Sunday, July 30, 2017

Voice

Voice is defined as the sound produced in a person's larynx and uttered through the mouth as speech or sound. The definition of voice has such a technical feel to it but when you think about what somebodies voice can mean to you....well, it feels that these words are not adequate to express the way some sounds produced in a person's larynx and uttered through their mouth can reach some inner part of your soul.  We can all think of a time when somebody said something and it really meant a lot and stuck with us.  Just this weekend I was recalling happy family memories, times over summer when we would go to the beach after dinner and play until the sun went down and then go to Dairy Queen for an ice cream on the way home. Or when we would go to St. Augustine and walk down St. George Street and get a sweet treat. I was thinking about my dad singing Philadelphia Freedom to me on the way to school just about every morning.  I was thinking about times he would tell me that he was so proud of me and I rolled my eyes and said 'yeah, yeah, yeah'....Some times I think I would give up anything to just go back in time. I know that the stroke my dad is living through, and how it has changed all of us has been for the better in most regards, even if it took a lot of pain and tears to get to where we are today, even if it dumped us upside down and tossed us about and made us more clearly define and appreciate one another...and see who would weather the storms with us - people I thought would always be there, well I guess when our ship hit turbulent seas they took the life boat and left us to weather the storm on our own.... there are days....when I just don't understand why.....there are days that I miss my dad.  I am grateful he is still here, don't get me wrong....anyways....I was going through and cleaning out my computer, getting rid of old songs I don't listen to anymore and burning pictures to DVD when I came across a few old sound clips from my dad. The odd thing about the timing is that my husband just cracked his phone screen and my sister has a phone she isn't using that he could use, she was upset by a glitch in the Verizon network that cost her one of the last voicemail from my dad before his stroke....so while this might not have been personalized for you Becca, in the name of lost voicemail I hope this sound clip brings a smile to your heart through the tears that are bound to leave your eyes while listening. There are a few more sound clips, but since YouTube won't let me just upload music, I need to find more pictures.

p.s It 's hard to believe that doctors said my dad would never speak again.  While these are old sound clips, he is certainly speaking today....and still singing!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

kids' visual study bible

kids' visual Study Bible

Overview:

The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible, for ages 8–12, brings the Bible to life in four-color illustrated splendor. This study Bible includes a spectacular full-color interior featuring over 700 illustrations, photos, infographics, and maps on every page that visually represent key Bible information. Each page also features important facts located near the relevant verse. Intriguing facts; colorful, engaging maps; photographs; and illustrations make this a Bible they’ll want to explore.

My Thoughts:

I always enjoy looking at different bibles.  Every night we read to our boys from the bible.  We are reading through the bible with them but it will take more than one year!  When this bible arrived in the mail we decided to use it for our nightly reading. I liked how it gave an overview of each book of the bible at the beginning, listing things like who wrote the book, what it was written, what we learn about God in that book, etc. Throughout the book they provide short summaries of verses in the margins and life time lines or maps and even some pictures. My ten year old really seemed to enjoy the facts along the margins. I would recommend this bible. 

I received this bible in exchange for an honest review through the book look blogger program, my opinion is my own. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

10...

June 16, 2007 at 7:01 p.m Seth Alan entered the world. 

I had no clue how my life would change, how he would make me a better person.  Growing up there were some things I said I would never do....I said I would never get married.  I said I would never leave home.  I said I would never have children.  Somewhere along the journey I realized I better be careful what I say I will never do because everything I said I would never do I have done....

Today my boy turned 10.  I am not sure how time has passed so quickly.  I remember him always holding my ear to go to sleep when he was little.  I remember having to walk down the aisle of microwaves every time we went into a store.  He knew them all by name.  I remember him watching youtube videos about what to put in a microwave.  I remember him carrying a play microwave around everywhere.  I remember him saying my contractions for Ivan looked like sandcastles on the monitor. I remember him being fascinated with Curious George and able to recite every episode from memory. I remember when he started school. I remember when he lost his first tooth. I remember when he faced his fears, when we overcame his fears. He absorbs so much and is able to recall facts that I have long since forgotten. He is very literal. He is a rule follower. He is confident and proud.  He excels in school.  

He is a pretty awesome kid.

You only turn 10 once and I wanted this day to be special for him. I was thinking about trying to do 10 special things and if somehow they could incorporate the number 10 then that was an added bonus. This is what we came up with --

- He woke up to a decorated living room and singing Happy Birthday to him.
- I made him a shirt that had 10 on the front and #DoubleDigits on the back
- We went to his favorite park 
-We went to the Donut Shoppe and put candles on a donut!
- We went to the candy shop and picked out 10+ pieces of candy.
- We gave him a small gift at 10 a.m
- He wanted a 10 piece chicken nugget meal from Mc Donalds for lunch. 
- We went bowling after lunch - 10 pins...he got a few spares!
- We went to Adventure Landing when Dennis got off and got 100+ tokens (10x10)
- We had pizza and a family movie night.
- I made him a 10 layer cheesecake for dessert.
-Before bed we gave him a list of 10 things we like about him.  Ivan, Dennis and I all worked on it together and Seth read it aloud before he went to bed. 

I want him to know that we love him.  I want him to know that he is special.  I want him to know that he is one of a kind.  I want him to know that there is nobody else like him in the world. 

A few pictures from our day---

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Never Give Up

Never Give Up
Written By: John Mason


Book Overview:

Everything worth doing is going to have some obstacles. Some people look at setbacks as evidence that whatever it is they've been striving for just wasn't meant to be. But according to bestselling author and master motivator John Mason, the moment most people give up is the moment of their greatest opportunity.

In this inspiring book, Mason gives readers fifty-two keys to never giving up on their dreams. He shows them how to ask the right questions when they are on the verge of quitting, how to avoid unnecessary trouble, and how to keep their energy level up in the face of setbacks. Whether readers are building a business, a family, a portfolio, or relationships, they'll find the strength and motivation to go on, break through, and claim the prize.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this book.  I liked the fact that it was easy to read through.  It is broken down into 'nuggets' and can be read from front to back or can be read randomly.  There were some points that really made me stop and think but overall it was a very light read, nothing too heavy that got me feeling too entrenched in my thoughts. It was refreshing and uplifting.  There were several little quotes that I wrote down for reflection at a later date.  I think this would be a good read for somebody struggling with depression because it isn't overwhelming to too deep but it is uplifting and encouraging.  I recommend this book! One of my favorite quotes from the book, "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it." (Ellen Goodman)


I received this book in exchange for an honest review from RevellBooks, but my opinion is my own!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Esther

Drawn in Bible Study Esther
Finding Yourself in Time of Trouble

Eugene H. Peterson


Overview:
Bible study is an important spiritual discipline, but it can be intimidating and often difficult for newcomers. The four-session coloring Bible studies for adults in this series are designed for group use and as outreach to new Christians and non-Christians. Incorporating coloring, the text of The Message, and a mix of study and reflection questions, the new Drawn In Bible Study series offers a unique on-ramp experience for those new to Bible study, and a refreshing holistic approach for seasoned Bible students.

In Esther: Finding Yourself in Times of Trouble, readers will get to know Esther, the unlikely queen of Persia who found her voice in a time of crisis. This study features pages for coloring, the earthy language of The Message, and questions that help you understand not just the text of the Bible, but your own connections to Esther's story.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed working through this bible study.  I remember when I was a little girl that I really enjoyed coloring.  That did not change as I grew older, while I walked away from it for a while, my pencils and coloring books remained.  Over time, they changed, I even found myself purchasing some adult coloring books. I have always enjoyed a good bible study, a way to dive into the word a little deeper.  There were several pages throughout the study with quotes to color.  There were also pages that had small drawings mixed with words to be colored as well as pages devoted to the bible study.  I enjoy having variety and changing things up.  This bible uses The Message translation, it isn't a translation I use all the time but sometimes a fresh perspective is good. I would recommend this bible study.  It is short, four weeks!  I could see where it could be stretched out and maybe have some study sessions where everybody just met and colored and enjoyed the fellowship with one another. 

I received this book in exchange for an honest review through Tyndale Blog Network but my opinions are my own.


Monday, May 22, 2017

The Lucky Few

The Lucky Few
Written By: Heather Avis


Book Overview:
These are the faces that call me “mom,” the three children who made me a mother.

            When I started my journey into parenthood I never thought it would look like this. I never planned on having three adopted children, and I certainly never imagined that two of them would have Down syndrome. But like most of the things God does, once we stepped into the craziness and confusion of the unknown and unplanned, we quickly realized that we were indeed among the lucky few.
            When my husband and I decided to grow our family ten years ago, we were surprised to find that getting pregnant was not as easy as we had thought it would be. And as we navigated the ups and downs of infertility, God led us down the path of adoption. Of course, we would adopt! Not what we had originally planned, but certainly a wonderful option.
            But just as we began to get a comfortable grasp on growing our family through adoption, God introduced us to Macyn Hope, a very sick little girl with Down syndrome who desperately needed a family. As we continued to follow God’s calling, first with Macyn, and later with Truly and then August, we found ourselves further and further from the comfortable paths we thought our lives would take, and instead moving down some very scary, and often painful roads.
            Even though at times His plan seemed terrifying and even downright foolish, little could we have known how much goodness, blessing, and joy would flow out of loving these three little people He’s put into our lives. No, it’s not been easy: not the open-heart surgeries or the challenges of raising two children with Down syndrome or the complexities of dealing with birth-families or the struggles we’ve had with the public education system. But through it all, every new and uncomfortable situation has only proven to be another chance to see how very good God’s plan is for our lives and how downright lucky we are to be able to live it out.  
                It’s only the lucky few that recognize that the most beautiful things in this life are often found in the differences. What some would see as misfortune, I’ve learned to see as nothing more than pure luck.
My Thoughts:
I enjoy reading books that allow me a glimpse into another's life.  We all face challenges and trials and struggles and joy and happiness.  In some way, while we are all different, we are all met with some type of adversity in life.  It can be difficult to remember that we are all faced with some difficulty this side of eternity.  We tend to get wrapped up in the struggles in our own story. I think some times we plan or imagine that things will be a certain way and then when they don't turn out the way we thought they would, well its hard to remember that while it might be difficult to digest the difference, it just might be the best thing for us.  I enjoyed reading the story about how they adopted their children and how God led them right where He wanted them to go.  Obedience isn't always easy but the rewards for being obedient are worth it. One thing that she said that I really liked was, "We can only fully know joy when we know heartbreak as well."

I received this book in exchange for an honest review through BookLookBloggers but my opinions are my own!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

My Sweet Friend....

 I have been sitting here starring at a blank template, unsure of what to say but yet filled with so many thoughts. I watch the text cursor blink, waiting for some input to make it solid, to fill the space, to add meaning to the emptiness that it lives within.  Then my mind drifts into thoughts about how our life could be viewed the same way.  This world is so empty compared to what is waiting for us, and we search for some meaning, a purpose - something that makes us feel solid and complete. Some people find what makes them solid, and in so doing they start filling the pages of their lives with words, pictures, experiences, stories, memories....things that will keep them feeling full and satisfied, despite living in an empty world where pain and heartache threaten to drain our spirit. In living their life story they are not only filling the pages of their life story but also adding a few chapters to somebody else's story. I have found this happens, sometimes when we are completely unaware of it. I don't think we will always know the chapters we write in somebody else's life.  Sometimes we write them when we are declining in health or facing some hardship that seems insurmountable. 

I have been helping out at a memory care facility and yesterday I received word that one of the ladies that I would walk with and work with one-on-one, had departed this earth. When she would come in on days that I was there, we would walk around the facility and 'shop'...she would comment on the nice door decorations of the residents who live there...they have different little rooms in this place and we would walk around and shop in these different areas. We weren't really shopping but that is what seemed to bring some joy to Mrs. Dorothy, so that is what we did.  We would collect odd pillows or pictures or magazines and purchase them 'on credit' and take them back to the house. Mind you, we never left the facility.  Part of working with people who have some kind of memory impairment is joining them where they are, while also having no knowledge of where that may be. I think a big part of it is making a connection. Some days we would walk outside, only to Mrs. Dorothy we were walking on the farm and helping with the animals.  Or working in the fields and harvesting crops.  Some days we were at the hospital and she was taking care of people and talking about how much she enjoyed helping others. As she was losing her memories I felt like I was saving them for her. She enjoyed visits from Sadie!

One day we were walking outside and she was talking about potato farming and she stopped and looked at me and told me that I was a good person.  I told her thank you and asked her how she knew that and she told me because I care and I am a good friend and I have a good heart.  I asked her how she could know those things about me and she simply responded, 'Because he told me so.'  I asked who 'he' was and she was back to talking about all the things she could make using potatoes.  For those few moments though, she was there, and what she was telling me was what I needed to hear.  I felt like God himself was talking to me through these interactions that I would have with amazing people at this memory care facility.  When we walked she would always feel the need to hold on to me and would repeat over and over, please don't leave me. I am not one that really likes to be touched, but for Mrs. Dorothy, I had to get over what I didn't like because it was what she needed.

Mrs. Dorothy certainly blessed my life, even as hers was slipping away. She has written a few chapters in my life's story, while sharing her life's story with me.  She pioneered the way for me into memory care and what that really looks like. I know the only thing certain in life is death, but I also don't think it is something we were ever meant to have to deal with. I am grateful for the time that I had with her, even though I feel like it was way too short. I will always remember her - somehow in the midst of my struggles she reminded me that I am a good person, that I have a good heart, and that the way I care for others is a good thing.  When I think about her I can't help but think about those positive affirmations that she left me with.  I hear her voice clear as day saying it to me now. I am grateful for the pictures I have to reflect back on but the true beauty lies in the way she touched my soul. I know she is at peace. I should find peace in that knowledge but being somebody who feels things so deeply, this is very sad for me.


The write up in the paper 

She wrote her own obituary - it was published on my birthday. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This time last week....

I was playing a game on the computer.  My cell phone started ringing.  I thought it was my brother to discuss plans to help my grandfather over the coming days. I didn't answer the phone, I was in a competitive game. The phone rang again, they never left a message, must not be important...when the phone rang for the third time I answered...."Rachel, Dad is having seizures again, paramedics are trying to get him loaded up now."  I opened my front door - this is what I saw.  Every time I hear sirens come down our street, I panic, I rush to the front of the house and in my head I repeat, 'just keep going, just keep going.' A few times, they have stopped at my parents house and when they do, followed by the 'just keep going' is 'oh no they stopped.' Sometimes I don't even make it to the door when I see the reflection of the lights through my front door.  This time they did not have sirens on, but the panic was still the same.  This will never become any easier to see. 


Like every other time, I sprinted down to the house. I must say if I could channel that into some race, I am sure I would win. This time when I left the house I didn't have shoes on, my feet ended up bruised and scraped but the pain didn't phase me. Got down to the house to see the paramedics struggling to get dad on the stretcher.  He was still having seizures. That also will never become any easier to see 


 He was telling us that he wanted to die in between massively seizing. He was taken to Mayo, and I think about an hour after the seizures originally started, and with medication from the ER, he was not having seizures but was also not very alert. It would come and go. Seizures leave him completely drained and weak.  There are still certain little neuro tests they do to just keep tabs on him.  Concerned over his lack of response, the following morning he was sent for a CT Scan.  No new brain damage...always a relief.  Who would have thought that, 'no new brain damage,' would be a "relief." He had some seizures throughout the night while he was being monitored at Mayo. Mom didn't leave his side. 


As we got more results and news from the doctors about how to once again tweak his medications, mom decided to go to work the following day.  I told her I would go up and sit with him. It felt like old times.  An odd, but familiar; uncomfortable but comfortable setting.  I ordered him his typical Mayo Breakfast and a few smoothies, is it sad that I pretty much know the menu? Doctors made their rounds and with the new medication on board, Dad was improving.  I left him rest in the morning but when I saw the doctors down the hall I told him he had to be alert and answer their questions if he wanted to get home. When they came in he was awake and answered their questions and they said they felt he could go home, just have somebody with him for support and what not while he builds strength back up.  This is the picture right after the doctors had left the room, he just kept saying, "I'm going home" and had a big smile on his face. He asked me to text this picture to my mom. He was impressed with how symmetrical his smile was!


So at precisely this time last week we were just hoping the seizures would stop.  We were taking turns going back to see him in the ER as you are only allowed 2 visitors at a time.  We may have bent that rule a few times. We were keeping each other company in the waiting room while others of us went back to check on him. Just being there for each other during a time when we were uncertain about how things would turn out. It seems dad goes through the ringer with these seizures, just about every other month. I don't know how he finds the strength to keep going.  Oh wait, I know...mom is standing beside him every step of the way and refusing to let him give up!  I love their love for one another. 

I hate everything he has been through. It doesn't seem fair. It scares me and makes me angry at times but yet it also serves as a sobering reminder of the fact that this fallen world is not our home. There are days that his physical body has left him feeling so discouraged and let down.  I remind him that he is still the same on the inside. 

Don't hesitate to reach out to somebody. 
You just might be the encouragement they need to keep going.