Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winner, Winner, We have a Winner!

Here we go:  And the WINNER is:.....

#13, Jenna Z I like the Sea of Love cards best! (And I follow you via GFC.) January 19, 2011 10:21 PM . I have emailed Jenna with the GREAT news! Thank you all for entering and stay tuned for future Giveaways!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Daniel Fast Made Delicious

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Siloam (January 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


John and Ann Marie Cavazos created these recipes while serving on the staff of their Central Florida church when they realized that people were simply starving on carrot sticks every time the church held a Daniel Fast, instead of enjoying the variety of delicious, healthy foods that were originally intended to be part of this ancient eating plan.


A cookbook on the topic of fasting may sound like an oxymoron, but this eating plan modeled in the biblical account of the life of Daniel, often called a Daniel Fast, is actually loaded with fresh, delicious, health-promoting foods. The Daniel Fast Made Delicious includes more than 175 recipes, many of which are 100 percent gluten free and dairy free. Filled with easy instructions, simple steps, spiritual inspirations, and interesting food facts and figures, these Daniel Fast recipes are as nourishing to the soul as they are to the body.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381809
ISBN-13: 978-1616381806



Dear fellow Daniel Fasters:

This recipe book is not like anything else you’ve seen before. A recipe book for a fast—seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t the point of a fast not to eat? Well, in this case the Daniel fast is about what you can eat. The Daniel fast is a unique fast—taken from the biblical account in Daniel 1:8–21 where Daniel and his three Hebrew friends ate only vegetables and drank water for ten days. Our favorite part is verse 8, which reads, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies…” This is indicative of the kind of man Daniel was—a man of purpose!

Our goal here is not to talk about fasting, per se, or give you tons of supporting scriptures. If you have prepared and purposed to fast, then you probably already know these things or have read about them in books far more poignant than ours. Rather, this book seeks to give you options, and more of them, as you embark on this unique fast known as the Daniel fast.

The incarnation of this recipe book began in response to our congregation complaining that they didn’t know what else to eat besides lettuce and carrots when embarking on a Daniel fast. This told us that, number one, people didn’t know much about vegetables, and number two, they probably didn’t eat many vegetables! In addition, we found them spending more time bored with the lack of variety of food and less time focusing on why they were fasting. We decided to present recipes that would help them spend less time concerning themselves with what they shouldn’t eat and more time deciding what they could prepare for their families. Thus, The Daniel Fast Made Delicious was birthed!

Back in 2004, during one of our Daniel fasts, we felt frustrated because we really wanted to see people enjoy the fast and benefit from eating fruits and vegetables. We were walking around a lake near our home when the Lord popped an idea into Ann Marie’s spirit. She heard the word “Pumpkin Lasagna.” She had no idea what that was, but the Lord told her He would show her how to prepare that and other healthy dishes using only vegetables and fruits.

A journey of learning began where we educated ourselves about vegetables— we shopped and prepared and ate things we never dreamed we would eat. We did a lot of experimenting—sometimes hit, sometimes miss—and we loved it, our kids loved it, and what’s more, our family and friends loved it! We began preparing healthy dishes made only with vegetables and inviting our family and friends over to share in the fun. It quickly became apparent our signature dish would be Annie’s Pumpkin Lasagna (chapter 2), since everyone loved it. The rest is history!

Now, the idea is not for you to eat more—you’re on a fast, so you’re supposed to eat less. Use these recipes to make the most of the food you are eating during your fast, but turn your plate down for one or two meals as you feel God leads—

and only if your health permits. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

The idea behind this recipe book is simply to educate you and to give you more healthy choices for you and your family as you embark on the Daniel fast. Those of you with spouses or family members who are not joining you on the fast will find this book invaluable. For those of you with children who are not fasting or who are picky eaters, there are some wonderful recipes in this book that will allow you to keep to the fast and also feed your family and not skip a beat when it comes to flavor! All of the Daniel fast recipes in Section 1 are wheat, gluten, and dairy free as well as vegan! In addition, the ingredients used in all of these recipes are organic—we encourage you to use organic whenever possible. If this is not possible, we encourage you to use a fruit and vegetable

wash on all nonporous fruits and vegetables. Additionally, with all of these recipes we use cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil because studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good) levels. For further information, see www Why cold pressed? Cold-pressed oil is produced with the use of a low heat technique, which keeps the flavor, nutritional value, and color of the oil. Although it is more expensive it is also of higher quality. For further information, see -cold-pressed-oil.htm. One last comment: we like a lot of garlic and cilantro in our food, and our recipes reflect this. Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic or cilantro in any of the recipes in this book to suit your family’s tastes.

People tend to think that to eat healthy means to eat yucky—not so. The secret is in how you season and prepare your food. These healthy recipes will not only show you different kinds of foods you might not have thought about before, but they also give you some great ideas on how to season and prepare your meals. It’s all about choices, and the more informed you are, the more choices you’ll have. After the fast is over, don’t run out and get fast food! In Section 2 we have included dozens of healthy recipes so you can transition from the Daniel fast to making healthy eating a lifestyle! In addition, the pasta dishes are wheat and gluten free.

Medical studies now confirm that a large percentage of the health problems in America are digestive related. According to the website Digestive System Disorders, digestive issues for the most part cause a number of diseases, such as colon, rectal, and stomach cancer; diarrhea; diverticular disease; digestive tract gas; heartburn; hepatitis; inflammatory bowel disease; irritable bowel syndrome; lactose intolerance; and stomach and duodenal ulcers. According to a recent article written on digestive disorders:

The function of the digestive system is to take the food and liquids that we put into our mouths and then either turn these foods and liquids into nutrients or energy needed by the cells of our body, or alternatively turn them into waste products that are then expelled

by our body as bowel movements. When something goes wrong with this everyday process and some part of the process doesn’t work properly, the end result is one kind or another of a digestive system disorder. There are many common digestive system disorders.

In fact, almost any natural health practitioner will tell you that food, good or bad, plays a definitive part in your health. The Daniel fast is a wonderful way to begin a life of good eating and good health. When we started doing the Daniel fast many years ago in our church, we started at the beginning of the year, around January 7, and for the next twenty-one days we consumed vegetables, fruit, and water—only! We did the fast for a number of reasons. First of all, turning your plate down and using that time to spend with the Lord is always a good thing. Second, after the holidays, most of us had abused food so much with all the celebrating we had done that we actually looked forward to the fast. Third, after a few years, a number of our members began to experience the benefit of the fast, because not only did we lose weight but also we felt better. Symptoms our bodies had manifested—such as heartburn, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome—began to disappear. (NOTE: These recipes should never be used in place of physician-prescribed medications or medical procedures prescribed by your doctor for any and all medical conditions.)

Back in 1999, after we had moved from New York to Florida, our girls, who were six and eight at the time, seemed to always be getting colds, runny noses, ear infections—something anyone with children knows something about. I grew tired of taking them to the doctor every so often just to have the doctor give them another antibiotic. I was sharing my frustrations about this with our dear friend Ruth Chironna. She asked me if I gave our girls cow’s milk. “Of course,” I replied. “What else is there to give them?” She told me to get them off of it and introduce them to rice milk. I immediately began introducing a little bit of rice milk mixed in with cow’s milk until I had weaned them off of dairy altogether. That was over a decade ago, and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last decade when they’ve been really sick or had really bad colds—and they never had another ear infection. They are now eighteen and twenty and are for the most part extremely healthy! This extended into our food, and before we knew it, we were eating better and going to the doctor a lot less. Do we ever cheat and have that slice of pizza or a burger? Sure! But everything in moderation! Changing our diet to include more vegetables, fruit, no sodas, and more water has significantly altered our lives. We trust that as you employ these changes, starting with the Daniel fast recipes, you will experience the kind of health that God intended for us to enjoy!

Whether you begin the Daniel fast at the beginning of the New Year or want to start it right now, we believe that The Daniel Fast Made Delicious is going to change the way you look at food, the way you prepare food, and the way you feel about food. Get started today! You’re going to love these recipes!

What more can we say but…

Bon app├ętit!

Buen provecho!

Guten appetit!  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Valentine Giveaway!

I am officially a Pearista!   I love the products put out by Pear Tree Greetings , they are so innovative and different.  This month they are showcasing their valentine line, and let me say, they are FAN_TAB_U_LOUS!   I know I get tired of the same old same old when it comes to valentines, the ones you get at the store are so generic and cheap looking.  Especially compared to the ones made by Pear Tree Greetings!  Just look at some of these options!

no matter what you are needing valentines for, Pear Tree Greetings  has a choice for you!  
TO BUY: head on over to Pear Tree Greetings, and shop away, make sure and check out their current promo page!  

Now for the best part!  
The folks over at Pear Tree Greetings is giving one of my readers 24 free valentines!  
MANDANTORY ENTRY: Follow this blog on google friend connect!  Its that simple. 

EXTRA ENTRY: just leave a comment telling me your favorite valentine that Pear Tree Greetings make!  

Giveaway will end Jan. 25, 2011 at midnight.  Winner will be announced on Jan 26!~ 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Pirate Queen

I had seen The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman reviewed all over the place, it seemed as if every blog I went to had reviewed this book.  While all the reviews were good, I still didn't have much interest in the book.  One day I happened on the Book Sneeze site and saw the book listed there, so I figured why not?  I'll try it and see.

I was in for a shock.

Not only is The Pirate Queen a fantastic read that draws you in and keeps you there from page one until the end.  Immediately Saphora Warren makes you want her to win.  You want her to have the peace she so deserves in life.  I even found myself a little happy when her husband got sick.  Horrible to say I know, but that's how drawn into Saphora and Bender's lives I was.  Tobias is probably my favorite character, entrenching himself to my heart  with every keystroke of his storyline.

I had never read any of Patricia Hickman's books before, now I will be hunting them down and reading them all.

Author Bio:

Patty cropped_edited
“I write about family life and the emotional lives of women. My writing is influenced by the music, nature, and culture of the South with its mountain-walled valleys and impulsive rivers.  I tell the stories of a people shaped by the yen of land and shorelines. As a girl, I nursed an innate curiosity for finding extraordinary stories in the lives of ordinary people, as was evidenced in my asking each new person I met to tell me their story.” ~ Patricia Hickman
Patricia Hickman, M.F.A., is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction whose work has been praised by critics and readers alike.  Patricia first studied creative writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and then went on to do graduate studies in creative writing at Queens University. She writes for major publishers and is currently at work on her eighteenth book, a novel set in the North Carolina Piedmont. Her next novel,The Pirate Queen, will release Summer 2010, a story that takes readers journeying from suburban Lake Norman to the sailing villages of the Outer Banks.  She has served as a writing professor at UNCC and taught in writing workshops across the country offering her popular “Creating Characters–Giving Story People Life” workshops and courses on fiction. She, along with her hubby, founded a non-profit charity that benefits moms and children with HIV called The Secret Angels Project.  Her fiction is known for its depth of understanding of the human condition underscored by redemptive themes. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Flight Plan

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

PDS Publishing (2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Lee Burns is the headmaster at Presbyterian Day School, an independent school serving over 630 boys in grades PK-6 in Memphis. In addition, Burns is vice-president and on the executive committee of the Elementary School Headmasters Association (a group of approximately 200 headmasters around the country) and is a member of the Country Day School Headmasters Association and the Visionary Heads Group. He served as a task force member to help the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) develop Principles of Good Practice for Middle School Educators. In addition, he has been a presenter at annual conferences of the National Association of Independent Schools, the International Boys' School Coalition, and the Elementary School Headmasters Association.

Burns plays tennis and enjoys squash and most any sport, as well as reading and writing. Lee is married to Sarah, and they have three children. They are members of Second Presbyterian Church, where he serves as a deacon.

Braxton Brady is the chaplain of Presbyterian Day School (PDS) in Memphis, TN. Before coming to PDS, he worked as Bible teacher, athletic director, and assistant principal at Central Day School in Collierville, Tennessee. Brady has served on the boards of various inner city ministries in Memphis. He is a graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program, a program that helps disciple and develop spiritual leaders in the city of Memphis, and founder of Strategic Dads, a ministry that seeks to provide fathers with practical ways to disciple their sons and lead their families.

Brady enjoys spending time with his family, serving in the inner city, and playing golf. He is currently completing his master's degree in theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. Brady and his wife, Carrie, have three children.

Visit the book website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Perfect Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: PDS Publishing (2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615380611
ISBN-13: 978-0615380612


Buckle Up

“Roger, liftoff, and the clock is started.”

- Alan B. Shepard Jr., Astronaut

“It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.”

- Chuck Yeager, General

The engines roar so loudly you can feel your whole body shake as the fighter jet accelerates down the short runway on the aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You can smell the burning fuel. Standing on the deck of the carrier, you can’t even see the fighter pilot inside because his plane is racing by at such an incredible speed. You can, though, sense the power of the great plane and the intensity of the takeoff. Just seconds before, the jet was calmly stationed at the end of the carrier, along with a few other ones. But now, just seconds later, amidst burning fuel and an awesome display of speed, it’s at the end of the runway and quickly airborne, racing up into the blue sky.

But where is the plane going?

Like the fighter jet, you are also about to accelerate down a short runway and take off on a great adventure with many possible missions and destinations. During your childhood, your life has probably been pretty steady and stable for the last few years. Sure, there have been ups and downs and you’ve changed and grown as a boy, but boyhood is usually marked by very slow and gradual development compared to the upcoming season in your life. But soon, instead of just hanging out at the end of the runway with the other fighter jets, instead of slowly taxiing back and forth on the runway, your life is about to accelerate in a very intense and rapid period called adolescence. And at the end of adolescence, you will take off into the sky for an even greater adventure: manhood.

Any fighter pilot will probably tell you that good preparation before the flight is essential to a successful mission. He has spent thousands of hours learning to fly. He has considered problems he could encounter and maneuvers he could use in those dangerous situations. He has tested and serviced the plane. He has filled it up with fuel. He has studied the specific flight plan, considered the weather, and learned the goal and details of the mission. The takeoff is but a few seconds; the mission is but a few hours; but the preparation is years in the making.

You are a man in the making. Before you race down that runway and head up into the sky, it’s important and wise to make sure you are well prepared and equipped for the flight. You’d better make sure you know how to fly the plane and that it has fuel in it. You’d better know what you’re going to do when you come under enemy attack. And, most importantly, you’d better know what the mission is and where you’re going. It’s easy to get lost in the vast sky without a plan.

Manhood is the same way. You’ll be there before you know it, and if you haven’t done your preparations in advance, you can make a lot of unnecessary mistakes as you’re racing down the runway of adolescence. Not only will you make more mistakes without good preparation now, but you can cause yourself—and others—a lot of harm and heartache as well. You can crash on the runway or take off in the wrong direction, and you might never grow into the sort of man God designed you to be. We don’t want you to crash or fly to the wrong destination or get lost in the sky.

This book is designed to give you a mission and flight plan:

We’ll tell you what your purpose is as a man. We’ll tell you what it means to be a man: what your destination is.

We’ll tell you how to accelerate properly and safely down the short runway of adolescence you are about to begin.

We’ll tell you about some problems you are likely to encounter and how you can defeat them before they make you crash or change your flight plan.

We’ll encourage you to get some good co-pilots and flight instructors and technical staff, both your age and older men, who will support and help you on your journey.

So buckle up! The next few years of your life will be a great adventure. Changes like these are on the way:

Your mind, body, emotions and relationships will be changing in ways that you can’t fully understand until you have experienced them.

You will feel new and more intense passions and desires.

You will think about girls, your friends and your parents differently than you do now, and you will relate to them in new ways.

You will think about yourself differently.

You will long for more independence and new challenges.

You will dream new dreams and develop your own identity.

Every adventure also has its share of difficulties and dangers. Self-esteem often dips during your teenage years (though many boys try to hide that on the outside). While you will enjoy and appreciate the increasing freedoms, they will bring temptations that can be hard to resist, and the consequences for a poor decision can be costly. While your body will grow in size and strength, it can be an awkward process with aches and acne. Girls can make your heart race and your heart break. All in all, adolescence can be like riding a roller coaster with many ups and downs.

In this book, we’ll give you as complete and honest of a look at the journey ahead as we can. We want this to be authentic and cover the real issues and temptations that you will likely encounter in the upcoming months and years. We are addressing the topics that boys tell us are on their minds and that teenage boys say they are struggling with. While some of these topics can be embarrassing or difficult, we believe that it is better to know on the front end what you will probably face, and we want to help equip and prepare you for facing them.

But it’s not just the next few years that we care about. We want you to have a vision for the sort of man God wants you to be when you have passed through the adolescent years. That’s our ultimate goal. If you will set your eyes on the final goal—the sort of man you should become—then that will direct you in how you navigate the teenage years. Approaching challenges with the end result in mind is always the best way to begin. Great coaches begin the season talking about where they want the team to be at the end of the season. They talk about conference championships and bowl games and final rankings.

Coaches give their players a playbook to instruct them on how they want the game to be played. God has given you His playbook to help you navigate through the issues that you will be facing in the next few years. Boys are often surprised to hear that the Bible speaks on so many topics. Drinking, peer pressure, friendships, families, girls, even puberty and sex—the Bible gives us perspective and instruction in these matters. It speaks to the role and responsibilities of men. It tells you the sort of man, husband and father you should be one day. It tells all of us how to approach our work and worship and the girls and women in our lives. It talks about our self-worth, our successes, and the stuff we own, use and want to have. It covers difficulties and failures. It tells us about the forgiveness you can experience for all of our mistakes, including ones you may have already committed. We’ll cover all of these topics in this book.

But even more than covering these topics, the Bible describes God’s love for you. Rather than primarily advice and rules, the Bible, most importantly, is the true story of the good news of how much God loves us and how He is seeking to save us. It’s the good news of what He has done for us rather than what we can do for Him. It’s about what we can receive rather than what we must achieve.

We hope that by helping to develop your thinking about these teenage topics and understanding God’s love, grace and pursuit of us, you will grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. Our desire is that one day you will become a better man, husband and father, and we hope that you will, long before then, deepen your faith and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ; we hope you at least begin to explore questions in your mind and heart about who this God of the Bible is and what He means when He says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has plans to grow and prosper you.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What are some of the issues that you think will be difficult for you in the next few years?

2. Does the idea of becoming a man scare you or make you nervous? Why or why not?

3. If you could have one question answered about the road ahead for you, what would it be?

4. Is your dad available to talk with you about adolescence and the journey to manhood? If he is not

available, who could you talk to about this important topic?

5. What do you hope to accomplish by reading and studying this book?

6. What is the best piece of advice your dad, mom, adult leader, coach, or mentor has given you so far?

7. How would you define manhood?

8. Do you view the upcoming years of your life as an adventure or just a regular part of your life? Why or why not?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Taking Out Your Emotional Trash

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Georgia Shaffer is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, certified life coach, sought-after speaker, and the award-winning author of several books, including How NOT to Date a Loser. She’s also a member of the teaching team for the American Association of Christian Counselors’ Life Coaching Training series. Georgia holds degrees in clinical psychology, computer science, and education.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927263
ISBN-13: 978-0736927260


Are You in the
Danger Zone?

     While discussing this book, a friend suggested I visit a landfill to observe how garbage is handled. That sounded like a good way to pick up some ideas so I followed her advice. As I approached the main gate of the facility, I noticed high netting surrounding the multi-acre landfill. The netting was firmly secured to huge 40-foot poles. In one section the poles were broken and the netting lay sprawled across the ground.

 “What happened there?” I asked the landfill manager as I pointed to the problem area.

 He replied, “The other day strong winds swept up the lighter paper garbage as it was being unloaded from the trucks. Before we could stop it, the winds plastered the paper trash against the netting. It created such a force that it broke those poles in two.”

 He didn’t look too happy as he continued. “The accumulation of that paper created the effect of wind pushing against the sail of a boat. Instead of the wind blowing through the netting, it blew against the wall of debris and snapped those wooden poles like they were toothpicks.” He shook his head. “It made quite a mess. Paper trash was everywhere.”

 As I looked at the fallen poles I thought, What a great image of the damage that results from the accumulation of negative thoughts and feelings in us. A simple or single emotional reaction may seem as harmless as a single sheet of paper floating around a landfill. But when we allow our annoyances, anger, and frustrations to collect, these feelings become a force so powerful it can cause severe damage.

 I knew what that felt like. Recently my self-control snapped much like those fallen poles. Maybe you’ve had one of these weeks too. First, the red light on my printer kept flashing. No matter how many times I unplugged, replugged, and rebooted the printer and computer, the light kept flashing. On…off…on…off. I tried to ignore it, but my irritation kept building.

 Next, my broadband telephone service failed. No dial tone. No incoming calls. After many hours and eight cell phone calls to customer service, I exploded when one of the techies announced, “I’m sure this is a very simple matter.”

 “Simple!” I blurted. “I have four college degrees, and one of them is in computer science. This problem is not simple or it would have been corrected hours ago.” I threatened to drop my service and hung up. But my trials weren’t over.

 The following morning I headed to an electronics store to have a CD player installed in my car. I’d been told on the phone a few days earlier that they didn’t take appointments, but if I arrived before eight o’clock I would have the shortest waiting time. I made sure I got there early. Twenty minutes after eight I discovered the installation service person hadn’t yet arrived. An hour later he still hadn’t shown up.

 I strode up to the counter and said, “You mean I got up early on a Saturday morning just to stand around and wait for an installer to arrive?” I knew my anger wasn’t going to change things, but I kept fuming while I waited. It was eleven-thirty before a tech person arrived. With an indignant huff, I marched off to the bookstore next door, bought a cup of tea, sat down in a comfy chair, and took a deep breath. Forced to sit still, I pondered my mini-meltdowns over the last few days. In addition to the printer, phone, and installation hassles, there also had been glitches in some human connections. I recalled my conversation with a good friend the day before. Although we usually chat for at least an hour, after I dumped all my woes on her, she quickly said, “I’m sorry but I need to run.”

 And then there was the time when my son and I exchanged ugly words. My mother and I also had a bit of a misunderstanding, and I was still seething about an issue at church. As I took in the big picture, it hit me. Each of those seemingly insignificant feelings were like individual pieces of trash paper. When blown around by frustrating circumstances, they had accumulated to the point that they pushed against the limits of my control and finally broke through. As a result, I was spreading emotional and relational litter all over those around me. I realized that if I wanted to avoid reaching that breaking point and expressing my emotions destructively, I needed to be intentional about preventing the pileup.

 Years ago I attended a seminar led by Psychologist W. Robert Nay on the topic of anger management. Many of the clients in his private practice were referred to him by the judicial system because their anger had gotten out of control. Dr. Nay said that when he speaks to these offenders about their feelings and what they noticed was going on before they “lost it,” they often said, “I was fine until that guy cut me off in traffic. I lost it [they snapped their fingers] just like that.”

 Dr. Nay discovered that no one loses it “just like that.” He says that what we fail to understand is that our level of stress, if unchecked, continues rising. The emotional pressure keeps building. The cumulative force becomes so strong that when we experience one additional thing, even if it’s something small such as our children refusing to follow directions or a fast-food worker getting our order wrong, we snap. We’ve let our emotions pile up to a dangerous level. And we augment our feelings by bringing in a sense of entitlement. For instance, if we believe life is supposed to be stress-free, that we deserve a stress-free life, and people don’t meet our expectations, defy us, or displease us, we get enraged.

 But we can handle emotions in a productive and healthy manner. It’s the awareness of where we are emotionally right now and a commitment to change that can begin to release the pressure.

Where Are You Emotionally?

 Even if you don’t see yourself as an emotional person, the fact is that “emotions are a gift of God, who created each of us with a capacity to feel and express our emotions.” It’s not that your emotions are unhealthy or dangerous. It’s what you do or don’t do with them that can be the problem. Your feelings have the potential to become especially harmful when you stuff them, deny them, or allow them to accumulate. When that happens, you may become controlled by them.

 The following graph was adapted from an example shown at the seminar given by Dr. Nay. Zero represents no emotional pressure, no buildup of irritations, resentments, insecurities, bitterness, or negative emotions (a place where we never are). For this example, let’s assume 30 is an acceptable level of stress and 80 is the point where we snap because feelings have piled up and we’ve failed to deal with them constructively. Like the snapped telephone poles at the landfill, we each have a point where we can’t handle one more piece of trash. That is when we lose control. We cross a line, so to speak, and move into the danger zone of being controlled by our emotions. We react rather than respond to life. Because emotions have piled up and up and up, we say or do things that are unhealthy for us, hurtful for others, and harmful to our relationships.

 Let’s hypothetically say the pressure of your negative feelings has built up to a level of 79. You are irritated, your jaw is clenched, and your head is throbbing. But you are handling the circumstances around you without losing control. Your daughter says, “No duh, Mom,” when you make a comment, and you take it in without saying or doing anything hurtful. But now you’re at 79.9. One more comment, one more roll of her eyes moves you into reaction mode. You make negative comments, you stomp off, and you explode. Your daughter’s action didn’t cause you to snap. Since you were already at a heightened emotional level, her action put you over the edge.

 If we want to maintain control and stay healthy in our emotions, we need to first understand that we don’t go from a 30 to a 79 “just like that.” According to Dr. Nay, people often assume they start the morning at an emotional level of 0, when in fact they may have awakened at an emotional level of 79. If we don’t realize we are already at the I-can’t-handle-one-more-thing-without-losing-it point, we won’t do anything to relieve the emotional pressure. So when “one more thing” happens, we’ll probably do or say something we regret and make our situation worse.

 Emotional awareness is realizing “there is an emotional impact from almost every stimulus received and every response you give. You may not feel them all consciously, but all of these tiny subconscious emotional stimuli are adding pressure and intensity to the way you respond all throughout the day.” This accumulation of emotional pressure from annoyances, frustrations, and feelings of entitlement are like the papers that piled against the netting at the landfill. The force of the wind plastered the papers against the net and then snapped the poles. In the same way, it usually isn’t just one emotion that puts us in an emotional danger zone. Instead it’s the sadness + frustration + embarrassment + disappointment + jealousy + anger that we ignore or stuff or allow to accumulate. The cumulative effect can be disastrous.

 Looking back at the graph, the shorter bar could represent my emotional buildup at the beginning of that difficult week. The taller bar could symbolize that Saturday morning when I raised my voice at the person behind the electronics counter just before I turned around with a huff and stomped out the door.

 For many of us, the daily minor irritations, frustrations, and emotional upsets can accumulate and sneak up on us. We may realize the emotional ramifications of something major, such as a death in the family and the overwhelming sadness and anger that brings. But the tiny upsets sidle by us unnoticed until suddenly, “just like that,” we’re at the breaking point. And then we pay the price relationally. The cost may be something as simple as everyone thinking we have a lousy attitude and would we please go somewhere else or as permanent as a ruptured relationship.

 Kayla ignored her emotions for weeks. Then one day she was late for work because she overslept and couldn’t find her keys. Next she got stuck in traffic and realized she’d forgotten her lunch. By the time Kayla got to work, she’d crossed into the danger zone without realizing it. She snapped at the office manager and treated her boss disrespectfully because she hadn’t paid attention to the state of her emotions and dealt with the overload.

 Garrison, on the other hand, told me he stuffs minor annoyances. “Right now I’m dating someone. She might make a comment unintentionally that hurts me. Instead of saying anything, I think, It’s not that big of a deal so why create conflict? But after weeks and weeks of stuffing these little hurts and annoyances, I blow up and say all kinds of nasty things to her. This type of behavior ended my last relationship.”

 We don’t all react like Kayla, who became snappish, or Garrison, who became verbally aggressive, when we’re living in the danger zone. Meltdown moments and reactions will be different from person to person. Some of us tend to be forceful verbally or even physically. Others become sarcastic, making cutting comments that hurt others deeply. Some withdraw, become numb, or cry. Perhaps you’ve recently lost your cool and made a snide remark to that tech person who spoke limited English. Maybe you snapped at that clerk you thought incompetent. Or perhaps you found yourself saying things as a parent you vowed you’d never say, such as, “Won’t you ever get it right? How stupid can you get?”

 For most of us who cross the line and find ourselves reacting badly, our behaviors are hard to recognize because they’re so subtle. Maybe when you are ticked off with your spouse, you walk away and for the next couple of days give him or her the silent treatment. You isolate yourself and refuse to discuss the problem at hand. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who remains polite, but you withhold the very thing you know someone wants, such as quality time, affection, or appreciation.

 Recognizing when we aren’t handling things well and how we react negatively are key factors in managing our emotions.

Commitment to Change

 I mentioned earlier that it’s the awareness of where we are emotionally and the commitment to change that enables us to reverse our tendency to react rather than respond to our emotions. Perhaps you’re reading this book because your relationships are falling apart. Or maybe you’re unhappy with your life and are desperate to change it, but you don’t know where to start. Do you know you’ll be much more likely to make and keep a commitment to handle your feelings differently if you are emotionally invested in the process? Make a change decision from your heart. You can explore where you are by asking:

What will motivate me to pay attention to how my behavior affects others?
What will inspire me to get serious about dealing with my emotional stuff?
 The best way to succeed in altering behavior is to find some meaningful, lasting reasons for implementing the changes. Here are some reasons you may identify with. After reading through them, why not checkmark the ones that you can relate to? After you read these, feel free to add more reasons that apply to your situation in the margins so you can refer back to them when you need encouragement.

You want to be a good role model for your children and grandchildren. Maybe you’ve noticed lately how your children are displaying the same out-of-control behaviors you are. Instead of feeling guilty, choose to learn the skills needed to minimize the time you live in the danger zone.
Growing emotionally and spiritually is extremely important to you. You aren’t having serious relationship problems, but you are feeling stuck. You want to do something differently, but you’re not sure what to do or how to do it.
Your closest relationships are deteriorating because of your insecurities, jealousies, and anxiety. Your spouse has given you an ultimatum, “You need to do something about this or else.”
You’ve become aware that your anger, frustrations, and resentment are affecting your performance at work. Your supervisor has suggested you get help. You want to control your emotions instead of allowing them to control you.
Your friends are distancing themselves. Instead of having fun with them you’ve been bogged down trying to clean up the emotional messes you’ve created in your relationships.
You’ve procrastinated in dealing with some of your emotional reactions because you figured everything would work out on its own. You now realize that’s not going to happen. You don’t want to pretend any longer. You know that life will be easier if you deal with your problems now.
You yearn for deep, meaningful relationships but your constant moodiness has fractured friendships at church, work, and socially.
You’re eating or drinking too much because you don’t know how to deal with the stuff in your heart and life.
You always thought your junk was your junk and nobody else needed to know about it until a close friend helped you realize your “private” stuff was impacting people around you. You want to cultivate desirable qualities that attract people.
Your poor physical health is motivating you to get serious about improving your emotional health. Your habit of not talking about feelings has created all sorts of health-related problems, such as insomnia, high blood pressure, and headaches. You want to change so you’re not as easily fatigued, you can think more clearly, and you’re healthier overall.
 Even when we are inspired to change, change is hard. In the short-term, it seems much easier and more comfortable to just stay the same. But avoiding change creates more pain in the long term. So whether your motivation is to have better health, richer relationships, or to stop contaminating your current ones, take a moment to clarify, write down, and tell at least one person why you are going to change the way you’ve been handling your emotions.

I’m tired of reacting negatively because…
When I change reacting to responding, I should notice…
This week I’m going to tell [person’s name] about my plans to change how I handle my emotions.
Routine Trips to the Dumpster

 Did you know that even on the most basic, cellular level of our bodies there is an intricate system for managing waste? According to medical research, our “cells have developed complex systems for recycling, reusing, and disposing of damaged, nonfunctional waste proteins.” Inside of us we have little “garbage collectors.” When working properly, they remove the trash from each cell and prevent disease. If these collectors fail to operate correctly, proteins can accumulate in the cell, become toxic, and cause disease.

 Now that you’ve made the commitment to become healthier when it comes to your emotions, your first step is to establish the habit of routinely taking your emotional trash to the dumpster. Just as our healthy cells process waste regularly, we want to routinely deal with our emotions to keep us in a safe zone. We need to monitor ourselves, recognize when our emotions are piling up, and take action to prevent hazardous situations.

 One way to “check in” with ourselves is to set aside time to reflect and pray on what we’re saying and doing. Until that Saturday morning in the bookstore after my meltdown at the electronics store, I hadn’t been paying attention to how my trash was accumulating. I hadn’t noticed because for weeks I’d been caught up in the busyness of meeting various deadlines. I’d let my normal routines slide and omitted time for spiritual self-examination, prayer, journaling, and addressing my emotions. The result was extra stress and not being gracious to the people around me.

 Perhaps if I hadn’t been so driven to complete my to-do list I would have noticed the signals that would have alerted me that I was fast approaching overload. I was feeling dissatisfied with everyone and everything. I was focused solely on my problems and not considering the concerns of others. I’d neglected my basic needs, such as eating healthy foods and getting enough rest. The muscles in my shoulders were hard and tight, and I’d been experiencing headaches.

 We all have times when we break our routines to deal with the urgent. And that’s okay. But unless we’re also attentive to how our emotions are building to critical mass, we’ll find ourselves in trouble before we know it. But if we make the adjustments necessary to deal with our grudges, hurts, and irritations as we go along, we’ll cut down on how often our negative emotions control us.

 The list on the next page will help you know what to look for and be sensitive to so you will know if you’re approaching the danger zone. Use it as you would a mirror or scale to check out how you’re doing. And if you can identify other behaviors that may indicate you’re about to be carried away by your emotions, add them to the list. Feel free to make a copy of this list and post it where you’ll see it so you can regularly check on your progress.

 While everyone has bad days, you’ll want to pay attention to anything that is becoming a pattern in your life. The goal is to stop the accumulation of emotional trash before the bin overflows and reduce the amount of emotional garbage generated. When you set aside time for maintenance and remember to take the emotional junk to the dumpster, you’ll experience less stress, a healthier body, stronger relationships, and better attitudes.

Taking Out the Trash

Trash that we allow to pile up creates harmful conditions. Dealing with or emptying emotional trash reduces our stress and creates healthier conditions emotionally, physically, and mentally. Do you tend to allow your emotions to pile up? Do you know why?

Do you usually react to situations or respond to them? Explain.

What does that tell you about how you handle your emotions? Do you need to make some changes? What is the next step God is showing you?

Describe how emotions were handled in your home when you were growing up.

Did your parents discuss their feelings? Did your parents discuss and accept your feelings?

Did your family wait for a crisis before they dealt with feelings?

Did you grow up thinking you were the only person who ever felt angry or sad or frustrated?

What do your meltdown moments usually look like?

Do you get snappy with others?

Do you withdraw and give the silent treatment?

Do you yell or curse?

Do you remain polite but watch for an opportunity to get even?

Do you punch things or hit people or animals?

Other (describe):

Other (describe):

How often would those closest to you say you live in the danger zone? How often would they say you get really close to or in the danger zone?

Do people say they have to treat you with kid gloves or feel like they’re walking on eggshells around you?

How often do you say or do something you later regret?

How frequently do you fail to say or do something and regret it later?