Thursday, May 19, 2016

Forgiving My Daughters Killer {Book Review}


Forgiving My Daughter's Killer
A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace
By Kate Grosmaire

About the book:
Forgiveness is possible even in impossible circumstances. 
On March 28, 2010, Kate and Andy Grosmaire received two pieces of news that would change their lives forever. 
The first was their worst nightmare: “Ann has been shot.” 
And the second was the dumbfounding addendum: “Conor was the one who shot her.” 
Their nineteen-year-old daughter had been killed by her boyfriend, a young man who had lived with the family and had come to feel like part of it. 
In a beautiful, tragic testament to the liberating power of forgiveness, Kate Grosmaire tells the story of her daughter’s murder at the hand of her boyfriend—and the stunning, deliberate forgiveness and help that Kate and her husband offered to the young man who shattered their world. 
Part memoir, part spiritual testimony, Forgiving My Daughter’s Killer is the story of a family whose faith was put to the test and so found the capacity to do far more than they could have thought or imagined.



This book was provided to me free of charge by Book Look in return for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Kate Grosmaire became an educator about Restorative Justice after her daughter was killed. She and her husband are the cofounders of the Ann Grosmaire "Be The Change" Fund, a charitable fund to promote forgiveness and restorative justice practices. Kate lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

God is Watching Over You {Book Review}


God is Watching Over You
By P.J. Lyons 

About the book:
As a follow up to their bestselling Thank You, Lord, for Everything, P.J. Lyons and Tim Warnes have created a sweet and relaxing padded cover board book that tells the story of God’s constant presence around you. Meant to be read at night, when a child is warm and snug in their bed, the rhyming text and adorable illustrations in God Is Watching Over You gently remind us that God is constantly watching over us, protecting us, and caring for us.
This book is the absolute cutest!  The book itself is sturdy and measures about 8 inches by 8 inches. The cover is a little plush, and the pages inside are made of solid cardboard, so the book will endure many nights of reading.

The illustrations by Tim Warnes make the book extra special and oh so cute. This book held the attention of the littles in my Sunday School class the entire way through. And we even had to look through it again, so they could look again at the sweet little fluffy sheep family.  Continually throughout the book, it says that God is always watching over you, no matter what you're doing.  Such a great point to reinforce with our littles.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Meal Planning Monday


Monday - Omelets {eggs, banana peppers, smoked provolone and ham}

Tuesday - BBQ Bacon Sushi Rolls and Broccoli with Cheese




Saturday - Out to dinner

Sunday - Oven Baked Chicken, Smoked Bacon Wrapped French Vidalia Onion and Broccoli Salad 



Monday, April 04, 2016

Meal Planning Monday


Monday - Cheesesteak Sliders

Tuesday - Beef and Broccoli with rice and lo mein

Wednesday - Cucumber Party Slices {recipe below}

Thursday - Crockpot Italian Chicken

Friday - Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Homemade Bread Bowls

Saturday - Out to dinner

Sunday - French dip beef sammy, bacon cheese fries and homemade ranch {recipe below}

Party Slices

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (2/3 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
1 pillsbury french loaf bread
1 cucumber

Bake your french loaf and let it cool. Slice loaf and lay cut side down. Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. spoon or pipe onto bread slices. Slice cucumbers into 1/8” slices. Place cucumber slice on top of prepared bread pieces.
 
Homemade Ranch

3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon parsley flakes (i used a mix of italian spices)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

Directions

Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months. Follow directions below to make dip or dressing. For Dip: In a bowl, combine 1 tbl of dry mix with 1 cup of dairy sour cream. Refrigerate for one hour before serving. Makes 1 cup of dip for chips or veggies.
For Dressing: Mix 1 cup of mayo with 1 cup of buttermilk and add 1 tbl of dry mix. Shake or whisk to combine well and refrigerate. Makes 2 cups of salad dressing.  

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Why We've Always Tried To Be THAT House


When our littles entered school, we eventually found ourselves faced with a challenge.  So-and-so was having a sleepover and our child was invited.

All parents have had that dilemma at one time or another.  We don't want our littles to miss out on the fun sleepovers we experienced as kids, but the world seems much scarier once your a parent.

My husband and I talked it over privately and both had the same answer...although we weren't going to allow them to go to the sleepover, we didn't want to say no and just leave it at that.  Our answer was always invite them here.

And that's how we became THAT house.

We knew the benefits of a sleepover done right were enormous.  And how better to ensure it was done right than to have it in our own home.

Throughout the years, we've had countless sleepovers here.  Late nights, silliness, laughter and enormous amounts of food consumed (especially by teenage boys).

But, sleepovers always came with rules and my littles knew that.  We never cared who they invited as long as they followed our rules.

What we didn't realize was the opportunity we would have to pour into littles that weren't ours.  Or how many littles craved, and loved, having rules and boundaries.  And how many talks I'd overhear during the evening where I could interject my Mama advice.  And how those things, in turn, gave those littles respect for us.

We knew early on we weren't going to disappear during sleepovers.  I refused to be one of those parents who were banished to their room during a sleepover so the children had their run of the house.  If they were watching a movie, we were watching a movie.  If they were eating pizza, we were eating pizza.

In no means does this mean we were helicopter parents.  In fact, we were the opposite.  If you need a drink, get up and go get it.  Mama has 4 more lives and candy to crush, ha!

It was all part of setting and adhering to rules.  And establishing how our house ran.  We are the parents and they are the children, therefore, they do what we say and not vice-versa.

And while we are serious about our rules, we are also serious about having fun.

I've been part of enormous amounts of laughter, car dance parties {which I am a big supporter of}, living room dance parties, charades, tea parties and 4 wheeler rides.

And as our littles got older, the rules staid the same.  And guess what, the friends kept coming!

We had successfully became THAT house, the house teenagers LIKE to hangout at.  What better than knowing where you teens are on a Saturday night...because they're sitting beside you on the couch with their friends/girlfriends watching a movie and eating pizza with you.  Or having teenagers call you Mama Cutler because you've poured into them over the years.

This reminds me so much of Proverbs 31:28.  How amazing to have the sanctification of your littles praise.  As a Mama, you honored the Lord and your children {and many others} watched that and soaked it all in. They've watched you being gentle, kind, compassionate and generous. They've watched you having a servants heart and sacrificing your time for others. They've watched you pray, seek and trust while living and walking with God.

It's true y'all, inside the walls of our own home is where us Mamas will do the most important work of our lives!

Her children arise and call her blessed; 
her husband also, and he praises her: 
“Many women do noble things, 
but you surpass them all.” 
Proverbs 31:28-29
   


Friday, April 01, 2016

Hello. Goodbye.


Hello April, goodbye March
Hello spring and long awaited sunshine, goodbye {hopefully} gloomy days
Hello flowers, goodbye snow


Hello first pedicure of 2016, goodbye neglected, naked toes
hello mini-vaca with my love
hello next egg hatch


what are YOU saying hello and goodbye to?


Monday, March 28, 2016

A Legacy of Love Shown In Pictures


Today is the wedding anniversary of two pretty amazing people in my life. A couple I've been absolutely blessed to call Mom and Dad. Fifty-two years is a long time y'all, especially in this day and age. To honor their super special day, I'm re-posting a blog I did last year about their legacy of love.


Last week, as I was cleaning my new office space in my home, I came across a box. As I opened the lid and peeked inside, I saw it was filled with old pictures. Instantly my heart soared.

As I've said before, I am enamored with old photos. So much so that it sparked this insatiable craving to take pictures of people. To me, pictures are priceless treasures. I found a box full of moments, perfectly captured, allowing me to travel back in time.

I settled down on the floor, sitting indian style and pulling the box over in front of me. As I started rifling through the photos, I realized what I was actually looking at. A smile graced my lips. I was looking at love letters, in pictures, my parents had sent back and forth while they were dating. My dad was in the military and stationed across the country. So their only way of communication was through letters and pictures.

At first, I felt like I had barged into a secret diary. But I just couldn't stop looking, reading and smiling. This is where the legacy of love began. The legacy that was passed to me and now on to my children.

And now the tears begin.

These pictures, so innocent and hopeful, with no idea of the future. Thinking about all of the highs, lows, and wonderful things they've experienced together over the years brought me to tears. They had no sense of the struggles they would eventually face. They had no idea they would someday have to hold each other through cancer, the death of loved ones and lost jobs. That one day they would travel to another state and adopt the sweetest baby girl ever. They had one thing...love.

Through that love, and devotion to each other, they sat such an amazing example of marriage and parenting for me. Every day, they wrote more of their legacy together. A legacy that will be remembered in lives long past their days on this earth. When we say words like legacy or inheritance, money or heirlooms usually come to mind. But the legacy I’m speaking of is different. It’s a legacy of priceless and intangible things. They've built a legacy of loving God, loving others before yourself and having a selfless heart.

I was given, directly by God, a family with two parents who are still married. I was given a family where both sets of grandparents were married until their dying day. A family that bonds closer together during tough times rather than throwing in the towel. At times, I wonder how I got so lucky...to be hand-picked by God and placed into this amazing family. Like a whisper in the wind I’m reminded that luck had nothing to do with it. This is part of my story, the one He wrote long before I was born.

They are incredible parents, living out a legacy of love passed down from both of their parents! They have never tried to be perfect, but they have tried to love me and others well and show us the best example of Christ that they could. They know how to fight when the enemy brings the battle close to home and they know how to praise when another battle is won. 

They are my legacy of love.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter



He lives
He lives
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives
He lives
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wildflower {Movie Review + Giveaway}


I had never heard of Wildflower until I was given the opportunity to watch and review it. I am so happy that I gave this movie a try because it was a really great movie! There isn't anything predictable or typical about this movie. It's not a typical drama. It's not a typical, feel-good story with a happy ending. It’s so much deeper than that. This movie is very suspenseful. There’s never a moment when you’re bored. You’re always wondering what’s going to happen next and your eyes are glued to the screen the entire time.

There were three main aspects of this movie that stood out to me. Grief, trauma and faith. I think every single one of us can relate to those.

One important aspect of Wildflower is that it touches on grief. People handle grief in a number of ways. Some hide it behind a smile. Some are outwardly upset. Others cry to themselves. Sometimes, people handle grief with denial. You will see all forms of grief in Wildflower and it will definitely tug at your heart strings too.

Another aspect is trauma. I think we all either have dealt with our own trauma, or we know someone personally who has. Just as people handle grief different, every one of us handles trauma differently. Sometimes the only way to cope with it is to suppress those memories and make them less painful. Eventually, we all have to heal. Wildflower takes you on a journey of a girl trying to find the answers to something terrible that happened to a young woman. In finding the answers, you will see so many lives touched and healed. You will also see how faith plays a very important role in healing and moving on.

And last but not least, faith.  Wildflower is filled with the theme of God's ultimate healing power!  That through Him, we have hope and a deeper understanding of the truth.

Wildflower is gripping, suspenseful, emotional, touching and quite powerful. It displays a perfect amount of love, faith, devotion, and strength. It gives a voice to those who may have yet to be heard.

Special thank you to Icon Media for providing me with a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.  My review is my own personal opinion.

AVAILABLE ON DVD APRIL 5, 2016

SYNOPSIS

Creatively gifted with a resilient spirit, college student Chloe Moray (Ramos) finds solace from a difficult childhood in her art. But when a terrifying dream begins to recur night after night, Chloe starts to believe that it might be a suppressed memory and that she may be connected to the strange disappearance of a teenage girl twelve years earlier. Her search to find the answers sends her on a journey that forces Chloe to confront her own past traumas, while at the same time, helps her unlock a mystery that may bring a killer to justice.

Website: wildflowerthemovie.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Wildflowerthemovie

Twitter: @wildflower

INTERESTED IN THE WILDFLOWER MOVIE? TAKE A CHANCE AND ENTER TO WIN BELOW!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way {Book Review}


Having a Martha Home the Mary Way
by Sarah Mae

About the book:
Get your home and your heart in order in just 31 days! 
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself—yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts. 
Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart—and your home—at the same time? 
Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.
This book, oh how I loved it. Normally I jump right into the review.  But this gorgeous cover deserves some love.  The cover drew me right in. If there is one thing I can appreciate, it's a well designed cover. It has pretty watercolor flowers surrounding a beautiful hand-brushed script font. Such a perfect way to begin this book!

One of the first things that set this book apart for me was Sarah Mae’s confession that she isn’t naturally great at cleaning! Hallelujah, me either! That instantly made me feel connected to her. And since she doesn’t like cleaning herself, she isn’t looking down on the reader. She just wants to come alongside you. This book is full of humor, grace and encouragement. And let's not forget honesty. Sara is honest about her own struggles and constantly offers room for mistakes, learning and differences in personality and style.
This book is written a little like a month devotional, it has a quick read section for each day of the month; a few pages of inspiration, a Mary Challenge, a journal-style page of devotions and questions, followed by a Martha challenge, with practical cleaning tasks and tips.

This book is filled with inspiration, personal insight, practical suggestions, daily activities, Bible verses for inspiration and questions to ponder, along with so much more. You can take each day as it comes, read the whole thing at once, address the Martha-housekeeping tasks, or focus on the Mary Bible-study. It’s truly versatile, fantastic and flexible. Homemaking shouldn’t be this daunting thing and it doesn’t have to be, but we also need to keep our priorities and faith in order.

The most important takeaway from this book that I hope to apply to my life is it's not about judgement.  It's not about do this, and do that. And if you don't, your a failure. It's just a gentle approach to housekeeping. It's about just doing the best you can. And when you've done your best, leave the rest up to God. It’s about creating a home that is filled with that grace, so that you can pour it out on those who walk through your door.  I hope to remember that, and cut myself some slack.  I hope to create an environment in my home that overflows with grace and love.  

Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Sarah Mae, listed as one of Christian Broadcasting Network's "Six Women Leaders to Follow on Twitter," is an influential Christian blogger, conference cohost, and coauthor with Sally Clarkson of the bestselling book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe.

Because of her drive to inspire women to hold fast to Jesus and to live by faith, Sarah Mae has cultivated blogs and websites that have encouraged thousands of women all over the world. She is the author of several bestselling e-books, a contributing writer to DaySpring's (in)courage, and the founder and cohost of Allume, a national Christian women's blogging conference that has sold out each year.

Those are her street creds.

In her everyday life, she is a wife who passionately supports her husband, even on the days when he drives her crazy (and, don't you know, she drives him crazy sometimes, too), a mom to three of her favorite people whom she homeschools, and a piecrust botcher. Oh yes, she bakes, but it's never pretty.

She makes her home in the beautiful Amish countryside of Pennsylvania where she often ponders what life would be like if she actually finished all the laundry.

You can find her at sarahmae.com.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meal Planning Monday


Monday - BBQ Ham Sandwiches and Outback Steakhouse Sweet Potatoes {recipe below}

Tuesday - Breakfast for dinner {bacon, eggs and homemade bread for toast}...my girls have been working overtime and I'm overrun with eggs but I'm not complaining!

Wednesday - Sauerkraut cooked with kielbasa, hot dogs and pork roast, mashed potatoes and dumplings.

Thursday - Beer Can Burgers on the grill and Cabbage Steaks

Friday - Out to dinner

Saturday - No peek beef tips, mashed potatoes, corn and homemade bread

Sunday - Easter dinner at my Mamas house


Copycat Outback Steakhouse Sweet Potatoes

INGREDIENTS
1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoon shortening
2-3 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoon softened butter
3 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Rub outside of potato with shortening and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake the potato at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes (or until soft). Split the potato. Whip together butter and honey and put inside. Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Serve.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Meal Planning Monday {on a Tuesday}


Tuesday - Chicken pie...this is, without a doubt, one of my FAV meals!!! 

Wednesday - BBQ Chicken and Cheesy Potatoes

Thursday - Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Macaroni Salad

Friday - Chili Cheese Dog Bake...one of our favs!

Saturday - Out to dinner with the fam

Sunday - No peek beef tips, mashed potatoes, corn and homemade bread