Friday, January 30, 2015

Orkin CleanRest Complete Pillow Encasement GIVEAWAY

Bed bugs are not something most people want to think about much less talk about.  However, they are a real problem and can be picked up almost any place.  Orkin is on a mission to help educate you about bed bug prevention and give you products to help protect your family from them.

Orkin uses the latest technology and unparalleled training to develop an effective treatment that is right for your needs.  To learn more about Orkin pest control based in science or to schedule an inspection, visit orkin.com or call 1-800-800-ORKIN.  You can also find them on Facebook, YouTube or Ask the Orkin Man on Twitter.

Check out Orkin's "Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite" information sheet that will not only educate you but will also come in handy when you play their #OrkinBedBugFeud game! 


Now that you are super smart about bed bugs, try your hand at Orkin's Bed Bug Feud below.   The information sheet above may come in handy while playing the game.  See if you can get on the leaderboard or beat the clock and be crowned the "Bed Bug Champion"!  

~ WIN IT ~ 
Orkin wants to give one of The Johns Family readers their very own CleanRest Complete Pillow Encasement valued at $20.00!   Learn more about the pillow encasement below and then enter on the 





DISCLAIMER:  Giveaway is open to residents of the US only.  Orkin & PartnersHub are sponsoring this giveaway and are responsible for prize fulfillment.Each household is only eligible to win (1) CleanRest Pillow Encasement via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

In Plain Sight: Stories of Hope & Freedom DVD

SEX TRAFFICKING:  
  • There are more slaves in the world today than ever before in history.
  • More than 29 million people are living in slavery and some 15,000 people are being trafficked right here in the U.S. each year.
  • The Super Bowl is the single largest incident of human trafficking in the U.S. 
  • The $32 billion business of modern-day slavery coerces adults and children into the sex trade or working against their will. 
I had a hard time just typing out those recent statistics on sex trafficking.  As a Mom, it sickens me to know that children are victims of this horrible exploit.  It equally sickens me to know that women are caught up in this for various reasons and that they feel hopeless, lost, worthless, and without a purpose.  I was recently given the opportunity to watch a 3-part campaign to help stop sex trafficking in the United States.  "In Plain Sight:  Stories of Hope and Freedom" is a documentary film, study guide, and music album in one.  

"In Plain Sight" is an inspiring film from Word Films that features the work of six modern day abolitionists as they fight sex trafficking in our nation.  Through engaging interviews with numerous victims, a similar pattern of vulnerability and abuse becomes clear.  In the midst of the darkness, stories of hope and freedom emerge as each survivor shares how she was transformed through the work of a sex trafficking aftercare home.  Natalie Grant is the executive producer and narrator for this film and David Trotter, co-executive producer, says "Most Americans are completely oblivious to to the fact that thousands of women and children are enslaved within their own community." 

My Thoughts:
Riveting...Compelling....Moving.  You cannot watch this film without being compelled to first and foremost pray for those who are ensnared in sex trafficking not only in the US but around the world. It saddened me to hear so many of them had grown up with this mentality that not worth doing anything else in life (often due to abuse or being born into this environment). This film not only shares personal stories of sex trafficking but also shows how some of these victims have been able to find hope and healing from this lifestyle.  I loved the moment when they shared about how someone who truly cared about them and helped them find hope, healing, and the start to a better life.  While we can't all go to work with these organizations that are fighting sex trafficking in the US and throughout the world, we all CAN pray!  

To learn more about this film visit www.InPlainSightFilm.com.  You can also read 31 Ways to Take Action to End Human Trafficking to help educate yourself on how you can make a difference in the war on sex trafficking.  You can also check out these organizations that are currently on the front-lines of the war on sex-trafficking if you are looking for ways to get involved and help fight this war. 

What did you learn about sex-trafficking? Did anything surprise you?

Disclaimer:  I was given the above mentioned DVD from Word Films & Edify Media for review purposes only.  No monetary compensation was received.  The opinions expressed here are my own and reflect my own personal thoughts and opinions.  Your experiences may vary from mine.  





Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Taco Soup Recipe


Let me preface this post by saying, I am no Pioneer Woman or Amanda from KevinandAmanda.com (who is from nearby my hometown) but I wanted to share a great and pretty easy recipe with y'all today.  In the wintertime, we love eating soups.  Since we live at the TX-Mex border and it's usually around 100 degrees or hotter in the summer, we stock up on eating soups while it's not so hot for a couple of months here.  So, here is a great taco soup recipe that I thought y'all might enjoy too. 
INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs. of hamburger
2 cans of whole kernel corn
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes
2 cans of beans (we prefer ranch style beans)
1 package of taco seasoning
1 package of Ranch dry mix
1 onion, chopped
1 bellpepper, chopped
*Not pictured, 1 can of Rotel (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Brown the hamburger meat and drain the fat.

While the hamburger cooks, I chop up the onions & bellpepper.  One note, while the recipe calls for a whole onion, our family prefers just 1/2 of the onion.  So you just go with however much onion works for your family.  We use the whole bellpepper though.

Once the hamburger is drained and the veggies are chopped, combine them in a stockpot.  Add all the other ingredients.  Do NOT drain the canned products.  You will want the juices for the soup.

Our family also likes to add 1 can of mild Rotel to the soup mixture.  It doesn't necessarily need it but we like the additional flavor it adds.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Turn to medium heat and heat for about 45 minutes (to give the flavors time to blend well).  
We like to top the soup with sliced avocados, sour cream, and Queso Blanco crumbled cheese.  It can also be served with tortilla chips and Frito scoops.  

This recipe serves 6-8 people (but can easily be doubled to serve more).  



  

Monday, January 19, 2015

This is My Story {National Birth Defects Prevention Month}

Since January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, I thought that I would share my personal story of birth defects with you.  I have shared my story a couple of times before on my blog, but since some of you may not know my story, I wanted to share it again.

I was given up for adoption at birth. My birth mother had abused drugs and alcohol while I was in the womb and because of that, I was born with multiple birth defects. I had Pierre Robbins Syndrome, bilateral club feet, a cleft palate, ear drums that weren't fully developed and lungs that still needed time to grow. By 3 days old, I already had casts on both legs that went from hip to the tip of my toes and had already had surgery on my ears. I couldn't suck a bottle or a pacifier and my birth parents had walked away from me and given me up for adoption.
Me just a few days old

The team of doctors directing my care said I would never walk, never talk without major speech therapy and that if I lived I would be in a vegetative state that required care 24/7 due to the numerous birth defects and the severity of some of them. Therefore, the doctors directing my care had labeled me “unadoptable” but at 3 weeks old, after being turned down by numerous prospective adoptive families, I was adopted by a wonderful Christian couple that I am so very blessed to call my Dad and Mom.   They were advised they did not want to adopt me & that they should wait on a "healthy baby" considering how long they had been waiting to adopt. Despite these overwhelming odds, my parents chose to adopt me. Had they NOT chosen to adopt me, I was going to be placed in a state institution for crippled children if I had made it out of the hospital alive.  Their love, deeply rooted faith in God and the Lord working through many medical doctors, I defied all the odds placed upon me.
Me at age 5

I have had more surgeries than I can count and there have been so many times in my life when doctors would tell my parents they didn't know if I'd live after the surgery. Through it all, God took care of me & my parents and despite a few scars, you would never know what all I have been through.  I learned to crawl and walk with a cast on one leg and wearing corrective shoes with a curved brace between them.  At age 5, I underwent emergency surgery for acute epiglottitis which resulted in a tracheotomy for 10 days.  I started Kindergarten on crutches and had to be pulled to recess in a little red wagon each day because it was too far for me to walk on crutches.  I had numerous surgeries throughout childhood and even into my teenage years.  I've had multiple sets of braces and yet my teeth continually move and shift due to the cleft palate.  Despite having had almost 30 surgeries since birth, I can walk/run (I even played on a co-ed softball team with my Dad), I can talk (and I never had speech therapy a day in my life!), I did good in school, was highly active in the church youth group, excelled in music/band and even received 2 full-tuition voice scholarships to college to study music.  

The Lord also blessed me with the gift of a sister through adoption.  She was adopted 4 years after me and while we are not "blood" sisters, we are sisters by choice and it is a beautiful thing!  We have a very close relationship and I am thankful to have her for a sister.

I grew up in a wonderful Christian home where God came first in everything we did and we attended church Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. My parents prayed about everything, instilled in me that with the Lord's help I could do anything, we were a family where Christ came first and at the age of 13, I was saved and baptized. I grew up with a heart for missions from an early age. My uncle/aunt were career missionaries who served in Trinidad/Tobago, Russia/Siberia and China. I grew up hearing their stories and seeing God move and work in foreign lands and wanted to be part of that too. In 1996, I went to Voronezh, Russia and served alongside of them and in 1997, I went to Irkustsk, Siberia and served there. I came back from those trips forever changed. I wanted to go back because I had seen and understood firsthand the need for reaching those who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Despite my heart's desire to go right back on the field, the Lord had His own timing for that to happen and I prayed for patience and understanding as I returned to college to study to music.

While in college, I met a wonderful “country boy” named David and on January 1, 2000, we got married. The Lord blessed us with 3 children (Abbey, Sidney & Wyatt) over the next 5 years. Our marriage was not always easy and we had some really hard times and some really great times but we learned so much through the struggles/trials and we are the better for them.
Us in Peru with some of the children we worked with

In 2010, we began to feel called to full-time mission work and ministry. In the summer of 2011, David & I went to Peru and served 15,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains in a village there. We came home with clear direction and knew the Lord had called us to full-time mission work. Upon return to the states, we spent many hours talking with the staff of To Every Tribe (www.toeverytribe.org) on the phone and email and finally made the decision to apply for admission to the Center for Pioneer Church Planting (CPCP). We were accepted and began making plans to move 17 hours away from everything we knew to be home in Alabama and come to south Texas to train and serve in Mexico. In July 2013, we moved to Los Fresnos, TX on complete faith. We had never visited Texas or To Every Tribe but we trusted that this was the path the Lord had ordained for our family and we were excited to step into it.  Through our 2 years of training with To Every Tribe, we were stretched and grown in so many ways....both spiritually, as husband/wife and as a family.
Our family, my parents, and my sister's family at our graduation

We graduated from To Every Tribe in 2014 and set our sights on going overseas to serve an unreached people group.  However, as Proverbs 16:9 says "the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs His steps."  While we were looking overseas, the Lord had a different plan for our family in missions and ministry.  He closed the door to overseas missions and opened a door for us to remain at the Texas-Mexico border and be involved in full-time missions and ministry here.  David is a Student Minister for a small Baptist church here and we are heavily involved in missions and ministry here at the border.  We can clearly see the Lord closing and opening these doors and we are thankful for following Him in what He desires for us at this season in life.  Our heart is still burdened for the taking the gospel to the nations but we are able to serve in a bilingual community here at the border and reach the Rio Grande Valley with the gospel message of Jesus Christ which is a huge mission field in itself!  We have seen the Lord move and work in our lives and we have learned to be fully and totally dependent upon Him. We have seen His hand of provision, His faithfulness, His love and how He is always “right on time”.

God literally took an "unadoptable" child and gave me hope, a life and a future.  Despite all my birth defects and grim prognosis at birth, I have been able to lead a fairly normal, productive life.  I have been blessed to share my story on countless occasions and hopefully bring hope and encouragement to others and show them that despite major birth defects, the Lord can still use you!

We are excited about what the future holds for our family as we continue to serve the Lord in full-time missions and ministry and ask that you keep us in your prayers.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!


This was the first year we weren't able to go home to Alabama for Christmas.  While it was very different for us, it was truly blessed too.  On Christmas Day, we invited others from our church we had no family here to come to our house for a Christmas lunch.  It was so much fun and we enjoyed being with brothers and sisters in Christ on Christmas Day.  We didn't do any after Christmas shopping and just enjoyed several days at home as a family watching movies, playing games, and just resting and relaxing.  
My parents, sister, brother-in-law and our 3 year old nephew came to visit us the Sunday after Christmas.  They spent a week with us and we enjoyed every moment of their visit.  We joked that they brought the cold weather with them because the week before they came we were in shorts and t-shirts and when they got it here it never got above 55 which is really cold for us here at the border.  Despite the cold, we loved having them with us and made great memories.  On Monday night, we drove to Hidalgo, TX to see the "Festival of Lights" which is the largest award-winning lights display in Texas.  It was amazing and we all loved it.  Since it was so cold while they were here, we didn't do a lot of traveling and mostly spent time together soaking up every minute we had together.  We won't see each other again until August so we wanted to make the most of our time together...and we did!  We did our own little Christmas together complete with stockings for all and our traditional Christmas morning breakfast at Cracker Barrell. (even though it was a few days after Christmas).  Our family just likes to make holidays last as long as possible.  Even though we didn't get to spend the actual Christmas together, we did get to ring in a new year together and that was just as special.  
On January 1st, we celebrated our 15 year anniversary.  God has done BIG things in our marriage and we have an amazing testimony of His goodness and faithfulness.  A lot of people doubted we would make it 5 days, much less 15 years.  We are looking forward to celebrating the next 150 years together too!  
We are big game players.  We love card, board, and dice games.  Settlers of Catan has been a family favorite for a couple of years now but this new dice game has quickly become a contender for our favorite game.  Tenzi (we bought the party pack so 8 people can play at a time) is a super fun and relatively easy dice game.  The cards give you 77 game plays (we still haven't played through the deck yet) making it extra fun and never boring.  It's easy enough for younger kids to adults to play.  We plan on using this game with our student ministry too as it will travel easily and would be a game to play with our students.  If you are looking for a fun, new, educational game to play TENZI is it!  Oh, and it has won several game awards too.   
  
I'm looking forward to 2015 and all it has in store for each of us.  I cannot believe it is already 2015 either.  When I was a kid (in the 80's), 2015 sounded so far off and I was sure by then we would be living like the Jetson's!  I'm thankful for all the Lord did for our family in 2014 as it was a huge year for us and I'm looking forward to what He has in store for 2015.  



Friday, December 19, 2014

Homemade Sugar Cookies with Icing

Several people have asked me how I make the homemade sugar cookies I recently shared on Facebook so I decided this would be the easiest way to share all the links and details on creating these sugar cookies.  
The first thing people say when they see these type cookies is "Those must be so hard to make".  Actually, they aren't really that hard but they are very time-consuming.  It's a 2 day process so you have to make sure you plan ahead if you want to make this type of cookies.  Honestly, once you do it a few times, you will get your timing down and it won't be such an overwhelming process, I promise.

COOKIE CUTTERS:
The Cookie Cutter Company is my favorite place to buy cookie cutters.  They are made of tin, hold up really well (even to lots of pressure), and they are very affordable.  They have tons of designs you can choose from too.  They also have design ideas on their site too.

THE DOUGH:
The dough recipe I use does not require you to chill the dough or chill the cut out cookies.  Using this dough, once you cut out the cookies and bake them, they retain their shapes very well too.  Here is the link to the dough recipe I use: Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe.  I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer that David surprised me with about 6 years ago and I use it to make my cookie dough.  Using a stand mixer, it will mix the dough well even after you add the last of the flour.  I also love the flavor of this dough and it makes lightly sweet cookies.  I do prefer to make thicker sugar cookies when I cut them out.  That way they hold the icing well and don't fall apart.

THE ICING:
For the icing, I have always preferred to use Wilton's Royal Icing Recipe.  It is super easy to make and it is easy to work with too for outlining the cookies, flooding them, and then decorating them.  I buy the Meringue Powder at Michael's and use their 40% off coupon to get it cheaper.  You can find it at Walmart too but it is usually cheaper at Michaels if you use a coupon.  You can find lots of recipes for royal icing on the internet but this is the one I have stuck with for several years now.  This type of icing also needs time to harden.  You can't just pipe it and then go onto the next step.  You must allow time for the icing to "harden" on each step.

DECORATING THE COOKIES:
Again, there are lots of tutorials and videos on the internet for outlining, flooding, and decorating sugar cookies.  To be honest, I watched a lot of tutorial videos I found online to learn how to do this a couple of years ago.  I would bake cookies and practice.  There were LOTS of flops and failures (but the upside was, we had yummy cookies to eat anyway even if they weren't pretty) and then gradually I began to get it and they started turning out.  So you have to be willing to experiment and try until you feel comfortable with it.  Plus, you will score "Mommy points" for all the cookies you're making too!

You can go to the internet and type in "outlining sugar cookies" to learn how to outline cookies, "how to flood sugar cookies" to learn how to fill the cookies, and I just go to Pinterest and type in whatever kind of cookie I am making to get decorating ideas for the cookies.  Most of the time I just look at how a cookie is decorated and then just try to copy the design somewhat myself.

I have also acquired my cookie baking supplies over the past few years also.  Most of it comes from Michael's or Walmart. In fact, I have got most of it at Michael's and would use their coupons to get the best deals.  I have a large Wilton decorating tip set but for these cookies I mainly use Wilton tips 4 or 6 for outlining and Wilton tips 1 or 2 for decorating.  For flooding, I use the Wilton mini decorating bottles.  They are super easy to clean and work great for flooding.  I use Wilton gel colors or Americolor Soft Gel paste for food coloring to make the cookies.  Basically, I buy either brand depending upon what color I am looking for and which brand has the prettiest color.  Both of these brands work really well and the colors go a long way.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:
1.  Make a batch of sugar cookie dough.
2.  Cut out your shapes and bake them.
3.  Allow them to cool completely on cooling racks.
4.  Pipe the outline for your sugar cookies and let the the outlines harden for at least 2 hours.
5.  Flood your sugar cookies and let them dry overnight (yes, overnight...if you don't let them harden at least 8 hours, they won't be set well).
6.  The next morning, you can decorate your cookies with all the fine details.  Let them harden for at least 2 hours.

SERVING/TRANSPORTING THE COOKIES:
When I am serving them, I like to put them on platters so each cookie is clearly displayed.  If I need to deliver them somewhere, I will put them in deep dish aluminum foil pans. I will put down a layer of cookies and then put a piece of wax paper over them and put another layer. The wax paper helps protect the cookies from breaking or losing decorations.  Then when I deliver them, the person can serve them however they want.

GIFT GIVING:
These also make great baby shower gifts, birthday gifts, party favors, etc.  You can make a batch of sugar cookies for any occasion and then put a cookie in a clear party bag and then tie some curly ribbon around the top with a little gift tag and it makes a cute and delicious favor.

Hopefully this wasn't too confusing for you and please don't be overwhelmed. I know it sounds like a lot but I promise you that once you've done it a few times, it will get easier.  It's really not that hard but it is just time consuming so make sure you plan ahead when you want to make these. However, the end result is so worth it and to be honest, I love making them even though it does take so much time.  It's fun to play around with decorating ideas, try new things, and see people's excitement when you make these type cookies.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me:  bamagv at aol dot com and I will gladly help you in anyway I can.




Monday, December 15, 2014

Shave Mob Stocking Stuffer


Last year, I introduced you to Shave Mob, a fantastic company that offers you up to 70% savings on premium shaving razors with no shipping costs or recurring membership fees.  Just in time for the holidays, they offer simple shopping and great savings so you can easily grab a stocking stuffer for a man or a woman with a gift they will appreciate all year long.

HOW SHAVE MOB WORKS:

STEP 1:  Choose a blade.  One of the (many) cool things about Shave Mob is that their blades work with all their razor handles so you don't have to buy specialized blades for different handles.  

STEP 2:  Choose your supply.  Each supply gives you 2 cartridges per month. 

STEP 3:  Save a ton of money.  When you are ready to check out, you will be amazed at how much money you are saving through purchasing premium shaving razors through Shave Mob.  

STEP 4:  Get your razor and start shaving.  With Shave Mob, you don't have to wait on monthly shipments to arrive.  You will get your entire supply in one shipment not only saving you money but packaging and shipping/handling too. 

STEP 5:  Reorder when your supply is low.  Shave Mob will actually send you an email when your supply should be running low based upon what you ordered. You can simply confirm your next shipment or you can change your order with just one click.  Shave Mob makes having new cartridges for your razor a breeze!    

STEP 6:  Incite the Mob.  Once you use Shave Mob razors you will naturally share them with friends and family. You can earn FREE razors and cool stuff simply by sharing Shave Mob!  

So, I have had my razors from Shave Mob for almost a year and y'all, I LOVE THEM!  They work just as well (if not better) than those expensive razors I'd been buying from retail stores.  In fact, our 13 year old daughter likes Shave Mob razors too.  Maybe for Christmas, I'll introduce my husband to a Shave Mob razor supply!  

You can check out Shave Mob's holiday special or follow them on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest products, sales and specials. 

Disclaimer:  Shave Mob is sending me a holiday stocking stuffer kit as compensation for this post.  No monetary compensation was received.  The opinions expressed here are my own and reflect my own personal thoughts and opinions.  Your thoughts and experiences may vary from mine.