Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bed Head by TIGI - BzzAgent Review

A few months ago, I signed up to be a BzzAgent at the encouragement of some friends who are also BzzAgents. I filled out some surveys (ok, a lot of surveys!), and not long after, I enrolled in my first BzzCampaign! I got to try On the Rebound from Bead Head by TIGI for free!

I describe my hair as somewhere between wavy & curly. At the moment, my hair is as long as I've ever had it - it falls just between my shoulder blades. Since I started wearing my hair curly on a daily basis, about 10 years ago, I've changed products with almost every purchase. I've tried just about everything, from gels to sprays to creams to mousses.

On the Rebound from Bed Head by TIGI is a curl cream designed to tame frizz. I tried On the Rebound the morning after my BzzKit arrived, dispensing a line of cream from the bottom of my palm to the top. I worked the cream in at the roots of my hair (while my hair was flipped upside down) and then worked it to the ends. Based on the way my hair felt, I decided I needed another application to make sure all of my hair was covered. That day my hair was low-frizz, but...crunchy. I gave the same technique a try for a few days, with the same result. Only using Bed Head, and in the quantity I needed for all of my hair, yielded crunchy results. Some folks with curly hair like the crunchy feel. It keeps frizz at bay! But, I'm not a fan of the crunchy texture.

Now that I've been using On the Rebound for more than a month, I've developed a routine that I'm very happy with. After a shower and towel-drying my hair, I dispense a line of product onto my palm. I flip my head over and distribute the product from root to tip on the front of my hair. Then I use a golf-ball sized amount of my mousse in the rest of my hair. This lets me keep frizz at bay where it's the worst - at the root at the top of my head and around my face. It keeps the rest of my hair soft and the curl holds well. After I've applied the product, I dry my hair with a diffuser and finish my style with some hair spray.

I gave On the Rebound 4 stars because I really do like the product, but not enough to stand alone. I like my results best when I use it in conjunction with another product.

When my fellow curly girls ask me what products I recommend, I will definitely include On the Rebound in that list. While I don't feel like the product is right for my hair on its own, I have had many more good hair days than bad since I've started using it.

{Good Hair Day - thanks to On the Rebound!}

(Fine print: I received a free full-sized sample of On the Rebound from Bed Head by TIGI from BzzAgent in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are my own.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On Legacy

I am a member at one of the largest churches in Knoxville, Cokesbury United Methodist. When I was a kindergartener, my family started visiting the then-mid-sized church, and shortly thereafter, we joined. My parents were looking for a congregation with a strong children's ministry for my 4th grade sister and myself.

A few years after that, the senior pastor at the time retired. He had been at Cokesbury for a long time, and was a great man and a great pastor. I remember the general feeling that no one could ever replace him. Then we got two new pastors: Steve & Stephen. Since that time, Steve and Stephen (often referred to as Sallee and Defur, their last names, to avoid confusion) have led, shaped and grown the congregation at Cokesbury. Cokesbury now has upwards of 4,000 members. We have five services across three campuses on Sunday mornings.

Under Dr. Sallee's leadership, our church opened the doors on Thursday nights to individuals struggling with all kinds of addictive issues. Our Recovery at Cokesbury services have been going strong for 10 years now, and the Recovery staff has started programs in three East Tennessee detention facilities and several other churches in our region, with more partnerships in the works.

Dr. Sallee came to Cokesbury when I was 11 years old. In the 16 years since then, I have come to know Christ as my savior. I have come to identify Cokesbury as my second home. My dad has experienced redemption and recovery from alcohol addiction; my parents' marriage as seen restoration. My faith was planted, nurtured & has grown as a part of my membership at Cokesbury. I met my husband in the Cokesbury youth group. I was married in the sanctuary on the South campus, and my reception was in the gym at the North campus. My husband is on staff. I was a temporary staff member while the outreach director was on maternity leave. Cokesbury is inextricably linked to my identity, as a Christian and as a person. And Dr. Sallee's leadership over the past 16 years has been an integral part of my life.

Dr. Sallee passed away on May 2nd. He was 61. He went into the hospital 10 days before that, and since I learned of his serious illness, I have done a lot of reflecting: on who Steve was, and the kind of legacy he leaves; On who I am, and the kind of legacy I want to leave. This much I can tell you for sure: the world is a better place because Steve Sallee lived. I am a better person because Steve Sallee lived. He followed God's calling even when it defied all logic. He responded to God's leading even if other people thought he was crazy. He faced an enormous amount of criticism. But he lived and worked to glorify God, and it showed in his ministry. Jesus said that you identify a tree by its fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. The fruit of Steve's life was good.

I told my mom over the weekend, "Since Steve got sick, all people have been able to do is tell stories about all the good he did." That's the kind of legacy I want to leave.

Thank you, Steve.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What I've enjoyed lately

I finally joined the 21st century about a month and a half ago, when I procured my first smartphone. Since then, I've become an Instagram addict. Follow me for mostly pictures of my cats (yup, I'm that IG user!). I also post pictures of pretty things, my adorable niece, and my awesome hubby, among other things. I'm @abcmrs (just like on Twitter).

Other favorite apps:

  • RedBox - find movies based on release date, track down a copy at kiosk near you, reserve, apply coupon codes, and pay for your rental right from the app. I love it! 
  • YouVersion Bible - Lets me pick up right where I left off in my daily reading, and has a great verse of the day, with the option to share it on your social networks 
  • Kindle - Syncs to my actual Kindle, so I can read from my furthest-read point across all of my devices 
  • Feedly - With the demise of Google Reader, I've moved to Feedly. It's taken some getting used to, because I was a GR JUNKIE, but I really like it now. And with Feedly goes... 
  • Pocket - A tap saves items from Feedly and around the web for me to come back and read later. Accessible from my phone and laptop. 
  • Google Drive - I can access all of my Google Drive documents and spreadsheets right from my phone. Guess where my grocery list lives now? 
  • Mailbox - Honestly, the jury is still out on this one. I read all sorts of buzz about it, signed up, and eventually my number came up. I love some of the functionality, but it lacks a few things I'd love to have: a search function, to start with, and a way to apply my many gmail labels. I think my perfect mail app is a mix between gmail and mailbox. Maybe someday? 
  • Shopkick - I earn "kicks" when I walk into my favorite stores. I'll eventually be able to cash in kicks for gift cards. (note, I'll get credit if you sign up using that link!) 
  • Aviary, Snapseed, Pic Stitch & Squaready - my favorite photo apps, which I mostly use to edit for Instagram. I told you I'm an addict! 

 What apps am I missing that you can't live without?

Monday, April 8, 2013

And then...

As I was certain would be the case when Lent started 8+ weeks ago, I fell off the Gospel reading schedule pretty rapidly. It might have helped that I had it in my head that I'd be reading the entire New Testament, when really the schedule was just the four Gospels. Either way, I fell off the wagon.

But, here I am, April 8th, and I've gotten into a pretty decent habit of reading a chapter a day, which is pretty good for me. I too easily get distracted and make other things a priority over reading my Bible. And on the days that I've missed my morning reading, I've noticed a difference.

And so, even though the "goal" I set for myself in mid-February was not achieved, I'll keep reading. I'll keep learning. I'll keep an eye out and a heart open to what the Word has to say. And I know it will be good stuff.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Feeding and Walking

The story of Jesus walking on water immediately follows the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 men (plus women and children) in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew chapter 14 begins with Herod beheading John the Baptist to satisfy a pretty girl. After Jesus learns of John's execution, he goes off by himself. But soon enough, the crowd finds him, and he "had compassion on them and healed their sick."

I love the picture of Jesus' character (and the challenge it presents for us as his followers) in these few lines. Jesus is heartbroken. John had baptized Jesus, after all. They were cousins. And Jesus was mourning. But when the crowds found him, crowds that were also hurting, Jesus had compassion on them and healed them. I'm so thankful that Jesus has compassion on me even as his heart breaks. I pray for that kind of compassion!

Now that the crowds have surrounded Jesus, they need to eat. So he tells the disciples to feed the crowd. The disciples protest, "We have only five loaves here, and two fish." Jesus asks for what they have though, and the 5,000 men (plus all of the women and children that were there) were fed, with 12 baskets of leftovers!

Jesus then sends the disciples out onto the sea, but Jesus stays on land to dismiss the crowds. The bible says this happens "immediately" after the leftovers were collected. So we're not talking about a long period of time passing between the feeding of the 5,000 and the walking on water. But as Jesus approaches the boat on foot, the disciples are terrified. Jesus identifies himself, but the disciples don't believe him. They've just watched him use five loaves of bread and two fish to feed more than 5,000 people, but they don't think he can walk on the sea.

So Peter essentially challenges him. "If it's really you, command me to come to you." Now, I have to be honest, I feel like this was a dumb challenge for Peter to issue! "Hey, if it's you, tell me to do something dangerous that might kill me!" But, that's what Peter says, and Jesus tells him to "Come."

Peter walks on the water, but before he reaches Jesus, he has a chance to process exactly what he's doing. He sees the wind, gets scared, loses his faith, and starts to sink. And that's when he cries out, "Lord save me!" How often have you answered God's call, only to look around, realize how crazy following God can be, and started to sink? But even in Peter's doubt, Jesus saves him. Even in my doubt, Jesus saves me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Matthew 7 - 9

Chapter 7 begins with the warning: "Do not judge, or you yourself will be judged." This is a passage I often try to remember when I get really frustrated with someone else. I have no power over anyone's emotions, responses, or choices, other than my own. If I am frustrated with the way someone is acting, or a decision someone else has made, it is because I am making the choice to be frustrated. Sure, she/he may have done something totally stupid, or something he/she shouldn't have done, but I have no control over that. I can only control how I respond. So I prayerfully ask for help in responding in a way that is healthy and Christlike.

In verse 15, Jesus tells us that we will be able to identify false prophets by their fruits. That healthy trees cannot produce diseased fruits, and diseased trees cannot produce healthy fruits. This passage makes me ask myself: what kind of fruit am I producing? Am I producing any at all?

Verse 24 is the parable of building a house on the rock. If we build our lives on the word of God, when the rains, winds & floods come, we will be like a house built on a rock: steady & strong. But if we don't build our lives on the word of God, when the rains, winds & floods come, our house will crumble, as if it were built on sand. Either way, the rains, winds & floods will come. My choice here is to build my life on a firm foundation, or allow my world to crumble around me at the first breeze.

In 8:14, Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law. And what I love about this tiny story, is that as soon as she is healed, she gets up and starts serving Jesus. What a great example of faith! She realizes what Jesus has done for her, and immediately starts to serve him. That should be my own reaction any time Jesus heals me (of whatever ails me - body, mind, or spirit).

Verse 8:23 is the first of many examples of the disciples' humanity. They have been with him for quite a while now; have watched him heal the sick, the lame, the dying. And yet, while they are with him - Jesus is physically in the boat with them! - they doubt his power. When the storm comes, and he's sleeping, they panic, asking him if he even cares for them. I often ignore the history of God working in my life when a new struggle approaches. I doubt God's goodness and power to tackle my current struggle, even though I have proof, and recent proof at that, of his love for me. Oh, that my faith might be stronger even than that of the disciples!

I think 9:13 is one of my favorites in the New Testament. "Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matthew chapter nine is also the first story of Jesus raising someone from the dead. The ruler's daughter, he said, was only sleeping. And on his way there, a woman, by simply touching Jesus' robes, was healed. She believed she only needed to reach him, to touch his clothes, in order to be healed. She believed, and it was so.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Matthew 4 - 6

In Matthew 4, we pick up on the narrative of Jesus' life immediately after he is baptized, and identified as the Son of God. And right then and there, immediately, he led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. So why are we surprised when, after a spiritual high or mountain top experience, we're immediately tempted or attacked? That's how the devil rolls. He likes to strike when we're not expecting.

So how should we respond? Like Jesus did: he fasted. He prayed. He relied on the teachings of Scripture. In each case of temptation, Jesus only had to claim the word of God, and then the devil moved on. Finally, after the third temptation, Jesus tells him to "be gone!" and that's that. The devil leaves and angels come to minister to Jesus.

Who are the angels who have ministered to you during and after a difficult experience?

In chapter 4, verse 17, Jesus is preaching. His message? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. There is no need to wait! The kingdom of heaven is AT HAND!

Chapter 4 also depicts Jesus' calling of the first disciples. And here is the one thing I think the disciples did right in their ministry with Jesus: They just said yes. No questions asked. They were called, and they answered. I often beg and bargain with God when he calls me. I delay and drag my feet and make excuses. The disciples, who were terribly flawed, short-sighted, and so many other things that I am, just said yes. How much easier my ministry would be if I just said yes the first time Jesus asked!

Chapter 5 begins the Sermon on the Mount, with some of the best, most difficult, and most essential teaching that Jesus ever offered. The parts that convict me most? Verses 5:21 - 26, where Jesus tells us that if I'm angry at my brother (or sister, or fellow human), I will be judged just as the one who has committed murder. Verses 38 - 42, where Jesus tells me to turn the other cheek, rather than seek retaliation like I so often (meaning...every time...) want to do. And verses 43 - 48, which tell me that if I only love those who also love me, I'm not getting it right.

Chapter 6 contains a passage that I find myself having to repeat and reread and work hard to pound into my head. Beginning in verse 25...."Do not be anxious." Oh my worrying heart. I'm anxious about everything. I shouldn't worry about food, because God feeds the birds. I shouldn't worry about clothes, because God clothes the lilies. And worrying will do nothing to prolong my life! And for me, the root of worrying about food or clothing is worrying about money. And the root of worrying about money is worrying about work. And the end of chapter 6 straight up says, "Do not be anxious about tomorrow." So I'll give that a try.