Monday, July 21, 2014

Ragamuffin Based on the Life of Rich Mullins DVD review and GIVEAWAY

I have been, unfortunately, unable to post this review until now.  The good news of that is rather than posting a review immediately after watching a movie, I can think back on it, mull it over, and give what I believe is a better review.

I was excited to hear of a DVD coming out called Ragamuffin which is based on the life of Rich Mullins.  I followed his music from his first album -- before people started singing Awesome God.  Although I never met him, his life and music influenced my life more than any other artist.  

This DVD is 137 minutes long, and although it's a Christian film, there is caution for language, alcohol use, and smoking.  I am glad to see that Christian films are beginning to show life as it is and not some sugar-coated version where everyone is perfect because I know I'm not, and neither was Rich Mullins.

My fiance had sung Awesome God a number of times, but couldn't tell you who wrote it.  He knew nothing about the life and faith of Rich Mullins, but after watching it, he asked me why this was released straight to DVD and wasn't shown in theaters.  He immediately started saying who he knew who would enjoy this movie, although like him they are not fans.  So this is a fantastic film for anyone regardless if you know every word to every song Rich Mullins sang (I'm raising my hand here) or if you have never heard of him before.

This is a film about the struggle of life.  Hurts from childhood that sear so deep we never really get over them.  Love that is not returned.  Falling in love with Jesus.   Living differently than the industry around you.  Caring about people.  Being a bit of a rebel.  Being a Ragamufin.

I don't want to imitate Rich Mullins, he's not the example we should strive to be, but I long for the faith he had.  I admire him as a fellow believer and hope that my life can be like his.  I have heard (this was not in the movie) that he usually signed albums "Be God's".   This is the story of a man who strove to "Be God's" be in so doing, he was honest with himself and others about his failings, pain, and problems.

Connect with Ragamuffin:

Watch the trailer:


Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

July is Cell Phone Courtesy Month!

Did you know that July is National Cellphone Courtesy month? I honestly think that everyday should be a cellphone courtesy day. Phones add so much to our lives when used correctly. I can share photos with family and friends who live far away. I was away recently and I was able to connect with a roommate from college so we could meet up for a few minutes at an Interstate exit. This would not have been possible without cell phones and U.S. Cellular's reliable 4G reliability. But with phones also comes responsibility.

Photo courtesy of

A Pew Research survey found 67 percent of cellphone owners check for messages even when they don't hear their phone indicate there is a message received. That's a lot of time spent checking, and obviously there are better times than others to check your phone and that's what this post is about.

U.S. Cellular conducted a survey between November 15 and December 2, 2013 of 500 people in partnership with Maritz Research. They found 37% of people said that others get upset with them for using a cellphone because of the time or place they are using it. Yet, 63% of people said they get upset with others. So either it's the same people causing all the problems for everyone, or there are people who don't realize their cell phone habits are annoying to others. Interestingly, the same proportion that believe no one gets upset with them is the same percentage that say they get upset with others!

As is to be expected, those over the age of 54 have a stronger etiquette believe than those younger. Among those ages 55-64, 82% think it's rude to check your cellphone with talking to someone else, and 80% find it rude to check it while dining. Contrast that to only 63% of those ages 18-34 find it rude to check your phone while in a conversation with someone, and only 57% think it rude to check it while dining.

Also found in this study, women tend to prefer texting more than men. Women are also more likely to use texting as away to avoid a conversation.

So what are some tips for improving cellphone courtesy?

Set ground rules.  If you are meeting with others for dinner or going out with friends, discuss the expectations for phone use.  When my mother was very sick, I informed people that I might need to answer my phone at any point.  Even so, I did my best to be considerate.  If I was with a group of people I would often step aside to answer the phone and would keep it silenced, but would be able to feel it on vibrate. I tried not to have it out on a table because that can also be distracting to others.   Did you know that if you forget to turn off the ringer on a Samsung Galaxy S5 that just by flipping it over, it will stop ringing!  How convenient is that?  I have the Apple iPhone5S and to make that stop ringing, I just have to press the button on the top of the phone.

Another great tip is to understand those around you.  If you are out to dinner with a younger friend, taking a photo of your food may be totally acceptable, but that might not be okay with your great-grandmother.  Yet, the opposite could be true.  If you have a high-tech grandparent, she might not be bothered by your cellphone use while someone else could be.  Knowing how others feel about electronics can go a long way towards generating an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable.  I had to check the time recently when talking to someone, and I made a point of saying why I was pulling my cell phone out of my pocket -- that I had an appointment and didn't have a watch.  That was all I did on my device.  Yet at dinner with a different person, I checked in on social media and even used a special that I received for checking in.  Understanding the other person's attitude can help immensely in making for a more pleasant experience for both.

Adjusting the brightness of your screen can also allow you to use your phone or tablet without disturbing others.  I know of one site that allows for "night browsing" but few sites give that option -- on most sites, you should adjust the brightness of your device.  This way to you can use your cellphone or tablet without disturbing those around you.

Single Tasking is a huge benefit to those around you as well.  Did you know that according to the survey I metioned above that more than 1 in 3 people (35%) have had someone walk into them because the person who bumped into them was paying more attention to their phone than they were where they were going.  I know this week someone nearly walked in front of us while using a phone -- the scary part was he was crossing the street while looking at his phone.  If you stake single focused, there chance of a problem is a lot less likely.  In fact, even when I am on the phone, I like to stay single focused.  Yes, I could clean house or fold laundry, but personally I believe the person on the other end is worthy of my undivided attention.

If you are looking for ways to help your child learn good cellphone etiquette,  don't forget to download the  U.S. Cellular Parent Child Cellphone Agreement .  It is free, and it will help facilitate discussion with your child regarding cell phone usage.

Cell phones are a great way to help make life better and it's a good thing to use them so they enhance life and not distract from it!  It's simple to do, and I hope you will join me in my quest to be ever aware of respecting others while also staying connected!

FTC disclaimer:  This was a sponsored post.  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade.  Opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Will be home soon

I didn't have time to write blog posts as I had hoped. I will be home in a little over 24 hours and back to blogging next week. Family takes priority, and we have been gone on a family emergency. Will write more about it soon when I have more time.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Please be patient

To my loyal readers and to the companies that I owe reviews to: please be patient. I am out of town on a family emergency. I hope to be able to write some blog posts the next couple days but am not sure how much time I will have. I should be back to blogging next week, and I even have a giveaway lined up as soon as I can get some extra time. We had less than 24 hour notice before leaving home so obviously things were rushed. Thanks for understanding.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Answer Me This. . . Volume 4

1. How often do you take public transportation?

Never, except if I'm in a city.  We have only one bus system in our area, and it leaves my town at about 7 in the morning and returns about 6 pm.  I'd rather drive than be stuck to a schedule like that.  My mother was on dialysis the last two years of her life, and there was no public transport to help out.  Insurance didn't cover an ambulance.  It was up to us to get her there three days a week.  If we had lived five miles east in another state, there would have been transportation for $2 each way.

2. How many cousins do you have?

First cousins?  Twenty-second cousins?   I'm my own twenty-second cousin.  I think the answer to this is dependent upon how much family history research you have done.  First cousins, I have six.

This is me with my cousins on my dad's side.  I don't have a photo of the five of us together because one of my aunts lives in Alaska and my youngest cousin on that side of the family was born after this photo was taken.  

3. Have you ever fired a gun?

Yes, I was about three years old and my parents were at a shooting range with a real gun and they let me pull the trigger.  The rest of the day I was in the car with someone holding their hands over my ears so the noise wouldn't bother me.  Strange thing, I don't remember the noise, but I remember how uncomfortable it was that the adults kept taking turns holding my ears.

4. Do you ride roller coasters?

No!   I don't like heights.

5. What's your favorite flower?

Anything I don't have to smell.  I'm allergic to flowers.

6. Are you allergic to anything?

Flowers!  And grass!  And dust!  And smoke (esp. tobacco smoke), and some laundry detergent, and a whole plethora of other things that made my childhood one sneezing adventure!

You can read others' answers to "Answer me This" over at Catholic All Year

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wedding Planning Two weeks In: 7 Quick Takes Friday

1.  No we don't have a date set.

This is the question I am getting most.  We need to talk to our priest, and schedule the ceremony around some other people's schedules if at all possible  (My father is deceased and I want a close friend to walk me down the aisle.)  In addition, I want to join the Church prior to the wedding.

2.  No, I won't answer your question about when I'll have a baby.  

Really?  In what universe is it okay to ask a woman in her 40s when she is going to have a child?  You don't know what issues there might be that might be able to prevent that.  A few people I graduated with are now grandparents.  I don't even have a wedding date set yet, and I'm getting this question.  This is an area that if I want you to know about it, I will discuss it with you, and if not, please don't bring it up.

3.  I miss the weddings from the 1970s and 1980s.

Maybe it was just where I grew up, but I loved how back in the 1970s and 1980s if someone was getting married and you knew them, you would show up.  There would be a ceremony, and everyone would go to the church basement, give them a small gift, usually very small, and everyone would eat mints and children would spill red punch on their best clothes.  We are hoping for something more along the lines of this, so we're wanting to do a very low budget wedding so we can invite everyone.

4.  I wish I had more talented friends who are willing to help. 

Having a low budget wedding means I would gladly take some services as a wedding gift.  I've done this in the past with friends having low budget weddings.  I had taken every photography class my college offered and I had a nice camera and filters, etc.  I did photography for friends who couldn't afford a photographer otherwise.  Made a great gift, and saved them money.

5.   I am considering taking a cake decorating class.

Cake decorating classes are offered around here for about $50.  I am thinking if I can make a cake look better than average I might bake my own.  I particularly would like one that looks kind of like the one Mom and Dad had (and as you can see in the photo it was nothing special.)   I'd like it for a photo op because both my parents are deceased and it would be neat to be able to hang both photos side by side.  Of course on my cake I want to make guinea pig bride and groom cake toppers.

6.  I'm more than willing do do reviews on my blog for wedding stuff.

Yes, this is a bit of an announcement.  I would love to review anything wedding related.  We're trying to keep costs at a minimum.  If I can't review it, win it, borrow it, we have to buy it.  And we don't want to buy much.   Did I mention we are on a tight budget?

7.   I've been focusing on the planning in this post, but the most important this is. . .

The most important thing when planning a wedding is the sacrament.  The vows before God.  Then family and friends.  That's why I am not obsessing about finding the "perfect" wedding gown.  What is going to be perfect is when family and friends are able to share in this sacrament with us.   And the fact that there will be no punch.  I hate punch.  (Meaning that we are able to make this as unique as we are, and the only people we have to please is ourselves at the reception!)

You can read more Seven Quick Takes over at

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: Hail, Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of GodHail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God by Scott Hahn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scott Hahn has a way of making simple theological concepts.  As a former Protestant, Dr. Hahn has, in this book, tackled the one area of faith that has so often divided Protestants from Catholics — Mary.   Who is Mary?  Why is she so revered?  What does the Bible say about her?  What does the Church say about her?  These are just a few of the topics that are covered in this book.

As someone who grew up Protestant, I have appreciated the works by Dr. Hahn over the years.  They have taught me about the theology of our Catholic brothers and sisters and have made me realize we are Christians.  By his taking different concepts and breaking them down into book form, it has made me understand not only our differences, but our sameness.  I think anyone who is Protestant who reads this will understand why Catholics honor Mary.  (Catholics do not worship Mary, but instead honor her because she is Jesus’ mother.)

I often hear teachings when I was growing up about “types and shadows” meaning that teachings in the Old Testament were often fulfilled in the New.  In this book, there area examples of how Old Testament passages were actually referring to Mary.  This was an exciting discovery for me because I never realized this prior to this book.  By reading this book, I walked away with a much better grasp of who Mary is and why she is important to the Church and to faith.

As someone who recently went through the RCIA class, I felt the class left a lot to be desired in the instruction of the role of Mary in the Church as well as in history and the Bible.  I believe this book should be referenced (if not utilized as required reading) in every RCIA class as the doctrine of Mary is often the most difficult for converts to Catholicism to overcome, mainly because of the misrepresentation of others who are not Catholic.

This is a quick and easy read and one I highly recommend for all Christians.  Even if you are Protestant, understanding Catholic theology is never a waste of time.  I believe it only builds understanding between the two groups.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The opinions are my own.

You can purchase this book here: