Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

Product Details

So, I interrupt my busy schedule of reading books for another summer reading program to bring you a book review about "A Match of Wits".

This was just a good lighthearted, smile or laugh your way through book.  I really liked it.  I had been reading fiction books about war in the Middle East, child abduction, human trafficking, and a loyal reader being abducted by her favorite author, so this book was refreshing.

It's the story of a young lady, Agatha, who really can make a mess out of about anything.  From what I gathered she had been in jail a few times, loved dressing in disguise and just generally seemed to collect trouble.  The story starts out west where she has been sent because she had a death warrant back in New York.  Why?  They thought it was because she was an investigative journalist who had no qualms writing about low-life living and exposing corruption.  Turns out, it was a jealous co-worker.

Agatha drags along back to New York the secret love of her life, Zayne, who she just "stumbled" upon in Colorado Springs.  She also brings back a pig named Matilda who is smart and takes great offense to being called a pig.  This pig, of course, wreaks havoc on those who don't like her, but also creates havoc by being where she should not have been.

Zayne and Agatha have quite the arguments and can match each other quite well.  This was an intriguing part of the book, along with Zane being completely clueless and needing to attempt 4 marriage proposals before one was accepted and even that was a question, but more of a statement.

So, did I glean anything from the book?  Don't have a pet pig!!  There really wasn't a lot of earth shattering thoughts, but I thought Jen put together a fun and interesting read that was lighthearted without being overly sappy.  I will look for more of her books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Six Months

---Beauty in a cemetery---

---Peace in the pain---

---Life above death---

---Hope springing out of the cold black dirt---

---Healing through the mangled wounds---

---Angels watching over my baby tonight---

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Has Health Insurance Hurt the Church?

Yup, I'm pretty sure this is a controversial topic and I am also pretty sure I would like some feedback from you on it.

This is something that I have thought about off and on over the last couple years maybe, but it has really been driven home to me over the last six months.  First off, this is not a plea for money--we are abundantly blessed, as I plan to point out.  Second, it is not a diatribe against health insurance.  Third, it is meant to hold me accountable for putting my money where my mouth is about to be.

Let me share our story:  We have Samaritan Ministries--we send our money to a family in need every month. If there are more needs than money, the need is prorated, which means you will not get enough money to pay off your whole hospital bill.  So when Nicole was born, we turned in our need.  It was prorated to 85%, meaning we had close to $1000 that was not going to be covered by the ministry.  To my money-bothered brain, this looked big.  You add to that a total combination of 4 weeks off work between D and I and the number looked staggering.  What happened?  We got some extra money from Samaritan Members, some money in sympathy cards and an offering from a church group.  We ended up with an extra $50 (if I count the one bill we got 5 months later)  I felt bad when we got the check from the church in the mail.  After all, we had insurance, but as someone told me, you have other expenses as well.  That was true and I like to think the money was put to very good use.

Which brings to a thought that I am afraid is becoming popular among Christians.  You have health insurance--therefore you do not need our monetary support.  If you don't have health insurance, you should have and therefore you still do not need our monetary support.  I am all for health insurance, but I think we are missing the big picture when we don't help our friends, family and neighbors when they are going through a rough time.

What does health insurance cover?  Medical expenses after the deductibles and co-pay which can easily be more than a bit of pocket change.

What kind of costs are incurred through hospitalization and/or death?  Time off work; extra money for food if you are not at home to eat; travel and gas expense to go see your loved one in the hospital; funeral home expense; coffins, gravestones, memorial tributes to the loved one; etc. etc.   Who pays for this?

On top of that is the fact of a simple act of sacrificial caring--it's easy enough to buy a card, write a few thoughts in it and drop it in the mail.  But what about writing out that check or putting in the cash?  It doesn't have to be much--but it says a little extra to the recipient.  It says I cared enough about you to want to help with more than just words.

Do I send money now?  That is a personal question, but I will say, I haven't completely learned everything about this, nor do I perform perfectly on this subject.  I am speaking to the choir on this, but I do hope I can look at a person in need the next time and think--I wonder what other expenses they have besides medical that I could help out with?

So what am I saying?  I am simply trying to pass on something I have learned and been challenged with and convicted in and definitely blessed by.  I'm also not saying you must send money every time.  My basic gist of this post is to say: don't write people off because they have or should have had health insurance.  Take in the big picture.

It is very troubling to me when a church/individual doesn't offer monetary support because the person has or should have had health insurance.  In my mind, true love is demonstrated by digging into the pockets to help those whose pockets incurred a leak, however temporary that may be.  What is the purpose of the church? Yes, it is to glorify God, but isn't it also to rally around our hurting brothers and sisters and show them love and compassion and in doing so, we glorify God? To weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice?

I also realize each circumstance is different and all angles need to be considered, but along with that, I don't think we should withhold money from someone because we think they are rich and able to afford the extra expenses.  Maybe they are, but maybe they would like to feel part of a community that cares about them and rallies to support them.

And now, I will come off of my hobby horse and attempt to go on about my work.  I have learned in the last 6 months that everyone's experience is different and it is humbling to be the recipient while there can be a bit of pride involved in being independent.  I've learned that people care in so many ways and I have been so blessed by all the ways people have given to us--not just in the monetary sense.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Moment in Time by Tracie Peterson

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review about it. 

This was a great chick flick that I read in about 2 days or so.  A couple of months ago I had posted a review about "A Sensible Arrangement" by Tracie Peterson.  This was the sequel to that and focused a little more on Alice who had been hired to be Marty's personal maid in Colorado.  The economy took a serious downturn causing Jake and Marty to lose everything and they returned to Texas, very much against the will of Marty who blamed Texas for the bad things that had happened to her.  

Alice falls in love with Marty's nephew, Robert, and he with her and they lived happily ever after.  There was, of course, the normal fiasco, where Alice ran off because she thought Robert was engaged to another woman and didn't want to come between them.  

There's one paragraph I want to put on here that stuck out to me tonight as I was reading.  Robert was talking to his dad about marriage.  These are the words of his dad and good ones they are. 

"Then stay close to God, son.  If you're right with the Lord,  everything else will fall into place. It doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs, but He will be a strong support in times of need"

That is some good advice for every person to heed.  Staying close to God won't necessarily prevent trouble, but it will give you the strength to bear up under it.  When I think back to the last few months and the loss of our little girl, I don't know how people go through loss like that without God to lean on.  I want to do my best to stay close to God and allow Him to be my comfort and strength.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Undetected by Dee Henderson

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of writing a review.

I like Dee Henderson.  She is a good author, but in my opinion her best works were the O'Malley series and everything else is just a little beneath that level.  However, she did do a very good job with this one and I did really like it.

The plot is the normal man and woman falling in love, etc., but the surrounding story was almost over my head.  It was a Navy story with the leading man being a submarine commander and the leading lady being a civilian with a brain I can't even dream about.  In college at the age of 14, she had made some amazing discoveries by the age of 29.  Cross-sonor, sending pings without being heard, discovering other subs by the quiet they create, etc. etc.  It blows my mind how a mind could even pull all this out.  I have to remember it is fiction, but there must be some element of truth to the ideas or Dee wouldn't use them?  Or is it all just fiction?  I didn't do my research to figure that out.

Some interesting elements in the story are Gina, the leading lady, has to choose between 2 men, Mark Bishop, commander of the USS Nevada Sub and Daniel Fields, sonor tech on the USS Nebraska.  She, of course, chooses Mark, who has informed her with all confidence that he knows she will and that he can be a very good husband if she will only give him a chance.

All-in-all I would recommend the book to a fiction lover.  This one gets high marks.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Happy Mother's Day a week late

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there.  Yes, I know it is a week late, but that's okay--this is my blog and I can do what I want when I want to on it.

Was it a Happy Mother's Day for me?  The week before was more appropriate.  Did you know that the Sunday before, May 4, was Bereaved Mother's Day?  Appropriate, I think.

I didn't answer the question did I?  It's a tough question to answer--May 11 was the day I had been looking forward to it with great anticipation since September sometime.  It was extra cool that it was going to be on Mother's Day, but Mother's Day was just the side benefit.  Then January 13 came and with it came the dread of Mother's Day and the dread of May 11.  Now, it was a day to look ahead to with dread--the weeks were counted, the tears were shed and finally it was here.

We left for the weekend--just went away and hid.  Call me a coward if you want, but, quite frankly, I wasn't about to risk hearing a Happy Mother's Day message or even hearing anyone say it to my face or to my friends' face.  It was a nice weekend, but very bittersweet.

People were amazing--when we got to our new house Friday night, there was a lovely bouquet of stargazer lilies, an azalea, a miniature rose, and a lily of the flower flower.  There was also a basket of goodies and a gift card to take along on our getaway. There was a solar angel too that I can't wait to put outside (I have a total of three of them now)

I hesitate to even name all the gifts and thoughtfulness we received for fear I will miss something, but here's a brief listing

A beautiful plant and a dipped in wax teddy bear on a rocking chair with a note that says it is in memory of Nicole.  This came from a lovely new friend I just made before we moved who had lost their little girl almost 3 years ago.

There was a canvas frame, gladiolus bulbs, lily bulbs, a candle, a solar angel and for dad, chocolate and jerky from a friend who lost her son over a year ago.  I may have forgotten something she gave.

A rose from one and a gerbera daisy from another; flowers and Shari's berries came together on Fed Ex from two other friends.  There was a beautiful Miss You Willow tree and an N key chain that is on my keys from another friend.  There were text messages and tears and cards and emails and maybe something I missed and with each one, my heart was so grateful while crying out "No, No, No."

Please, don't ever underestimate the power of kindness--it is simple, but so easy to overlook.  Ask me, I have done it.  I want to do better, but I know I will still fail.  You may think--why bother?  Surely someone will remember them.  Yes, someone may, but this is a sad time, a grieving time and every thought that is given is so meaningful and precious.

Don't just think of people like me who are grieving the loss of their only children--remember those who still have children.  They feel the missing "links in the family chain" so keenly.  Think of those who are waiting for children.  They feel the hole in their heart so strongly and they are waiting for the day when God brings a baby into their lives.  They feel the pain of Mother's Day too and they may feel it extra much because people forget about them while caring for those with the "more visible" loss.  It's all visible to those of us going through it.  It all hurts so deeply.

Yes, I think it is appropriate to have a Bereaved Mother's Day and I think there should be a section of cards devoted to this day.  Mothers need a chance to grieve their losses and then maybe the joy will be greater on Mother's Day for those who can celebrate their gifts.

I don't know what I am trying to say exactly--I'm not even sure what I feel exactly.  I just know it hurts and to know that people remember and people care helps us carry the hurt one more day.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Lost and Wandering

The bathroom floor was hard and a bit cold, but it was refuge from the caring eyes all around.  I sank down and opened my book, my daughter's scrapbook.  I opened it with the purpose in my mind of reading everything I had written and allowing the tears to come.  I fulfilled my purpose.  I have no idea how long I sat in there.  I know I got a little uncomfortable--the motel bathroom floor wasn't very big and it definitely was hard.  I looked through Nicole's book and I cried, not gentle tears that slowly trickled down, but gut-wrenching sobs.  Not loud wails because I didn't want everyone to know, though I think they suspected and they cared.  But it was better than crying in Marshall's and having a complete stranger ask me if I was okay.

It's not that friends didn't care--they did and they loved me in spite of my sadness this weekend and for that I will always be grateful.  But when I need a good gut-wrenching cry, I don't like people watching me.  Dave is the only one I really want around at a time like that.

Why did the grief strike on a weekend I was away with friends, you may ask?  I can explain.  The closer I get to my due date, the harder it becomes.  Other people's happiness can create a huge void and hunger in my heart.  There is a spot in my heart that wants to rejoice with them in their joy, but overriding the joy is the face of loss.  It comes, it stares, it creeps in and it overtakes.  There is almost a physical ache in my arms that longs to hold my baby girl, to wrap my arms around her and kiss her sweet little face.

Yes, I know she is better off with Jesus, but right now I don't care too much about that.  I want her with me--in my arms.  I would protect her and keep her safe--or I would die trying.  Yes, I know that she will never have to experience pain and suffering the way other little children do, but I don't care about that either.  I just want to hold her and touch her and love on her the way mothers do to their little girls.

Don't try to offer me platitudes---I want none of it.  I don't even know that I want your sympathy, though I know you mean well.  I want your love though-- I don't want you to give up on me--I don't want you to walk away and think I am impossible.  I want you to care.  Don't hide from me though I will hide from you. You may call, but I may not answer; you may text, but I may not respond.  Don't take this as rejection, it's not meant that way. It's just one person's journey through grief.  If I have learned anything, it is that the process of grieving is different for everybody, but underlying it all is the deep, solid, unending ache of loss that can feel overwhelming.  Be patient with me is all I ask.  Give me space, but don't go too far.  Don't take it personal if I don't want you to come to my house or if I let you come, but I don't communicate well.  I want to learn to care for others again, but sometimes, the energy of survival consumes all the energy I have and it's too much work to come up with questions to show you that I care about your life.  Know this, I do care even though I am showing the opposite.  Someday, Lord willing, it will be different.