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.

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette 
Loving People Like God Does
Written By:  Max Davis


Book Overview:

As best-selling author Max Davis puts it, “Jesus is very much alive today and still does incredible things—sometimes supernatural things—through us!” Those hurting and weary from worn-out religion are longing for a fresh touch from the living Jesus. Davis challenges us to do more than simply receive God’s grace—we need to allow grace to soften, change, and shape us. As you read this book, you will laugh, cry, and come face-to-face with the living Jesus, much like Davis did, meeting him living in a green-eyed brunette.

My Thoughts:

My favorite quote, "Books are missionary tools." I enjoyed reading this book.  I must say the title was a bit catchy and it piqued my curiosity. I enjoyed reading about the faith stories.  None that started out as such, but those whose lessons were just as important. I have learned that often times that is how life works, we don't know when or who will need us and how God will use us.  I like how the author talks about one example of taking his shoes off and giving them to a homeless man and how it changed his life.  I like the way the book ended, giving us all a point of reflection in thinking back to when we met Jesus for the first time, who was He living inside?

This is a story about God's grace, how it works in us and through us to reach others in a way that none other can pull off .  I will be reading this book again in the near future.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How's Your Soul?

How's Your Soul
Written By:

Book Overview:

Judah Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus Is ______, explores what it looks like to cultivate a healthy soul in the midst of a busy life and points readers to the soul’s only true home and place of rest and fulfillment: God.
“How’s your soul?” 
It may seem like an odd question, but it’s what pastor and bestselling author Judah Smith chooses to ask his friends, rather than “How are you?” It’s a way to look past the externals and consider what’s going on inside, in that essential part of us that is often overlooked in the struggle to make our way through everyday life.
In the rush of living moment to moment, many of us find ourselves simply surviving, struggling daily with frustration, restlessness, boredom, and ever-fleeting joy. But if we would pause, we’d find that the things that matter most in life, what we are searching for in our busyness—stability, peace, hope, love—are rooted in the health of what Judah calls the “inside you.” 
In How’s Your Soul?, Judah explores that “inside you.” Sharing his own, often humorous, mistakes and foibles, he helps us find our way through the emotional roller coasters of life to discover the soul-healing essentials of restresponsibilityrestraint, and relationships, all rooted in what he calls the soul’s only true home—God himself.
How’s Your Soul? is an invitation to find lasting emotional satisfaction and stability by bringing our feelings into alignment with God’s truth, moving beyond simply surviving, and learning how to live each day with eternal significance.
My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I would highly recommend this book to anybody searching for a different perspective behind the age old question - how are you? It is so easy to just answer with a quick, "I'm fine. How are you?" Most times people are struggling with something. I think I might have to try asking somebody, 'Hows your soul' just to see if its the same response, 'i'm fine how is yours?' or will it stop them in their tracks?! My favorite part of the book was about God and love, it clearly defined and outlined exactly what it looks like to love like Jesus - nearly 20 pages worth. I underlined and highlighted so much that I figured I should just put a paper clip on those pages because I will definitely be going back to them. I love that it could be applied to a relationship of any kind, with parent, child, spouse or friend. The basis for the break down of showing how to love like Jesus is based on the scripture verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 This book gave me a lot to think about.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 8, 2016

God has a plan...

God has a plan....that statement should provide more comfort than it actually does at times. It should be 'enough' on days when you just feel like you are chasing the wind. We want to know how everything will play out but our feeble mind is no match for the plans that God has for our life.  It is easy to get discouraged with the struggles that I face. 

Today....today a memory was made that will be seared into my brain.  It gave me hope. It encouraged me. It showed me that there are still good people out there.

On this day, 32 years ago my mom and dad got married.  They took each other for better or worse, in sickness and in health and let me tell you - they have lived that out....they have walked the walk...despite how things have changed since my dads stroke, their love for each other remains.  They have set a good example for those around.  Love is messy and scary and overwhelming and there is some happiness and joy in the mix as well. 

I have been reading a book titled, "How's Your Soul?" and my favorite chapter is about God and love.  Stick with me, this might be a bit to read but is worth it because I do see it in my parents. "Paul says that all the time and in every situation, love does these four things: bears, believes, hopes, and endures....The first term is bear. This letter was originally written in Greek, and the term translated bear is related to the Greek word for roof.....Figuratively, it has the idea of covering or keeping something confidential; it can also mean to put up with something. Paul was telling the Corinthian believers that love is a roof and a cover. It protects, shields, and conceals the weaknesses of others.....The second word is believe. Love believes all things. In other words, love looks for the best. It doesn't mean you don't see the worst; it just means that even in the middle of the worst time of someones life, you remember the best, celebrate the best, remind that person of the best, and believe the best......What does it mean that love always hopes? It means that love holds on to eventual development. Love recognizes that where we are is not where we will always be. We are on a journey. We are works in progress....Finally, love endures. To endure means you don't retaliate or reject. Love will be tested. Life isn't perfect and neither are we. No matter how strong the bonds or how passionate the commitments, the people we love will let us down at times. If we are motivated with God's love, there is no limit to what we can endure." (Judah Smith) 

I think that is a pretty thorough way of describing the love that my parents have for each other.  Today I decided to take my dad out to find something special for my mom.  Last year they spent their anniversary at Mayo Hospital. That had its own goodness, but nothing beats being home.  I went out this morning to a few different places in search of charms for my moms charm bracelet.  I found quite a selection at Kohl's and they were 65% off!  I told the lady behind the counter that I was kind of looking to see what they had and then I planned to bring my dad back up to the store later in the afternoon to pick out a charm for my mom since they are celebrating their anniversary today.  I explained that he had a major stroke a year ago and has a language disorder and that going out is difficult but that I wanted him to be able to pick something special out for my mom.  She said no problem.  I then went to pick my dad up.  He was having a difficult day.  We managed to get him up to eat some lunch but he didn't want to leave the house, he kept telling me, 'i have no money'...I asked, 'if you look in your wallet and have money will you go?'.....he just kept repeating that he had no money.  I got up and went to pick his wallet up, but before doing so I slid $25 into it.  You see, I help my neighbor out with some house work and just yesterday she gave me a little extra and told me Merry Christmas.  When I handed dad the wallet, he opened it and his eyes got big.  My brother and I convinced him to go pick a charm out.  We were off to Kohl's.  When we got there I recognized the same lady from earlier.  She said, 'hi sir, how can I help you'....my dad said, 'a charm?' she filled in the gap and directed him to the ones we had looked at this morning.  She took the charms out, let him look at them, she read them to him, took them off the packaging, she was so kind and patient with my dad.  During a time of year when people are having to work more hours and deal with more customers, I was amazed by how well she treated my dad.  He picked out a charm.  The original price was $60, they were marked down to $21.50...I thought to myself, 'perfect, $25 will cover it!'....then when she was ringing us up she asked if we had any coupons, and then she answered for me - well of course you do!  When it was all said and done, tax included, the total was $13.48.  I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said thank you for helping us make this day special for my mom.  I think it is amazing that the price of the charm ended up being half the amount of cash that we had to spend. I guess that is God at work showing us that he will make a way.  That employee gave me hope for this world, that there are still kind people.  She didn't have to treat us the way she did, she certainly didn't have to help us find a deal, I rarely tell people anything personal about me, certainly not some random person behind the jewelry counter.....I set out to help my dad do something nice and I feel like I received a blessing in the process.  "The blessings of God are never ends in themselves. The blessings of God are always a means to an end. And the end is blessing others. We are blessed to bless." (Mark Batterson) She sold us so much more than a charm for a bracelet, she passed along hope that I so desperately needed.  

The charm for my mom - so appropriate - had a heart on one side and the following inscription, "Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think & twice as beautiful as you'd ever imagined."  He had four to choose from and this is the one he picked!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Oh what a year...

What makes you go back and reflect on the previous year?
Is it a certain date on the calendar?
Is it New Years Eve?
The end of the year?
The dawning of a new year?
A fresh start?
Is it when you move to a new town?
Start a new job?
  Is it your birthday?  
Is it the holidays?  
Is is the empty place in your heart of loved ones who have gone on before us?  
Is it a reminder on Facebook?  
Does it come in flashbacks?
Does it come at the sight of certain buildings?
Certain people?
 A specific time?

I think deeply and carefully about many different things that have happened, especially those of great significance or value. An important moment can be one loosely defined by either unpleasant memories or desirable moments. Some memories we approve of while others we view as inferior. Both hold their place in this journey called life that we are traveling on. Every experience holds some kind of value and creates memories that become seared into our brains.

Today is November 21, 2016
There are a few famous birthdays on the 21st.
It is World Television Day.
It is World Hello Day.
To you it may just be another day.
To me it is a day that changed my life.

This day causes me to reflect back on the past year.
It  marks one year since my dad had a stroke.  
A severe ischemic stroke that would leave roughly half of his brain damaged.
A stroke that would threaten to take my dad from this earth.
A stroke that doctors said would leave him severely paralyzed on the entire right side.
A stroke that doctors said would leave him without words for at least a year.
A stroke that would take his ability to walk.
A stroke that would take his ability to talk.
A stroke that would take his ability to read.
A stroke that would take his ability to write.
A stroke that would take his ability to swallow.
A stroke that would cause the pressure in his brain to rise to dangerous levels.
A stroke that would take part of his skull out.
A stroke that warned us of a blood clot in his arm.
A stroke that would bring on many therapy sessions.
A stroke that would take his independence away.
A stroke that would take his hope.
A stroke that would bring new people into our lives.
A stroke that would show us who was there for us when we needed them.
A stroke that brought out the kindness in others, be it texts, phone calls, thanksgiving dinner in the ICU waiting room, cookies at Christmas time to Brooks,  snacks during surgeries, prayers, prayers and more prayers.
A stroke that would land us in a rehabilitation hospital for 21 days.
A stroke that changed how we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2015.
A stroke that changed the way we viewed the world.
A stroke that left us all a little more fearful.
 A stroke that left us all very grateful.
A stroke that left us sad.
A stroke that brought on many questions and tears.
A stroke that brought confusion and frustration.
A stroke that made us question God's plan.
A stroke that caused us all to research ways we could help.
A stroke that would bring another invisible challenge into our lives - Aphasia.
A stroke that didn't leave much hope for a happy ending.
A stroke that brought epilepsy and hospitalizations for seizures.
A stroke that didn't follow the typical recovery.
A stroke that provided hope and encouragement to strangers.
A stroke that brought us all closer together as a family.
A stroke that showed us kids what true love looks like.
A stroke that made us slow down.
A stroke that made us look around and find the good when we feared the worst.
A stroke that made us see things more clearly despite the cloudy days.
A stroke that made us listen with our hearts to what our ears could not hear.

It was never really about the stroke, but about the man who overcame the stroke.  The man who defied all odds, the man who started saying words less than a month after the stroke that would render him without words for 'a year' (so doctors said), a man who walks when all doctors hoped was that he would learn how to transfer between a wheelchair and bed.....it is also about the family that stood behind him....that refuses to give up, that loves without limits and beyond the frustrations of life. 

A man who has defied all odds because of a God who loves impossible odds.
God is bigger and more powerful than any problem we face in this world.

"God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time.  But the right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right times often feels like the wrong time." Mark Batterson

 My keyboard has become slick from the tears that have fallen on to it while typing this blog, and thinking about the moments behind the words above.  Grab some tissue and watch the video below....it starts the night of November 21, 2015....and brings you up to today....




Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Blessings of Unity

The Blessings of Unity
Written By: Richard T. Case

God's Best for Our Marriages

Book Overview:

Many movements in today's society have combined to create an atmosphere that at best teaches married couples very little about how to find happiness together, and at worst threatens to destroy the sanctity with which God intends his children to approach that union. Self-centeredness and misinformation have led many away from walking in the Spirit and loving their spouses in Christlike ways, disqualifying them from the blessings that God has in store for his unified children. The Blessings of Unity offers insight and ideas for creating godly unity in our marriages centered around two key concepts:
    1) Abiding in the Vine and walking in the Spirit, and
    2) Learning and applying the concept of unity.
Unity is achieved when a man and woman strive for agreement with God by processing His Will on every decision and in every issue. Through Biblically-centered discussions of discord, division, unity, discipleship, and prayer, and through exploring Biblical examples of unity, Richard Case offers husbands and wives practical and spiritual advice for working together in unity in the Spirit so that they can more perfectly present themselves to God for his divine approval.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading through this book.  One thing that I enjoyed about it was the amount of scripture that it included. I also enjoyed the fact that it is written by a man but yet it didn't take on that perspective. It was broken down by content.  This would be a great book for a husband and wife to work through together, but would be perfect to work on individually as well.  It starts with an evaluation for the husband and wife.  Some chapters define what should be, by assessing what the opposite would be.  For instance, "...to understand God's vision of unity we must first look at it's opposite, division and discord." This was a great in depth look at unity. He covered everything from the keys to unity to how to handle disagreements to praying through unity and finally biblical examples of unity.  It was a good read, chock-full of scripture. I would recommend this book.


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



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

befriend

befriend
create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear

Written By: Scott Sauls


Book Overview:

We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don’t mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital “friends,” we really don’t have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation. Jesus models a much richer vision of friendship. Scott Sauls, pastor and teacher, invites you to see the breadth of Christ’s love in this book, Befriend.

My Thoughts:

One thing I enjoyed about this book was how each chapter ended with a recap that included the summary of the chapter, a scripture verse related to the chapter and questions to consider. The questions to consider would make it a great book for a small group study.  It also would provide great journal prompts for an individual soul searching activity. I do wonder if perhaps getting others feedback would make some parts of this book easier to understand. This book was hard to get into, some parts seemed a bit wordy. I skipped around and read different parts of the book that caught my attention. He breaks down many different aspects of who we can 'befriend.' Everything from befriending the poor to the rich to the bullies to the prodigals to the pharisees. I will be reading this book again in the near future to gain more perspective.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Hold on....


I'm confused.
I don't get it.
Life just doesn't seem fair.
We live in a backwards world.

I'm sad.
I'm angry.
Why?
Why do good people have to endure such difficult paths?

I would give anything to rewind the clock one year and one month and then freeze it.  Live 13 months ago as if we were trapped in that groundhogs day movie where the guy wakes up to live the same day over and over again....I hate how my dads stroke has drastically changed life as we know it.  I miss him.  I love him and I am grateful that he is still here, but I also struggle with change and its been hard for me when thinking about the finality of chapters of our life.  When Sears closed it was like an in my face reminder that things will NEVER be how they were, and that stings sometimes. I knew then it was not possible to ever go back to how things were. I would give anything to take all this from him.  He has endured so much and none of this seems fair. What is God's purpose in this? 

  Around 3:45 this afternoon, an anxious feeling took over me.  I couldn't sit still, I kept telling my husband that something bad was happening.  I just didn't know what.  He told me to take my shoes off and relax. Then I heard a siren and asked him if hearing that made him feel worried, he replied with, "No, it is just a siren.  Take your shoes off and relax."  Then the siren got closer, I went and looked out the front door and remember saying, "No, just keep going."  They stopped at my parents house.  I put on some flip flops and sprinted down there....was on the floor with him talking to him while paramedics did there thing and waited for an ambulance. It's no way you ever want to see one of your parents. It's odd how the way I was feeling coincided with what was about to happen. This afternoon my dad collapsed in the bathroom.  My brother and uncle heard the thud and went running.  It seems he had a seizure, possibly hit his head on the way down.

Walking into the ER and seeing him so still and so out of it - it is scary. 



Last time he was having seizures he stayed in an ER room and was able to go home in 8 or 9 hours.  This time he was admitted to the hospital.  The ER guy was telling us how to get to the main hospital, we politely told him we could handle it, we are a little too familiar with this place. My dad didn't seem to be bouncing back as quick as he did last time.  It seems every time he has had these they have been slightly different, and never short lived.  Usually takes some heavy medications to get him to stop seizing.  His blood pressure and pulse were a little off when we left tonight.  He was all hooked up to the EEG to monitor brain activity and also on oxygen. They say he shouldn't be having these seizure with the amount of meds he is on to help prevent them.

He wasn't awake when we left tonight.  
He wasn't responding to us when we talked to him...but he is still alive.  

Good night dad, hoping with some rest you will wake up recharged and ready to get home and back to 'normal'....whatever that is?!?!?



"Hold on, if you feel like letting go....hold on, it gets better than you know..."


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Unreasonable Hope

UNREASONABLE HOPE
Written By: Chad Veach

Book Overview:

"Where was God when___? How could God allow ___?  Why?
These are the questions that flood our hearts and minds when the unimaginable happens. When things go horribly wrong and the world seems to be unraveling, how do you believe in God's goodness? How do you cling to hope?

Chad Veach directs readers away from cliched Sunday school answers that fail to offer real comfort or provide faith-building insights.  Instead, he draws from God's promises in the Bible and from the story of his own daughter's diagnosis of a devastating and debilitating disease to reveal simple, purposeful steps for dealing with pain.  Resting in God's love, remembering his past faithfulness, and realizing the distinction between having faith and clinging to hope are just some of the steps.  Veach reminds us that because we know who God is, we know there is hope."
"Find faith in a God who can bring purpose to your pain." Chad Veach
My Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this book.  I wasn't sure what to expect from it.  I think I thought it would be more like a how to guide for tough times.  In some ways it does outline what we can do to get through painful, tough times, but at no point does it feel like you are merely reading a list.  I thought it would be filled with the quotes I have heard before about holding on and keep praying because you never know when your blessing is right around the corner.  While I think those quotes are inspiring, I also don't think that is our 'go to' thought when we are in the middle of the storm.  Those around us can look in and offer encouragement but sometimes we sit back and think 'they don't have a clue.'  I enjoyed reading this book because it was a very real account of what this father, this family lives through.  There thoughts at times were no different than mine, in retelling their story - they kept it real.  In opening up and being vulnerable it made me see the beauty in being real....that's not to say that what we are going/growing through is pretty....but there is beauty in vulnerability that allows for connections that help us push through. I think that is what is at the basis of hope....that sense that you are not alone and others are 'on your team' so to speak, they are routing you on or picking you up or encouraging you.  Great read, highly recommend this book.  Very encouraging. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

PARENTING

PARENTING

14 Gospel Principles That can Radically Change Your Family

Written By: Paul David Tripp


Book Overview:


Sometimes parents wish there was a guaranteed formula for raising good kids--a certain list of rules to follow to ensure they'd have obedient children. But if moms and dads view their role through the lens of God's grace, they will see that the gospel must first shape how they parent before they can effectively shape their children. In this book, Paul David Tripp unfolds a more biblical perspective on parenting than merely adhering to a list of rules. He lays out fourteen gospel-centered principles that will radically change the way parents think about what it means to raise up a child, informing everything they do as a parent.

My Thoughts:


I had a difficult time getting into this book.  I read pretty much any chance that I get, and I also believe in sticking with the things that I start. It was difficult to get started but it was good reading through the 14 principles that can change a family.  I like the way the book wasn't really about parenting, but about fundamental truths that provide a foundation.  If we want our family to radically change, then, as with many other life situations - the change must start with us. It isn't about how we can 'parent' our children as much as its about the way our Heavenly Father 'parents' us as He entrusts us with the most important job, that of a mother or father.  Some of the principles covered include: Grace, Identity, Character, Control, Rest and Mercy....you will have to pick up the book to find out what the other 8 principles are! Each chapter has a heading and then is outlined by a brief description of the principle and followed up with a more lengthy, sometimes hard to get into, detailed explanation. For example - Chapter 2 Grace Principle: God never calls you to a task without giving you what you need to do it. He never sends you without going with you. My husband and I read this book together, we have two boys.  It was nice to read with somebody else and see what stood out to them and also look at how we each want to apply what we have learned.  Overall, I think it was a good book, just takes a bit of patience and determination to get through it.


"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one of the products mentioned above for free in hope that i would mention it on my blog, thanks to FlyBy Promotions. Regardless, i only recommend products or services that I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chase The Lion

Chase The Lion

Written By Mark Batterson

Book Overview:

Run TO the Roar!
 
When the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optic nerve and into the visual cortex, the brain sends the body a simple but urgent message: run away! That’s what normal people do, but not lion chasers. Rather than seeing a five hundred pound problem, they see an opportunity for God to show up and show His power..
 
Chase the Lion is more than a catch phrase; it’s a radically different approach to life. It’s only when we stop fearing failure that we can fully seize opportunity by the mane. With grit and gusto, New York Times bestselling author Mark Batterson delivers a bold message to everyone with a big dream.
 
Quit playing it safe and start running towards the roar!
 
This is a wake-up call to stop living as if the purpose was to simply arrive safely at death. Our dreams should scare us. They should be so big that without God they are impossible to achieve. Quit running away from what you’re afraid of. 
 
Chase the lion! 
Change the world!

What is Your Five Hundred Pound Dream?

In this highly anticipated sequel to his best-selling In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson invites lion chasers everywhere to chase dreams so impossible that victory demands we face our fears, defy the odds, and hold tight to God. 
 
These are the kind of dreams that will make you a bigger person and the world a better place.
 
Based upon II Samuel 23, Chase the Lion tells the true story of an ancient warrior named Benaiah who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day—and then killed it. For most people, that situation wouldn’t just be a problem…it would be the last problem they ever faced. For Benaiah, it was an opportunity to step into his destiny. After defeating the lion, he landed his dream job as King David’s bodyguard and eventually became Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s army under King Solomon.
 
Written in a way that both challenges and encourages, this revolutionary book will help unleash the faith and courage you need to identify, chase, and catch the five hundred pound dreams in your life.

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  I enjoyed it so much that I have already started re reading it and gaining even more than I did the first read through. I may be a little partial as this is one of my favorite authors and I have read his other books.  This one definitely did not let me down.  There are many times I wonder if what I am doing is making a difference or leaving any lasting impact. I was encouraged by one of the steady themes through out the book in that sometimes what we do today we are doing for the third and fourth generation and it might not be something we see anytime soon. He also talked about sometimes the only way we fulfill our dream is by helping others fulfill theirs. Being somebody who struggles with staying connecting, it was interesting how much this book talked about the importance of being connected to others. My favorite message was about the fact that if your dream isn't bigger than you then it isn't big enough.  There is so much about this book that sunk in and touched a deeper part of my soul.  I highly recommend this book.  

To purchase a copy of this book you can do so by clicking here.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hard lesson

Tonight was open house for my Seth. He was excited to see his friend and they ran off and started talking and playing.  Once open house started, they both listened attentively to the entire presentation.  A lot of information was presented. We learned about the curriculum they are using, the grading procedure, resources they have, their daily schedule, etc. When the principal hangs out in the classroom and an extra teacher is present, you start to wonder what's going on and get a funny feeling its nothing good. Tonight we were informed that Seth's teacher is being surplussed.  Seth and I are definitely people that pick up on the feelings of others and we feel things so deeply. We are kind and caring but we have big hearts that are easily broken. 

As open house came to a close I went and thanked her for giving Seth a good start to fourth grade. She told us how great he was and that he would be in good hands with the new teacher.  We exited the classroom, made our way down the hall and out the doors.  I noticed Seth was looking away.  I noticed his breathing changed.  I could feel his hurt.  I asked him how he felt after hearing that Mrs. Simpson wouldn't be there....it took some time but he eventually got out that he was sad, she was a good teacher and he didn't want her to go anywhere.  We told him it was ok to feel sad, we gave him a hug and we did the only thing we could think of - we bought him a milkshake and fries.  Dennis started telling him jokes on the way home and Seth started laughing.  Ivan piped in with, 'keep doing it daddy, you are making Seth stop crying.'  Ivan didn't like to see 'water' (tears) coming out of his eyes. We made our way home and got ready for bed.  

As he laid down he started crying again, I asked him what was wrong, he just said 'what we talked about earlier.' My heart breaks for him.  I checked on him every ten minutes until he was asleep. I am still crying. It is a tough lesson to learn, that sometimes good people come into our life and don't stay as long as we would like them to. What an impact she has made on my Seth in such a short amount of time.  He is finally asleep, but tonight he gained some wisdom that I wish nobody ever had to, the kind that comes with tough experiences and heart ache. 

My sweet boy, we cried together tonight. 


Of course I am sure there will be good things to come with the new teacher....for tonight we are just embracing the sad feelings, learning a tough life lesson, cherishing the people who have left an impact on our life, and dusting ourselves off to begin tomorrow anew. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Baby, Baby!

Baby, Baby!
Written By: Diane Stortz
Illustrated By: Ailie Busby



Book Overview:

A yawn, a giggle, a sweet little kiss - each moment of a baby's life is full of discovery and wonder. This short rhyming poem is a celebration of just that, ending with a gentle reminder that Baby is always loved by God.

My Thoughts:

 I enjoyed reading through this book. It made me think about when my boys were younger.  They would have loved the mirror at the end of the story.  This would be a great addition to a Sunday school class of one and two year old's. This book would be perfect for their attention span. This book would make a great baby shower gift. I love the message, its a good one at any age, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3b 

To learn more about the author and purchase a copy of this book, please click here.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one of the products mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog, thanks to FlyBy Promotions.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Saturday, September 3, 2016

night night, Farm

night night, Farm
Written By: Amy Parker
Illustrated By: Virginia Allyn


Book Overview:

When the sun sinks low down on the farm, the animals are all tuckered out from the day's adventures. Join these adorable farm animals in pajamas as they say night night to the farm, to their mommies and daddies, and to God. Your little ones will sleep until the rooster crows knowing that the God who made them loves them so. 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this story with my boys. They are a bit older than the target age range for this book but they still enjoy listening to me read to them.  This would be great for a toddler.  The book is full of bright pictures and lots of animals. It would be great for teaching about animals and the sounds they make as well. I love the underlying message of parents taking care of their children, and how we all communicate in a different way, but it doesn't make what we have to say any less.


"Disclosure (In accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255: "guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product in exchange for this review and post. These opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. "

Monday, August 29, 2016

Another hurdle?

August 27th, well technically August 28th landed us back in the Emergency Room at Mayo Clinic. Just before 2:30 a.m my mom was awoken by her entire bed shaking.  Her first thought was it was my dad rocking himself back and forth to get up and go to the bathroom.  After a series of questions, she determined he was having another seizure.  It has been almost 2 months to the date since his last seizure. 

Around 2:35 a.m I woke up to go to the bathroom. I thought I saw red flashing lights coming through the windows in the living room. Half asleep, I thought maybe I was just dreaming, I went to the bathroom and then went and looked out the front door.  And perhaps the one thing you never want to see is the ambulance and fire truck parked outside your parents house. I woke Dennis up and told him the ambulance was at my parents house and I would be back. When I walked out the front door I saw somebody on the stretcher and they were pushing him through the front door. By the time they reached the end of the ramp and loaded him into the back of the ambulance, I was walking in the front door.  The paramedics might have thought I was a lunatic or something, running down the sidewalk and then peering into the back of the ambulance to see if it was mom or dad.  I walked in, they filled me in, my brother and mom went in one vehicle and my sister and I went in another, and like old times, we f-l-e-w to Mayo Hospital.  We arrived before he did.  

I started pacing outside the hospital waiting to see when the ambulance arrived.

They said that mom could go back and see him.  She was back there for what felt like a really long time.  The Emergency Room at Mayo Clinic was pretty empty at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning. We couldn't people watch. We couldn't imagine what others were there for. Thank God for my brother and sister and our ability to keep each other distracted while we waited for those automatic doors to open and some update on my dad.

Eventually they did. 3:48 a.m to be exact. The message was simple, 'one of you can come back and try to talk to him, we need to get him alert, he is still having seizures.' Vanessa went first, she returned and told me to go try.  I walked in and said, "Hey Dad, what are you doing here? You should be in bed sleeping." His eyes started to open.  The nurse was happy and told us to keep talking to him and keep reminding him to breathe, They were concerned because his heart rate was still rather elevated and his respiration was low. 

"Hey Dad I need to see your eyes.  Show me you are ok."
"Dad I need you to take a deep breath. Please keep breathing for me."
"Breath in. Breath out."
"Dad, you have done more before 5 a.m than some people do all day!" (I got a little smirk)
This is something he used to say on days he would go cut three yards and be to work by 10 in the morning, he would always joke about doing more before noon than some people do all day.

Mom started singing songs with him.  
And just like when I was little, they were singing "You Are My Sunshine"  

The nurse was so grateful that we kept talking to him and that we were able to keep him more alert. His heart rate lowered, the seizures stopped... mom went to get my brother. Finally we could all be with him.  He was alert.  He was answering questions. He was bouncing back a lot faster than he ever has. He bounced back so quick this time, they didn't have to admit him!

A good scare, showed us all that our heart is still working. Brought perspectives back into focus. Today he was singing "You Are My Sunshine" and I must say it sounds a lot better than when he was singing it at 4 in the morning.  Stay tuned for another blog with that video...

We aren't guaranteed anything in this life.
Share pain.
Share joy.
Share love.
Share hope.
Share happiness.
Share a good laugh.
Share time. 

Live. Love. Forgive. Hope. Pray. Encourage. Reach out. Care.