Charm VoxBox Review

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Every so often I qualify to receive a box of samples to test and review, free of charge from Influenester.  I’m never disappointed by the boxes I receive because there is always at least one product I end up loving that I would have otherwise never heard of or would have been too reluctant to try.

 

This has to be my favorite VoxBox to date, though, as I loved most of the products.  It included two perfume samples from a Vera Wang collection, a shampoo and conditioner set from EVA NYC, and full-sized products from Mott’s, Wet n Wild, PEEPS, and McCormick.

Vera Wang Embrace

Vera Wang Embrace

Let me preface this review by stating that I am not a perfume kinda girl.  I’m more of a crunchy chica at heart and I’ve been using the same perfumed oils I bought back when I followed Phish before their hiatus in the early 2000’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve purchased different perfumes over the years, but I never quite found my signature scent.  So I stuck with the oils.  And lately I’ve been using Progressence Plus from Young Living (awesome by the way) and I haven’t had the patience to wait for its pleasant scent to wear off in order to apply perfume, oil or spray.

But that’s exactly what I did in order to try the samples of Embrace by Vera Wang.  And I’m so happy I did.  Rose Buds and Vanilla starts off a bit strong, but within minutes settles into what reminded me of a subtle bouquet of flowers.  It totally smells like spring, but without the nuisance of pollen-induced allergies.  Oh, but the Marigold and Gardenia is definitely my favorite.  It too, starts off a bit strong, but it’s never off putting.  As it reacted to my body temperature, it smelled like jasmine.  It wasn’t until I looked at the name of the sample that I noticed it was in fact gardenia I was smelling, not jasmine.  It reminded me of summers in Hawaii and spending time with my grandma.  If you like floral + spicy scents this is the perfect perfume for you.

Wet n Wild 1 Sep WonderGel

I am a mother of three boys which means I wash my hands.  A lot.  And throw in frequent washing of dishes and you can understand why I rarely put in the effort to keep my nails polished.  I tried gel polishes when they first hit the shelves of my local CVS, but I wasn’t too impressed.  The brand I tried started to chip along the tips of my nails within the first day, but took way too much effort to take off with nail polish remover.

Not so with this bottle, which is a 2016 Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.  It lasted a whopping two days before starting to chip, but it came off with ease when I was ready to remove it.  I loved my experience so much that I bought a bottle of….  It came off just as effortlessly as the bottle from my Charm VoxBox, but it did leave a bit of a stain on my nails.  Not a deal breaker, though, because the stain faded fairly quickly.  I plan on buying a bottle in a summer coral before my next trip to the beach.

My only small complaint has nothing to do with the quality of the polishes, but the names Wet n Wild chooses to use for them.  While I’m sure the marketing department is just trying to be cheeky, the names can be a bit risque.

EVA NYC Clean It Up Shampoo and Therapy Session Hair Mask

EVA NYC Clean It Up Shampoo Therapy Session Hair Mask

I really wanted to like these products.  But as a curly girl, I just can’t give them the FFMS stamp of approval.  The Clean It Up Shampoo touts itself as being created for ALL hair types, but it’s simply too stringent for my thick and curly hair.  Thick hair, especially thick and curly hair, tends to be dry because it’s difficult for moisture to make its way down from the roots to the ends.  And one of the first ingredients listed is sodium laurel sulfate, which is great for getting hair super clean, but notorious for stripping away hair’s natural oils in the process.

At first glance the Therapy Session Hair Mask sounds like it would be curly girl friendly.  But a quick read of the ingredient list shows it’s full of silicones.  And while I’m sure you can find some site on the Interwebs in support of silicone-filled hair products, this curly girl has personally found my hair to be much healthier since I gave them up.

Final verdict: If you are looking to deep clean your hair and add shine, then this is a good option.  If you want to leave your hair’s natural oils in tact, look for a duo that’s sulfate and silicone free.

Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce Pouch

Mott's Unsweetened Applesauce

My boys love these – all three of them.  They make a great snack and after meal treat because they’re nutritious and aren’t too filling. So, when only one sample showed up in my VoxBox, I knew I had to keep it out of sight until I was able to buy more.  Fortunately for me, Publix had a BOGO sale on them and I bought several boxes.  A quick search of the Mott’s site shows they have several unsweetened options, so I’ll need to ask my local Publix to up their game and carry more than just the unsweetened apple flavor.

McCormic Organics Taco Mix

McCormick Organics Taco Seasoning Mix

I’ve been wanting to make tacos lately, but ever since we started exclusively eating grass fed beef, I can’t bring myself to use traditional, chemical-laden, taco mixes.  So you can imagine just how excited I was when I saw this packet in my VoxBox.  I used it in a post-Cinco de Mayo meal and the boys loved it.  My oldest said it was a little spicy, but not hot.  Which means it has all the right flavoring without the over the top heat.  And since the twins each wanted seconds this is a winner in my books.

PEEPS Delights

Peeps Delights Coconut Dipped Dark Chocolate

Oh. My. Sweet tooth.  Real talk, I hated PEEPS when I was growing up.  I thought they looked pretty in my Easter basket, but I never enjoyed them.  They were always more colorful than they were flavorful.  When I opened my VoxBox and saw the iconic PEEPS I figured I would put one in each of my boys’ Easter basket.  But as I picked up the package something caught my attention – COCONUT.  I love coconut.  And upon closer inspection I noticed the bottom of each PEEP was dipped in chocolate.  Say what?!?  So there was no way these were making it into any Easter basket.

I can’t speak for the other Delights flavors – blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate mousse, raspberry, milk chocolate, dark chocolate – but the coconut and chocolate made a perfect pairing.  A little too sweet for me, but yummy just the same.  And it’s been years since I put a PEEP in my mouth, so I have to ask, was the granulated sugar always so noticeable on one’s tongue?

My only real complaint about this particular flavor of PEEPS is that none of my local stores  carried them.  I could have ordered them online, but I just wasn’t willing to put that kind of effort into getting seasonal candy.

Charm VoxBox

Influenster Charm VoxBox

This really has to be my favorite box of products to test that Influenster has sent me to date.  If you’ve already tried any of these products, or do in the future, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Green Blender Review + A Great Deal For You

Disclaimer: I received my first week free from Green Blender for reviewing purposes.  I loved the service so much that just two days in I signed up to receive another box.  With that being said, the opinions shared here are all mine.  Oh, and if you sign up to receive this awesome smoothie delivery service using the code shared at the end of the post you’ll get a sweet deal and I’ll receive a small referral commission.

I’m going to give you the what’s what by answering the basic WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY’s.  Oh, and HOW.

WHO ~ This service is for anyone who watched Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and thought “I’d  love to do that juicing thing but he had to buy so much produce!” or “Yeah, that’s a good thought, but how does it taste, really?”  I’ll be totally honest with you, I haven’t tried juicing since the 80’s and that was only with citrus.  Nothing like the crazy concoctions that are all the rage today. I can’t see buying that much produce without some of it spoiling before I use it all.  And I loathe wasting food – especially fresh food.

It’s also for anyone who has tried smoothies but found that after a while she settles into a groove, a rut if you will.  I have exactly two go to smoothies.  I say that I’ll venture out and try new recipes but truth be told I can’t bring myself to buy exotic ingredients I only need in small quantities or will probably only use once or twice.

Or perhaps heard or read about juicing and smoothies and before you could do anything with your new found knowledge, you got overwhelmed. Juicing or smoothies?  Vitamix or Blendtec?  What about Ninja? Are superfood add ins worth the extra money and effort?  What’s acai berry anyway?

If any of those descriptions sound like you, then you are the WHO.

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WHAT ~ Green Blender is a smoothie delivery service.  Full service, at that.  All you need is water, ice, and something to blend the ingredients.  You get a new recipe card each week with 5 recipes and enough fresh pre-proportioned ingredients to make 2 servings per recipe.  So you get a total of 10 smoothies.  It’s a totally efficient, no waste, no brainer approach to making smoothies.  And the best part is, at least for this mom of three, is that the prep work and clean up is minimal.  As long as I set aside an extra 5 minutes each morning (10 on the days I first make a recipe because I need to separate and store half of the ingredients) I’m able to make a smoothie without feeling rushed.

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WHEN ~ Delivery in my area takes place on Thursdays.  If I plan it right I can share a smoothie with my husband two or three times each week and still have enough to last until my next box arrives.  Need to skip a week?  You can skip up to 4 weeks at a time without any hassle.  But you need to do it 5 days prior to your delivery day.  So if I had wanted to skip this week’s box I would have had to clicked that option on my account page by Saturday.  And if you decide to cancel for any reason you just email customer support.

WHERE ~ Now here comes the not so great news.  This awesome service is not available in all states just yet.  For being such a new business, though, they are rockin’ the east coast and southeast.  Follow Green Blender on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up with their ever expanding delivery area and get daily inspiration from the recipes and photos they share.

Green Blender Delivery Map

WHY ~ Drinking these smoothies is like taking a vitamin but since you’re getting the real deal your body processes the “good for you” stuff much more efficiently, absorbing more of what you need.  For a more sciency explanation please search the Interweb for benefits of real food.

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HOW ~ In the super informative brochure that comes with every package, the ever helpful people of Green Blender (I really want to give them cool names like baristas got, but I don’t know what “smoothie makers” is in Italian) answer your “What is acai berry anyway?” question along with everything you need to know in order to build the perfect smoothie.  On the recipe sheet that comes with every shipment, they share Pro Tips for blending.

Things that weren’t covered in either the informational brochure or the recipe sheet:

Style of blender – They assume you’ll be using a traditional blender where the bottom makes contact with the blade.  I, however, use a Ninja Professional so when the second step says “top with ice” that really means I need to put the ice in before adding the remaining ingredients.

Size of blender – Again, if you’re using a smaller sized blender like a Ninja or Magic Bullet you won’t be able to make two servings at once.  You will need to split the ingredients.  Thanks to the ingenious packaging of Green Blender, this isn’t difficult to do.  It does take a little extra effort and time but really only in planning/remembering that you need to do it.

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Pecan Oatmeal Cookie – 1 Smoothie + Stored Ingredients
PRICING ~ There are three weekly subscription options (shown below) and three Challenge subscription options.  Like with most subscriptions, you save more when you commit to more weeks at a time.

Green Blender Pricing

DEAL FOR YOU ~ Jenna Tanenbaum, co-founder of Green Blender and fellow FitFuential ambassador, as extended a sweet deal for you – 20% off your first box – when you sign up with the code reina.

As much as I love my daily Green Blender smothie and the twins love begging me for some (you can watch video of Andrew begging for one here), I’ll only be able to get one box a month while they’re still in daycare.

 

Empires by Hillsong United + Giveaway

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of Empires from Family Christian for review purposes.  All opinions shared my own, and I clearly loved the CD seeing as I bought a copy to give away.

{I wrote this review over the summer some time but out of insecurity never posted it. I feared it was too long and detailed.  As time passed it seemed as if the moment had as well.  Since the CD was no longer on anyone’s radar why post the review?  Now that “Say the Word” was just released as a single, I decided to shed my insecurity and share my thoughts on this beautiful piece of art.}

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Oh. My.  This album is incredible.  It’s not the kind of worship CD you pop into your car’s stereo system and get your praise on to, though.  It’s the kind of worship album you need to listen to when you can steal away some time to be still and glorify the Lord.  If I had only one word to describe this project it would be ethereal {extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world}. Even when the music and vocals build and the percussion is more up tempo, they build so organically and fall so effortlessly that it seems like the natural ebb and flow to each song.

It took me multiple naptimes – my sons’, not my own – to listen to all of the songs, as several of them are over five minutes in length.  While percussion strings the songs together musically, the Gospel message does so lyrically.

As I listened to the songs I jotted down things down, including lyrics, that stirred my soul.  Here is a synopsis of each song and a lyric from each that really struck me.

1 – HERE NOW (MADNESS) is pure adoration.  It speaks of the closeness of God.  It’s an invitation asking God to speak, to move, and to have His way.  The song shares the Gospel message of grace, redemption, and Holy Spirit led living.

“Grace found my heart where logic ends”

2 – SAY THE WORD celebrates the power, majesty, and character of God.  To me it’s a reminder of just how important it is to read God’s Word.  How else can I get to know Him if I don’t read His Word?  Sermons are great but that’s second hand knowledge.  To get fresh manna I need to seek Him for myself.  Amen?

“My soul will hang on to every word You say”

3 – HEART LIKE HEAVEN is a beautiful reminder that perfection is unattainable and imperfection is okay because God wants our busted hearts, not perfection.  Jesus came for the sinners, not the righteous.

“Face down where mercy finds me first”

4 – TOUCH THE SKY is the first single off of Empires.  It speaks to the reality of how upside down God’s kingdom is.  So often we find ourselves exhausted from striving in this life.  But throughout His word God tells us that not only can we do nothing apart from Him, but His power is made perfect in our weakness. {The cover art work speaks directly to the upside down nature of God’s kingdom.}

“I found my life when I laid it down.  I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.”

5 – STREET CALLED MERCY reminds me of 1960’s American folk music because of the beautiful opening harmony.  The lyrics call up images of the prodigal son returning to his father’s open arms, Moses proclaiming that he will not go on without the Lord, and the psalmist proclaiming his loyalty and devotion to God.

“Tired of endless walking not knowing which way to go, I collapse on a street called Mercy.”

6 – WHEN I LOST MY HEART TO YOU (HALLELUJAH) is the most straight forward worship song on the album.  You know, the kind that gives you permission to lift your hands up in abandon and let’s you sing along even if you don’t really know the words.

It has the most simple chorus “You have my heart…hallelujah” and again speaks of God’s upside down kingdom “I found Your love when I lost my heart to You.”

7 – EVEN WHEN IT HURTS (PRAISE SONG) is not your typical song of praise, as it lists “even when” circumstances and situations which remind me of Paul’s teachings on contentment and John’s teachings regarding trials.  This song touches on the same issues raised in other contemporary Christian songs, but stresses that our hallelujah can be in tact even when our spirits are broken.

“Louder then I’ll sing Your praise”

8 – PRINCE OF PEACE is a beautiful declaration that God is still God in spite of all of the things in this life that invite fear and anxiety.  As Lysa Terkuerst says, “He is still God, He is good, and He is good at being God.”  Amen!

“Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war”

9 – EMPIRES is a beautiful portrait of salvation, sanctification, and eternity with God.  I’m so grateful that God has gifted people with the ability to share such deeply spiritual subject matter in music.

“We are shadows and portraits, empires of light and clay, images of our Maker.  Sinners called out as saints.”

10 – RULE  is a call to Christ to be exactly who He says He is.  It’s like praying the Scriptures back to God, but in song.  It reminds me of the words of the Psalmist – set to a very danceable beat.

“Hope came dancing on an empty grave.  Death has lost its rule to the King of grace.”

11 – CAPTAIN speaks to walking by faith and not by sight.  It’s also a beautiful reminder that when we walk by faith we are not walking blindly, since we have a faithful Guide.

“Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog Your truth is the compass that points me back north.”

12 – CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW is by far my favorite song on this album.  It’s also the longest song on the album, at over nine minutes long.  But it’s worth every second of your time, I promise.  It reads like a beautiful love letter.  The first half is written from Christ’s perspective, calling us to not lose faith and reminding us of all He has done and continues to do out of His great love for us.  The second half is written from a believer’s perspective, acknowledging Whose we are and who we are in Him.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to have a tissue handy.

“For I’m Yours and You are mine and my soul knows well, You are here.”

If you haven’t already purchased Empires, you can buy your own copy here or click on this link below for a chance to win a free copy!

2/07/16 Update – the raffle is now closed.

Wicked Women Of The Bible

I would like to thank Family Christian for sending me an advance copy of this book  in exchange for sharing my honest opinion.  “Wicked Women of the Bible” is available for pre-order now at Family Christian and will be available in stores on September 22nd.

Wicked Women of the Bible

I was instantly intrigued when I read the title of this book.  I’ve always wanted to know more about women like Jezebel and Delilah.  I was so excited when I go the book that book I opened it to a random chapter, “A Wicked Woman of the Night: The Story of Rahab”, and started reading.  I was not entirely surprised to see that Rahab had made her way into the book.  She was an innkeeper and as such it’s presumed that she ran a brothel and perhaps was a prostitute herself.  So how did a woman of the night make her way into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11)?  Because she chose to help Jewish spies and trust that their God would spare her and her family.  I enjoyed the way in which author Ann Spangler shared Rahab’s story so much that I kept reading.  I was much more surprised to see that Deborah was the protagonist of the next chapter.  How is it that a judge, prophetess, and mighty warrior made her way into a book about wicked women?

A little bewildered, I decided to flip to the beginning of the book and read the introduction. Within the pages of the intro she shares that wanted to keep with the oral tradition of the Bible and do her “best to reimagine the stories of some of the Bible’s most fascinating women in order to bring them to life for contemporary readers”.  In my opinion, she nailed it.  She doesn’t contradict or stray from the Bible like so many biblically inspired movies do.  She fleshes out each of the women in such a way that I can identify with all of them, even the “wicked bad” women.  Through her writing style, be it in the main story or in the Takeaway section that follows, she prompts me to wonder about their insecurities and fears.  I start to question their motives and wonder how their story would have turned out if they allowed God to lead them.  As for women such as Deborah and Esther, they were included in the book because Spangler’s “aim has not been simply to highlight the stories of some of the Bible’s worst women but also to explore the stories of those who might be considered ‘wicked good’ or ‘wicked smart’.”

The timing of receiving this advanced copy could not have been more perfect.  For the past several months I’ve been feeling underqualified, not good enough to do the work I feel God is calling me to do.  Reading the stories within “Wicked Women of the Bible” has reminded me not only of God’s character, but that He can use anyone in His story.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the women of the Bible, or wondered how God could use someone like you, this book is for you.

I just read this on the “Wicked Women of the Bible” site: Pre-order Wicked Women of the Bible before September 22, 2015 and receive a free copy of Wicked Men of the Bible. This 40-page ebook includes the stories of Cain and Jonah. Simply email a copy of your receipt to admin@annspangler.com. Once we receive your email, we’ll email you back the PDF of Wicked Men of the Bible and you can begin your wicked study right away!

10/06 Update: I am attempting to offer the first giveaway on this blog using an autogenerated giveaway widget.  I’m hoping it works.

Well, from what I can tell you need to click on this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

10/12 Update: The giveaway is closed and the winner is Helene!

FlapJacked Protein Pancakes

Why Protein Pancakes?

I had absolutely no intention of writing a review of flapJacked protein pancakes, but I enjoyed them so much and took so many pictures, that had I posted them all there it would have been a pancake overload.

I went to our local Kroger supermarket for late night shopping run last night and decided to look for some protein pancakes, as one of my Refresh Summit sisters had recently posted on IG about a stack she had made.

FlapJackedInKroger

I was intrigued by the notion of a package of pancake mix made with protein powder because I have tried, and failed, to make my own protein packed pancakes.  As the mother of a self-proclaimed carbivore, I’m always looking for ways to sneak protein into my carb-loving son’s diet.

I wasn’t sure if the package of flapJacked I found was the same she had recommended, but I decided to grab it just the same.  I figured that since my husband would be out playing in a disc golf tournament today, that my son and I would taste test them.  If they were good I could make them again when he was home.  If they were awful he’d be none the wiser.

The directions give three protein options  – one that yields 20 grams of protein, two that yield 25 grams of protein, and one that yields 32 grams of protein.  I decided to try the 25 gram option that calls for reducing the amount of water and adding a large egg.  Egglands Best are a staple in our house, and I always season our pancakes with vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.

BakingPancakes

I’m not the biggest fan of whisking so I decided to put my new Ninja to work.  It took less than ten seconds for the ingredients to be perfectly blended together.  I poured the batter into my Pyrex measuring cup and let it sit for three minutes as the skillet warmed up (per package instructions).

You Fancy, Huh?

StackOfFlapJacks

The first four pancakes went to my son.  I was impressed with the thickness/fluffiness of the pancakes.  Usually the pancakes I make are thin, more like crepes than pancakes.

NutellaFail

I made myself one pancake and thought it was delicious enough, but decided to try something I saw in a video posted to Facebook this week.  I tried to get all fancy with it.  You know, pretend like I’m one of those people who can recreate stuff I see on Pinterest.  I wouldn’t say it was an epic fail, because it tasted delicious, but let’s just say my pancake didn’t look anything like the one in the video.

Maybe it’s because I opted to use the Trader Joe’s hazelnut spread rather than the Nutella featured in the video.  Either way, I decided to share a photo of the almost fully devoured pancake than when it first came off the griddle because it looked like something my eight year old made.  For now I’ll be sticking with the nice and fluffy regular pancakes.

Kid Tested

DJApproved

To say that my son thoroughly enjoyed his pancakes would be an understatement.  He was one satisfied carbivore and I was pleased knowing that his pancakes provided plenty of protein.

Mom Approved

Nutrition Facts

The directions call for 1 cup of mix which yields two servings.  Each serving provides 200 calories, 3.5g total fat (zero trans fat), 23g total carbs (5g of fiber and 6g of sugar) and a whopping 20g of protein.  Because I added an Egglands Best egg each serving had an additional 30 calories, 2g total fat, 0g carbs, and 3g of protein.

Cost

Although a package of flapJacked pancake mix is about 70 cents per ounce, while a box of Log Cabin pancake mix is close to 10 cents per ounce, I think it’s worth the nearly $8 price tag.  If you’re like me and you don’t make pancakes but once a week, you won’t really feel the cost difference.  Even if you go through a package a week, the way I see it is that the protein alone is worth the cost difference and the ingredients are far superior.

What About You?

Have you tried protein pancakes?  Made your own or bought a mix?  Please share any tips you might have!

Noah’s Ark – New VeggieTales Movie

In February, Family Christian sent me an advance copy of the latest VeggieTales release, Noah’s Ark, in exchange for a review.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get my review out before it was released.  {The twins had ear infections (first Michael and then Andrew) and then pinkeye (first Andrew and then Michael).  The joy and reality of motherhood.}
veggietales-noahs-arkMy oldest and I used the movie as one of our Mommy-Son dates.  The first thing we both noticed was that the opening credits are different.  Same song, but instead of the whole VeggieTale crew, it’s just Bob and Larry.  Also, the animation is different – looks a little more computer generated.  We felt pretty cool when Bob and Larry alluded to the changes in the opening scene.

The singing within the movie was different, too.  More polished than it normally is.  Not to say the singing hasn’t sounded professional in the past, but this was a little too “produced”.  Maybe I wouldn’t have paid much attention, but with the animation and opening credit changes…it was just a lot of change to take in at once.  My son didn’t mind at all, though.

Although the story presented a good lesson in trusting God, the movie strayed from the Bible in many ways.  Maybe my expectations were too high, since this is the first Bible based release from Big Idea in several years.  I figured that they’re so good at weaving themes of repentance and redemption into their movies that Noah’s Ark would have been a no-brainer.  I know that it’s a kid’s movie, but I really felt that the creators got a little trigger happy when it came to taking creative licenses in the retelling of the story of Noah.

My son liked the movie – changes in production and all – but I still have mixed feelings about it.  Have you seen it yet?  If so, what are your thoughts about the story and changes?

From Good To Grace

Christine Hoover’s latest book is an invitation to have a daily reprieve from an addiction to goodness.

I received a copy of this book as a Family Christian Blogger.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced by Family Christian or anyone else.

Years ago, while reading Lysa Terkeurst’s Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, I received such freedom from God that I thought “Whew, I’m so glad I learned all of those powerful Biblical truths!”  I truly believed that I was cured from the need to be good in the eyes of others.  But in the years since then I find myself continuously surrendering my desire to please others, just to pick it back up.  And then surrender it again.  It’s exhausting.

I know that’s why I connected with the cover of Christine Hoover’s latest book From Good to Grace: Letting Go of The Goodness Gospel.  It shows a woman (probably a mom) sitting in a laundry basket as she thumbs through a book.  I can totally identify with her – too tired to find a “proper” place to recline and read.  Like her, I have to steal away moments to read.  And I’ve loved every moment I’ve spent reading this book.

Godo to Grace 2

She had me at “Good, Bye”

Yes, that’s totally a reference to “Jerry Maguire”.  High five for those of you who got it.  And for those of you who didn’t, you can look it up later.  The book is split up into three sections, each covering three chapters (the math teacher in me was tickled by the symmetry of that).  I’ve only gotten through the first section which is titled Good, Bye (hence the heading above).  Although I’m only three chapters into the book I know that Christine wrote this book just for me.

Sure, I know it’s her story, but it’s just as much mine as it is hers.  She talks of her obsession with being good – trying to win the approval of others and God. My heart winced as I let her words sink in that the gospel isn’t just for salvation; it’s for everyday life.  Too often I wave the banner of God’s power and tout what He’s done, totally neglecting what He is still doing in my life.  I accept that salvation is by faith alone, but somehow expect sanctification to be a different story. Thinking and acting as if I need to go it alone.

The goodness gospel that Christine describes is all about caring more what others think of us than what God does. She writes about putting chains on ourselves and I can most certainly relate.  I take the chains of bondage that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection freed me from and I wear them like jewelry.  They weigh me down and I remain stuck for fear that whatever I share will be judged, or the presentation of my thoughts won’t be witty or compelling enough.  I question and doubt not only my ability to write, but my calling to be in this arena, or any other for that matter.

Christine spoke directly to my heart when she confessed “Unfortunately for me, a large part of a goodness obsession is an addiction to self.  Goodness is evaluated by activity, completed tasks, responses from others, and results.  It requires a focus on appearance and image and maintaining some semblance of religious behavior […] Goodness fed both my pride and my self-condemnation”  Oh how I wish that I could just create the perfect checklist and be better once I’ve completed all those tasks.

Alas, I know that isn’t possible.  What’s more, I know that isn’t what God wants from me.  Or you.  As Christine succinctly puts it, “He simply wants us to follow him, receive him, submit to him, and […] let what we receive from him compel us outward to serve and love others.”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of From Good to Grace.  I smile just thinking about stealing away moments to read it.  I must confess that I almost added it to my daily checklist.  I decided not to.  I decided instead to let it remain a “get to” rather than a “have to”.  I highly recommend this book if you, like me, struggle with a goodness addiction.