Monday, January 30, 2012

Baby Bella Maya Lacy Legging Gift Pack Review and Giveaway

Baby Bella Maya has the perfect Valentine's gifts for both little girls and boys! They carry beautiful: baby carrier covers, baby gift sets, blankets, headbands, infant car seat covers, toddler car seat covers, lacy leggings, ruffled diaper covers, shoes and Tellurian Baby care products.

We got to try a 3 pack of their Lacy Leggings in 12-18 months. They came in the sweetest packaging that reminded me of a candy wrapper. They are the perfect gift for Valentine's Day and that is why I had to include them in my Valentine's Amore Gift Guide! My littlest, Zari, looks so adorable in these. They add just the right amount of lace to an ensemble. Whether your little girl likes to dress up in frilly things or just add a touch of femininity to her outfit the Baby Bella Maya Lacy Leggings are just the ticket. The only downsides to these: if you have Velcro on your child's diapers it might take hold of the lace, as I unfortunately found out, (If it does this just be very careful to remove it so that it doesn't cause damage.) and these leggings should only be hand washed and air dried flat. I love dressing my girls in dresses and skirts! I also love leggings to pair with them. The Baby Bella Maya Lacy Leggings are perfect because they come in 3 different colors: pink, white and black. They match so many dresses and skirts the girls have already. Not only that but they look great with both casual and dressy outfits. They are calf length and footless. They are also comfortable and so much softer than that starchy scratchy lace since they are made with 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex. These are wonderful for any occasion and so very perfect for dressing your little girl up for Valentine's Day!

Lacy Leggings are available for purchase at $27.99 per 3 pack on Baby Bella Maya. You can also purchase them separately for $10. Available in size 6-12 months, 12-18 months, and 18-24 months.

Lynn at Baby Bella Maya is generously giving one lucky reader a chance to win a 3 pack of Lacy Leggings in the size of your choice.

Go to the Baby Bella Maya website and tell me what else you really love.

Additional entries:
1. Subscribe to my blog by feedburner or by email and let me know which way. (3 extra entries each)

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4. Blog about this giveaway on your blog and provide me with the link. Make sure you have the link to this post and Baby Bella Maya in your blog entry or it won't count. (2 extra entries)

5. Give me a brief POSITIVE review on Alexa and provide me with your user name. (3 extra entries)

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9. List this giveaway on any giveaway listing website or blog Linky/Link-up and tell me where you listed it. (2 extra entries)

10. Write about this giveaway with a link to this post on your Facebook wall, Kirtsy, StumbleUpon, Google+ or other social media website besides Twitter. Let me know where. (2 extra entries for each)

11. Comment on my regular (not giveaway) posts. Let me know which one. (1 extra entry per post you comment on)

12. Follow me on Twitter. (1 extra entry)

13. Tweet this: @finamoon: @BabyBellaMaya #WIN #Giveaway 3 Pack of Lacy Leggings (Daily Extras are Available)

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Make sure you leave me your email in all posts so that I can contact you. Don't forget to leave a comment for each task and the correct amount of entries for each task. This contest ends on Friday February 24, 2012 at midnight (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada). This Giveaway is open to all 18 years and over in the U.S. ONLY!!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Baby Bella Maya for sending me product for free to review and one to give away for free. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love Out Loud: 365 Devotions for Loving God, Loving Yourself, and Loving Others by Joyce Meyer FWCT Book Review

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:

FaithWords (November 2, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street | Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***


Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than eighty inspirational books, including The Secret to True Happiness, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings, as well as a complete video library. Joyce’s Enjoying Everyday Life radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit the author's website. Visit the author's twitter. Visit the author's Facebook.


Jesus said, "You must love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." - Luke10:27

If one had to choose a single verse in the Bible that is a formula for successful living, this would be the one to live by, says Joyce Meyer: love God, yourself and others - in that order.

Many Christians get mixed up about love. They know they should love God and others, but many do not understand that loving oneself is one-third of God's equation. They mistakenly think of it as selfishness or self-aggrandizement.

Joyce Meyer believes that this misconception is one of the greatest pitfalls in the Christian journey. Loving oneself in a balanced, healthy manner is essential in order to have healthy relationships with God, ourselves and others.

Drawing upon her previous work and teaching series as well as original devotions, the author of Power Thoughts examines the three loves that we've been commanded to exhibit.

Product Details:

  • List Price: $16.99

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: FaithWords (November 2, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0446538477

ISBN-13: 978-0446538473

AND NOW...Press the Browse Button to Read THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Juice Lady's Weekend Weight-Loss Diet: Two days to a new dress size by Cherie Calbom, MS FWCT Book Review

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:

Siloam (December 13, 2011)

***Special thanks to PUBLICIST'S NAME of PUBLICIST'S COMPANY for sending me a review copy.***


Cherie Calbom, MS, is the author of The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet, The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution, and Juicing for Life, which has nearly two million books in print in the United States. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, Cherie has worked as a clinical nutritionist and has a master’s degree in nutrition.

Visit the author's website.


Jump-Start Your Diet…

Detox Your System…

Lose a Dress Size…

Shrink Your Love Handles . . .

…with this two-day diet program that helps you get healthy for life.

Start Friday night with a juice or green smoothie dinner. Then have an all-liquid Saturday and Sunday breakfast and lunch, followed by a raw food dinner Sunday night. It’s easy, delicious, and requires only a weekend commitment!

Look and feel great for a special event

Motivate yourself for continued weight loss

Cleanse your system after a stressful week

Jump-start your living foods lifestyle!

Product Details:

  • List Price: $12.99

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Siloam (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616386568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616386566


    Weight Loss on a Mission

    The World Health Organization estimates that by 2015, there will be more than 1.5 billion overweight consumers, incurring health costs beyond $117 billion per year in the US alone.1 It’s obvious that we need to do something differently. We need a new way of life—a revolution in how we eat, one that we adopt for the rest of our lives.

    What if you found a weight-loss program that could help you lose weight more effectively than anything you’ve ever tried? And what if that program didn’t involve expensive meals you had to order, pills you had to buy, or anything other than great whole foods you prepare in your kitchen? What if that program helped

    you look and feel better than ever? And what if it was such an energizing way of life that you wanted to follow it for the rest of your life? Are you interested?

    The Juice Lady’s Weekend Weight-Loss Diet is a fast track to just such a program. This two-day jump start can lead you into a transformative lifestyle that is helping thousands of people lose weight, keep it off for good, and completely revolutionize their health. This is what I call weight loss on a mission—the mission is

    to help you become healthy, happy, and filled with life, as well as slim and fit. (You’ll find a complete weight-loss juicing program in my book The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet.)

    Freshly made vegetable juices are at the center of the weekend weight-loss diet. They provide concentrated sources of very absorbable nutrients. They are low in fat and calories, so replacing higher-calorie foods with fresh juice is a shoo-in for weight-loss success.

    But the benefits of juicing don’t stop there. Vegetable juices help curb cravings because they satisfy your body’s nutrient needs. They’re alkaline, which is very helpful to balance out a system that’s most probably too acidic. They’re also high in antioxidants that are antiaging and immune enhancing—that means you’re giving your body the things it needs to start looking and feeling younger.

    Fresh Juice—a Cornucopia of Nutrients

    Every time you pour a glass of juice, picture a cornucopia of nutrients cascading into your body, promoting health, revving up your metabolism, balancing weight, and increasing vitality. This melange of nutrients can change your life—completely change your life—as it completely changed mine! Here’s what every glass of juice provides.

    Amino acids

    Did you ever consider juice to be a source of protein? Most people would say no. Surprisingly, it does offer more amino acids than you might think. We use amino acids to form muscles, ligaments, tendons, hair, nails, and skin. Protein is needed to create enzymes, which direct chemical reactions, and hormones, which

    guide bodily functions. Fruits and vegetables contain lower quantities of protein than animal foods such as muscle meats and dairy products. Therefore they are thought of as poor protein sources. But juices are concentrated forms of vegetables and so provide easily absorbed amino acids, the building blocks that make up protein. For example, 16 ounces of carrot juice (2–3 pounds of carrots) provides about 5 grams of protein (the equivalent of about a chicken wing or 2 ounces of tofu). I don’t recommend drinking that much carrot juice because of the sugar content, but that’s an example.

    Vegetable protein is not complete protein, so it does not provide all the amino acids your body needs. In addition to lots of dark leafy greens, when you finish your weekend weight-loss kick start, you’ll want to eat other protein sources, such as sprouts, legumes (beans, lentils, and split peas), nuts, seeds, and whole grains. If you’re not vegan, you can add eggs and free-range, grass-fed muscle meats such as chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef along with wild-caught fish.


    Most vegetable juice contains good carbohydrates. The exceptions would be carrots and beets, which have higher sugar content. They should be used in small quantities and diluted with low-sugar vegetable juices such as cucumber and dark leafy greens. Carbs provide fuel for the body, which it uses for energy, heat production, and chemical reactions. The chemical bonds of carbohydrates lock in the energy a plant takes up from the sun and soil, and this energy is released when the body burns plant food as fuel.

    There are three categories of carbs: simple (sugars), complex (starches and fiber), and fiber. Choose more complex carbohydrates in your diet than simple carbs. There are more simple sugars in fruit juice than vegetable juice, which is why I recommend you juice primarily vegetables, use low-sugar fruit for flavor and a little sweetness, and in most cases drink no more than 4 ounces of fruit juice a day.

    Both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber are found in whole fruits and vegetables—both types are needed for good health. It’s amazing how many people still say juice doesn’t have any fiber. It contains the soluble form—pectin and gums, which are excellent for the digestive tract. Soluble fiber also helps to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and improve good bowel bacteria and elimination.

    Essential fatty acids

    There is very little fat in fruit and vegetable juices, but the fats juice does contain are essential to your health. The essential fatty acids (EFAs)—linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids in particular—found in fresh juice function as components of nerve cells, cellular membranes, and hormonelike substances called prostaglandins. They are also required for energy production.


    Fresh juice is replete with vitamins, but heat and processing destroy vitamins. We need these organic substances because they take part, along with minerals and enzymes, in chemical reactions throughout the body. For example, vitamin C participates in the production of collagen, one of the main types of protein found in the body that keeps your skin looking fresh and youthful rather than sagging and aging. Fresh juices are excellent sources of water-soluble vitamins such as C, many of the B vitamins, and some fat-soluble vitamins such as E and K, along with key phytonutrients like beta-carotene (known as pro-vitamin A), lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. They also are coupled with cofactors that increase the effectiveness of each nutrient; for example, vitamin C and bioflavonoids work together synergistically to make each more effective.


    There are about two dozen minerals that your body needs to function well, and they’re abundant in fresh juice. They make up part of bones, teeth, and blood, and they help maintain normal cellular function. The major minerals include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. Trace

    minerals, which include boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel, selenium, vanadium, and zinc, are those needed in very small amounts.

    Minerals occur in inorganic forms in the soil, and plants incorporate them into their tissues. As a part of this process, the minerals are combined with organic molecules into easily absorbable forms, which makes plants an excellent dietary source of minerals. Juicing is believed to provide even better mineral absorption than whole vegetables because the process of juicing releases minerals into a highly absorbable, easily digestible form.


    These living molecules are prevalent in raw foods, but heat, such as cooking and pasteurization, destroys them. Enzymes facilitate the biochemical reactions necessary for life. They are complex structures composed predominantly of protein and usually require additional cofactors to function, including vitamins; minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron; and other elements. Fresh juice is chock-full of enzymes. Without them we would not have life.

    When you eat and drink enzyme-rich foods, these little molecules help break down food in the digestive tract, thereby sparing the pancreas, liver, and stomach—the body’s enzyme producers—from overwork. This sparing action is known as the “law of adaptive secretion of digestive enzymes,” which asserts that the body will adapt or change the amount of digestive enzymes it produces according to what is needed. According to this law, when a portion of the food you eat is digested by enzymes present in the food, the

    body won’t need to secrete as much of its own enzymes. This allows the body’s energy to be shifted from digestion to other functions such as repair and rejuvenation.

    Fresh juices require very little energy expenditure to digest. That is one reason why people who start consistently drinking fresh veggie juice often report that their digestion and elimination improve and that they feel better and more energized right away.


    Plants contain substances know as phytochemicals that protect them from disease, injury, and pollution. Phyto means plant, and chemical in this context means nutrient. There are tens of thousands of phytochemicals in the foods we eat. For example, the average tomato may contain up to ten thousand different types of these nutrients, with one of the most famous being lycopene. Phytochemicals give plants their color, odor, and flavor. Unlike vitamins and enzymes, they are heat stable and can withstand cooking. Some of them, such as lycopene, appear to be more effective when cooked.


    There’s one more substance abundant in raw foods that is more difficult to measure than the others. It’s known as biophotons, which is light energy that is found in the living cells of raw plant foods. These photons have been shown to emit coherent light energy when uniquely photographed (Kirlian photography). This light energy is believed to have many benefits when consumed, such as aiding cellular communication and feeding the mitochondria and the DNA. They are believed to contribute to our energy, vitality, and a feeling of vibrancy and well-being.

    Now that you’ve learned about the powerful nutritional punch packed inside each glass of juice you drink, let’s consider how this applies to weight loss.

    Power Foods That Give Your Weight Loss a Big Boost

    In addition to some of the basic steps you can take to achieve weight loss success, there are specific foods you can add to your weight-loss program that will make a huge difference in assisting your body in burning fat. These super foods can help you succeed and give you super-size health dividends at the same time. Be sure to add them to your weight-loss program.

    Green juice: the number one fat cure. In honor of his hundredth show, Dr. Oz served on the set his favorite green juice drink to one hundred people who had lost thirteen thousand pounds combined. This blend of cucumbers, apple, and leafy greens started a new wave of interest in green juices for weight loss. So why do green juices work so well? Dr. Oz cites the fact that they compensate for the fact that most of us are simply not getting sufficient nourishment from standard diets. He says, “We know we have to have at least five fistfuls of leafy green vegetables and fruit every day, so we make a morning green drink.”2

    There’s evidence to suggest that even if we took the time to chew up five cups of green veggies each day, we wouldn’t get as much benefit from them as we would from juicing them. The mechanical process of juicing the vegetables breaks apart plant cell walls and makes absorption better than even when the best “chewers” chew their food at least thirty times before swallowing. It has an effect like throwing marbles at a chain-link fence rather than tennis balls; their contents are going to go through in a way that tennis balls can’t.

    The juices contain easily absorbed micronutrients that will do more than slim you down—they’ll optimize your overall health and wellness. There’s science behind the green juices transformative powers and a number of reasons why the juices, along with a high intake of living foods, energize your body, fire up your metabolism, speed slimming, and overhaul your health. Here’s the evidence as to why it works.

    Green Veggies Help Lower the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

    Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. One study revealed that an increase of just one and onehalf servings a day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of diabetes.3

    Magnesium-rich greens ramp up your energy. A British study comparing the metabolism of female twins found that magnesium intake was the most important dietary variable that determined adiponectin levels.4 Adiponectin is a fat cell hormone that promotes insulin sensitivity. This hormone has recently gained attention from researchers because of its regulation of glucose and fat metabolism. Elevated levels of adiponectin are associated with increased insulin sensitivity and fat burning. Adiponectin also seems to work closely with leptin—a hormone that helps control the appetite. As you lose weight, this hormone gets a boost. Fresh fruit and vegetables have a positive influence on this hormone, which is made in fat cells. It boosts metabolism and helps regulate inflammation, which, consequently, helps to prevent weight gain, becoming a type 2 diabetic, or developing heart disease.

    This new study shows very clearly that adequate magnesium is imperative to maintaining adiponectin levels. This means that a deficiency of magnesium, which is common in America, is a clear contributor to the problems people have with weight management. Magnesium also plays a key role in fighting off stress and anxiety, supporting restful sleep, preventing restless leg syndrome, and boosting energy.

    Further, magnesium helps prevent fat storage. When magnesium is low, cells fail to recognize insulin. As a result, glucose accumulates in the blood—and then it gets stored as fat instead of being burned for fuel. Green plants, which are rich in magnesium, are far superior to magnesium supplements because the supplements’ particles are a bit large for the body to entirely absorb. (I’m in favor of taking magnesium supplements, if they are needed, but as an adjunct to a magnesium-rich diet.) Green plants take inorganic minerals from the soil through their tiny roots and incorporate them into their cells. They become organic particles that are much smaller and easier for the body to absorb. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of a plant’s minerals is delivered to the cells when you juice the greens. So juice up those leaves—chard, collards, beet tops, parsley, spinach—the five highest in magnesium, plus kohlrabi leaves, kale, dandelion greens, lettuce, and mustard greens.

    Here’s the good news—you’ll increase your energy with this highoctane fuel! That means you’ll get more done and feel more like working out, so you’ll burn more calories and build more muscle.

    Enzymes Speed Fat Burning

    Our bodies produce enzymes that are used in digesting the food we eat. They can be found in the saliva, small intestine, stomach, liver, and pancreas. These hardworking little catalysts break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into fatty acids, amino acids, and forms of glucose that feed your cells.

    Enzymes are responsible for a host of reactions in the body. All the minerals, herbs, vitamins, and hormones we take can’t do their jobs without enzymes. When your diet is deficient in enzymes from live foods (uncooked, not processed), your body has to work harder to produce the enzymes it needs. If you’re deficient, you may experience weight gain, depression, and many other maladies that plague modern society.

    Enzymes are truly weight-loss supermen. But these magic bullets start decreasing as we age—by age thirty-five most people see a decline in their enzyme production. Still, we need them for weight loss and good digestion. It’s enzymes that assist in the breakdown and burning of fat.

    This is where juices come to the rescue—as I mentioned earlier, they’re packed with enzymes. Eating a high percentage of raw food is important because cooking and processing our food destroys enzymes. When you drink fresh, live juices and eat plenty of living foods, the enzymes they contain kick your metabolism into gear by helping to spare your liver and pancreas from working so hard. Then these organs can focus on their metabolic tasks of burning fat and producing energy. And your digestion will improve. This affects your whole life, your whole being.

    Three Super-Hero Enzymes

    Lipase. Lipase is a fat-splitting enzyme that is abundant in raw foods. It assists your body in digestion,

    fat distribution, and fat burning. However, few of us eat enough raw foods to get sufficient lipase

    to burn even a normal amount of fat, not to mention any excess fat. Without lipase, fat accumulates.

    You can see it on your hips, thighs, buttocks, and stomach. Lipase is richest in raw foods that contain

    some fat, such as sprouted seeds and nuts, avocado, and fresh coconut meat.

    Protease. As your body burns flab, toxins are released into your system. This can cause water retention and bloating. Protease is a digestive enzyme that helps to break down proteins and eliminate toxins. Eliminating toxins is essential when you’re burning fat. If your body is storing toxins, it’s very difficult to burn fat. But protease comes to the rescue and attacks and eliminates toxins. So, as you can see, it’s crucial to have plenty of protease during weight loss. Protease is richest in the leaves of plants. So juice up those

    green leaves and burn fat. Plus, the greens are also rich in antioxidants that bind up toxins and carry them out of your system so they won’t hurt your cells. That means you’ll get double action with green juices.

    Amylase. Amylase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. It’s also present in saliva. So while we chew our food, it goes to work on carbs. That’s why it’s recommended that you chew each mouthful of food about thirty times. The pancreas also makes amylase. And amylase is plentiful in seeds that contain starch. (You can juice most seeds of fruits and vegetables.) Its therapeutic use is in regulation of histamine, which is produced in response to recognized invaders to the body. Histamine is a responder in allergic reactions such as hay fever and is what causes hives, itchy watery eyes, sneezing,

    and runny noses. Amylase breaks down the histamine produced by the body in response to allergens like pollen or dust mites. Some health professionals believe it may help the body identity the allergen as not being harmful so it doesn’t produce the histamine in the first place. This is one reason that people on a high raw plant diet often experience improvement in their allergies. For the most effective approach to increasing

    enzymes, you may also want to take an enzyme supplement. I especially like an enzyme formula that

    is taken between meals—it cleans up any undigested particles of food floating around the system and

    greatly improves digestion. A popular side benefit is that your hair gets thicker and your nails grow

    stronger. (For more information on these enzymes, see Appendix A.)

    Greens Alkalize Your Body and Promote Weight Loss

    Many people eat a high-sugar breakfast consisting of foods and drinks such as orange juice, toast, jam, honey, sweetened cereal, sweet rolls, doughnuts, muffins, waffles, or pancakes. All this sugar and simple carbohydrates (which turn to sugar easily) promote acidity and cause yeast and fungus to grow. They also produce a lot of acid. Traditional high-protein breakfast foods such as omelets, cheese, bacon, sausage, and meat promote elevated acid levels in the body as well. Add to that highly acidic drinks such as coffee, black

    tea, sodas, alcohol, and sports drinks, and acidic foods for lunch and dinner, and you’re consuming loads of acid-forming foods throughout the day. Keep in mind that acid-forming food does not mean the state of the food when you eat or drink it but the final ash residue after it is metabolized. As a result of this style of eating, along with not eating enough green veggies and other living foods, many people suffer from a condition known as mild acidosis, which is an out-of-balance pH leaning toward acidity. This means that the body is continually fighting to maintain pH balance.

    One of the symptoms of acidosis is weight gain and an inability to lose weight. That’s because the body tends to store acid in fat cells and to hang on to those cells to protect your delicate tissues and organs. It will even make more fat cells in which to store acid, if they’re needed. To turn this scenario around, it’s important to alkalize your body. Greens are one of the best choices you could make because they’re very alkaline. And juicing them gives you an easy way to consume a lot more than you could chew up in a day.

    To give your body a great start in rebalancing your pH, make 60 percent to 80 percent of your diet alkalizing foods such as green vegetables, raw juices, grasses such as wheatgrass juice, fresh vegetables and fruit, raw seeds, nuts, and sprouts. Greatly limit or avoid your consumption of acid-forming foods such as meat, dairy products, chocolate, sweets, bread and all other yeast products, alcohol, carbonated drinks, sports drinks, coffee, and black tea. When pH balance is achieved, the body should automatically drop to its ideal, healthy weight unless you have other health challenges. (But those should heal too over time.) As the acidic environment is neutralized with mineral-rich alkaline foods, there will be no need for your body to create new fat cells for storage of acid. And since the remaining fat is no longer needed to store acid wastes, it simply melts away.

    This is also a great way to restore your health. Many diseases such as cancer thrive in an acidic state. Take away the acid, and they don’t do as well. An alkaline diet also boosts your energy level, improves skin, reduces allergies, sustains the immune system, and enhances mental clarity.

    Thermogenic Foods Rev Up Your Metabolism

    Thermogenesis means the production of heat, which raises metabolism and burns calories. Thermogenic foods are essentially fat-burning foods and spices that help increase your metabolism. This means that with some of your kitchen staples, you can burn off fat during or right after you eat and increase your fat-burning potential just by eating them. So include these super foods often in your juices and recipes.

    Hot peppers. Imagine eating hot peppers and revving up your metabolism enough to lose weight. A study in 2010 found that obesity was caused by a lack of thermogenic response in the body rather than by overeating or lack of exercise. “The animals developed obesity mainly because they didn’t produce enough heat after eating, not because the animals ate more or were less active,” said Dr. Yong Xu, instructor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and co-lead author of the study.5 Another study found that hot peppers turn up the internal heat, which helps in burning calories.6 You can add hot peppers or a dash of hot sauce to many juice recipes or almost any dish and make it taste delicious.

    Garlic. When it comes to weight loss, garlic appears to be a miracle food. A team of doctors at Israel’s Tel Hashomer Hospital conducted a test on rats to find out how garlic can prevent diabetes and heart attacks, and they found an interesting side effect—none of the rats given allicin (a compound in garlic) gained weight.7

    Garlic is a known appetite suppressant. The strong odor of garlic stimulates the satiety center in the brain, thereby reducing feelings of hunger. It also increases the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that controls appetite. Further, garlic stimulates the nervous system to release hormones such as adrenalin, which speed up metabolic rate. This means a greater ability to burn calories. More calories burned means less weight gained—a terrific correlation.

    Ginger. Ginger contains a substance that stimulates gastric enzymes, which can boost metabolism. The better your metabolism, the more calories you’ll burn. It has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory—

    inflammation is implicated in obesity. Ginger helps improve gastric motility—the spontaneous peristaltic movements of the stomach that aid in moving food through the digestive system. When the digestive system is functioning at its best, you’ll experience less bloating and constipation. It has also been found to

    lower cholesterol. And ginger is the top vegan source of zinc, which gives a big boost to your immune system. Top that off with the fact that it tastes delicious in juice recipes, and you have a super spice. I add it to almost every juice recipe I make.

    Parsley. This dark green herb offers a great way to make your dishes and juices super healthy. Parsley helps you detox because it’s chock-full of antioxidants, like vitamin C and flavonoids, and it’s loaded with minerals and chlorophyll. It’s also a natural diuretic, which helps you get rid of stored water. That means thinner ankles, feet, and fingers. And it improves digestion and strengthens the spleen as well. You can add a handful of parsley to almost any juice recipe and you won’t even know it’s there.

    Cranberries. Studies show that cranberries are loaded with acids that researchers believe are useful in dissolving fat deposits. When fat deposits settle in the body, they are hard to get rid of, so it’s best to get them before they get “hooked on” you. Some studies point out that the enzymes in cranberries can aid metabolism, which gives a boost to weight loss.8This tart little fruit is a natural diuretic, helping you get rid of excess water and bloating. Of all the fruits, cranberries rank number two for antioxidant content, which helps detoxify the body. And they promote healthy teeth and gums, fight urinary track infections, improve heart health, and keep cancer at bay.

    Kathy, who was featured in my “Holiday Fat Buster” article in the December 27, 2010, issue of Woman’s World, issue, lost 5 pounds in seventy-two hours drinking a cranberry, pear, cucumber, and ginger

    cocktail along with the rest of the Turbo Juice Diet Program. Within a week Kathy’s tummy was down 5.5 inches—she said she had to keep measuring to make sure it was right. Regarding the juice diet program, she said, “Overall, I had a lot of energy and no hunger.”9 You can add cranberries to many recipes for a delicious enhancer to your juice drinks and a boost to your weight loss at the same time. If you buy these berries when they’re in season, you can freeze a few packages to have on hand for seasons when they aren’t available.

    Blueberries. A 2010 study found that blueberries can help you get rid of belly fat, thanks to the high level of phytochemicals (antioxidants) they contain. The study also showed that blueberries are helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes, and the benefits were even greater when the blueberries were combined with a low-fat diet.10 Moreover, blueberries can also help fight hardening of the arteries and improve the memory.

    Lemons. Adding just a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to your water, salad, or soup will help ward off cravings, alkalize your body, and keep your insulin levels in check. Hot lemon water with a dash of cayenne pepper is a great way to start your day—it gets the liver, your fat-burning organ, moving in the morning. It’s also a natural diuretic and helps clear out toxins from your system. Further, it aids the digestive process and prevents constipation. It can also help alleviate heartburn—just add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to water and drink with your meal. Limonene, a compound in lemons, helps short-circuit the production of acid in the stomach—lemons are very alkalizing. Meyer lemons, my favorite, are sweeter and are available in the winter.

    The Low-Glycemic Benefits of Juicing

    The glycemic index has become a popular weight-loss tool based in part on the fact that high-glycemic foods raise blood sugar levels, cause the body to secrete excess insulin, and lead to the storage of fat. Originally developed to help diabetics manage blood sugar control, the glycemic index has become popular in the weight-loss market largely because it works so well. Researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that patients who lost weight with a low-glycemic diet kept the weight off longer than patients who lost the same amount of weight with a low-fat diet.11

    The glycemic index (GI) diet refers to a system of ranking carbohydrates according to how much a certain amount of each food raises a person’s blood sugar level. It’s determined by measuring how much a 50-gram serving of carbohydrate raises a person’s blood sugar level compared with a control.

    Virtually all carbohydrates are digested into glucose and cause a temporary rise in blood glucose levels, called the glycemic response. But some foods raise it more than others. This response is affected by many factors, including the quantity of food, the amount and type of carbohydrate, how it’s cooked or eaten raw, and the degree of processing. Each food is assigned an index number from 1 to 100, with 100 as the reference score for pure glucose. Typically, foods are rated high (greater than 70), moderate (56–69), and low (less than 55). Low-glycemic foods, especially raw carbohydrates, can help control blood sugar, appetite, and weight. Though helpful for everyone, they are especially helpful for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

    Low-glycemic foods are absorbed more slowly, allowing a person to feel full longer and therefore be less likely to overeat. Raw food experts such as Dr. John Douglass have found that raw carbohydrates such as the raw juices are better tolerated than cooked carbs. They don’t elicit the addictive cravings that cooked foods cause. Douglass believes, as does the Finish expert A. I. Virtanen, that the enzymes in raw food play an important role in the way they stimulate weight loss as they do in the treatment of obesity.12

    When you get to chapter 6, “Beyond the Weekend,” you will be encouraged to choose most of your carbohydrate foods from the low-glycemic index and a large percentage of those foods as raw. The foods I recommend eating after you’ve completed your weekend weight-loss diet (see Appendix B) are for the most part low glycemic and are nutrient-rich, not refined, and higher in fiber—like whole vegetables, fruit, and legumes (beans, lentils, split peas).

    Not All Carbs Are Created Equal

    Different carbohydrates take different pathways in the body after digestion. For example, some starchy foods are bound by an outer layer of very complex starches (fiber) like the legumes (beans, lentils, split peas), which increases the time it takes for them to be digested. So even though legumes are relatively high in carbohydrates, they have a lower glycemic response because of their complex encasing.

    There is also the antioxidant potential of foods to consider, meaning the amount of antioxidant nutrients a food contains, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C that are abundant in many fruits and vegetables. In Chinese culture, carrots are often used as cooling medicine. Carrots, beets (both very rich in beta-carotene),

    and other brightly colored vegetables are especially important to include in our diet to prevent disease. These days many health professionals suggest we eliminate carrots and beets because of their glycemic rating, but the weekend weight-loss diet does not exclude them because of their high nutrient and fiber content. But I do recommend that you use them in small amounts because they are higher in sugar.

    Also, please keep in mind that not all low-glycemic foods are healthy fare. Low-glycemic foods include candy bars and potato chips. These foods are very nutrient depleted, contain sugar or turn to sugar easily,

    and lack fiber. You need to get the best nutrition for your choices. With this plan, there’s no obsessing over the glycemic index either, just a basic understanding of the principles. Keep in mind that certain factors can change a score, such as the riper the fruit, the higher the glycemic index score. But always choose ripe fruits and vegetables over unripe; they are healthier by far. Adding good fat to foods can lower the GI score. And keep in mind that the GI response to any given food also varies widely from person to person.

    It can even vary within the same person from day to day. So it’s important to listen to your body and determine how the foods you are eating are affecting you.

    More Than Weight Loss

    Years ago when I was taking prerequisites for my master of science program in whole foods nutrition at Bastyr University, I worked for a weight-loss center part time as a nutrition counselor. I noticed that a number of people who entered the program looked healthy, meaning they had good skin color and tone and vibrancy—they were just overweight. Soon into the program, I noticed that though they were losing weight, they weren’t looking healthier. I observed a loss of skin tone, skin color turning a grayish pallor, and a loss of energy and vitality. I was alarmed. Even as a student I knew that it was not just about dropping weight; it was about getting healthier. I quit the job, unable to promote something that I felt did harm.

    When you embark on a weight-loss program, it should be about getting healthier along with losing weight. Whether you want to lose 10, 20, 50, 100, or even 200 pounds, it isn’t just about getting the weight off any way you can. I know people who have lost weight through drastic means and ruined their health in the process.

    Losing weight with vegetable juices and kicking off your program with the Weekend Weight-Loss Diet is the first step in choosing a weight-loss regimen that doesn’t sacrifice your health. That’s why I’m excited about introducing you to the Weekend Weight-Loss Diet. I know what it can do for you. So many people have praised this program and my other juice diets because of the increased health and energy they experienced. And if they can experience these great results, you can too. You’re off to a great start and a

    lifetime of fitness!

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Growing Great Kids: Partner with God to cultivate His purpose in your child's life by Kate Battistelli FWCT Book Review

    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:

    Charisma House (January 3, 2012)

    ***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***


    Kate Battistelli is a wife, former Broadway actress, and mom to one of Christian music’s most celebrated new recording artists—Grammy-nominated, Christian contemporary singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli. Kate currently writes a popular blog at, volunteers at ESTHER Single Mothers Outreach, and is thoroughly enjoying her newest role as grandmother to Francesca’s first child, Matthew Elijah.

    Visit the author's website.


    Help your child become everything God made them to be.

    Successful adults don’t happen by accident. It takes wisdom to raise your children with a strong sense of their destiny in God and a deep knowledge of their gifts and callings.

    In Growing Great Kids, Kate Battistelli shares what she and her husband, Mike, learned about parenting during the journey of raising their daughter—Dove Award–winning recording artist Francesca Battistelli. Using anecdotes to illustrate the insights she and her husband gained, she provides practical advice including:

    * How to dream God’s big dream for your child

    * The value of humility and integrity

    * How to interpret God’s seasons in a child’s life

    * The power of a parent’s words, and more

    Product Details:

    • List Price: $14.99

    • Paperback: 240 pages
    • Publisher: Charisma House (January 3, 2012)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1616386541
    • ISBN-13: 978-1616386542


      Chapter 1: Gifts and Callings

      When my daughter was little, she definitely had a flair for the dramatic. She was fun-loving but with a serious side and a true sense of right and wrong. There was a Burger King commercial on television back then and the tag line was “Sometimes you just gotta break the rules!” Each time it would come on TV, Franny would loudly shout, “No, you don’t! You don’t break the rules!”

      She loved to sing and dance and change her outfit half a dozen times a day, and I began to have a sense that maybe my little drama queen was inclined toward the performing arts. So like millions of moms do every day, I signed her up for ballet lessons. To say she loved it would be an understatement. She took to it like a duck to water—loving the pink tights, the hair in a bun, and especially when Miss Gina would single her out for a word of encouragement!

      As time went on I started getting the sense that maybe God had something more for her in the performing arts. That’s when we intentionally began to take steps to expose her to the arts in a variety of small ways such as seeing the annual production of The Nutcracker at Christmas, watching old movie musicals, and taking her to children’s theater productions. We didn’t take huge steps, but we made small investments to see how she responded and to see if my hunch was right. For her seventh birthday we took her to see the Broadway production of The Secret Garden, and she was completely captivated with the show and with musical theater in general from that moment on. That’s when my husband and I really began praying about her future and what more we might do to help mine the treasure in her.

      Mining the Greatness

      Mine (noun): excavation made in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores, coal, precious stones, etc.

      2. a place where such minerals may be obtained, either by excavation or by washing the soil.

      3. a natural deposit of such minerals.1

      Precious metals and precious stones are embedded in rocks and have to be extracted. Metals especially don’t generally appear in nature in their pure form. Shafts and tunnels are cut into the earth. The rock is quarried and then smelted with heat to remove the dross from the ore. It’s a difficult, tedious process, and it takes time and effort. The results, however, are certainly worth the effort to tap those precious veins beneath the earth.

      Our children’s gifts are sometimes buried deep. It’s up to us to mine the gift in them, extract it, and allow it to be shaped and polished to be useful in building the kingdom of God. The effort requires selfless dedication on our part and an investment of time and finances, but one that pays lifelong dividends in the life of your child.

      What is God showing you about your child? What traits is he expressing? What most interests or intrigues him? Is he outgoing or introspective? Is he intellectual or athletic? Is he artistic and creative or mechanically minded and good with his hands? And what are the dreams you have inside for him? Do you have a knowing deep inside about his life? Has God given you a glimpse into his future? What do you see when you pray for him?

      I believe it’s my job to find out who God made my child to be. What particular path has He set for him? What’s unique about his personality, gifts, talents, and aspirations? How do I help him find the life God has already planned for him? What is God’s purpose for his life and how do I train him to accomplish his purpose?

      Psalm 139:13–16 says it so beautifully:

      For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

      He knows our paths and has already written them in His book!

      I don’t claim to be an expert in child rearing, but I am an expert in raising my child. Just as you are an expert in raising your child. The fact is, no one knows your child better than you, and as your child grows and develops, his gifts and talents will be more obvious to you than to anyone else.

      Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. —Proverbs 22:6, amp

      Parents, we are the trainers, and train is an active word! We train the whole child in the Word and godliness, in faith and biblical principles. We train them to obey and honor Him in thought, word, and deed. We train them to pursue their future careers and callings. We do them a great disservice if we take this responsibility lightly. God has given us a sacred trust by allowing us to be the stewards of our children. Here is the note on this scripture in my Spirit -Filled Life Bible: “Train up” has the idea of a parent graciously investing in a child whatever wisdom, love, nurture, and discipline is needed for him to become fully committed to God. It presupposes the emotional and spiritual maturity of the parent to do so. “In the way he should go” is to do the training according to the unique personality, gifts, and aspirations of the child. It also means to train the child to avoid whatever natural tendencies he might have that would prevent total commitment to God (for example, a weak

      will, a lack of discipline, a susceptibility to depression). Hence, the promise is that proper development

      insures the child will stay committed to God.2 There are many good resources available on how to raise your child in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, kjv).I’m trying to convey something else in this book. If you are a Christian parent, it’s a given that you will raise your child to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teaching our children to know and love God and to delight in Him should be our highest aim as we raise our kids.

      My goal is to inspire you to partner with God to mine the greatness that’s lying dormant in your child. Each of us is capable of far more than we think we are. I truly believe we are capable of greatness and we shouldn’t be afraid to pursue it. God will show you the gifts and talents, the callings and destiny residing in your child. For your children to become all that God has designed them to be, means you have to be willing to go the extra mile and not assume they will simply “figure it out” when they are grown.

      Too many parents seem content to allow their children to drift into young adulthood and then wonder what turned them into adultolescents (a person who has physically matured to adulthood, yet still behaves like an adolescent) and why they seem to have no direction in life. Childhood is an innocent time of wonder and discovery and endless possibilities, and it desperately requires our care, nurturing, and firm direction! Helping your child to explore life’s endless possibilities will open the floodgates to dreaming big dreams. As time goes on, with your guidance, he will narrow his choices, focus on what really interests him and embark on the path to building a future in the center of God’s will for his life.

      I firmly believe God shows parents from the time their kids are small what He has invested in them. He shows us their bent and our job is to dig deep and find the depth of the gifts and callings buried inside. It is important we are not too busy or distracted with life to see what God is eager to reveal to us in each of our children.

      Bumps Along the Road

      When Franny had just turned twenty years old she backed into a lawyer’s car, in the lawyer’s driveway, after the lawyer had warned her to “be careful not to back into my car.” Naturally she felt foolish and was extremely upset. She knew Dad was likely to ask his famous twenty questions when she got home and was not looking forward to it. As she was driving home, she began crying and praying. The Lord began to speak to her heart,

      reminding her she wasn’t perfect and it was OK with Him. He made her the way she was and to just relax and trust Him. She began singing this chorus: “I got a couple dents in my fender, got a couple rips in my jeans, try to fit the pieces together but perfection is my enemy. And on my own I’m so clumsy, but on Your shoulders I can see, I’m free to be me.”3

      The next day she sat on the end of her bed and played for her dad and me the finished song God had dropped in her spirit during the drive home the day before. It might sound crazy, but as soon as I heard it, I knew this was a hit song. This occurred way before Franny moved to Nashville, had signed a record deal, or had any inkling anything like that was even possible. But I knew, because God knew and was just sharing my daughter’s

      future with me. Three years later, “Free to Be Me” was the first single by a female artist to hit number one at Christian radio in eight years, remaining at number one for ten weeks!

      Grammy Story

      People ask me all the time, “Did you ever think your daughter would do so well?” Did you ever think you would hear her on the radio?” or “Are you surprised by her success?” The answers are yes, yes, and no! Mike and I always had a “knowing” deep inside about her career path as she got older. We sensed where God was going, and we let Him plant big dreams in us for her. From the time she was fifteen and beginning to pursue music more seriously, we would watch the televised Grammy Awards every year and every year I would say to her, “You’re going to be up there one day.” I don’t know why I said it; I just knew deep down it was true and, knowing words have creative power, I believed it important to actually speak it out.

      I found an old journal recently and in thumbing through it, came across this entry. February 28, 2002:

      Hi, Lord. It’s me, bugging You! Last night we watched the

      Grammys and Franny’s emotions were so stirred she cried

      through much of it. Mike says I set her expectations too high,

      but I believe if You are going to go for something, go for the

      highest. It’s not that it’s so important to win an award but

      winning represents being at a level where you have respect

      and acceptance. I know she is willing to work hard and

      she will work hard. Show her mercy and encourage her in

      all her hard work. Let her redouble her efforts and give it

      everything she’s got. Show her Your favor and love. Raise

      her up in the music business and let her be a shining, warm,

      beautiful light. Give Mike and I wisdom with how to guide

      her. Thanks, Lord!

      In December 2009, seven years after I wrote in my journal, Franny was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Gospel Performance category for her song “Free to Be Me”! People asked me if I was surprised and truly I can say I wasn’t. I’d been praying about it for seven years! I was thrilled of course, but not surprised. It was just one more confirmation of what I already knew. She hasn’t won a Grammy yet, but I’m still praying!

      My Story and I’m Sticking to It

      Franny comes by her gifts naturally. She has the added benefit of parents who happened to stumble upon, believe in, and latch onto God’s principles for growing great kids. While it is certainly an unmistakable advantage to be raised immersed in these principles, successful adults can and do spring from circumstances where these principles are absent, but perhaps at play to some degree in the background. I didn’t have parents who followed these principles, yet I was able to dig down deep and define what I wanted in life and pursue it. However, I wouldn’t recommend rolling the dice with your children by failing to employ every asset in your parenting arsenal to stack the deck in favor of your child’s future.

      I grew up in circumstances quite different from those I trumpet on these pages, and yet somehow found a successful future in spite of it. My life’s circumstances led me on a journey that took its inevitable detours, but it’s my life story and I’m sticking to it! Just so you have a little background and can understand better where I’m coming from, here’s my story.

      I grew up in an encouragement vacuum. My parents had four kids, and I assumed my place tucked right in the middle at number three. As a child of the 1950s and 1960s and the conventional worldview of parenting in quasi-Christian homes during that era, my parents were busy with the social priorities of their all-American suburban lives.

      As far as spirituality and growing up, I remember two things vividly about God. I remember being in Sunday school at maybe four or five years old and singing “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” and completely believing it was true. Whoever Jesus was, I knew He loved me. The other thing I recall was thinking to myself when I was about six that I didn’t ever want to die and if there was a way to live forever, I was going to find it.

      I grew up attending the Episcopal Church. I learned all about the life of Jesus, but I never knew Him in a personal way and I didn’t know He could live in my heart. I enjoyed church. The mystery and beauty of the liturgy, the candles and communion, the fragrant flowers, beautiful stained glass, and impressive organ music all contributed to my feeling of awe about God and awareness of my insignificance. Our church had beautiful stone

      floors so your footsteps echoed as you walked along. I loved the hymns we sang and the readings from the Book of Common Prayer and the mystery of taking communion. I knew God was contained in all those things, but I didn’t sense a clear pathway to meet Him. It was His house after all, but how did you take Him home?

      To her credit, my mom had us kneel by our beds every night to say the Lord’s Prayer and blessings over the family. My grandfather was a man of strong faith. He used to read Bible stories to us when we stayed over, and he would make them come alive. We would beg him for just one more! He would write in his Bible and underline scripture, something I take after him in. We could often find Grandpa stretched out over the couch in his office praying for what seemed like hours. We always knew not to disturb him during those times. He was not a perfect man by any means but those things I witnessed in him. His love for God and his devotion to his church and family have stuck with me all these years.

      My childhood was pleasant with the typical ups and downs but no major traumas or tragedies. I rarely heard words that affirmed my value and potential or words encouraging me to believe the world was my oyster and I could be anything I wanted to be. There were lots of arguments between my parents and all the siblings. Expectations were high of course, but there was precious little praise and encouragement to attain them and far too much criticism. Somewhere in adolescence my self-esteem began to suffer, and I no longer felt comfortable sharing openly with my parents. My future lacked any kind of shape with no real direction. I didn’t have a clear cut path to run on with lots of support and nurturing. So I floated through high school. I floated through four colleges in two years. I was adrift with no focus and no goals.

      I knew from the time I was a little girl that I loved to sing. It was my one passion, and I did what I could to develop my singing in high school. I joined the choir and did the yearly high school musical. We happened to have a wonderful and dedicated voice teacher at my high school, so I took advantage of her lessons. But I was pretty much on my own in my pursuit of music.

      I asked my mom years later why she never pushed me or encouraged me in music and her response was fairly typical for her generation. She felt if it was really something I wanted to do, I’d pull myself up by my own initiative and make it happen. Actually, she was right. It’s exactly what I did, but I think I would have avoided a great many pitfalls along the way if I’d had her support.

      As it happened, I discovered musical theater when I turned twenty. I began working in a local community theater where I lived in New Jersey and in two years performed in more than fifteen productions. I got a crash course in musical theater to say the least! I stumbled on an article in a magazine about goal setting and because it made logical sense to me, I started setting some practical goals. Not long after, I was auditioning for roles in New York City. I got my Actors’ Equity card and started doing lots of regional theater, actually surviving as a working


      I began working with an agent, and he secured me an audition for the Broadway national tour of The King and I starring Yul Brynner. My audition was for the role of the understudy for the part of “Anna,” played by Deborah Kerr in the movie. I was a young actress in my twenties, and this was by far the biggest thing that had come along for me. To make a long story short, I got the role of the understudy and happily packed my steamer trunk and went out on the road. I faithfully rehearsed my part never thinking I would ever really get the chance to perform. But when preparation meets opportunity, miracles can happen!

      Life Comes at You Fast

      About two months into the run of the show, I arrived at the theater around 7:15 p.m. for the 8:00 p.m. curtain only to find out the leading lady was sick and I was going on for the first time as the leading lady in forty-five minutes! I knew my part well but had never worn the costumes or handled the props, let alone been onstage with Yul Brynner! I was freaking out, but I had to focus and get ready. The night turned out well and I got to perform the role of Anna for two weeks while the leading lady was out with pneumonia. In the end, Yul Brynner (who not only starred in the show but was also one of its producers) preferred me in the role so he bought out the leading lady’s contract and offered me the role of a lifetime! It was an amazing time for me. I was privileged to play the part of Anna more than a thousand times, before more than a million theatergoers, over the next two-and-a-half years!

      The best part of the entire experience though, was meeting my husband, Mike. He joined the tour about six months into the run of the show as the associate conductor and, as he likes to say, we literally fell in love across the footlights!

      After performing eight shows a week for the next two-and-ahalf years, we left the tour, moved back to New York City, got married, bought a little condo in Greenwich Village and began our new life together. A year later, we found ourselves answering an altar call and giving our hearts to the Lord. Franny was born a year later, and we thoroughly enjoyed our new little family amid all the excitement of living and working in the hustle and bustle of New York’s music and theater world.

      It wasn’t long, though, before we began to feel the tug on our hearts to lay down the business we had worked so hard to find our way in and follow what God had in store for us next. Bucking conventional wisdom, but following what we believed was God’s best for our family, we eventually left New York and our careers behind to embark on building a new life that included moving to the suburbs, starting a new business, and homeschooling our little girl.

      Meet My Husband, Mike

      Mike comes from a family without a rich musical heritage. In his case, however, his parents were very encouraging and supported his early interest in music. They purchased the finest musical instruments they could afford, drove him to weekly trumpet lessons at the Juilliard School preparatory division, and sacrificed to send him to National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, during the summer. He later graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, received his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, and went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in music. He was a studio musician and played trumpet and flugelhorn in Broadway pit orchestras and musically directed and conducted on Broadway, on national tour, and at Radio City Music Hall. In his case, he was the first in his family who expressed any gifting in music. Often children inherit their parents’ gifts and carry on the family business, and other times they plow new ground.

      With both her parents involved in musical theater professionally, you could say Francesca was destined to go into the arts, and specifically music. It was more likely in her case because of the very musical environment in which she was raised, not to mention being thrown into the deep end of her parent’s gene pool! But not every child’s course is as easy to recognize.

      With our daughter, obviously she inherited gifts and talent in music and the performing arts. Our job was to take those gifts and give them shape; give her opportunities to be trained in those areas; and expose her to teachers, classes, and mentors who would take her where God called her to go. We couldn’t assume she was going to follow exactly in our footsteps. And we had to make sure she knew her gifts and talents weren’t what defined her. We were going to love her no matter what life she chose. We had to seek God for His wisdom in her unique expression of her gifts in the performing arts. Our part was to mine those gifts and talents, and her part was to be diligent with what God entrusted to her. Success doesn’t happen by accident. It takes years of hard work.

      I believe if we seek Him, God is faithful to put a dream in parents’ hearts for their children. He gives us a sense as they grow. Sometimes it’s just an inkling that turns into a knowing, and over time becomes a certainty. He entrusts the dream to us and gives us the responsibility to dig it out and give it shape. Kids don’t become successful adults by accident.

      Success and Environment

      In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he writes: People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.4

      The first place your child is from is you. You will have the biggest impact on his future. How you live, how you love, how you handle money, what you do in your free time, and the standard of integrity and honesty you set in your life—all these things and many more will shape your child into the adult he will become. You alone can give him the “hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities,” and as you seek the Lord, He’ll show them to you.

      How many families do you know whose adult children can’t seem to commit to their own future? And parents who don’t have a clue as to how to guide them? There is a culture of drift all around us—adults with no goals or dreams who are living out their lives in mediocre jobs, having little impact on society. If parents abdicate their responsibility and give it over to the school system or the church, they contribute to the drift. We aren’t supposed to be going nowhere. Destiny connotes a destination. But God won’t do it for you. You have to do it in partnership with God.

      Who you are is going to shape who your child becomes. If education is important to you, you will raise your child expecting him to go to college and get good grades, barring any serious learning disabilities. If learning to manage money is important in your family then you will teach your child about budgeting at an early age and require him to earn the money to buy the things he wants and get a job when he is old enough. If parents

      are extravagant in their spending their kids will be too! If sports are important in your family, you will set an example by making exercise a priority and being available to coach your child and take him to games and sporting events. If the arts are your passion, you will expose him to great music, museums, ballet, and theatrical productions. If you believe there is greatness in your child, you will find it and find ways to mine it!

      It’s All in the Name

      When Franny was a preteen, I became curious about what her name meant. I knew that Battistelli meant “to hit the stars” and I wondered what the name Francesca meant. So I looked it up at the bookstore in one of those baby name books. I found out the name Francesca means “free.” I was stunned! It was one more confirmation of what I was beginning to sense about her future, and I excitedly told her and Mike what I’d found. Her name

      meant “free to hit the stars.” Talk about a prophetic picture! I was able to encourage her and remind her during down times just what her name meant and the destiny it conveyed.

      Personality—Who Is She Like?

      One thing that fascinated me when my daughter was young was the difference in our personalities. I’m pretty steady emotionally, calm, cool, and very practical and unsentimental. I love home, family, and the homemaking arts such as cooking, gardening, and so on. My husband is more of a type-A personality. He is a leader, strong-willed, and independent with a strong work ethic and a dedication to personal integrity. Our daughter isn’t exactly like either of us. She is sensitive, emotional, analytical, introverted, and a bit of a perfectionist. She has pieces of both of us but not a full distillation of either mom or dad.

      God gave her a unique personality and our job was to parent who she was, not who we may have wanted her to be. Also, we had to be mindful not to superimpose our unfulfilled dreams onto her life. Remember, we had achieved a measure of success in the music and musical theater worlds. It would have been easy to assume she would follow in our footsteps and go into the theater in order to fill up some leftover longing or regret in us. Actually, in our case, knowing what we knew about that world, we purposely tried to steer her away from “the business” early on and focus her on dance. However, by the time she was eleven, she was already involved in professional theater here in Orlando, Florida. She even got mom to be in several shows with her! Often, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!

      If your children are young, then now is the time to really be seeking God about their future. It’s never too early to begin, in fact, the earlier the better! You probably already have an idea what their gifts and talents are. Ask God to give you a glimpse into their future. He will lead you step by step as you seek His wisdom in raising your unique child.

      There is so much more in our children than we realize, and they are capable of far more than we give them credit for. There are precious metals and rare jewels deep inside your child. You will have to dig them out, but it will be well worth it when you launch them out into life knowing you did everything you could to equip them for success. And by success I mean doing what God has called them to do with passion and purpose and with Christ at the center. Perhaps God will call them into fulltime ministry as a missionary. Maybe He’ll give them a platform in Christian music to influence other young people to pursue God with passion and purity. Maybe your child is called to be a political leader, teacher, business owner, or inventor of something that will change the world. Maybe your daughter wants more than anything to grow up and be a mom, a noble and worthy goal. Whatever God shows you, believe it and get moving. Nothing is more exciting than partnering with God!

      Questions to Ask Yourself

      Has God given you a dream deep inside for your child?

      What gifts and talents is your child expressing?What has God put in your heart about your child’s future?

      What personality traits have you observed?

      What practical steps can you take to train your child, both in godly principles and in helping them achieve his dreams?

      Are you being proactive about your child’s future or are you letting him drift?

      Do you believe that greatness resides in your child?


      Lord, I come humbly before You with wonder and amazement at the precious gift of my child that You have entrusted

      to me. The course of this life is in Your hands, and I ask for wisdom and discernment in raising him. Help me to

      uncover all the gifts, talents, and callings You have placed deep inside him. I know my child is fearfully and wonderfully

      made, and I am excited to discover all You created him to be. Help me to be the parent he needs me to be and to have the ability to equip him to fulfill every dream in Your heart for him. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear as I raise him. Help me to be an example of integrity, humility, honesty, and diligence in all that I do. I pray this in Jesus’s name!