excess.

 

Today’s my 42nd birthday. I’m sitting outside of a Starbucks waiting for my Genius Bar appointment to check on the battery life of my iPhone. It’s ironic that I’m sitting in a mall right now, given the decision I’m making today.  This has actually been on my mind and heart to do for the last several years, but for this reason or that reason, I’ve not yet done it.

But today is the day.

As of today, February 27, 2013, I am not shopping for anything new for an entire year. Nope. I cannot buy one stitch of clothing, a purse, or costume jewelry for myself until February 27, 2014.

You may be thinking…”Carmen, are you confessing to being a shopoholic?” Nope. I’m not. Because it’s not that at all. The reason is simple…

I have enough.

A few things have brought me to this decision.

The first was the 4 mission trips I’ve been on the last 5 years. Once you’ve visited a foreign county, you realize just what a consumption society we are.  This isn’t an indictment against anyone, our country, or standing in protest. I’m all about supporting our economy! And I will continue to do so. I just won’t do it by purchasing clothing, purses, jewelry (and maybe) shoes. I’ve not decided about this one yet. Shoes aren’t my weakness; purses are.

The second is that every time my birthday rolls around, Pete, the girls, and my mom ask me what I want for my birthday. I honestly can never tell them one single thing. Can anybody relate?  As a family, we’ve really transformed our Christmases the last couple of years. We were having the same conversation year after year, “Girls, what do you want for Christmas?” // “I don’t know, Mom, let me think about it.” End scene. // Frantically, I’d end up at the mall, walking around for hours, hurrying to buy more of what they didn’t need, for more money than I should’ve spent, and wasting lots of hours I’d never get back. It was madness. So the last few years, we’ve not done gifts, and have spent quality time together, making a memory instead. At this point, I do feel the need to say emphatically … BY NO MEANS am I saying it’s not good to buy Christmas gifts for the ones you love! I still buy my girls small stocking stuffer type gifts. I do buy them birthday gifts. I do still buy gifts for lots of people! I love buying gifts. Gifts are my love language. But I buy gifts now because I want to; not because I have to.

But I digress regarding Christmas. Probably because Christmas has been another indicator that we have enough. More than enough.

Lastly, I’ve been reading a book called “7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker.

7, an experimental mutiny against excess

7, an experimental mutiny against excess

I’m only on Chapter 3, but I love where it’s going. Long story short, Jen and her family took in another family during a hurricane. When their guests arrived at their home, a little boy ran inside and said, “Look dad, they’re rich!” Jen lives in a normal, middle class neighborhood. But to this child (and accurately so) she was rich!

I’ve been to Peru. I’ve been to Guatemala. I’ve been to Honduras. Trust me, we are rich. I live in a 2100 square foot, 2 bath, 2 car garage home. And I am rich.

I’ve got more clothes in my closet than I can wear. Heck, I’ve got a whole wardrobe in 3 sizes!! I’ve got more purses than I can carry. I have so much fun jewelry I sometimes forget what I have. I don’t need a thing. If I invited you into my closet, I would be embarrassed. (Anyone wanna join me in a closet confession?)

So the year experiment begins today. This isn’t to say you won’t see me in a mall. You will. Admittedly, one of my favorite things to do is to get my girls and meet my mom at the mall. We like to grab a Starbucks, walk around and browse (usually this is when the “buying things I don’t need” transactions take place), and then we’ll have a late lunch at California Pizza Kitchen (btw, the hummus appetizer and roasted vegetable salad are my favorites!) But I digress again.

I ‘m not gonna get super legalistic about this. I know me. As soon as I tell myself I can’t do something (or eat something), I want it all the more. It’s truly not about keeping the rules. It’s about transformation, downsizing, and getting rid of the excess. I will still buy makeup (not lip gloss, tho! I have 12 tubes). I will still buy things for my girls. I will still buy gifts for my friends. But for myself, I want to enjoy and be OK with what I already own. If a craving hits (and it most likely will), I want to satisfy it on behalf of someone who needs it more than me.

And finally, PLEASE don’t hear this as me being super spiritual. I am so NOT. Trust me! God is working some things out in me that need to be worked out. This is a personal acknowledgement (and repentance in some ways) to the Lord. A step towards true gratitude (likewise, sometimes I wonder if I even know real hunger).  This is a step towards knowing the difference between wants vs. real needs. This is a step towards contentment with what I have, breaking the habit of buying, and pleasing God with every dollar I spend.

Perhaps it’s best summed up best this way:

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. So for my 42nd year of life, I’m not.

 

 

14 things.

 
I LOVE this. I found it at theresurgence.com. Here’s the link!

But I’ve copied & pasted for you here.

14 things YOU can do….

To bring awareness to the injustices of human trafficking and sexual assault and help equip Christian leaders and churches in making a difference, we wanted to provide 14 things you can do today to fight human trafficking and help victims. Whatever you do, shine a light on these dark injustices and be a voice on behalf of those who cannot be heard.

1. BE INFORMED
Being informed is the pavement you walk on. Get informed and be aware of the prevalence of the sex trade in your hometown, state, country, and world. You can find a comprehensive reading list on human trafficking on Resurgence.

2. BE PREPARED
Did you know that one in four women and one in six men are or will be victims of sexual assault? Prepare yourself to recognize the signs and lovingly help those who are victims.

3. SHARE THE GOSPEL
Share the gospel with victims: Hope and healing are found solely in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If you’re not sure how to do this, we highly recommend reading Justin Holcomb’s Rid of My Disgrace.

4. REPORT IT
If you believe you have witnessed human trafficking, or have been a victim, you can report a tip over the phone or online to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC).

5. SPREAD THE WORD
Inform your family and friends about the pervasiveness of human trafficking. Bring awareness through your social media. Unfortunately, the upcoming Super Bowl is a time you can highlight the prevalence of human trafficking. Whatever you do, shine a light on these dark injustices and be a voice on behalf of those who cannot be heard.

6. JOIN OR START A SCHOOL CLUB
Multiply your efforts by joining with others on your campus. Together you can create a larger platform to help create awareness and make a difference in your community.

7. LEAN ON OTHERS
Don’t feel like you have to know all of the answers. There are a ton of resources available online. You can create awareness by simply inviting people over to watch a video, listen to an audio message, or just read the articles and discuss them afterward.

8. BE A CAREFUL CONSUMER
Did you know that you might be inadvertently supporting human trafficking with what you buy? Learn to be a careful consumer by learning more about your favorite brands and how they relate to human trafficking.

9. SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS
There are a number of great organizations that are currently fighting human trafficking and providing hope and healing for victims. {Carmen’s note here: Of course, Abolition International is very close to my heart!!}

10. GET INVOLVED
You can get involved through your church or a local anti-human trafficking group.

11. FUNDRAISE
Raise financial support for organizations by hosting a fundraiser. Consider having a garage or yard sale, or a sell some things online. Whatever you earn, donate it to one of the anti-human trafficking organizations listed above.

{Carmen’s note here: If you’d like to support TEAM FREEDOM, click here!!
We’l be lacing up in 21 days to run 13.1 miles!}

12. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL AND STATE REPRESENTATIVES
With a call from your phone, a letter sent through the snail mail, or email, you can simply contact your state and congressional representatives to express your concern about human trafficking. During this time you can even ask them if they have any plans to help combat it.

13. WRITE AN OP-ED FOR YOUR SCHOOL OR LOCAL PAPER
If you like to write, you can write an op-ed for you school or local paper to bring awareness to human trafficking.

14. ENCOURAGE YOUR CHURCH
Is your church currently taking action? If not, schedule some time with the leaders of your church to help bring awareness to human trafficking and lead them to action. If this is the case and you have a desire to make a difference, perhaps you are being called by God to spearhead these efforts? It’s something to pray about—at the very least.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! This injustice has become very close to my heart! And I truly believe together, we can make a difference. I believe God will multiply our efforts! I want us to “not merely say that we love each other, let’s show the truth by our actions!” -1 John 3:18.

And lastly, I’m sincerely asking you to pray for me (the battle that is in my head!) and for Team Freedom.

Thank you!
carmen

let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. -John 3:18

let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. -1 John 3:18

Pete’s BBQ Nachos

Pete's BBQ Nachos

Pete’s BBQ Nachos

Hands down. THE best nachos. EVER!

10 oz. Gruyere Cheese (shredded)
10 oz. Shredded Cheese (Monterey Jack and Cheddar mix)
1 sm. can of sliced black olives
¼ red onion, sliced very thin
2 chicken breasts cooked and chopped or shredded (you can also use a cooked rotisserie chicken from your grocery store)
1 bottle Bulls Eye BBQ sauce (or any brand that you prefer)
Sour Cream (to serve)
One large bag of round Tostitos

-Shred gruyere cheese

-Slice onion (very thin)

-Cook and chop or shred chicken

-Mix chicken pieces with about 4 or 5 ounces of BBQ sauce

-On a ½ sheet pan, grease lightly

-Spread a layer of tortilla chips (about ½ of the bag)

Top with each ingredient in this order (use only half the quantity of each because you will be adding a second layer):

1. Shredded/chopped BBQ chicken

2. Gruyere cheese

3. Monterey Cheddar cheese

4. Onion slices

5. Black olives

6. Drizzle with BBQ sauce

Then put another layer of chips on top of first layer and repeat the steps (1 to 6) above:

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes in 350 degree oven

Serve with sour cream and BBQ sour cream.

BBQ sour cream: Combine six ounces of sour cream with about 3 to 4 ounces of BBQ sauce, mix.

sweet & savory potatoes

 

Here’s the recipe for the sweet potatoes I was telling you about on the show. They are SO good! Seriously. My whole family loves them. (of course, you have to like sweet potatoes!)

4 sweet potatoes
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cinammon
Sea Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
2 tsp. coconut oil (olive oil would work too)

Cut sweet potatoes into cubes and set aside in large bowl with a lid. In separate bowl, combine onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper. Melt coconut oil (or use olive oil). Pour over sweet potatoes. Sprinkle spice mixture. Put the lid on the bowl, and shake it, shake it, shake it baby!

Pour nicely coated potatoes on a baking pan, and cook for 30-35 minutes at 375. (no need to grease pan!)

ENJOY!!

Inspiration.

 

I’ve needed a little inspiration to get training for my half marathon at the end of February. This gave it to me.

Favorite Thing #3: Cross Bracelets

 

These are my favorite bracelets right now! My friend Charlie from Rusty Crickett’s introduced me to ‘em! As you can see they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! I have the turquoise and I wear it with everything. I went back and got the red with the turquoise the other night. My girlfriend, Kellie, has the gold one with clear stones. It’s adorable!! They’re very inexpensive so they make great gifts for the women in your bible study, home groups, or for your besties, etc.  And I’m telling ya ….you will LOVE them. And they’re great for stacking, too. Guys, this is a great “lil something extra” for your wife/girlfriend/mom/sister/niece. If you have any questions, you can call Charlie 941.745.3131. She has the cutest things, and the BEST ideas. And btw, I don’t get paid to say this. Promise! I just love her boutique. She has all price ranges, for all budgets, and they wrap everything up and make the presentation as fun as the gift. They’re 1st class all the way.

I’m gonna give away 3 bracelets at 10 a.m. this morning (December 5). Register by entering your name and email address in the comment section of this post. Name and email. That’s it! Hitch will randomly choose 3 winners, and we’ll post their names after 10 a.m. Yay!!

Merry Christmas!

cross bracelets with rhinestones

 

I have the turquoise & the red w/ turquoise. LOVE.

Favorite Thing #2: Christmas Classics!

 

Make it a Christmas movie night – or nights – with these Christmas Classics! Dim all the lights {except the tree}, grab the family, make some hot chocolate, and enjoy! Merry Christmas!

A Wonderful Life || Miracle on 34th Street || A Christmas Carol

 

 

Favorite Thing #1: WoodWick Fireside

Hey Friends!!

WoodWick Fireside

It’s that time….my annual “Carmen’s Favorite Things” is coming to a radio near you! ha!

I only have a minute here before I head to Abbey’s game (let’s hope I actually make it IN this time!) But….I wanted to post my 1st favorite thing for this year!!

I’ve talked about ‘em a bunch. Dave’s actually the one that introduced me. It’s the Fireside WoodWick candle. It really smells & sounds like a real fire. I’ve got one burning in my office right now!

We’re gonna be giving away quite a few in the morning, but I wanted YOU (those that visit my blog) to have a chance to win a few too!

Here’s how:

Enter your name and email address in the comment section of this post. Name & email address. That’s it. Tomorrow morning on the show, I’ll have Hitch randomly pick 3 winners. We’ll announce your name, and email you tomorrow if you win! You can register between NOW and 6 a.m. tomorrow, December 4.

Merry Christmas!
carmen

this ‘n that.

 

I hate mass communication. Really. I do. I think it’s impersonal and sterile. But it’s the best I’ve got!

THANK YOU for all your notes, emails, texts and tweets. Y’all are the SWEETEST, most THOUGHTFUL, LOVING community. EVER. Golly, do I love you so!

Here’s the short version:

Regarding being in the hospital: I’ve had 4 “episodes” over the last 2 months. It’s like a vice grip or industrial strength rubber band around my rib cage. The first time it happened, it woke me up out of a dead sleep at 3:30 in the morning. I actually talked about it that morning on the air, and the show became an on-air version of webmd.com.  ha!  When the episode happens, it’s debilitating pain that makes me nauseous/light headed and sweat like I’ve jumped in the pool. It happened again Monday night before Abbey’s basketball game. I couldn’t get outta the car in the parking lot. It starts like it’s heartburn, and continues. I texted Pete inside and told him to come help me. I seriously thought I was dying! He took me to the ER. They ruled out heart attack. That’s good!! (I knew it wasn’t my heart, btw). And pulmonary embolism. That’s good too! The Dr. said it could be my gallbladder, but I wasn’t tender in that area…and the pain subsides after 45 minutes-ish.  With gallbladder, it typically doesn’t subside, and usually happens after eating fatty foods. This wasn’t me.  I spent the night at the hospital and had an EKG, cat scan, x-rays, and countless viles of blood taken. All my levels look normal. No clots, etc. I’m actually very healthy! As a mater of fact – and you’ll laugh as hard as I did! – they said, “are you a runner? You have a runner’s heartbeat and your blood pressure looks athletic.” LOLOLOLOL! I said, “Look at me. Don’t I look like a runner?”  Yes, you can laugh with me. And we all know I’m a FAKE runner!

Anywho, I’m following up with a GI doc to rule out gallbladder, etc. It could also be acid reflux, gastritis etc. Who knows. Maybe it’ll land me on Dr. Oz!  Of course, the Doc said it could also be stress. I feel like I handle stress pretty well. But maybe I don’t.

As I’ve shared semi-openly, the last six months (on a personal level, not this crazy “episode” stuff) has been a season of leaning into Him, unlike I’ve done in several years. He has asked me the question: Do you believe Me? Do you believe the things you say you believe? I have had to answer honestly….”God, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.” I’m learning that I believe for others; but I don’t believe for myself or my family. Sitting where I sit, I get to see the “red bows”/the happy-ending stories. All the time! And sometimes I forget there’s a hard, long-suffering, but committed road that folks have traveled. Ron & Denver didn’t become friends one day, and write a book together the next. Renee’s daughter didn’t die one day, and she and Eric started doing DUI presentations together the next. Both were journeys. So, I’m journeying with God right now, walking the road with my mom, with my best friends Chris & Kellie and Chris’ cancer diagnosis, and with other close family members who are deeply wounded and need the hand of the Healer. My faith is being challenged. And that’s a good thing. A faith unchallenged is a faith unchanged.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. {Hebrews 11:1}

Southwest Tortilla Soup

 

3 can black bean
2 can corn (I like the yellow & white mixed; drained)
16 oz salsa (I like Pace Picante Mild)
16 oz chicken broth
Chicken (I get a rotisserie chicken and shred it)

Mix together in large pot or crock pot. I usually cook for at least an hour or more to get it good ‘n hot! Easy breezy and SO good!!

Serve with:
Corn Chips or Tortilla chips (I like the blue)
Cheese
Sour Cream

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