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 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 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, " 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


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 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

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 <> 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”