“Hope Prevails” ~ A Review & Giveaway (Ends 7/16/17)

Have you ever gone through challenging times and found it difficult to hang onto your hope?  Or, have you even struggled with depression?  Have you wondered why your faith wasn’t enabling you to kick that depression in the teeth?  Or, have you ever found it difficult to believe what God says about you?  If so, you’re going to love Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a copy of this amazing book to review and a copy to bless one of our readers with….as well as a gorgeous & incredible gift box from the author!  (I’ll be sharing some goodies with my giveaway winner from that as well!)

 

I have read a lot of good books over the past year.  However, I must say that in all my reading, I don’t know that I’ve seen an author open the door on her own struggles and then describe them in such a way that I felt that she was talking about my own.  I endured a season of depression myself following a couple of serious surgeries and family difficulties several years ago.  While I would say that depression doesn’t describe my emotional state at this moment, I am in a place where Dr. Bengtson’s words are still of enormous value and assistance.  Readers of the finchnwren blog know that after having abdominal pain that just wouldn’t go away, I required surgery to remove a cyst in early May.  That cyst turned out to be cancerous, to my utter shock and disbelief!  The surgeon felt optimistic about having gotten all of it out, but he still recommended chemotherapy.  So I’ve completed the first third of the chemo journey (having had 2 of 6 sessions) but I am discovering that for me, the battlefield of the mind is almost as important as the battle being waged in my body.  How do I endure the physical challenges while hanging onto my hope, my faith, my belief in  God and that He is FOR me?  What a perfect book Hope Prevails is for my journey!

What will you find in Hope Prevails?

Author and neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengtson found, after treating patients for years in her own practice, that she required treatment for depression herself.  And she discovered that there was a crucial ingredient missing in common treatment options for depression; the spiritual aspect.  In Hope Prevails, you’ll find out what depression can look like, what it can do to you spiritually, and how you can integrate care of yourself spiritually to work alongside traditional treatment.  And receive true healing!

Each chapter begins with identification and description of depression plus the key elements of YOU, yourself, that can be tended on your walk toward healing.  Next, Dr. Bengtson gives the reader an Rx (prescription) to follow, that includes anything from Scriptures to read and review, brief research, prayers, and more.  She writes the most meaningful prayers for the reader/sufferer of depression, and concludes each chapter with a Recommended Playlist of praise and worship songs that are keyed to each chapter.  (You can find them by searching YouTube or iTunes.  Worth a listen!)

And Dr. Bengtson shares her own life, transparently, and how to address the spiritual component of the healing of depression in the following chapters (and others):

  • This Thing Called Depression
  • You Are Not Alone
  • The Underlying Causes of Depression
  • Recognize You Have An Enemy

These first chapters define depression in all its lack of glory, and remind us that there is an enemy of our souls who seeks to do us in, as Jesus instructs us in John 10:10:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

But then Jesus goes on to encourage us and remind us of the truth:  “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Life!  Not just painful existence.  The remainder of the chapters in Hope Prevails tell us about this full or abundant life, and how we can apprehend it:

  • Recover Your Joy
  • Reclaim Your Peace
  • Reestablish Your Identity
  • Know Your Worth
  • Remember  Your Secure Destiny
  • Be Confident That Nothing Separates You from God’s Love
  • God Uses Your Pain
  • The Way to Hope

Each of these chapters is so rich; each one speaks to a component of our spiritual identities (you know, the invisible part that makes each of us uniquely us), how each is affected by depression and its spiritual battles, and how we can regain strength and joy in them.

 

 

How Hope Prevails affected me

So…I’ve mentioned a bit to you about my own current physical, mental, and spiritual journey.  How I am walking through chemotherapy: one day–6 hours, actually–getting the IV infusions and then 20 more days of letting that medication do battle in my own body.  Then starting the whole process over again.

I can tell you (see my Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator for confirmation) that I am a great beginner.  I love starting new things, new classes, new projects.  But there is that spot, sometimes, in the middle of the journey where the fun isn’t as obvious, the grind has become the grind, and the newness has worn off.  Now nobody is really going to call chemotherapy a fun journey.  But there has been that newness of it: the not knowing what’s coming next, the unforeseen challenges.  All those kept me on my toes, really depending on God for what was around the next corner because we just had no clue.  But now I’m kind of noticing that we’re in that middle part; the routine.  Not that there won’t be unexpected surprises or challenges; but now I’m thinking that suddenly the circumstances (the pain, the medications/their effects, the trips to the doctor) aren’t my fight, I (my choices, my relationship with God, my mental battle) am my fight.  Or rather, my reacting to each day; knowing I might not be feeling my best or feeling well at all, but choosing to ENGAGE.  Engage with God; believe His truths; attempt to walk out my best in my life and with my family.  Sigh.  The middle.

What a powerful tool, what a valued companion Dr. Michelle Bengston has provided for me in my fight.  In each chapter, she defines what I am needing, whether it’s hope, joy, peace, identity, etc., and kindly and lovingly explains how I can grasp or attain it.  She provides truth to counter the enemy’s lies.  She includes Scripture that I’ve written in my journal or on cards for my vision board, so that I can remember what is real and true about my journey and about me.

How could Hope Prevails help you?

Now…most of you (and maybe even none of you!) are NOT undergoing my particular journey.  But perhaps you have experienced depression.  Maybe someone you love has.  Or it could be that you just desperately need to learn, remember, and know the truths the enemy would love for us to forget, but that God has given us in His Word.  Or, what if you’d just like to learn how you can grow in your own relationship with God?  If so, this book is for you!  (And keep reading because I have one copy to bless a reader with…that just might be you!)

I have to tell you that discovering that there had been a cyst in my body that was cancerous, and then going thru six rounds of chemotherapy, was NOT something that I was hoping for in my life!  But God has spoken Romans 8:28 over every one of us that loves and believes in Him…and He has spoken it over me and my life and journey to defeat illness as well.  I know that there will be a day when I can richly and fully say that I can rejoice in having gone through this.  If this also is something you desire to be able to say about your own pains and struggles, then that’s another reason to read this incredible book!

 

The unboxing of encouragement

Before I get to the giveaway, though, I have to share with you the absolutely wonderful gift box that I received from Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  It came to me at just the right moment, when I was home from surgery but still in significant pain from a wound infection.  WHAT an encouragement and blessing this box was!  Just at a moment when I needed something beautiful and wonderful to encourage me.  (Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Bengtson and The BlogAbout Network!)

 

 

Of course, you know after reading my review that I adored the book.  But at a time when I needed some beauty and love (and isn’t it nice to get that in a physical form from time to time?), I was blessed with that gorgeous scarf and the beautiful pearl bracelet that reads “Hope”!

 

 

I have to tell you that I wear the bracelet every time I go to chemotherapy.  It reminds me of beauty, that God is good, and that I have a hope to look forward to…not only in the life to come but in the here and now!

 

And now…enter to win some Hope Prevails goodies!

One reader will be selected to win a copy of Hope Prevails, a dog tag necklace with Jeremiah 29:11 on it, AND a delicious bar of chocolate from Dr. Michelle Bengtson!  Just click on the pink link below to be taken to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on July 16.  Best wishes!

Enter the giveaway here!

 

Don’t forget to visit Dr. Michelle Bengtson on social media, where you’ll find more encouragement and beauty

 

Her website, DrMichelleBengtson
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

 

Thank you for letting me share this powerful book (and goodies!) with you all.  Blessings!

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

 

 

 

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From Our Archives: Trim Healthy Mama, revisited!

Here’s something I want to revisit myself, that I blogged about some months ago.  It’s the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.

I have to admit that I haven’t eaten as healthily as I meant to this summer.  I’m hoping that seeing this in front of me will  help me to get back on track with some good food choices.

Enjoy!

Good morning, everyone!

Here is my newest “things we love!”

December 2015 020I actually reviewed the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook several weeks ago for Blogging for Books (see my review here).  I had been meaning to check out the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book, but decided to check out the cookbook first, to see if the plan foods were anything I would actually eat AND anything I would actually feed my family.

The answer to both questions is a resounding “yes!”

I have made:

  • cilantro lime chicken
  • berry milk (which is actually more of a smoothie, but  made with frozen fruits and almond milk)
  • crockpot fajitas
  • cream of mushroom soup
  • cheese cracker snack
  • enchilada casserole
  • and more!

There has only been one soup I’ve made that my family didn’t like.  Otherwise, we have loved everything!  (Well, the boys hate mushrooms, so I must admit that I’m the only one who ate the cream of mushroom soup.)

There are two things I really love about this plan (well, three).  First, the food is very, very good for our bodies, and very easy to digest.  That is really important for me in particular, but for hubby and kiddo as well.  Second, it’s very easy to prepare.  And that third thing?  The Trim Healthy Mama plan is extremely grace-filled.  Instead of it being a plan that applies guilt liberally when you don’t eat as you should, it just directs you to look toward your next meal, which you can make to be a healthy one!

I’m looking forward to sharing more fun Trim Healthy Mama meals with you.  But for today—just know I ADORE this cookbook!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Roasted Pepper Fajitas with a citrus crema!

Hello Fresh strikes again! The box arrived and the produce was all super fresh and all the ingredients were organic. This is an extremely easy recipe that takes 30 minutes start to finish, with delicious results!

Fajita box closedFajita box open

Ingredients:

  • 4 Flour or Spinach Tortillas
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Lime
  • 1/2 oz Cilantro
  • 4 oz Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 can Pinto Beans
  • Hot sauce to taste (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • Olive Oil
  • Water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cover baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Rinse your produce well. Cut out and remove all ribs and seeds from the bell peppers; then slice them into strips and place in small metal bowl. Drizzle 1 T of olive oil into the bowl, then add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss, coating evenly and spread out on your baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes until edges are crispy.

Fajita produce wash

Dice your red onion and set aside, then roughly chop your cilantro (I did not use the stems).

Fajita red onion and cilantro

Rinse your pinto beans.

Fajita beans washed

Remove your roasted peppers from the oven and set aside.

Fajita roasted peppers

Heat a large pan over medium heat, add 1 T of Olive oil and your onions, sauteing them for 4-5 minutes. Add your beans and half the cilantro, cooking them for approx. 15 minutes until heated through.  Add a splash of hot sauce.

Fajita beans cooking

Mash your beans, adding 5 tablespoons of water to moisten.

Fajita refried beans

Place the sour cream into a bowl, zest the outside of the lime into the bowl, cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of 1 half into the bowl, mix.

Fajita sour cream and zest

Heat two tortillas in the oven until warm, then assemble your fajitas garnishing with the remaining cilantro!

Fajitas finished

Enjoy—Finch!

Things We Love: Trim Healthy Mama

Good morning, everyone!

Here is my newest “things we love!”

December 2015 020I actually reviewed the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook several weeks ago for Blogging for Books (see my review here).  I had been meaning to check out the Trim Healthy Mama Plan book, but decided to check out the cookbook first, to see if the plan foods were anything I would actually eat AND anything I would actually feed my family.

The answer to both questions is a resounding “yes!”

I have made:

  • cilantro lime chicken
  • berry milk (which is actually more of a smoothie, but  made with frozen fruits and almond milk)
  • crockpot fajitas
  • cream of mushroom soup
  • cheese cracker snack
  • enchilada casserole
  • and more!

There has only been one soup I’ve made that my family didn’t like.  Otherwise, we have loved everything!  (Well, the boys hate mushrooms, so I must admit that I’m the only one who ate the cream of mushroom soup.)

There are two things I really love about this plan (well, three).  First, the food is very, very good for our bodies, and very easy to digest.  That is really important for me in particular, but for hubby and kiddo as well.  Second, it’s very easy to prepare.  And that third thing?  The Trim Healthy Mama plan is extremely grace-filled.  Instead of it being a plan that applies guilt liberally when you don’t eat as you should, it just directs you to look toward your next meal, which you can make to be a healthy one!

I’m looking forward to sharing more fun Trim Healthy Mama meals with you.  But for today—just know I ADORE this cookbook!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Mushroom Ragu with Polenta cakes!

This is my second favorite Hello Fresh dish (only to the one-pot Mexican Quinoa); it’s incredibly rich and amazing in flavor.

Ragu box closed

Ragu box open

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Mushrooms
  • 8 oz Polenta
  • 2 oz Arugula
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Sprig Thyme
  • 1/2 oz Parsley
  • 2 oz Sour Cream
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T Vegetable stock concentrate
  • 1 T Butter
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 splash of Lemon juise
  • Salt & Pepper

Mushrooms

Sliced mushrooms

Ragu basics

Polenta sliced

Polenta frying

Sauteed mushShallots and garlic

Ragu Spices simmering

Ragu simmering

Polenta plated

Ragu finished

I made the Arugula salad the next day and it was fantastic! Balsamic vinegar, Lemon juice and Olive Oil with Salt and Pepper to taste. Toss and top with shredded Parmesan cheese!

Arugula salad

We had quite a bit leftover and I made some penne and topped it with the Ragu, fabulous!

Penne and ragu

Enjoy…Finch!

Tomato-Basil Bisque!

My first foray into the world of Hello Fresh!

Super easy, quick and delicious! We took the picture of the finished product and ate it standing at the counter,,,it was that good. It came with organic greens for a balsamic salad (but we went straight to the good stuff and didn’t make)!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pkgs organic crushed Tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 yellow Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 oz fresh Basil
  • 2 oz Sour Cream
  • 4 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg Vegetable stock concentrate
  • 4 slices nutty Whole Wheat bread
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 T Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

Take the butter out of the fridge early so it comes to room temp. Mince the Onion. Mince the Garlic. Finely chop the Basil leaves, leaving a few unchopped for the garnish.

 

Heat 1 T butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic stirring, for 5-6 minutes until soft and slightly carmelized, salt and pepper.

 

Add the crushed toatoes, stock concentrate, sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, season with salt & pepper.

 

Grilled cheese sandwiches: divide the cheese between the two slices of bread and top with remaining bread. Coat both sides of the sandwiches with butter. Heat a large skillet over low heat, add the sandwiches to the non-stick pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until brown and crispy. Allow to cool and slice into quarters.

 

 

Remove the bisque from the heat, stir in chopped basil and sour cream. We used a hand held immersion blender to smooth out the bisque.

 

Garnish with basil leaves and a quarter of a sandwich. Dip and enjoy!

 

  • 35 minutes
  • vegetarian
  • Feeds 4 people (we froze half)!

This is a link and referral code if you are interested!

http://www.hellofresh.com/raf-helloshare/?c=HDAVEB

Enjoy…Finch!

Disclaimer:  Finch is an affiliate for Hello Fresh.  If you click on the referral code, she will receive a discount…but it will cost you nothing extra.  Thank you!

Beautiful New Products from Koru Naturals ~ A TOS Review

Earlier this year, my family and I were selected to review some incredible products from Koru Naturals.  Our experiences were so wonderful, and when the Schoolhouse Review Crew offered us a chance to review more unique products from Koru Naturals, we couldn’t have been happier!  I’d love to share our experiences with three more Koru Naturals products:  Skin Clear Cream, Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream, and Manuka Honey Propolis Soap.

Koru 2 Banner

What is Koru Naturals?

Koru Naturals is a company that is, philosophically, right up our alley.  They create natural hair, body, and skin care products with ingredients (like emu oil, Manuka honey, or Blue Tansy Oil) sourced right from New Zealand.  They use very few additives or artificial ingredients and all the oils are pure.  In our first experience with Koru Naturals, we tried their Emu Oil and Koolpurrie Restoring Balm, both of which we continue to use today on our hands and skin.  (If you’d like to learn more about those products, please click on the product names, and you can hear all about our experiences and why we think Koru is so great.)   The company’s name, Koru, comes from the Maori name for the tiny curling frond of a fern’s shoot.  This Maori word carries the meaning of strength, life, and peace.

Koru Naturals has an enormous array of natural body care products, and this time we tried their Skin Clear Cream, Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream, and Manuka Honey Propolis Soap.  I’d love to tell you more about each one!

 

Koru 2 pic 1Skin Clear Cream

Skin Clear Cream is a cream that is particularly suited to acne-prone skin.  However, it also works beautifully for the dry skin I have.  It is a rich skin cream but it’s not too heavy, nor does it leave any residue on skin.  It has a very light scent that’s easiest to describe as being lemony, but not exactly; the scent probably comes from its native New Zealand ingredients.  Are you familiar with these?

  • Manuka honey
  • East Cape Manuka tree oil, which is antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal
  • Kawakawa and Harakeke, which are Maori remedies for skin issues
  • Burdock, thyme and Canadian aspen bark

Interestingly, that last ingredient–the Canadian aspen bark–serves as a natural preservative.  But the Skin Clear Cream contains no parabens, artificial colors or fragrances.  And because it doesn’t have a chemical preservative, Koru Naturals recommends that you use the little spatula (pictured above in the cream, leaning against the side of the jar) to get the cream out of the jar.  You should also have clean hands, to prevent cross-contamination.  The jar I received contains 4 ounces, but it is really a LOT!  You can see how much is in that picture above.  And a little goes a long way.

I used the Skin Clear Cream as both a night cream and a day cream; the only difference being that I applied sunscreen over the cream in the daytime.  It is rich enough to use at night, but light enough to use in the day.  And, the light  makeup I normally wear applied easily over it.

Koru Naturals says that this cream also enhances the skin’s elasticity.  I guess you’d need a scientific study to really determine that, but I did feel that my skin looked healthier and better, and fine lines weren’t as pronounced.  I also liked the scent, although I normally avoid scented products.  It dissipated soon after I applied the cream.

In addition to applying the Skin Clear Cream on my face, I used it on my neck and also on the delicate décolleté area below my collarbones.  And during the times I got a little too much cream on the little spatula, I’d use the leftovers on the back of my hands.  It was really soothing!  As we move into the colder and drier times of the year, I can tell that this rich cream is a boon for my skin.  Fabulous!

**One thing to note is that the Skin Clear Cream is contraindicated for pregnant women.  Please be sure that you don’t use this if you are.**

 

Koru 2 Pic 3Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream

Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream is a long name for a fantastic cream. It is designed for topical use, to aid minor aches and pains.  This was the major reason I was interested in this review.  After I stand or walk for long periods of time, the bottoms of my feet often ache, especially at night.  Which can keep a person awake!  When I discovered that this topical cream might help with that, I was ecstatic.

Here are some of the key ingredients in this cream, and what they accomplish:

  • Blue Tansy Oil–an anti-inflammatory essential oil
  • Arnica Gel–anti-inflammatory and useful for bruises
  • MSM–used for pain
  • Emu Oil–anti-inflammatory, excellent moisturizer
  • Aloe Vera–soothing

We have used arnica gel for some time and really appreciated it.  And we’ve used emu oil and aloe vera.  But MSM and the Blue Tansy Oil were both new to us.

I have to say that I LOVE this product.  I am sure we’ll buy it again.  It has really produced noticeable results on aching feet, and I’ve also used it on my knees when they’ve been sore.  As a matter of fact, one night I woke up with my knees hurting (I had done a lot of walking the day before).  I got the cream out (I was keeping it on my bedside table),  put it on my knees, and went back to sleep.  It has been a wonderful way to get some pain relief without having to take an OTC pain reliever.

I’ve used it most often at night, but I have used it some in the day.  I have had to reapply it, though, when I have, within an hour or two.  It is very soothing.  The scent is rather minty but dissipates after application.  And, it is for external use only.  **Blue Tansy Oil is contraindicated for pregnant women, so please be sure you’re not using it if you are.**

 

Koru 2 pic 2Manuka Honey Propolis Soap

Yes, this soap is actually made from honey and propolis!  And the properties of the Manuka Honey Propolis Soap make the soap naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial, making it fantastic to use during cold and flu seasons.  It has a scent which reminds you of honey.

It is probably also the cutest bar of soap that you will ever see.  It comes in the 8-sided box above, and the 5-sided soap itself is shrink-wrapped in a thin sheet of plastic inside that.  Before I opened it, I would walk past it where it was sitting on my bookcase and I would pick it up and smell it.  And then I’d make my husband and son smell it too.

Koru 2 pic 4And, it has a little bee design right in the middle!

Sadly….and I really was sad about this.  Once we opened it, the scent was really too strong for all three of us.  I don’t wear perfumes or colognes (just the occasional body spray) because of allergies in our family.  So although I’m sure the scent is absolutely natural, it was a bit too much for us.  Still, it lathers beautifully and washes well.  It doesn’t dry your hands out when you use it.  And it’s made from fantastic ingredients.

In conclusion:

I am a huge fan of Koru Naturals products.  And, these newest three products to us only reinforced my great opinion of them.  We will continue to purchase them.  And I am happy to recommend them to you!

You may purchase Skin Clear Cream, Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream, and Manuka Honey Propolis Soap at Koru Naturals.  Go and visit them!  You will be amazed at the cool products they have at this great company.

You can also click on the banner below and see what other Crew members thought of Koru Naturals products.  They tried a variety of them, including some shampoos and conditioners, hair tonic, facial cleanser, toner, as well as what I reviewed.

And remember: these statements are not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, nor have they been evaluated by the FDA.  I am, of course, a blogger and homeschool mama—not a doctor!  🙂

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/korunaturals
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/korunaturals/

Enjoy! –Wren

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