We are a sucker for a
compliment comment so to encourage your feedback we are giving away a Love Ann Joy Tote Bag to the first 10 readers who leave a comment today (4/14/14) thru tomorrow (4/15/14).
Enter to win a Breville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed 900 Watt Juicer! Love Ann Joy is giving away one (1) Breville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed Juicer Giveaway! There will be one Grand Prize Winner and five (5) second prize winners. Click here to enter!
Second prize winners receive one (1) Love Ann Joy Tote Bag.
Becoming self-less? It’s a lot harder than it sounds. I’ve been learning my lesson the hard way over the past two years and I have plenty of bumps and bruises to prove it. I’ve been so closed to ending a 20 year friendship over selfishness it has taken me awhile to openly admit it. The bible charges me to be “…sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (I Peter 3: 9-10).”
While I truly desire to be a woman after God’s own heart, I found it hard not to be in my feelings…..not to be selfish.
It all started about 2 years ago from out of nowhere, I guess that is how God works…when you least expect it. And, I truly feel blessed that these emotions and flaws were brought to my attention because “for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines (Hebrew 12:6).” But don’t we all think we are perfect….yeah…NO!!
Well, as usual, I called my friend Karen to just chat about our next girl’s night out when she quickly hurried me off the phone. She said she had a meeting to attend in an hour and she needed to prepare. Well, less than 30 minutes later she called me to rant about the recent behavior of her daughter. Karen went on for an hour. Yep….I was at work and Yep…I wondered about the meeting she told me she had to attend! But, I couldn’t end the call when she needed someone to help her process her emotions.
A few months later, on my birthday, while I received numerous text messages and phone calls from friends and family to wish me a happy birthday, I didn’t hear from my best friend until later in the afternoon at which time she called to let me know that “she heard” I did not receive the promotion in which I requested.” She later sent me a cold two word text message to say “happy birthday.”
This didn’t get better…it got worse. She no longer wanted to have girl’s night out, she seemed irritated or hurried when our conversations were about anything other than her family, her career or her vacations. For the life of me I couldn’t understand what had gotten into Karen.
For the better part of a year I made excuses for Karen’s behavior…her daughter is becoming a young adult, her husband is away a lot on travel, she just joined senior management team, etc. The excuses went on and on. It wasn’t until I FINALLY finished my graduate studies that the emotions came sweltering up and I couldn’t contain myself.
Both Karen and I started a family and a career after undergraduate school. We found it challenging to find the time to return to school for graduate studies. However, in 2010 I found the perfect opportunity to go back to school and was more than excited to be finishing in 2012.
The closer we got to my graduation I expected Karen to be just as excited as me….that was not the case. She barely wanted to attend the ceremony and I found myself hosting my own graduation party. Anytime she found me planning for the party she wanted to know “wasn’t there better things I could do with my money.”
But here’s the kicker, Karen finishes her graduate studies this year and she wants to know where and when I will be hosting her graduation party. She has already informed me that she has a couple of co-workers, neighbors and family that she wants to attend her ceremony so I may not be able to attend.
You’re probably wondering if I had discussed this matter with Karen and I had….on multiple occasions. Her response was that I’m “selfish.” I was so taken aback by the audacity of that response I was at a loss for words. I must admit that I have emotional needs as well and for the past 20 years, Karen has been my primary source of emotional connectivity. I thank God for my husband, children, brothers and sisters but we all need that best friend. Don’t we?
So, over the past 6 months, I’ve been wrapping my mind around letting go of a 20 year friendship. The thought crushed me but what was I to do. I thank God for wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Shortly after thinking of ending our friendship, I received a word in my heart that my existence here is to bless others and if there is any unmet needs in my life that I should take it to the Lord to fulfill. Perhaps, I was relying too much on Karen as an emotional crutch and for emotional guidance and not enough on God. I am supposed to seek Him in all things but I had not. I was being selfish (and yes Karen is too!). But, I do not have to answer for Karen. I have to answer for myself.
The Word says:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (I Peter 3: 9-12).”
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5: 16)”
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (I Peter 3: 1-2).”
I know in my own strength, it will be nearly impossible for me to just, as I see it, be used by Karen. I stay in prayer over this issue. I believe God has a blessing for me once I overcome this selfishness inside of me and learn how to be more Christ-like. The reward is greater if I endure and overcome!
Stay tuned…I’m sure there will be many nights of heart ache and pain as I learn how to be selfless.
At a very young age I was told that the bible is filled with God’s promises and He keeps every one of them. I have always wanted to create a list of all of those promises so that I could meditate on them and remember. So, I have created this promise bank for all to “withdraw.”
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will [God’s] word be which goes forth from [His] mouth; It will not return to [Him] empty, without accomplishing what [He] desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which [God] sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Peter 1: 3-4). If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3: 29).
Please leave a comment below if you know of other promises in the bible that are not listed here. I will continually update.
Promises from Scripture
5. Eternal Life
7. Strength & Power
8. Desires of our Heart
Our vacation in Italy has, to date, been the best vacation we have ever taken. My husband and I usually get restless and bored after 5 days away but this was not so in Italy. We found 9 days was not enough to take in all that Italy has to offer.
We consider ourselves “active vacationers” and while we appreciate the beauty of the ocean/beachside we prefer doing and seeing things that we can’t do at home. With that being said, I’m not sure why my husband and I thought we could take in “Italy’s highlights” in 9 days!! There was so much to see and do in the region of Lazio alone.
Booking the Trip
Booking the trip wasn’t as easy as we had hoped. My husband and I decided we wanted to stay in the province of Rome near the coliseum. After reading tons of hotel reviews on Trip Advisors we narrowed our hotel choices down to 5. Next, we checked several online travel booking sites to compare prices on a vacation package (air and hotel) daily. And, day after day after day we couldn’t find a package less than $3,500 per person or a non-stop flight less than $1600 per person. After 2 weeks of waiting for prices to go down, I almost fell out of my chair when I checked online and found a non-stop flight to our destination and one layover returning home for $850 per person. I immediately called my husband and we were able to secure our flight!! Yeeeaaahh ……for Tuesday airfare sales!!! Flight….done!! Now for the hotel.
Unfortunately, 4 of the 5 hotels on our list had booked all of their rooms by the time we tried to reserve our room. We ended up reserving our stay directly with Hotel Capo D’Africa which was within blocks of the Coliseum.
Our flight departed on Tuesday evening around 6:00 pm and arrived in Rome at around 9:00 am. The airplane was a Boeing 777 and was larger than any plane in which I had flown. We had the choice of watching a television program/movie or tracking our flight on our individual monitors. I chose to sleep. Within 2 hours of the flight, I was catching zzzzz’s. I intentionally stayed awake for 24 hours prior to our flight for two reasons: 1) to minimize jetlag and 2) to avoid becoming restless on a 9 hour flight.
Italy: Rome, Vatican, Ostia Antica and Sperlonga
Italy has about 20 regions. We stayed in the Region of Lazio and the Province and city of Rome. While we had hoped to visit Milan and Venice, we were unable to do so. There was so much to do that we never had an opportunity to explore too far from the Lazio Region.
Our vacation started immediately upon arrival in Rome. We did not have a problem with jetlag so we checked into our hotel, showered and immediately began sightseeing in Rome.
Within walking distance from the hotel was the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Ludus Magnus, Arch of Constantine, the train station and lots of places to eat. Since we had an official tour of the Coliseum scheduled for the next day we spent the first day just walking around to become familiar with the immediate area. We were so excited and awestruck with being in Rome that we didn’t realize that we had been walking around for 10 hours. By the time we returned to the hotel my feet were no longer talking to me….they were screaming! While I could have used this occasion to “shop for the proper shoes to wear in Rome (wink ;-))”, I did not. I came prepared with several changes of shoes. I quickly learned my first lesson in Rome….wear the proper shoes for their cobblestone streets!!!!
Unfortunately, there was not enough time in the day to do all the things we had hoped to do. Of the 678 things to do in Rome listed on TripAdvisor, my husband and I probably did less than 50. Don’t get me wrong….we definitely tried to fill our days with lots of exciting things to do or see but we also wanted to enjoy our days. We were usually ready to “get out amongst the people” by 7 am and we wouldn’t return to our hotel until after 11:00 pm. Our days were long but we didn’t realize it.
Rome has such a deep history with Christian connections that we found everything of interest. We didn’t have to go far to see the Coliseum, Ludus Magnus, Roman Forum, Arch of Constantine, and Palatine Hill.
The Flava Amphitheatre (aka “Coliseum”) is where gladiators, who were primarily slaves and criminals fought. As I understand, this included Christians. Animals also fought in the Coliseum. On our tour we were taken to all 4 levels of the coliseum. Underground is where animals and slaves were kept to manage the pulley system, dead bodies and animals and to wait to fight.
The Arch of Constantine is located between the Coliseum and Palatine Hill. The Arch of Constantine was built to honor Emperor Constantine Augustus victory over Maxentius. History indicates that it was this victory that led Constantine Augustus to Christianity. He ordered that the persecution of Christians be stopped in Rome.
Like many of the sites in Rome, only ruins remain of the Ludus Magnus, the training school for gladiators. Visit our slideshow to see the hundreds of pictures we captured during our visit. Some of the other sites we visited include:
Before leaving for Italy, we purchased tickets for St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. We left early to avoid the crowds. In Vatican City we toured St. Peter’s Basilica (aka the Vatican), Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapels and St. Peter’s tomb (underneath the Vatican). Giving and hearing praise and worship puts me at such peace that I recorded the sounds at St. Peter’s Basilica. You may here those sounds here.
To add diversity to our trip we decided to venture out to the nearest beach we could find. We were a little concerned because Sperlonga was over an hour away from Rome via train and most people only spoke Italian or Spanish. However, my husband’s Italian proved enough. When we arrived in town we had planned to catch the bus to the beach but the bus never arrived so we asked one of the shopkeepers to call us a cab in Italian (yeah, my husband was showing off).
The beach was beautiful. We both actually fell asleep on the beach in the sun which we have NEVER done. The town was beautiful also with houses on hills.
I probably could write a short novel on the things we saw and did while in Italy. If you’ve been to Italy share with us some of the things you did. If you haven’t been to Italy yet, please let us know if it is on your bucket list!!
Last year, after seeing Joe Cross movie, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, and doing a little research I tried “juicing.” What is juicing? Juicing is extracting only the juice from fruits and vegetables. According to my research, a lot of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetable is found in the juice. The information was compelling. It was easy for me to see how this could be true because since the beginning of time, God saw it fit to bless his children with fruits and vegetables. It only made since that if I reduced or eliminated the amount of processed food, my health would reap the rewards.
Juicing had to be the most controversial decision I have ever made. When I told friends and family what I was doing, they either supported my efforts or aggressively disagreed. For the life of me, I didn’t understand why it would cause such strong opposition. Those who disagreed felt removing the fiber from the fruits and vegetables were harmful. Those who supported juicing fruits and vegetables agreed that there were benefits to doing so and, most witness a friend or family member benefit from it. So, I was inquisitive enough to give it a try. Slow and steady.
Like I said, I approached juicing with a slow and steady approach. My juicing regimen was multi-phased. The first phase lasted two weeks at which time I eliminated coffee, replaced my breakfast with a juice and for dinner I had a homemade salad with grilled chicken. I still had lunch and snacks throughout the day. For my breakfast juice, I only juiced fruits (mango, 4 carrots and ginger). It typically made a 14 ounce drink.
According to some of the juicing books and information, juicing fruits should be kept to a minimum because of the possible sugar spike. I didn’t have any problems but I probably didn’t lose as much weight if I had only juiced vegetables. Nevertheless, I still considered Phase I a success because I lost about 3 pounds a week.
I was even able to continue my juicing while on vacation, I found a few juicing shops with tasty juices on the menu. My husband joined me with a juice for breakfast every morning during our vacation (although he added granola to his juice).
While it was great losing weight, there were other health effects that I noticed within the first two weeks of juicing. While I was typically addicted to my morning cup of coffee, I no longer needed it and I felt naturally energized. I wasn’t drowsy by the end of the work day and I was able to accomplish more.
By the end of the first two weeks, I felt brave enough to step up my “juicing game.” Phase II lasted three weeks at which time I replaced one meal and a snack or two meals with a juice. I still wasn’t drinking coffee and I had gotten use to drinking a juice for breakfast. So, on a typical day I would have my breakfast juice, a snack, a vegetable juice (spinach, cucumber, apple. lime and ginger) for lunch, a snack and a grilled chicken salad or fish (salmon, tilapia) for dinner. Sometimes instead of replacing two meals I would replace my breakfast and afternoon snack with a juice. During Phase II I began to exercise regularly and the more I exercised the more my appetite was ravenous. So, I would try to have a lot of protein at lunch like salmon or tuna and just replace my afternoon snack with a vegetable juice.
Since I was making up all the rules (LOL), I did not have any problems with getting two juice drinks in during the day. I juiced vegetables and fruits that I would eat raw or steamed. In phase II I lost about 5 pounds a week.
On occasion I read discussions about eating clean. During those first two phases I felt like I was getting closer to eating clean. My understanding of eating clean is eliminating as much process foods as possible. I know, I’ve heard the argument that most foods are processed to some extent. While there may be truth to that, eating clean would be to eat food that are minimally processed. I even prefer to buy local fruits, vegetables and meat.
Both Phase I and II was designed to help me get to the point in which I could do a juice fast. I read some great success stories about detoxing your body that I really wanted to give it a try. Food and I have an unhealthy relationship in which I have been working on for years. There was a time when I couldn’t fast at all but I have since fasted for spiritual reasons for 24 hours. My goal is to be able to fast for several days.
During Phase III, I replaced 1 meal with a juice Monday thru Thursday. From Friday through Sunday I replaced all meals but one with a juice. I tried to go a whole day with just juice but I lacked sufficient willpower at the time. Phase III lasted 3 weeks for me and on the weekends I was losing nearly a pound a day. I’ve gotten a variety of responses when I share my phase III results with family and friends. They felt like losing a pound a day was too much. I didn’t know how to respond to their feedback except to say that I felt great. In fact, when I went in for a physical not only had I lost weight but my cholesterol and blood pressure had improved.
Which Juicer is the best?
I have tried three juicers. One was a Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor and two are Breville Juicers. I now own a 1) Big Mouth Juice Extactor (garage), 2) Breville Juice Fountain Plus (keep it in my office) and 3) Breville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed (Kitchen). Of the two brands, Breville is the best and the quietest. All three were not difficult to clean. I yield the least amount of juice with the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor and the most juice with the Breville Multi-Speed Juice Fountain. Cost wise, Hamilton Beach was the cheapest. My Breville was six times the cost of the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor but saved me tremendously in the cost of buying fruits and vegetables. The Breville Juice Fountain Plus and the Breville Multi-Speed Juice Fountain were able to yield more juice from fruits and vegetables.
What are the Pros and Cons?
The Pros are endless. First and most importantly I felt great. While I usually “drag” in the morning without my cup of coffee, this was not so with my breakfast juice. It provided me with the energy I needed to get my day going. I believe it was the ginger in the drink that gave me such an energy boost so I never make a juice without ginger.
Second, my health was improving.
Third, I lost weight and I did it without feeling deprived of food.
Fourth, you can get so many nutrients with a small glass of fresh juice.
Fifth, there are no preservatives in the juice since it is fresh.
Honestly, I can’t think of any cons. When I discuss juicing with family and friends their main concern is the loss of fiber that is extracted from the fruit or vegetable and our body needs fiber. This was a non-issue for me because my meals still consisted of things like almonds, beans, peas and broccoli throughout the day.
My favorite sources for juice recipes were:
1. Patience! Your hair is NOT going to be long Nubian Princess Hair overnight. Be patient with yourself & your hair!
Before I stopped using chemical relaxers, I watched countless “How To…” natural hair videos that made the transition to natural hair seem so effortless, manageable and…..quick. I had this fanciful idea that if I just followed the right specified steps that my hair would grow out ten times faster and longer than it did when it was relaxed. This was logical thinking, right?! WRONG! For the longest time, I was unforgiving of these YouTube tutorials for “selling me dreams” until I realized that the fault lied in my thinking. Individual hair growth and retention is contingent on multiple factors: diet, mental & spiritual health, physical manipulation and a variety of other things. In addition, each person has a unique head of hair that has unique needs.
Therefore, watching YouTube videos about success stories are not meant to say “This is how you get like me! *whips healthy, long, gorgeous locks*”, but more so “Let this be inspiration to you! If you are as resilient, you can see RESULTS!” The lesson learned here is that each person has a special story to experience and share. It takes time to develop that story.
2. One size does NOT fit all! Every product is not for every person. Do not get thrown off by products that market for “Natural Hair”. There are a plethora of natural haired people. Each one has completely different hair. Always do your due diligence when it comes to trying new products to ensure that it is right for you!
Although Kinky-Curly works wonders on some, my hair doesn’t like it! (*No shade*) My hair just got really flaky and gross when I used it.
I will encourage you to go a step further and research ways to create your own natural hair products with household food items (eggs, avocado, honey, milk, etc) . No one knows your hair like you do! You can become your own specialist!
3. Keep. It. Simple. Sweetie (Yeah, I used a middle school math acronym! It applies!)
A variety of different simplistic hair styles that lasted a while and kept my hands out of my hair!
Do exactly what the caption says. Simplicity is always the way. Who wants things to be hard, difficult and arduous (all synonymous words, let me live please)? My current hair routine consists mostly of protective styling (twists, braids, etc.), which allows me to spend a fair amount of time doing them one day and then leaving them alone (minus daily upkeep: spritzing with water and product) for a few days. Before I came to this realization, I spent way too much time everyday focused on my hair! In the natural hair world, we call this “hands in hair” syndrome. It happens as a result of being fascinated with learning more about your hair. This is not a bad thing, but you don’t need to have a completely different hairstyle every day. There’s variety in the simple things.
For example, if you two-strand twist your hair you can place the twists in a nice updo or leave them out. Then, when you take them out you have a glorious, fancy twist out that can then be put into any type of style your heart desires. Simplicity doesn’t only apply to styling, but washing your hair also. My personal preference is to wash my hair less with traditional shampoo and wash it more with conditioner. This is my reason why. The products in shampoo are meant to clarify and essentially cleanse all of the oil, grease and product out of the hair, which can be very drying. So, I prefer to condition my hair so I can retain some of that moisture. So basically, after making a short story long, listen to Ms. Danyelle and Keep. It. Simple. Sweetie.
4. To truly feel UNIQUE
Whether you subscribe to the hair type (4a, 4b etc.) ideology or not, it will always remain true that each individual has a different set of hair then the next. You may find similarities between yourself and another which may help you along your journey, but do not make the mistake of thinking that your journey will be exactly the same. Know this and use it as an opportunity to truly get to know yourself for what you are and that is UNIQUE.
5. Do more of what you love…or what your hair loves in this instance.
My hair loves:
6. Be patient some more…
People are going to be curious and ask questions about your hair. Some questions you may be glad to answer and some questions will sound so silly to you that you do not want to waste the time to even think of a retort. For example, at one of my former jobs, another employee asked me (pertaining to the signature braid across the front of my hair), “Is that a fake braid headband or is that your hair?”
Hmmm, What? Be patient. Some people have not yet discovered the things that took you time to know. Be patient with them as you are patient with yourself in learning not only about the world around you, but about yourself. Hooo- saaa! C’est la vie!
7. Research, Research, Research!
I cannot express how very important it is to do your due diligence! Research is important in any aspect of life. You wouldn’t apply for a job of a lifetime without doing proper research on the company. You wouldn’t choose a movie to spend $12.50 on at the theater without knowing what it was about. The same idea applies to your hair. Know about the products you put in your hair and the potential consequences. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money by doing so. Also, doing research on natural healthy hair can keep you “in the know” about what you could do to keep your hair healthy and strong or at the very least what cute styles to try next!
I not only love to give praise but I also love to hear it. It gives me a feeling of peace. So, it was only natural for me to record a moment of praise and worship while I was in St. Peter’s Basilica. I pray that you enjoy the sounds as much as I do.
Love Ann Joy blog has been hacked by those in China. Everyday there are countless attempts to invade this site.