only reason I exercised was for my appearance.  Today, I do still care about how I look  (lets all be honest), but if I tried to use my looks as my ONLY motivation to eat right and exercise, I would probably quit on those days I could care less how I look.   My motivation to live healthy is to set a good example for my children, to have a higher quality of life and most of all .... be the best I can be physically and mentally for myself and my family.

To have results in our health, fitness and life, we need to be willing to make changes even if they are small.  I once had someone say to me, you may not be able to do what you want to do, but WHAT CAN YOU DO. Here is a little tip, try logging your exercise and food for one week to see if you are really eating what you think you are or exercising hard enough.  Are your eating healthy food but your portions are way too big, are there hidden calories that you never thought of, or are you sabotaging your workouts by ending it with a 300 calorie drink? Once we identify behaviors that may need to change, and connect with our motivation, we can then begin to have consistent behaviors that bring us results.

Our health is a lot like our spiritual growth.  We pray for something new, but all we do is pray when God may be calling us to step outside of comfort zone, take a risk, or be open to new opportunities.  What worked in the past may not be working any longer.  We are not open to new things because we know that is not what would work for us.  It did not work in the past so why would it now. I have a new favorite verse Isaiah 42 :9

Behold, the former things have come to pass.  Now I declare new things: before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.

How about this quote, which for me personally, can be kind of painful-

“If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior.”

William Glasser

Forget about what may have worked in the past, think about something new.

What is your new behavior and motivation?

To learn more about how to be fit for life by creating a  plan just for you with your personal Wellness Coach, contact me crystal@crystalclearchange.com or 409-550-7606

Cyber-Bullying

February 28, 2012 - UPDATED with corrected hyperlink. When my kids were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, the “bullies” stayed on the school playground or ran around the neighborhood.  You know the little bully who took great pleasure in deliberately harassing other children by such means as:   hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, hair pulling, name calling, making fun of someone’s appearance, race, or religion, etc.

Now the bully’s territory has expanded and can reach directly into the comforts of your home, the one place a child is supposed to take refuge from the outside world.   Not only has the bully’s territory expanded into your home, but it can reach to higher levels of harassment because the methods he uses are done in secret, thus freeing him from punishment for such unruly behavior.

Cyber-bullying, it is called. A name applied to bullying through the use of technology.

For example: Nine year old Sammy suddenly received a very graphic and violent text message on his cell phone.  Sammy was so emotionally distraught that he slept with his mother that night, and would not allow her to leave his side for 24 hours.

I personally know this mother, and like most mothers, she had gone to great lengths to protect her child from the obvious, such as monitoring TV programs and movies.    However, she was stunned and taken completely off guard by this invasion into her son’s life by a cell phone, something she had considered perfectly harmlessly.

The cell phone is just one means of cyber-bullying.  Other ways, depending upon the age of your child, might include: (1) writing rude blogs on the internet (2) sending nasty emails (3) talking about someone in a chat room (4)  instant messaging.

May I let you in on a little secret?

Research shows that, in most cases, it is someone your child knows, and perhaps has innocently passed his cell phone number or password on to a so-called friend.

So, what’s a parent to do, or I should say “what are the adults in a child’s life to do as a team effort to combat one of the pitfalls that exists in this hi-tech world we live in?

The best defense against cyber bulling is a strong offense, which involves 2 key steps.

1.      Education: As with most things, education is the beginning of tackling any problem.  Use the Internet to your advantage and educate yourself to what cyber-bullying consists of at different age levels, as well as the emotional damage that it can cause.  One site which has been a service to the community for years about this subject is Health Resources and Services Administration, which is a government agency dedicated to educating the public on cyber-bullying.

2.      Get Involved: How can you get involved?  The home page for the above site offers further education on bullying in general. It also offers ideas which parents, or any interested adult, can present to schools and other organizations within their community to promote bully awareness, and ways to stop it. There are many other Internet sites that are also very helpful. A quick search will list many of those.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

May Dr. King’s words be a challenge to adults to become a team working together to insure that our children are safe from the emotional scars of modern day technology.