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“It would be great if your website featured great Christian music and books.”

a magazine for women

In This Issue Editor-In-Chief, Danisia Ruffin, chats with Mary Alessi about God’s calling on her life as a pastor, wife, mother and well-known worship leader.

Ever wonder why Jesus would die for you? Contributor Robin Kaptain shares the reasons she found.

Family editor Jennifer Bishop shares the details of one woman’s journey from destruction to destiny.

A popular new eating trend that focuses on eliminating the ‘junk’ from your diet. Food editor Sarah Richman-Licata makes it simple for us!


Easter is fast approaching and for Christians, this is a time of reflection and rejoicing as we consider the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, for many others, this time of year is indicative of new clothes, chocolate bunnies and colored eggs. How could the violent death and victorious resurrection of the Savior of the world be trivialized into something so meaningless? It’s not about family brunch or even the obligatory trip to church. Just like Christmas, so many people miss the true reason for the season. As a Christian, the mere thought that Jesus Christ, the Creator of all mankind gave his life for me on the cross and then rose from the dead so that all who believe in Him can have eternal life is enough to evoke a sense of gratitude and thankfulness so great, it overwhelms me. I don’t need to wait for Easter to reflect on this selfless sacrifice, I reflect upon it daily-and its meaning is what motivates my life. In this issue of Rekindle Magazine, we focus on Redemption and what it means to understand the saving power of God and how we can reflect His redeeming love in our lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about God’s love and purpose in the life of Dove & Stellar award nominee, Mary Alessi. Faith contributor, Robin Kaptain, discusses why a blameless Savior would be willing to die for the sins of the world and Family editor, Jennifer Bishop gives her perspective on ways to teach children of all ages about the importance of God’s sacrifice. We hope that your holiday will be one that focuses on the true meaning of Easter.

Editor In Chief & Founder Senior Editorial Advisor Faith Editor

Fun Editor

Jennifer Bishop

Sarah Richman-Licata

Priscilla Lamour

Web Master

One Element, LLC | Evan Santiago

Contributing Writers Leah Rivero, Earl Munyan, Marisha Rodriguez, Rennison Jagdeo, Naomi Close, Robin Kaptain, Karen Ferguson


Hope Center Arts

Web Design & Graphics Danisia Ruffin Editor-In-Chief

Naadu Blankson-Seck

Cavita Dat

Family Editor Food Editor

Danisia Ruffin

One Element, LLC

A WORD FROM THE PUBLISHER Christians recognize the need for our own personal redemption. In fact, it’s how we ended up serving Jesus Christ. However, redemption along with repentance needs to be more than a moment in time, it needs to be a way of life. Life is made up of many small battles in which sometimes, even if just for a short season, things are taken from us. Ultimately, even when we feel we’ve been ransacked and pillaged, God still has the final word. War doesn’t have to include collateral damage, if we plan well. So what do you do when stuff has been stolen from you because of unfortunate circumstances, mistakes of your own making, consequences of sin or just a full out assault of the enemy? You plan a counter attack. I know it sounds violent, but effective prayer is fervent. When you emerge from the war room, you will have a plan of redemption. Take a minute and think! You can redeem the time, closed doors can be reopened, relationships can be mended and continued, and the thing you never did can still be accomplished. If the Holy Spirit has given you permission to do so, take it back. It’s never too late. Leigh Piatt-Gonzalez Hope Center Arts

a magazine for women

In This Issue Page 09: Extraordinary Woman

This issue we feature Kim Grom, creator of RevGen, an annual music ministry festival to minister to others, young and old alike in Flemington, New Jersey every year.

Page 34: Cabin Fever Countdown

Never fear, Spring is almost here! Here are a few suggestions for trading the Winter blues for Spring excitement!

Page 50: Redemption Soup Page 26: Family Focus

One editor’s determination to give back all year long, not just during the holidays.

Meet the Lopez’s- A real life example of the popular movie ‘Fireproof’, this couple shares how God was able to redeem their marriage.

Page 22: Party of 7

They Need to Know- Even your toddlers can begin learning about Jesus’ sacrifice and what Easter is really all about. Jennifer Bishop, Family editor, explains the different ways she plans to share it with her 5 children this year.

Page 7: Editor’s Corner

Page 40: Gluten Free Me

Page 11: Rhema Word- Women’s Devotional

Thousands of people across the nation are living Gluten-Free lives. Editor-In-Chief and ‘lover of all things flour based’, Danisia Ruffin, reluctantly joins the ranks and discusses what she has learned so far.

Page 8: This & That

Page 43: NEW! Recipe Redemption: Tuna Casserole for Grownups

Page 38: Short and Sweet- Quick and easy recipes with the busy woman in mind

Food editor, Sarah Richman-Licata takes a childhood favorite and gives it a ‘big girl’ makeover with a little help from a familiar chef!

Page 45: NEW! Me & My Big Mouth: Going Back to Cali

New columnist and self-proclaimed ‘food snob’, Marisha Rodriguez, talks about food from her native hometown and why her stomach still lives there.

Page 52: Downsizing Dilemnas

The effects of a devastated economy are still trickling down. Finance contributor, Rennison Jagdeo of New York Life, shares some tips for dealing with downsizing.

Page 60: Eyes & Ears- Check out this page for Christianhappenings around the nation Page 56: Music Matters - Music Critic Leah Rivero reviews the latest project by worship leader, Mary Alessi! Page 58: Book Notes: Redeeming Love: Fun Editor, Priscilla Lamour gives us an up close and personal peek at this inspirational novel by author, Francine Rivers!

Brides from across America, winners of the 17th Annual Empire State Building & Valentine Day Weddings Event pose in their gowns at the world-famous 86th floor Observatory the day before their wedding ceremonies. (PRNewsFoto/Empire State Building/Bryan Smith/Empire)

Myron Butler (l) and Donnie McClurkin perform with the NFL Players Choir at the 12th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at Music Hall in Dallas, TX. (PRNewsFoto/Super Bowl Gospel Celebration)

This & That

Bounty tapped award-winning actress and mother of two, Julianne Moore, to kick off “We Love Our School� Week at PS 63 in New York City. Moore, along with thousands of volunteers in schools nationwide, rolled up her sleeves using Bounty Clean kit supplies to tidy up William McKinley Elementary classrooms. (PRNewsFoto/ Bounty/P&G, John Parra)

March / April 2011

FIRST IN FLORIDA After waiting four years for the iPhone to be available on the nation largest and most reliable network, and then camping out in front of the Hialeah Verizon Wireless store, Mairelys Lastres was among the first consumer in Florida to switch to Verizon Wireless and secure a Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 smartphone. (PRNewsFoto/Verizon Wireless)


Kim Grom is a wife and mother to three girls and one boy, ages twenty six to twenty one. She has been married to Robert Grom for the last twenty six years and currently resides in Flemington, New Jersey. She holds her Master of Divinity from Regent University and currently sits on the board of Somerset Christian College.

In addition to ‘REVGEN’, five years ago, Kim & Bob also founded ‘Connections Bible Book Store & Café. It is headquartered in Flemington, New Jersey and also accessible online. She is a proud supporter of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). She is an avid lover of horseback riding which she enjoys with her daughters, and is a member of the American Saddlebred Horse Association.

Kim Grom

Six years ago Kim along with her husband founded the non-profit event ‘REVGEN – Revelation Generation’. It’s an annual summer music festival that takes place ten miles away from their hometown Flemington, in Frenchtown, New Jersey at their privately owned Revelation Farms. REVGEN currently draws thirty thousand plus, and over the span of two days, the gospel is presented through award winning musicians and inspirational speakers. The entire festival is a labor of love geared towards reaching the masses with the message of hope only found in the Bible.

EXTR AOR D I N ARY: Kim has been touched by lives devastated by drug abuse, alcohol and raging addictions. Through REVGEN and the Bookstore and Café, She is motivated to reach this generation with the message of the gospel. She believes that today’s culture is tremendously impacted by the arts, and her hope is that those struggling with addictions, depression, substance abuse and suicide will encounter Christ in a tangible way. Her heart is to help them achieve their destiny in Christ and overcome their circumstances of despair.

In a time when the arts are steering the culture, this generation is looking for meaning and purpose in their lives. They are willing to experiment with new things in order to fulfill their desires and passions. Kim has selflessly opened up her home and private farm to launch an event that will impact this generation with the love of Christ and solidify the worth and value their lives holds in the eyes of God.



thousands came. thousands

were changed.

By Cavita Dat

Romans 6:22 says “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” The end result of freedom in Christ is eternal life with Him. When Satan stole that “fruit of freedom” in the Garden of Eden, we became spiritually blinded, and lost our ‘Sonship’ with God. As much as physical freedom is liberating, God desires that we be spiritually free. Free to love, live and be in communion with Him. In the garden, we rejected God’s right to our lives and subjected ourselves to Satan’s yolk. Redemption is about liberation from that yolk. Liberation, not for something new, but to restore that communion which was once lost. March / April 2011

Jesus willingly became the ransom that freed us and restored our Sonship to God. Have you accepted that freedom? Only when you are in slavery to God, only then are you truly free!

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we haveredemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:13-14 – 13





MARY - I was born into a very musical, ministry minded family. My dad was a well known gospel writer in the 70’s. We were raised around music and ministry and God our entire lives. We were in the evangelistic field, travelling around in a motor home singing most nights of the week doing weekly revivals. It was a great way to be raised and I’m grateful to my parents because we got to see God do things up close and personal from a young age And that formed my (our) DNA for what I do today. DANISIA - What’s your earliest memory of singing? MARY - My first memory is when my sister and I were in kindergarten at a Christian school. My parents got their signals crossed and dropped us at school on a day when school was out. There was a janitor in the building that day. We didn’t have anything else to do so we asked if he wanted to hear us sing and held him hostage singing every song we knew until our parents returned for us. DANISIA - Are you more like your mother or father? MARY - I’m more of a mix of both of them. I lean more towards my mother with her sense of humor and approach to life but there is a lot of my dad in me too. DANISIA - Did you take singing lessons as a child? MARY - No, we traveled a lot. As with most church singers, I got lessons in the choir. I learned from the gospel greats; watching and listening and getting the cassette tapes…I started copying what I saw. March / April 2011


March / April 2011


DANISIA - What do your children think of your life as a recording artist? DANISIA - How do you handle motherhood with everything else that you do? MARY - I’m a very non-task oriented person but my husband is so he keeps me on task. I need him to. With four children, (three that are homeschooled) the traveling, ministry and everything else, if you don’t have people to help and delegate to, you will go insane. DANISIA - Is there a formula for how you prioritize family? MARY - Actually there is. I decided years ago that I would say ‘no’ more than ‘yes’ to engagements and my husband and I created standards that we abide by… just like the word of God; it’s not enough to just know it but then scrap it when it’s inconvenient or hard. It’s the same way with my family. If I get a call from a great ministry for an amazing opportunity but it conflicts with family, then I say no. My children and husband will always know that they are chosen, they come first over anything else. They are a part of the vision.

if i say that my family is first, they have to be first: even during those difficult times and decisions. - mary

MARY - Like most kids, they don’t see me that way. To them, I’m just mom because I don’t live that life out loud to them. They are not overly exposed to me on the road. Recently, my son went away to bible school and he couldn’t believe the response he got from kids who knew who I was. He was shocked that friends his age knew me. The school asked me to come and lead worship and it was amazing. He was so excited.

it’s great to know that you’re kids are proud of you. Proud that you bring God and not the fact that people want your autograph. DANISIA - Were you ready for parenthood?

MARY - With my first two, I couldn’t get pregnant. We didn’t expect the battle of infertility that we experienced because I was so young. It was very difficult for us.

We tried fertility drugs and the battle still continued. It was such a struggle that we didn’t expect the last two to come so freely, but I literally had three back to back-all within a year or so of each other.

DANISIA - How did you know that God was calling you to pastor? MARY - I was 16 when I realized that I wanted more than the road. We moved around a lot and didn’t have that every Sunday connection that appealed to me. When I met my [now] husband, he was already helping his father pastor. I just loved the church and God’s people; that family connection. It really hit home when I became engaged and my husband asked me to help him with the youth group. I was about 19 or 20 at the time. It sparked something in me and I knew God was calling me. March / April 2011


DANISIA - What challenges did you face when you first began pastoring? MARY - Typical of most pastors, it was finding out who I was. Who God had called me to be. You know you are in the right place but how do you lead? In what direction do you lead? Building that confidence in my gifting took a long time because the challenges of ministry will either encourage or challenge it in you. DANISIA - How did you cope? MARY - There were many godly women in my life who encouraged me to be who I was and let me know that I would grow into what God wanted for me, in time. They told me to “be the best MARY - you can be and God will do the rest.” My husband and I decided we were gonna outlast the devil and outlast adversity. We had to get our eyes off of people…because the battle is not against flesh and blood... we had to remember that. DANISIA - How was Metro Life Church birthed? MARY - My husband and I knew Miami needed more churches and that there were greater things God wanted to do in the area. We had been pastoring with his parents for almost a decade. They agreed it was time for us to step out and do what God had called us to do on a greater level. We left a huge church with 3-4 couples and started at a hotel in an area where there were no churches. We are actually the first church to be raised up in this area (by the airport in Doral). It was our season. 6 months later we leased a facility and 3 years ago we moved into a 50,000 sq ft area that we own. It’s beautiful and it continues to grow. We are very blessed. DANISIA -What makes Metro Life Church unique? MARY - I believe it is the people. I hear all the time that we have the greatest people. That is a reflection of the area that we are in. We are in a very mixed culture and there is a blending that creates real acceptance. When you walk in, no matter who you are or what language you speak…you immediately feel like you should be there. You know right away that you fit. We work very hard to accomplish that because Miami is not a very friendly place. March / April 2011

DANISIA - A lot of your music has a very strong gospel feel. Who are your musical influences? MARY - In the deepest part of me, Southern gospel has the greatest influence on me. I used to love Jesse Dixon as a little girl. I was always drawn to gospel sound… always. Then Kirk Franklin came on the scene and I couldn’t get enough of him. And between Fred Hammond and a lot of others, I was just drawn to gospel. DANISIA - How is Mary- (the worship leader) different from Mary- (the pastor)? MARY - They are one and the same. The pastoring heart that God has given me just flows over into my worship. For me it’s not about a song or a Sunday, it’s about an experience that God wants us each to have. A deeper intimacy; a deeper level that encompasses more than singing. If I never sang again, it wouldn’t affect my calling or my worship. There are people who can’t sing that are great worshippers. It’s not my singing that makes my worship noticed by God, it’s my heart and that’s what he honors.


DANISIA - What can listeners expect from this new album, ‘Pressing On’? MARY - A blend of musical styles from Christian rock to Gospel and a lot of worship. It’s very simple musically. We wanted to comprise a project that praise & worship teams could learn in one night and sing that Sunday. It came out of adversity from my own circumstance of needing to simplify my life after my husband’s heart attack. DANISIA - Tell me more about that. MARY - Steve had a heart attack on the first day of a family vacation. He went into cardiac arrest. The severity of his heart attack was mindboggling. The paramedics called it ‘The Widowmaker’ (which no one wants to hear) because only 5% of people ever survive it. They worked on him for 45 minutes with a determination that I’ve never seen before. It was a miracle and a great victory for them because of the severity of the heart attack and fatalities attached to it. After this, I had no desire to get back in the studio. My hear t wasn’t in it at all. But a few months later, we realized that we couldn’t stay in that posture; in that place of defeat as if we’d been knocked off our horse and the horse kept running. We had to get up and keep going; press forward. So songs began to come and I knew that God was saying that it was time again. Listeners will hear that all throughout this cd…on every song. Each song has a theme that is tied to this adversity to help those who are going through…because we all are. DANISIA - Why a live recording versus a studio album? MARY - During the time of Steve’s heart attack, we had been trying to finalize things and get into our new facility. We’d been delayed for three years. It was a fight from the enemy. We didn’t know if it was going to happen. The members of our church told Steve, “You’ve preached your last sermon in that old church. The next sermon you preach will be in the new building.” We were out for about 8 weeks and the entire congregation gathered together with hammers and tools to finalize the last of the building requirements and get us in that building! It was such an incredible time for our church. March / April 2011

It took us to a new level of community and family. I knew then that my next project was going to happen right there. DANISIA - You have your own recording label, Miami Life Sounds. What prompted its creation? MARY - We knew early on the difference between ministry and business. You have to be good stewards of your giftings in business. We decided we didn’t want to worry about labels and agendas or finding the right associations …that everything was going to flow out of our church, our home. We created our own music label that would be a platform for me and eventually other artists in the South Florida area.

DANISIA - Who is the oldest? MARY- I am four minutes older than Martha. I do have an older sister, Marvylene, who is older than Martha & I by four years. DANISIA - Does she sing as well? MARY - She does but only when she has to. Her gifting is in writing. She has an amazing talent; having written material and worked with others as a ghostwriter. That’s where she shines. She can sing but doesn’t feel called to it like Martha & I. DANISIA - Do you and Martha have the infamous ‘twin bond’? MARY - Oh yes! Definitely so. We are very close and connected…always have been. We would even show up to gatherings with the same clothes or shoes on. Our children used to get us confused all the time when they were small. It was hilarious. DANISIA - How are you different from Martha? MARY - Our personalities are different because of our lifestyles. I am on the road but I am also a pastor, whereas she is on the road all the time.


I’m home more, dealing with the same people each week. So I’m a little more outgoing. She is outgoing too but in a different way. Overall, we are very, very similar. DANISIA- Is there a difference between her musical style and yours? MARY- Yes, there always has been. Martha is very much a warrior, praise and shout the walls down type of worship leader. Praise has always been her strength. She can write an upbeat praise song like no one else that makes you want to shout, jump and dance. That’s not my strength. My strength is the worship aspect; the quiet intimacy.

MARY - We were sitting at his house and our mothers were in the other room. We were talking about our dreams and where we saw ourselves in the future. I remember it was so great to talk to someone who saw the vision for their life so similar to mine and who loved God just as much as I did. I had struggled with that…finding someone who was just completely in love with God and he was so confident. I loved that and I was drawn to him. That’s when I knew. I wasn’t sure about the chemistry but there was a deep bond. A few months later we were talking about marriage. God really brought it together. DANISIA - If you had to describe him in one word, what would it be? MARY - Tenacious. He never gives up.

DANISIA - How did you meet your husband? MARY- Our parents have known each other since I was young. We just didn’t know each other. My parents would minister at his parents church, in Miami, often during their vacation time (without us kids) so we never met until my parents moved to Miami the year after I graduated high school. I met him when I was just about to start college and he was just finishing. We fell in love and went into full time ministry. DANISIA - How did you know he was the one?

DANISIA - What message do you want readers to take away from this article? MARY - To live your life Pressing On, just like the name of this project. Live your life with that principle in your heart. Just like the title of one of the songs and like King David said, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times and his praise shall continually be in my mouth”. Because of who God is and who He is in you, you can keep pressing on. If you have adversity, don’t stay there long. Deal with it and keep going with a fighting spirit. Be able to say I don’t know where I’m going tomorrow but I can’t stay in this place today.


Redeem. What exactly does it mean? The dictionary defines it several ways, but three specific definitions jump out at me. Redeem – to recover ownership of, by paying a specified sum; to turn in and receive something in exchange; to set free, rescue or ransom. I didn’t pay a sum of any kind for my salvation; it was free.


God paid a ransom, gained ownership of us, and then lost us in Eden. He didn’t exactly lose us; we walked away from Him. To get us back, His Son paid the price by dying an abominable death. God exchanged Jesus for us to set us free! March / April 2011

For God so loved the world that He gave ‘GAVE’. He gave His one and only Son. He gave His Son to the world, a sin filled world, to die a most horrific death. But why? Why would God do this for us? Why would Jesus willingly walk this path even for people who will never turn to Him? Why did He take on such a task knowing His purpose on Earth was to die a horrendous death for people who will betray Him? His purpose; was so that you and I could be redeemed. Redemption is for the rich, the poor, the black, the white, the pagan, the “religious”, the atheist, even the one who would never accept the precious gift of eternal life. All of these are for whom He died for. But why?


God’s redemption is hard to grasp, because His redemption is for everyone. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, He grants it to you. However, God created us with a free-will, giving us a choice. Isaiah tells us that the angels were created with the sole purpose to worship and glorify Him; however God wants us to want to worship and glorify Him. In the process, God made His redemptive plan accessible when He sent His only Son in our place to die a horrific death. In case accepting this free gift into eternity wasn’t easy enough, He also added many benefits, to the redemption plan. By accepting His redemptive plan we are justified. In the book of Romans, Paul tells us that though guilty we are found just before God - Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. The book of Hebrews tells us that we are forgiven Hebrews 9:14 “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God”? Paul also tells us in Galatians that accepting this free gift; we are thereby His adopted child with an inheritance we cannot imagine - Galatians 3:26 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. Galatians 3:29 “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Among the many synonyms for ‘Redemption’, my favorite is ‘Repurchase’. Did you know that redeeming your soul has a price? It’s a price you and I cannot afford to pay. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, paid that price for us. Jesus died in order for our debt to be paid, and for us to spend eternity with Him. I could never pay such a price and I certainly couldn’t pay the price for another. Jesus gave up eternity, and sitting next to His Father in Heaven, to live as a man of flesh and blood; all the while knowing He would die on the cross.

March / April 2011

Only love could be the root of such an act. We will never fully understand this love until we see Him face to face. One of my most memorable moments as a Sunday School teacher was with two of my own girls. I spoke on forgiveness and was very specific in what it means to be a child of God and how to become His child. After, I made the offer to them to accept God’s redemption. I cannot tell you the joy and excitement in my heart as I led my two girls to the foot of the cross. The only thing better, is making that decision for one’s self. I was nine when I chose Jesus as my Lord and Savior at a summer church camp. I remember thinking, “I want to do that. I want to live with Jesus.” Later at the age of 15, I was at a James Robinson conference and salvation was simply defined. I had this “a-ha moment”. What I did at nine was merely to escape hell. I knew it was something I had to do in order to live with God. What I hadn’t realized at the age of nine was that God also knows our hearts and longs for us to choose Him. He doesn’t just offer us “fire insurance” or a free pass out of hell, but He offers us a life of intimacy and a life to love and adore Him for all eternity. Have you made a commitment to God? What was really in your heart at that first moment? Were you doing the “right” thing to avoid hell or were you aware of your own sins and how unworthy you are of God’s love? Have you since been working out you salvation? Living a life for Christ is not easy. You will make mistakes and you will sin. However, the difference now is that you will now care about your actions, your words and the effect they have on others. Consider WHY He died for you. Does your life glorify God? Do you live for Him because He died for you? Robin Kaptain (pronounced like captain) accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at the young age of 9, was baptized at 13 and rededicated her life at 15. Now 39, she has been married 15 years to a wonderful man who happens to be a pastor. Robin enjoys being a stay-at-home mom to their four, amazing young daughters ranging in age from 7 to 14.


Lead Them To The Cross Jennifer Bishop

With Easter Sunday quickly approaching, I have been looking for ways to make sure that my children understand the true meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. I love marshmallow peeps just as much as the next person but I am keenly aware of the fact that Easter has become as commercialized as Christmas. Even though my children are raised in a Godly home, I can see how easily influenced that are by the world when it comes to Easter. No Kiarrah, there really isn’t an Easter bunny. One of the first ways I plan to teach them is by reading the Bible together and taking my time going over the true Easter Story with them. The Easter story can be found in all 4 of the gospels. (Matthew 26-28. Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24 and John 18-20) I want them to understand the true sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins and in order to understand the resurrection, they need to understand the crucifixion. As we read through portions of scripture nightly I want them to be able to relate and understand that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven and given eternal life with Him.

March / April 2011


March / April 2011


With little ones in the house I also thought it would help them understand this concept through the use of Resurrection Eggs. I was a little leery at first when I heard about the Resurrection Eggs because I didn’t want it to just be a replacement for an Easter Egg Hunt. I then realized that these eggs are a visual representation of a new life. The eggs are basically plastic eggs that are filled with a Bible verse and a symbol that signify Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. One egg is removed from its carton and is opened daily and the scripture verse is read. I thought this might help my children visually understand. The Resurrection eggs can be purchased at your local Christian bookstore or online. You can also make your own. Directions can be found at the Rekindle Blog under Family. For my older son I have decided it is time for him to see the movie The Passion of the Christ. He is at the age where I feel he is ready to handle it emotionally. My husband and I will pause the move at key parts to make sure that he understands what he is seeing and to answer any questions that he might have. We will watch the whole movie unless it upsets him and he wants to stop. For the younger children we are going to watch The Easter Carol by Veggie Tales. In this adorable animated DVD, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber must convince Nezzer that Easter is about much more than Easter eggs and candy. It walks your children through how Easter was celebrated in the past, present and future. With all of these strategies in place I am confident that my children will learn the true Easter message, love and redemption. Family Editor Jennifer Bishop is a country girl living the city life. An avid blogger, Jennifer currently maintains two blogs; one about being an adoptive parent and another regarding her current weightloss journey. A Proverbs 31 Woman wannabe, she enjoys cooking, bargain shopping and taking care of her five children and husband of 16 years.

(201) 254-8224

Anyone spending time with Carlos and Gloria Lopez should expect to bring a sense of humor, thick skin, and a party hat. They’re loud, rowdy, teenagers stuck in 40-year-olds’ bodies who can’t help but make you feel like you’re witnessing an ongoing roast party. You’ll be laughed at and cracked on, but just like a roast, you’ll know it’s all in love. Sitting down with the couple, I waited for the usual jokes to begin…but today was different somehow. There is a quietness about them; a sort of “alljokes-aside” feeling in the air. They are about to recount their own Fireproof love story, and with the divorce rate in America at nearly 50% even within the church, they know this moment demands all seriousness: Me: Tell me about your first marriage together, and about what ultimately lead you to divorce. Carlos: I was a backslider and she was not saved. Many bad things transpired that led to divorce, a lot of ugliness. My thing was, if [my wife and son] had a roof over their head, food in their stomach, and clothes on their back, they were good. Gloria: It was ridiculous how we used to fight… above and beyond your average couple. The words that would come out of his mouth were cutting and hurtful…he might as well have hit me. After three years together, Gloria wanted out. She initiated divorce.

Gloria: There were many times I got signs [that I shouldn’t get a divorce]. One time God was so clear it wasn’t even funny. I had an appointment to meet with my attorney. My mother, who was a Christian, said, “Can you just pray and ask God if this is what He wants you to do?” I got on my knees and started praying, “God, if you’re real, then stop me.” At that moment, the attorney’s assistant called me and said, “Don’t come, the attorney’s not going to be there.” Me: Then why did you still proceed with divorce?

March / April 2011

Meet the fireproof:


marriage t

Gloria: Just like in the movie Fireproof where [Catherine] had friends surrounding her giving her dumb advice, I had friends too! They were like, “That’s just a coincidence!” I actually listened to the girls! Me: How did you feel once you signed the divorce papers? Gloria: [with tears in her eyes and voice trembling]: I felt empty. After the divorce, Carlos reconciled with the Lord and began what would be a six year journey before his marriage would be restored.


When I finally decided to accept the Lord, I had just left a club. I wanted to die because I felt this emptiness. I didn’t know where to go so I drove myself straight to [Carlos’] church dressed in hoochie mama clothes! [laughter] When they did the altar call I accepted the Lord as my Savior. Carlos watched the whole thing. Me: Did you get back together right away? Gloria: Even after I got saved, I never thought of us getting back together. [Later], the Lord specifically told me I had to go back to my husband. I said, “No, I don’t think so!” I had no feelings for him anymore. [But] I saw the transformation in Carlos. I saw this new guy, the different person that he was. We started hanging out and getting to know each other again. [One evening], I broke down and said, “I’m sorry, I know it might be too late, I know I might have lost you…”



h at d i e d a n d r o s e a g a i n Me: During those six years, what did you do while you waited? Carlos: What sustained me was that I fell in love with Jesus. I did not want to offend Him. During that time, there was even a young lady at my church and we did have feelings for each other. But God kept telling me, “She’s not the one.” I had to make a decision that I did not want to ruin the plans God had for me. Me: How did Gloria eventually come to Christ?

Carlos: When I saw her crying, I said, “My prayer has always been you.” And from out of nowhere I said, “Let’s get married!” On December 31, 1999 Carlos and Gloria remarried before their pastors, friends, and family; the very people who had prayed and cried out for their restoration. Though it was the second time they would make the commitment to their marriage, it was the first time they were doing so on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. This December will make twelve years of marriage. The couple now serves in their church counseling other married couples in need. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa and, later on, the San Francisco Bay Area, Marisha Rodriguez came to the East Coast to attend Barnard College of Columbia University in NYC. She currently serves as a worship leader under Pastor Sam Cintron and teaches vocal instruction for the Hope Center Arts Academy. She is happily married to Fernando Rodriguez.

Gloria: I came to the realization that I’d always been empty.

March / April 2011



March / April 2011


When I

think about the road to redemp-

tion after battling an addiction,



about a steep winding narrow path uphill.


is a daunting path full of roadblocks

and detours that try to hold you back from reaching the full redemption that only

God’s shed blood can give you.

Addictions come through many venues: Alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, shopping and even something as innocent as video games. These addictions occupy your mind and pull your attention off of God. As individuals progress though the recovery process they face roadblocks that might deter them from staying on the road to redemption. An addiction can start so easily. It might be just a way of escaping your day-to-day problems or a result of peer pressure or desire for an adrenaline rush. Luisa Spadafino, of Baltimore, MD knows all about addictions and the havoc they wreak on your life. Luisa grew up in a home where her parents divorced while she was young. Her father was a drug addict and her mother didn’t want her two young girls growing up in that kind of environment. Luisa had already been sexually abused from the ages of 5-7 and now was forced to move back to NY from her home in Chicago so that her mother could be close to family while raising two young girls. Luisa started drinking and smoking at age 10 and quickly progressed to drugs. Marijuana, angel dust and prescription drugs were her drugs of choice. She was trying desperately to numb the feelings that she didn’t want to face in her life and was trying to fill a void. At age 17, she overdosed on marijuana laced with rat poisoning. Luisa survived but continued to use drugs.

She carried many unanswered questions and anger towards God. “I just hated God because he was supposed to be loving and caring and he wasn’t showing that in my life.” In Nov of 2001, as she started to hit rock bottom, a friend invited her to attend a church service. She attended church every Sunday but still continued using drugs. She would hear about “Jesus” but still didn’t really know or understand him. In June 2002, Luisa attended a Christian block party. While there, she listened as a pastor gave his testimony about how God helped him overcome his drug addiction and bring him into recovery. He spoke of a church that ministered to recovering addicts and their families. A month later, Luisa took a huge step and reached out to that Pastor via email. She met with Pastor Raymond Ramos of Recovery House of Worship the next morning and he took her under his wing, helping her enroll in a 12-step program. On Oct 26, 2002, Luisa completely surrendered her life to God and got clean. One of Luisa’s obstacles during the process of recovery has been facing her feelings after always numbing them with drugs and alcohol. “ I’ve had to learn about me: the good and the bad.” When asked her about mending relationships she admits she was not a nice person and would go in and out of people’s lives, fighting and stealing. “ I did great harm to a lot of people so in time and throughout my life, I’m mending bridges. I thank God for the recovery process because it has helped me with that.” In the 12 Step program Step 8 is to make a list of all people we have harmed, and be willing to make amends to all of them.

Eventually, she also fell into a serious abusive relationship. Luisa didn’t know God personally but she questioned him, nonetheless. March / April 2011


Step 9 is to make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Luisa’s amends process went smoothly with all of the people she was able to contact. She is very thankful to God and feels that she had his favor. “Since I’ve been in recovery I have been able to deal with the issues of guilt and regret. My relationship with God has helped me in knowing that I am forgiven and that my past life and all its mess is the message that I bring forth in my testimony.” Luisa explains it like this. “Recovery to me is like a beautiful lamp, a free gift that was given to me to show the world, but the lamp in the middle of a dark room is useless its plugged into a source of power and that power is God. When the lamp gets plugged in it shines and brightens up the whole room and you can see its beauty. The same goes for recovery. Its beautiful and when you have God + Recovery = a new life.” “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” Proverbs 3:5-6 has become Luisa’s life verse. After being clean for 8 years and 5 months, Luisa realizes that her life as a recovering addict is not a part time job. There is no –ed in the word recovery. It is a life process. When I asked her what she would tell someone else starting the recovery process she shared this with me. “ It isn’t easy, but know that you are not alone. It is a “We” program and with the power of God and help from others you can live a life beyond your wildest dreams.” Luisa has rebuilt her life on a solid foundation of Christ.

March / April 2011

She currently works along side Pastor Ray Ramos of Recovery House of Worship in NYC, as a part of the church planting team. Her relationship with her parents is the best it has ever been. Her father is clean of drugs and Luisa was able to lead her sister to the Lord. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7 Family Editor Jennifer Bishop is a country girl living the city life. An avid blogger, Jennifer currently maintains two blogs; one about being an adoptive parent and another regarding her current weightloss journey. A Proverbs 31 Woman wannabe, she enjoys cooking, bargain shopping and taking care of her five children and husband of 16 years.


www.NJFOSTER.ORG Copyright 2010 - Hope Center Arts (All Rights Reserved)

Time to redecorate! Choose the room you spend the most time in and give it a Spring makeover. Rearranging the furniture, including some bright splashes of color with colorful slipcovers, painting one wall a vibrant hue, and adding a vase full of your favorite flower is sure to brighten your home and your mood. On a budget: add a few new throw pillows on your sofa & hang a few of your favorite photos on the walls using contrasting colored mattes in white or wood frames.

Put the ‘Out’ in your workout! Your local gym is the perfect place to stay in shape and prevent weather related injuries during the winter, but your body craves fresh air, sunlight and the open road. Once the first thaw hits, grab your sneakers and leave those four walls behind!

Get your diet out of hibernation! Soups, stews and casseroles, oh my! Cold weather certainly inspires warm and cozy cuisine. The heartier, the better! Kick your tastebuds (and your metabolism) into overdrive with colorful spring salads, crisp veggie stir-fry and/or some grilled, lean meats! (My family grills all year long!) Visit www.rachelray. com for some yummy, spring recipes OR visit for some amazing gluten-free alternatives!

Wake up! Short days and long nights are the perfect recipe for sleep…and more sleep. The long days of summer are right around the corner. But until they officially arrive, trade your cocoon (bedroom) for the Great Outdoors at least once or twice a week. i.e., join an indoor sports league (skip bowling and it’s dim atmosphere), take a dance class, or volunteer for a charitable cause.

March / April 2011


Wardrobe Wonder! Just because winter can be bleak doesn’t mean your wardrobe has to be. Turtlenecks, wool coats and boots come in other colors besides black and brown. Every sensibly dressed female is sure to have these basic wardrobe staples, but a true fashionista also stocks a few lively pieces to ‘spice up the pot’! If the idea of a turquoise wool coat or a purple fedora has you cringing inside, at least opt for a few vivid accessories each day. A bright yellow scarf or a pair of red leather gloves can go a long way towards brightening your day!

Change it up! Okay, so no one enjoys extended periods out in the elements (unless you’re part panda bear). But it can make for a long winter when you do the same things, at the same time, on the same days of the week. Don’t be such a ‘predictable Patty’! Do laundry on a Monday night, instead of Sunday afternoons. Have a mid-week powwow with the girls on Wednesday evening instead of the typical Friday. Try a new coffee shop tomorrow morning! Shop at a different market this week! Whatever you do…make it different! Get out of that rut!

March / April 2011

Vacation Away! Why does summer get to have all the fun? Skip the hot temperatures and crazy traffic; opt for a more relaxed getaway by vacationing in the off season. Not only will you get better prices at popular resort venues, but your mind &body with thank you for the mental clarity and energy boost this unexpected change is sure to bring.

Take over the world! Okay, not really. But in all truth, winter blah’s can often lead to winter mediocrity both at home and at work. We become sluggish and uninspired. Trust me, I know. There is nothing less motivating than walking in dirty snow, falling on icy sidewalks and having my hair destroyed by winter winds. However, winter is the perfect time to begin checking off items on your life’s to-do list. Plan to go back to school for your first, or next degree. Develop a business plan to become your own boss. Draft your first best-selling novel. Make the last days of winter as productive as you can ‘spring’ into action once warmer weather prevails.


C L E A N E AT I N G Sarah Richman-Licata


It’s that time of year. The resolutions have long fallen by the wayside, we still haven’t lost one pound towards the 20 we wanted to peel off, and spring is right around the corner! Panic button anyone? Before you jump off the deep end into a pint (ok, a quart) of Rocky Road, it’s not too late! There are some really great options to get your good eating habits back on track. One of the big trends lately is clean eating. Type it into Google and you’ll get over 6 million hits. Yup. Really. But what is it? What are the pros and cons? And the biggest question, should we try it? So what is it? According to one of the recognized gurus of clean eating, Tosca Reno, it’s not so much of a diet as it is a lifestyle change. On her site (www. Ms. Reno says that calorie counting isn’t a big part of clean eating and that it’s not about deprivation, it is more about eating those things your body needs to thrive. There are plenty of “clean eating” sites that have tons of recipes and facts. The Gracious Pantry ( cites 4 main rules, and a couple of other suggestions. (1) Eat lots of plants, (2) Include some meats, the caveat is that they’re straight from the butcher with no additives or hormones, (3) Enjoy grains, and (4) Read labels. The 5th and 6th rules are to eat fewer ingredients because those foods are closer to how nature intended them and to eat numerous small meals throughout the day, as numerous dietitians will tell you that it keeps your metabolism up and kicking calories. So how does one get started eating cleanly, as it were. Start by working colors into your diet (no, fruit loops don’t count.) Work a fresh fruit or steamed vegetable into each meal. Start to get away from processed foods. Surf some of the websites (remember… 6 million. Really.) and find a recipe or two that sticks out to you. And then go for it. If you’re one of those folks who sticks your toe in the water, start with once or twice a week. Or if you’re one of those crazy jumper-inners, take a weekend and purge your pantry and go re-stock with nothing but the good stuff. Either way, just start. March / April 2011

Sure, sounds easy, but how feasible is it really to strip away all the extra stuff when your toddler is crying for a piece of candy and no carrot or celery stick will placate them? Just do your best and pick your battles. As a foodie, quite a few of the recipes I’ve found online would even appeal to a young ‘un. I even found a new cookie recipe that doesn’t have flour (I KNOW!!!) that I can’t wait to try! And there was a lovely, fluffy looking chocolate and raspberry concoction that is calling my name. If you’re willing to spend a bit more time in the planning and prep of your food, perhaps visiting a local farmers market and buying what’s in season, or planting a small garden so that you KNOW where your food came from, or maybe just drinking more water to help your system run a little better, even the smallest of steps is a step in the right direction. What was it a wise man once said? ‘A journey of a thousand steps….’ So is clean eating the right step for you? Speak to your doctor, or a nutritionist. Figure out what your body’s needs are. I just discovered a vitamin D deficiency in my system. So I did a search to see what foods are high in vitamin D and I’m working them into my diet more. I really enjoy a good salmon steak, and orange juice had been a huge part of my growing-up breakfasts. So I’m working it back in. Dole makes a FABULOUS orange-mango-peach juice that I love. Once you’ve done the analytic work, then take action. The best of intentions are no good if they sit on the shelf gathering dust. Let’s look forward together to a happier, healthier spring!

Hailing from the great Buckeye state of Ohio, this ‘foodie extraordinaire’ currently holds the position of Food Editor for Rekindle Magazine. Sarah also teaches drama at the Hope Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Jersey City. An actress by trade, Sarah has a passion for theatre, crochet, cooking and her Dachshund, Speedy.


Gluten Free Snack: Black Bean Salsa

Welcome to Short and Sweet, where we try to get food to your face as quickly and easily as possible! This month’s tidbit is just the thing when you’ve got a craving for… something, but you’re not quite sure what. All you need is a food processer or a blender. Pop the ingredients in a couple of steps and voila! A snack that even a gluten free goddess like Editor-in-Chief Danisa can enjoy!

Ingredients: 2 cups fresh, halved grape tomatoes OR cherry tomatoes 1 cup fresh cubed Bell pepper 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves 1 finely minced clove garlic 1 14 ounce can drained, rinsed black beans 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 3/4-1 teaspoon salt, or to taste Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lime

Preparation: Place halved tomatoes and cubed Bell peppers in a food processor or blender and pulse briefly, until chunky, not pureed. Add cilantro leaves, minced garlic, lime juice, salt and cumin and pulse, just until mixed. Add half the black beans and pulse briefly. Pour into a medium bowl. Stir in remaining black beans. Serve with gluten free rice or corn chips. Recipe courtesy of

Hailing from the great Buckeye state of Ohio, this ‘foodie extraordinaire’ currently holds the position of Food Editor for Rekindle Magazine. Sarah also teaches drama at the Hope Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Jersey City. An actress by trade, Sarah has a passion for theatre, crochet, cooking and her Dachshund, Speedy.

18 Turntable Junction, Flemington, NJ 08822

Three years ago, my body went on strike. Everything that I ate left me feeling bloated, nauseous, gassy or a combination of all three. I started having regular cases of ‘the –itis’ (that overstuffed, sleepy feeling you get after a large fat & carbohydrate-filled meal; traditionally experienced on the holidays) even after eating small portions or snacks like cheese and crackers. Then came the dizzy spells and abdominal cramps, phantom pains and eventually a diagnosis of severe anemia, though no explainable cause could be determined. Needless to say, a foodie like me began to experience mild depression and anxiety when it came to eating. Cooking and eating, two of my favorite pastimes, were no longer enjoyable. It became a game of roulette, where every meal was a gamble: will I get sick or not? My first visit to a generalist doctor resulted in no diagnosis at all. My third visit to a gastroenterologist resulted in a suggestion that perhaps it was a mental issue and I should seek psychiatric help.

Many people live a Gluten-free lifestyle by choice, but for hundreds of thousands of people across the country, living Gluten-free is a necessary choice that can prevent a lifetime of serious health complications and even [in extreme cases] death. Even if you don’t know exactly what it means to be gluten-free, chances are you’ve seen the colorful tags on items in grocery stores or the labels on food items. You’ve probably even seen it indicated on restaurant menus. In the past three years alone, since my own diagnosis, I’ve noticed that the availability of gluten free products and items has increased dramatically. So what is gluten and why do people want to be free from it? Gluten is commonly defined as a wheat protein found in wheat, rye, oats, barley and malt.

For months, I lived in pain and confusion. It wasn’t until I decided to try a 30-day sugar-free diet (for my totally unrelated, self-induced sugar addiction) nearly a year later that I began to figure it out. Choosing to avoid foods with added sugar, including breads, cereal and candy meant I was soon feeling better and experiencing none of the previous food-related complications I’d grown used to. It was these results (coupled with pages of my own online research) that convinced my general doctor to test me for wheat and gluten allergies. A mere 18 months after my symptons began, I learned my fate: a gluten-free lifestyle. March / April 2011


Gluten is found in nearly all breads, cereals and wheat flours. Gluten makes ingredients stick together and is responsible for the chewy, elastic texture in breads. Some people are unable to properly absorb and digest gluten. When they eat it, they experience abdominal pain and cramps, gas, nausea, loose stools in addition to headaches, extreme fatigue, mouth sores and other physical complications. These people have a gluten sensitivity, gluten allergy or have been diagnosed as having Celiac Disease. The inability to digest gluten does not mean that you have Celiac Disease. While individuals with gluten sensitivity or a gluten allergy will experience bodily discomfort, those diagnosed with Celiac disease have chronic, abnormal immune responses to gluten;




experiencing damage to the small intestine which can result in anemia, malnutrition and other major health complications. However, all of these conditions seriously affect the digestive system and can wreak havoc in your diet. Note: Celiac Disease is considered a hereditary disorder and can only be properly diagnosed by a doctor or geneticist using blood tests. It is also important to know that because gluten works so well as a thickener and binder, many manufacturers add it to coffee, seasonings, candy and other nonfood items such as hairspray, medication, lipsticks and lotions, including envelope seals and even vitamins. So, if you cannot tolerate gluten, you have to be careful of food products as well as other everyday items you come into contact with. The best thing to do is get educated. Learn where gluten can hide and what items to avoid if you are unsure. (confinue on next page)

March / April 2011


Living gluten-free is not easy to do. It means goodbye to traditionally prepared breads, pastas, pizza, and desserts and hello to gluten-free substitutions that can be difficult to locate, expensive to purchase and disappointing to taste. It means reading books, checking labels and becoming that annoying dinner guest with the ‘special’ requests. However, after reading lots of research of ‘pioneers’ who have gone on before me and testing many different recipes, I have discovered several ‘golden nuggets’ along the way that have made this journey much easier. Believe it or not, I like the gluten free baking mix from Bisquick even more than the original.

My Gluten Free Staples

The pancakes are amazing! It is a big, but necessary, change that will improve the quality of your health and your life…even if it does make it a tad more complicated.

My Gluten Free Websites

My Gluten Free Books

A native of Ohio currently residing in Jersey City, NJ, Danisia is Editor-in-Chief for Rekindle Magazine. A self-proclaimed cafénista, she considers herself an expert on exceptional coffee. In addition to cooking, she also enjoys reading and writing poetry. She is currently working on a compilation of her work.


Sarah Richman-Licata

Here at Rekindle, we’re always on the lookout for great recipes, but sometimes the recipes we find aren’t exactly what we’re looking for. So we’ve decided to include a recipe redemption series that will try and adapt those recipes into ones we can’t live without! We’re starting off with a comfort food classic, tuna-noodle casserole. This one is an easy, a one-dish wonder, but let’s face facts; it’s not the most elegant of dishes. I found a version of it that dresses it up and would be at home on any chic table. The recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, one of my personal favorites for yummy recipes. Their website is Leave it to Martha to do Tuna Noodle Casserole all grown up.

Tuna Noodle Casserole


Serves 6

• 1 pound elbow macaroni • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper • 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped • 1 can (2 ounces) anchovies packed in olive oil (about 10 fillets), drained *** • 1 1/2 cans (14 ounces each) artichoke hearts in water, drained (about 11 hearts) • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese • 3 cans (6 ounces each) water-packed chunk light tuna, drained, 2/3 cup water reserved • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for dish • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest *** • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs ***

March / April 2011


Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8- to 10-cup souffle or casserole dish. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until barely al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, and rinse with cold water.

Sarah Richman-Licata

2. Puree onion, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and capers in a food processor until smooth. Add Parmesan and reserved tuna water, and pulse to combine. With machine running, slowly add 1/2 cup oil, and process until emulsified. Season with pepper. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in drained tuna, lemon zest, parsley, and pasta. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Pour pasta mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Cover with parchment then foil, and bake until heated through, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, and cook until breadcrumbs are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Sarah’s switcheroos:

Now, as fab as this recipe is, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I made some minor changes, as noted by the asterisks above. First of all, I’m not a fan of anchovies. They were RIGHT OUT! On the other hand, I love lemon and all things zesty, so I squeezed just a little bit of the juice of my zesty lemon. And finally, I couldn’t find my breadcrumbs, so I substituted Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) which are slightly flakier. I tried my recipe out on my roommates who both went back for seconds and pronounced it YUM! One did mention that it was a little to lemony for her, so keep that in mind if you try my changes. Happy eating! Got a recipe you want to try to work some redemption magic on? Email me at March / April 2011

My Roommates: Nina and Denise


Going Back To Cali

Green-Cuisine, where are you? Looking down at the aluminum to-go container in front of me, I am ready to get this pollo party started. At first bite of the pollo del horno (oven roasted chicken) served with papas (tender white potatoes that have been roasting in the chicken’s own juices), I am reminded what Jersey City does best: Spanish food. Love is their culinary gift, and each bite transports you to your long lost Hispanic grandmother’s house. While I often crave the elements in this aluminum container, white rice, red beans, maduros (fried sweet plantains), as a Northern California girl, I’m also troubled. My fork pokes around subconsciously in search of something I need: something green…nothing. Moments like this leave me pondering the lost art of greens here in Jersey City. I’m not talking about Caesar salads from local Pizzerias, thanks…but no thanks. Anyone can toss some romaine lettuce around and lather it with Caesar dressing until the poor little greens die of suffocation. I’m talking about a warm goat cheese salad served on a bed of mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette, candied pecans, Bosc pears and dried cranberries. That’s a salad. I could make the 30-minute trek to Whole Foods in the neighboring town or cross the river to New York to hit up the city’s Farmer’s Markets, but who has the time (or money) for that? So what’s a nutrient deficient girl supposed to do? Take a much needed, extended vacation to her hometown-I’m goin’ back to Cali!

I’m Marisha Rodriguez and when I’m experiencing food whether visually, audibly, aromatically, and of course gastronomically, I’m a happy girl. I’d like to invite you to wherever the culinary adventure land takes us: restaurants, bakeries, marketplaces, even the kitchens of professional chefs. You name it, I’ll find it and I’ll be sure to talk about it with a big mouth full of opinion. I’ll share with you my most memorable and not-so-memorable experiences so you’ll have guidance to tackle your own food adventures. Let’s eat!

Northerners are arguably the reason why the rest of the nation has gone Vegan and Organic. “California Cuisine” pioneer Alice Waters, also activist, chef, author, and restaurateur introduced a whole generation of Americans to organic and locally sourced foods. She is largely responsible for influencing Michelle Obama to create the White House garden. Northerners know who their farmers are and where their food is coming from. Needless to say, when your ingredients are happy, so go your food establishments.

Northern California’s Uber Green Cuisine Marin County of Northern California: home of the super health-conscious and down-to-Earth celebs like George Lucas and Carlos Santana. It’s the most likely place you’ll find happy greens and happy cows for that matter. Northern California is not to be confused with Southern California or L.A. where the ‘allegedly’ not-so-down-toEarth celebs live. There is one fundamental difference: Southerners love their plastics while Northerners love their probiotics! Northern California “went green” before most states even caught on to the now popular phrase. March / April 2011


Food Review Based on my recent travels back home to Marin County, California over Christmas, here are my top three Must Visits when you are in town: Name: Half Day Café Location: 848 College Ave, Kentfield, CA 94904 Meals Served : Breakfast/ lunch/ brunch Cost: $$ Surroundings: Beautiful earthy- tree neighborhood near homes of celebrities Robin Williams and Sean Penn. Across from The College of Marin and solar powered Woodlands Market. Interior: Abundant natural light penetrates the huge greenhouse-like windows which frame surrounding tree life. The 1930’s constructed brick building is barn-like with tall ceilings and a comfortable outdoor patio for leisurely dining. Personality: Very friendly. You will never be snubbed-at for making special dietary requests and your coffee cup will always remain full. Crowd Pleasers: You honestly can’t go wrong with anything on their menu but here’s what’s popular: Scrambles (create your own!), huevos rancheros, and Chinese Chicken Salad. Critic Faves: The Warm Goat Cheese Salad. The contrast of the soft savory goat cheese with the sweet crunch of the raspberry vinaigrette dressed greens with candies pecans brings me back to my delicious childhood. Their handmade from scratch pastries: The orange current scone with whipped orange butter is my favorite! Miscellaneous: The Pacific Sun awarded The Half Day Café for “Best Breakfast” and “Best Brunch” consecutively over the years including from 2007 to present. Flame rating: 3 flames

Name: The Muffin Mania Location: 2 Bayview Street, San Rafael, CA 94901 Meals Served: Breakfast/lunch Cost: $

Tell Marisha Where To Go

Do you have a Must Visit food establishment Marisha should go? Send your suggestions now to MarishaR@ Recipes, photos, and “who has the best...” ideas are welcome.

March / April 2011

Surroundings: Tucked within the tree-lined Gerstle Park neighborhood in the heart of San Rafael. Be careful, because you could almost blow right past this unassuming two story cozy brown house. Interior: Paintings of California musicians like the Grateful Dead and Carlos Santana cover the walls giving this café a groovy rock n’ roll feel.


Personality: The Muffin Mania is a neighborhood favorite with very loyal customers because husband and wife Rocky and Ilona Sullivan and son Dylan Galante make you feel right at home. Crowd Pleasers: The muffins are famous for their Vegan and Gluten-Free selection as well as being “all natural.” There is no high fructose corn syrup, and no preservatives. Crowds love muffins like Almond Cherry, and Maple Walnut! Critic Faves: Lemon Chiffon (a lemon poppy seed muffin dusted with powdered sugar), Butterscotch, Apple Cheddar, and Jalapeño and Cheese. . Miscellaneous: Sadly, original pastry chef Rocky Sullivan died in 2007. Son Dylan has since graduated from C.I.A, The Culinary Institute of America, and today with mother Ilona, continues his father’s legacy. Flame rating: 3 flames Name: San José Taqueria Location: 615 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA 94901 Meals Served: Lunch/dinner Cost: $ Surroundings: The taqueria is hidden beneath an over towering ramp of highway 101. Good things are often hidden. If it weren’t located on Fourth Street, San Rafael’s main street strip, you just might miss it. Interior: If you’ve been to one taqueria you’ve been to them all? Its Christmas time so the only real frills are the Christmas presents stapled to the walls wrapped in traditional Mexican colors giving the taqueria a festive feel. Personality: The service is always pleasant. Speaking Spanish is a plus if you want to engage the staff in conversation. The open kitchen allows you to witness how serious the chefs are about their craft and service. Crowd Pleasers: The chips and salsa bar where you can help yourself to fresh made tortilla chips and an assortment of salsas- all you can eat! Critic Faves: The Super Burrito. It’s a Godzilla-sized burrito filled with hot deliciously stewed chicken, engulfed in traditional steaming Mexican rice, cold chunky fresh salsa, melted Monterrey jack cheese, salty frijoles, and large dollops of cool sour cream and guacamole. You’ll have trouble eating the whole thing so wash it down with sweet homemade horchata (a traditional cold rice drink). Miscellaneous: The Pacific Sun awarded San José Taqueria for “Best Burrito” in 2007 and “Best Taqueria” in 2008. Flame rating: 3 flames

March / April 2011

I know I said I would only feature my top three Must Visits, but I had to just throw in this bonus Marin jewel, the Marin Farmer’s Market where you can buy the freshest organic produce around: Name: Marin Civic Center Farmer’s Market Location: 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903 Miscellaneous: The Pacific Sun awarded Marin Civic Center Farmer’s Market for “Best Organic Produce.”


Let’s admit it- we live in an increasingly selfish nation, a nation made selfish by it’s own inhabitants – us! During the holidays we may try our own hand at redemption through the thoroughly unselfish act of volunteering. Soup kitchens, shelters, churches and non-profits see a surge of “good-doers” at this time but when the twinkling of Christmas lights fades so does volunteerism. But there are still people who need to be fed, clothed and comforted all year long. So after the holidays I decided to volunteer at The Hoboken Shelter in Hoboken, NJ and share my experiences with you.

Redemption Soup Priscilla Lamour

My job for the night at the shelter was to assist in the kitchen with dinner so I met with the kitchen coordinator and got straight down to business; preparing bread platters, oven-roasted chicken and good old-fashioned mashed potatoes and gravy. This night the kitchen was full of volunteers who helped with cooking and cleaning but this in itself is an anomaly at most shelters. I had the opportunity to speak with the Executive Director of the shelter, Jaclyn Cherubini who shared with me that during the holidays the shelter can have up to 300 volunteers, which dwindles down during the non-holidays, especially during the summer months.

As Mrs. Cherubini says “volunteers go on vacation in the summer, our guests do not.” Guests, who every night, come to the shelter from all over the county for a hot meal and some friendly companionship from staff and volunteers alike. March / April 2011


The Hoboken Shelter, like many others, offer more than meals; group sessions and job training prove invaluable to the over 100 people that they see daily. I was honestly amazed by the hard-work that goes into this shelter and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of compassion that exudes from staff and volunteers, it made me feel like family; I can only begin to imagine the warmth the guests feel. After serving dinner to a packed room, the other volunteers and myself cleaned up, said good night to workers and guests and headed out into the cold winter night, feeling, well good. There is no better feeling than helping out your fellow man, whether in our spiritual calling for the lost or lending a helping hand to the down-trodden. And in times like these where more and more people are facing difficult financial times our help is needed even more at all times during the year. We have many God-given talents and resources that are at our disposal, to be used as tools to serve.

“ Volunteers go on vacation in the summer, our guests do not “

I urge readers to please take a few hours out and volunteer in any capacity; whether with the homeless, underprivileged or otherwise needy. Jesus commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:38) and Paul tells us to “imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). In this matter we should help others in any way, just like Jesus would. In this “off-season” your help really can make a difference to shelters like the one I visited in Hoboken where they typically depend on the assistance of a few regulars.

March / April 2011

The Hoboken Shelter | Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

I volunteered (and will continue) at The Hoboken Shelter located at 300 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030. They have a variety of group sessions seven days a week (including a Women’s Group on Saturdays from 7-3PM) in addition to nightly dinners that volunteers are needed for. With a mission statement that calls for “transforming lives” and a goal to “end homelessness one person at a time,” I highly recommend Hudson county residents to spend a night volunteering here. One thing that Mrs. Cherubini reiterated to me that night was the “We couldn’t do it without them [our volunteers]”. Here are some national sites that may help in your search for places to help out: • • •

Priscilla Lamour currently resides in New Jersey. She is the Drama Director for INO House (In Not Of), a Christian youth and young adult organization. A member of her church drama team, Priscilla’s goal is to live an ‘undignified life’, without compromise, just like the psalmist in 2 Samuel 6:22. She enjoys coffee, in all its forms, and should own stock in Starbucks.


There’s no doubt about it: Losing a job can be stressful. The thought of starting over can be unnerving, particularly if you’ve worked for the same company for a while.

Get The Facts First, make an appointment with your company’s Human Resources Department and get answers to these important questions: • Can you negotiate a later departure date? This could give you more time to look for another job. • Are you entitled to severance? If so, how much? • Will you receive payment for unused vacation days? If not, you should schedule them as soon as possible. • How long will you be entitled to health coverage? And at what cost? • Likewise, can you maintain your insurance policy? If so, at what rate? • What’s involved in transferring, borrowing or withdrawing your 401(k) funds? • Are you entitled to unemployment compensation? If so, what documentation do you need?

Leave on Good Terms When your last day comes, handling yourself with professionalism and maturity will serve you better in the end. Although these are difficult circumstances, focus on what you’ve accomplished for the company and the skills you’ll take with you. Take any awards you may have earned, as well as non-privileged work samples — they’ll be of interest to prospective employers. March / April 2011

Take Constructive Actions In your search for a new job: • Notify your references, including past employers, that you’re job hunting. • Update your resume, quantifying your accomplishments whenever possible (e.g. exceeded sales goal by 8%). • Register with employment agencies and/or search firms. (Ask in advance if they charge for their services). • Say yes to every interview, even if it isn’t the job you want. It’s good practice. • Familiarize yourself with the companies you’re interviewing with. Being prepared will go a long way with prospective employers. • Follow up on your interviews with a thank-you e-mail or note. Although it is difficult, losing your job doesn’t have to be an end. Indeed, it could give you a fresh start! Rennison hails originally from the beautiful twin isles of Trinidad & Tobago. Married to his amazing wife Taryn, he enjoys helping others and working to build up the Men in the body of Christ.


Male Perspective Anybody!? have a


want a guy’s opinion?


+ We want to hear from you!

Earl Munyan is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and the Senior Pastor of First Assembly of God in Bayonne, NJ. He and his wife, Tanya, who is a licensed Assemblies of God minister, are both graduates of Valley Forge Christian College and have served together in full-time ministry for over 15 years. They have been married since 1994 and together they have 4 children: Prisca, Earl, Joaquin and Sofia

people’s perspective Karen Ferguson

I’ve learnt a lot about God’s power to redeem. I wanted to share my testimony in hopes of encouraging those who are without hope, or perhaps think they’ve made too many mistakes for God to ever notice or use them. In my younger years, I was horribly ridiculed by my peers. I remember looking for places to hide at recess time to avoid their taunts. In addition, there was also abuse in my home, so I didn’t have the support of a loving family to counter the effects of bullying. The result was a life filled with fear, insecurity, and alienation. Because I felt worthless and unlovable, I became a people pleaser and made some very poor choices.

I accepted Christ at age seven, but at age twenty, I seriously dedicated my life to Him. Years of physical, sexual, and substance abuse left me feeling used and guilty. I even felt so bad about myself, I couldn’t look people in the eye, and many times considered suicide. I was desperate for someone to take the pain away. I didn’t understand it right away, but I came to the right person when I came to Jesus. He was the one pursuing me for years. During this time, He protected my family from devastation and even death. What grace and mercy He gives, even when we stray from Him! I’ve come to understand that change with the Lord is a process. We may feel like we’re taking two steps forward and five backwards, but God never gives up on us. During my failures, March / April 2011

He showed great mercy turning my mistakes around for His good. Twenty years into this journey, and I’m blessed with a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and many undeserved personal and professional opportunities. He delivered me from lies that held me captive for years, and even today, is still transforming me step by step. Jesus Christ IS my redeemer, and I hope you will give Him a chance to be yours. He is the right person for the job. He will never reject you but will redeem and restore what you’ve lost. Entrust your life’s journey to Him.

He showed great mercy turning my mistakes around for His good.

…and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:11


They proved to be genuine, and truly capture the essence of wanting to press on. God will always be faithful, and some of these songs are a helpful reminder of that truth. “Hope in Me”, a syncopated head-bopper, lulls me into feeling joy while exclaiming the truth that all hope comes from God. “More than Conquerors”, featuring Martha Munizzi, Mary’s twin sister, is as empowering musically as it is lyrically. The song in itself is a victory. “Pressing On” is a unique choice for a title track, considering its atypical unplugged approach. This provides a spotlight on what is being said, rather than sung. At first impression, the album “Pressing On” by Mary Alessi may seem like a typical contemporary Christian album, but the faith-activating lyrics and the lively orchestrated production prove to be much more than just your average live experience. The albums starts off with strong praise & worship songs packed with electrifying guitar riffs to meet the need of rock lovers, and to engage any listener, regardless of age or preference. The writing and melodic approach of Mary Alessi is that of a true musician, who is fully aware of what it means to meet with a congregation and sing at the top of your lungs. The album covers a wide range of moods and tempos, from upbeat folky tunes, as shown in the title track, “Pressing On”, to sweet ballads, like my particular favorite, “I Love You”. This album is very universal, in that it has a diverse appeal, without falling into the stigma of “vanilla”. Without a doubt, there is something for everybody in this album.As I listened to the album there were quite a few songs that caught my attention. Many of the lyrics provoked me to worship God and acknowledge his goodness.

March / April 2011

“Saturate Me” is a refreshing experience, engulfing the listener with a sea of sound and effectively depicts God’s warm embrace. “Great Day” is probably the best track that showcases Mary’s tone as a singer. It is exemplary in the musical quality, without taking from the genuineness of the worship. “I Love You” is my favorite for a special reason. The purity in the repeating of the chorus, “I love you, I love you”, calls back to the first romance with Christ.

A native of New Jersey, Leah describes herself as “crazy, impatient and wonderful at times”. She loves God deeply and desires nothing more than to be in His arms forever. Leah enjoys searching for new Christian music artists, making people laugh and marathon karaoke nights with friends.


“Go show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress, love her as the Lord loves the Israelites…” - Hosea 3:1 Priscilla Lamour currently resides in New Jers vey. She is the Drama Director for INO House (In Not Of), a Christian youth and young adult organization. A member of her church drama team, Priscilla’s goal is to live an ‘undignified life’, without compromise, just like the psalmist in 2 Samuel 6:22. She enjoys coffee, in all its forms, and should own stock in Starbucks.

March / April 2011

This is the message as hand in Francine Rivers’ acclaimed novel “Redeeming Love”. The novel draws references from the book of Hosea in the story of Sarah; raised by a prostitute and birthed from an adulterous affair, Sarah grows up following her mother’s footsteps; becoming first a young mistress re-named “Angel” and then a prostitute at a highpriced brothel. This rough life gives “Angel” a rough exterior and even rougher outlook on life and love. Enter Michael Hosea- who, following a revelation from God, gradually convinces Angel to marry him. She is so hardened to life that, despite the love that Michael shows her, she continues to leave him and return to a life of prostitution time after time. Eventually, she begins to soften and fall for Michael but becomes so consumed with her perceived “unworthiness” she again leaves him. Far from home in California she meets an old Christian man named Jonathan Axel and gives her heart to Christ. Now, humbled, compassionate and finally able to love Angel goes to Michael who accepts “Sarah” with open arms and until death they remain faithful through Christ’s redemption. This book is wonderfully written and engrosses the reader with a well-developed story and characters that you root for, even if they may not seem redeemable in our mindseye. I found it to be extremely relatable (despite the period it takes place in) and it carries an incredible message to boot. I would also recommend this to unsaved friends and family who enjoy “romance novels” as a way to subtly share the message of Christ. Like the book of Hosea, “Redeeming Love” shows us that despite our flaws, our pasts, our heartbreaks and heartaches; God loves us unconditionally. As many times as we may feel, like Sarah/Angel, unworthy, in God’s eyes we are worthy of this redeeming love.



Original Women “We as women are uniquely and intentionally designed by God” so states For the last couple of years, in Rockford, IL, women have gathered to spend time in the presence of God and to hear the message that they are beautiful, here for a purpose and original. This year’s conference (April 14-16) theme is Shape. Lisa Bevere and Nancy Alcorn are the speakers for this incredible 3-day event. Mark your calendar to be there! Anita Renfroe Everyone needs to laugh and what better person to make you burst open at the seams, then the hilarious and amazing Anita Renfroe! In addition to her own tours, Anita has been a special guest on “Good Morning America” and “Dr. Phil”. Anita is known for her comedy, warm heart and beautiful voice. She’ll give you her opinion on everything from purses to pregnancy! She’s going to be in Summerville, South Carolina, March 3, so reserve your ticket today! If that’s not close enough to you, click on Upcoming Shows at to find when she’ll be in your area. EWomen’s Conference Whether you’re a college graduate or an empty nester, Extraordinary Women’s Conference is just for you! This year’s lineup has some incredible speakers such as Candace Cameron Bure, Chonda Pierce and Stormie Omaritian to name a few! April 8-9, they will be in Pensacola, Florida. Each conference is 2 days and is filled with powerful worship, drama and dynamic main sessions. Type in to see the conferences full schedule! Hearts at Home Hearts at Home is an event that happens in the heartland of America in Normal, IL. Each year, thousands of mom’s gather together to laugh and learn. Their website,, states, “Through drama, music, and speakers who understand the real challenges of motherhood, you’ll find your vision refreshed and your heart full.” Jill Savage and Jennifer Rothschild coordinate this mother’s event complete with a Friday night Mom’s Night Out! This year, Hearts at Home is March 11-12. Hurry to get your spot reserved! Hume Lake Hume Lake Spring Women’s Retreat is March 18 - 20. Hume Lake is located in gorgeous California at Hume Lake Christian Camps, hidden away in the Sequoia National Forest. You’ll be able to enjoy God’s beautiful creation while hiking, canoeing and swimming! It’s a great place to reflect and be refreshed. Go to their website to register! Midday Connection Sometimes, travel is not an option. Tight budget’s and lack of vacation days make it not possible. Here’s a suggestion-take a “trip” MondayFriday by listening to Midday Connection, a radio show hosted by Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt for women. These two ladies, daily hit issues such as protecting the family and making the perfect dinner for the in-laws! Check to find a station or sign up for podcasts to listen any time you want!

Naomi Close lives resides in Illinois where she’s on staff as the communications director at her church. She’s a graphic designer and loves waterfalls. She enjoys journaling and her passion is mentoring teenage girls. Her sister is her best friend and John 3:30 is her life verse.

Each January, we put up new calendars with 365 available dates. It’s hard to believe that we’re already approaching the third and fourth months of 2011! Rekindle has gathered together some suggestions of women’s events that are scattered across the country for you to attend during March and April. Explore fun, new things while using your days in a beneficial way and be spiritually uplifted at the same time!

March / April 2011


Rekindle Magazine-Redemption  
Rekindle Magazine-Redemption  

Rekindle Magazine | Redemption