Friday, February 17, 2017

A Spectacle of Glory


A Spectacle of Glory
God's Light Shining through Me Every Day
Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby

Overview:

Do you ever wonder why God created you? The Bible spells it out plainly: God created you to showcase His glory—to enjoy it, display it, and demonstrate it every day to all those you encounter.
After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. Along the way, you will find great comfort and encouragement by focusing on the one who longs to lead and guide you every step of the way, every day.
Don’t ever think your life is too ordinary, your world too small, or your work too insignificant. All of it is a stage set for you to glorify God.
My Thoughts:

I have heard Joni Eareckson Tada's story and was looking forward to reading this devotional.  I had quite a few books started when I added this one to the mix.  I looked forward to reading a short devotion every day.  Some days I read more than one!  The devotions were not that long, they were a perfect length and easy to keep up with.  I enjoyed how each one ended with a little prayer as well.  I enjoyed reading through this and plan on starting over again.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the Book Look Bloggers program!


Monday, February 13, 2017

not again....

"Not again..." that is all I could think as I felt my heart sink to the pit of my stomach when my mom called me last night to tell me that my dad had another stroke.  All I had to compare it to was what his first stroke was like - a terrifying and miraculous journey that strengthened our family as it tore apart everything we knew and loved about a man who we thought was indestructible....a man who always took on the world, and now this world threatened to take him.  

Everything changed that day.  Everything continues to change. It truly is the only constant. Some days I find myself wishing there was some way to go back to the 3 months prior to the stroke, when he was happy, when he would call me to tell me he was proud of me, when he would open the door and say welcome to the jungle to my boys.  I am grateful that he is still here but there are days that I miss him terribly.  

I never thought I would be thanking God for a small stroke.  Today I was doing just that. I didn't know what to expect when I went to see him today.  I was happy to see him stand and move his legs and talk. They have been running tests all day to figure out the fine details and we really don't know much more at this point, other than it was another stroke. He had all the nurses laughing.  The therapists who were working on the floor today, many of them came by and what they said all sounded the same, "when we saw your name we had to stop by and see you."  They complimented him on his progress and how well his speech has come along. It's not really a place you want familiarity but yet that familiarity is strangely comforting. Here we are trying to figure out this stroke and get our feet under us and here they are in awe of how far he has come along, even including the weakness this stroke has brought on. Talk about perspective?!?! 

Two weeks ago he was in the hospital with seizures. Anytime I see an ambulance go by I panic, run to the front window and when I see them slow down at my parents house I say, 'no, no, no, just keep going'....Even though the ambulance has been to my parents house a number of times, it never gets easier to see....now my panic has spread and when we are out and about if I see an ambulance leaving our street I call mom to make sure its not for dad.  The odd thing is I did just that Sunday morning and Sunday evening they had to take him to the ER.  Thankful that he alerted them of the need to be checked out.  Thankful it wasn't four hours later when he would have been in bed asleep. Thankful for medications that can break the clot and give him a much faster turn around. 


Tomorrow is Valentines Day.  It is not a day that I like.  Love is about so much more than flowers and stuffed animals and chocolates.  I guess that stuff is nice but to me it looks like superficial love. A way for people to show the world how much they love you when love is such an intimate private thing, something that should be conveyed more than once a year in kind deeds, soft words, showing up, helping with laundry, spending time with one another. True love, that is what I see when I watch my mom sit beside my dad and hold his hand as he wakes up the day after his second stroke. True love is what I hear when my mom says, "His right side was not moving at all last night and my heart was breaking all over again, I felt like we were starting over."  True love is what  I see when I watch my mom push on every day when life is so different now.  True love is what I see when I watch her look at my dad and still see his beautiful soul and amazing spirit, unchanged by what the world has done to his physical body.  True love is what I see when I watch my dad look at my mom, and even with the inability to find the words.... he speaks volumes about his love for her when you see the peace in his eyes as he looks to her for comfort. In sickness and in health....when its not always fun or comfortable or easy....they live a great example of what it looks like to love one another against and in spite of all odds. I have so much respect for people who lead by example.  Words can be empty shells of promises and good ideas, but seeing it in real life, before my very eyes -- brings with it lessons that will be ingrained in me forever. Love unconditionally. Love what you can't see. Respect one another. Never give up. No matter what, you stand beside the one you love. 


I will be incredibly honest here and say that no part of this feels very fair.  I know we are walking this path for a reason but it sure is exhausting at times.  Today I was able to be there for a stranger in a unique way, who knows if our paths would have crossed if it weren't for my dad having this stroke.  I guess I was where God needed me to be, even if it was not where I wanted to be. That is always a difficult pill to swallow.  

Something good will come from this.  
In the mean time -- for my family -- listen to this song....



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bear Hug!

I'm going to give you a Bear Hug!
Written By: Caroline B. Cooney 
Illustrated By: Tim Warnes


Book Overview:

Whether it's a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle all the way through the imaginative examples of different kinds of hugs a child might give or receive. Cooney's sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.

My Thoughts:

Some things never change, when I arrive home and see a small box by my door, I get just as excited now as I did when I first started reviewing books! I really enjoyed reading through this book. It made my heart happy. I then sat down and read it with my six year old.  He loves to give hugs so he really enjoyed this book.  I enjoyed the bright pictures and how we went on a journey of sorts as each different type of hug was explained.  Everywhere from the ocean to farm animals, to the comfort of home.  I would recommend this book!

I recieved this book in exchange for an honest review from FlyBy Promotions, however, my thoughts are my own!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Beginner's Bible

The Beginner's Bible 
Timeless Children's Stories



Book Overview:

Introduce children to the stories and characters of the Bible with this best-loved Bible storybook. With vibrant art and compelling text, more than 90 Bible stories come to life. Kids ages 6 and under will enjoy the fun illustrations of Noah helping the elephant onto the ark, Jonah praying inside the fish, and more, as they discover The Beginner's Bible just like millions of children before. The Beginner's Bible is the 2006 Retailers Choice Award winner in Children's Nonfiction.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading through this Bible. We read the stories to our boys before bed, one is 9 years old and the other is 6 years old.  It held the attention of both of them although it is geared more towards the younger crowd. But it isn't too 'baby-ish' - meaning the 9 year old enjoyed it, even if it was a bit below his reading level. My six year old really enjoyed the story about Daniel and the Lions den. The facial expressions and illustrations are great for further conversation into recognizing different feelings during such events, which adds another unique element to reading through the bible. I enjoyed reading this book with my boys.

I received this book from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for an honest review, but my opinion of it is my own!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day
Written By: Mark Batterson

Book Overview:

Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn’t chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within!
What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure…your greatest fear?
Story Behind the Book
“Our best days often start out as our worst days. And our greatest opportunities are often disguised as our biggest problems. You can land in a pit with a lion on a snowy day, and it will seem like the end of the road. But God is in the recycling business. He recycles past experiences and uses them to prepare us for future opportunities. That is the story of my life. And that is the story of your life. Look in the rearview mirror long enough and you’ll see that God has purposely positioned you everywhere you’ve been—even when it seemed you’d taken a wrong turn.”
My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I underlined and highlighted so many places while I was reading it.  I also told other people about certain sections of the book as I was reading it because I felt it was something they could apply to their life. From the first chapter I was hooked, with the thought that God puts us where we need to be, when we need to be there... but often times it feels like the wrong time and the wrong place. Another great point was that "Lion chasers thrive in the toughest circumstances because they know impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles." I don't know about you but when I am going through difficult times its is hard to stop and think about the miracle just waiting for me.  The chapter on unlearning your fears hit me pretty hard. I thought, "yes, this is just what I need to do!" I loved what he had to say about spiritual growth, in that half of it is learning what we don't know and the other half is unlearning what we do know.  Guaranteed uncertainty, playing it safe, sacrifice, opportunity, looking foolish....this book has been such an amazing read.  I feel there is something for everybody within the pages of this book.

I recieved this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging For Books

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas at Arbor Terrace

I have been blessed with the opportunity to help at a memory care facility with a life enrichment group.  In some ways this 'job' has given me purpose.  I feel like they help me more than I help them.  I feel like the lessons that I have learned are priceless. I am learning how to just be and be completely where I am, at that moment. My counselor hopes that can spread out into my life as well. Some days are harder than others.  It is a very emotionally demanding job which is a bit ironic coming from somebody who faces so many internal struggles. The priceless moments where I feel like God is speaking through these people definitely outweigh the days that I leave and just cry on the way out to get the boys over what this disease is doing to these amazing people. It is fascinating to me what remains when this disease starts to take over.  The mental functions they lose, the memories that they can't recall....yet everybody in our group has that fear of abandonment. It's like separation anxiety with a baby all over again.  It does not seem fair to me that they lose their memories and mental functions but the fears remain. I don't know that it would be any better if they lost their fears too, just seems more fair that way.  But who am I to say what is or isn't fair?  I guess in one sense I am grateful for the disease because if it wasn't for Alzheimer's then I may not have ever had this opportunity or met these incredible people. We had a little Christmas party for them yesterday, they all had reindeer antlers and snacks and we sang Christmas Carols. They also had some children come in and do some caroling for them from a local church. They sure did light up when they saw the little people and let me tell you - what an incredible sight for me to soak in.  The old and the young.  One is just entering life, one is near exit. One is learning how to walk and talk and eat and smile while the other is forgetting these daily life tasks. The magnitude of that moment was like nothing that I can put into words. It was intense. It was profound.  It was moving.  It was sad. Yet they brought so much joy to each other, regardless of how brief that moment was. I have connected with the people in our group, over one thing or another.  The lady I work with has told me she is grateful for my hard work and dedication and willingness to connect with each person.  I have learned that you have to join people where they are. With being there weekly I have gotten to know some of the residents. I look forward to seeing them.  They each are unique and special in their own way.  Ms. Helen tells me that I have such a gentle nature, that it is nice that I help people....how could she know?!?! I wonder if there is any coincidence in that my grandma Helen told me that I would help a lot of people one day. They share the same name and tell me the same thing?  Or is it my grandma Helen, speaking through this Helen who is currently residing at Arbor Terrace? One lady, Ms. Betsy always tells me that she is happy to see me.  Maybe she tells everybody that but hey, some days its what I need to hear. I think to myself, 'somebody is actually happy to see me? Most days I avoid the mirror because I can't stand to see me!'  I asked her this week what was one thing she wanted for Christmas.  She looked at me and clear as day she said, "Why I would like peace and happiness.  I want my family to be healthy." Then just as easily and she said that, she then went back to mumbling, couldn't make out exactly what she was saying but I listened until she walked away. I thought about what she wanted - peace and happiness...  Freedom from disturbance, tranquility, and a feeling of contentment.  I suppose that is what we are all looking for, no matter the age, no matter the life struggles that we face. Never did I ever think that this is what I would be doing at this point in my life, but I can't imagine not doing it now. It's not easy, but nothing in life worth doing is ever easy. Connecting with people, no matter where they are in their life journey, is truly a blessing - don't take it for granted. The word of encouragement yesterday at Arbor Terrace - "Encouragement may be the greatest gift we give this Christmas."




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Think about others...

I have two incredible little boys.  I live for these boys.  They are the air I breathe.  They give me the strength and energy to keep going when I am exhausted from physical and mental battles.  They also give me hope for the future, for humanity. Hope is a good thing. We have a nighttime/bedtime routine.  They get their showers, they get ready for bed, we always do a family hug - all four of us, then we read to them.  We have been working on reading the bible to them, so they hear a little at a time.  I then put the bible back on the dresser and turn off the light.  I always tell them I love them, I am proud of them and I hope they sleep good.  To which they reply, I love you, and you sleep good too. Tonight before turning off the light Ivan jumped out of bed and said, "I am so excited about the pizza party tomorrow and getting to wear our pajamas to school."  I said it sounded like fun, 'pizza party, pajamas, movie and friends.'  He then walked over to a shelf in his room and pulled out a Ziploc bag with coins in it.  I asked him what he was doing and told him he needed to get back in bed and he said he needed to take these to school tomorrow.  I asked him why and he said, 'well what if some kids couldn't bring in money for the pizza party? they will be sad if they don't get pizza, I want them to have pizza too.'  I love this boys heart. I told him that sometimes I will send in extra money just in case somebody else can't contribute, not always, but sometimes. I love that my sweet little boy, at six years old....thought about others going without and wanted to do something about that - all on his own.  He has grasped a concept that some adults I know still don't understand. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ghost


I stood behind you in line.
You looked me in the eyes.
You looked back at your cart.
You handed the cashier the money.
You told her Merry Christmas
You were pleasant and warm and nice
but was it real?
You confused me today.
You have talked in days past about the incredible person I am.
You have told me that I am a friend like no other.
You have told me we should get together.
For some reason my guard remained up.
I don't know why.
My intuition is something I constantly question.
Time went on.
It stops for no one and nothing.
My family experienced some tough medical situations.
Where were you?
Oh right, you were commenting on my facebook posts telling me to text you.
Sure thing.
It looks good – to others.
You feel you did your part – you reached out.
But do you really care?
I have yet to text you.
You have yet to text me.
But thats just life.
When you saw me today, you didn't even recognize me.
I got a glimpse into what life would be like if I wasn't here.
If I was dead, if I was gone.
That's how I feel.
People don't care.
That's life, that's reality.

It just stings coming from somebody who spoke such powerful words.
Leaves me questioning my discernment of people.
Leaves me questioning my life.
Leaves me with this pit in my stomach and a hole in my heart.

Do you think maybe next time you could just say hi?

Trust no one.
Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.