Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of 2014

What is it about December 31 that seems to bring about a sense of reflection and nostalgia?  We spend it thinking back over the year-- the good and the bad, the memories, the joys and sorrows, the changes.  Bloggers post their most popular posts or do a recap on their year; companies start pulling out the end of year paperwork and getting it ready for the tax man. Retail stores gather the troops and start doing inventory--something I am very sad to miss this year.  (Call me crazy, but I love doing inventory. My last job, inventory didn't take long, but it was so much fun while it lasted.  Plus after I came up with this cool little spreadsheet, I felt all sophisticated about it too.  Please note, I am not the most up to date on technology and spreadsheets and other such things, so this was a big accomplishment for me.)  Anyway, back to December 31.  Then after all this has been done, people get together in the evening to party and toast the New Year in--some with good old sparkling grape juice in crystal goblets, others with much more potent drinks that then leave them incapacitated for a better part of the first day of the New Year.

Then the clock tick tocks it's way past midnight and magically it is January 1 of a brand-new year and there's a shift in the thinking.  Instead of pondering and remembering the past, there is a looking ahead to the future. (I was even listening on Sunday at church-- I at least remember the pondering point and there was a purpose point too and one other one which is eluding me at the moment!!)  But on January 1, people start listing their New Year's resolutions; they start thinking about their goals and ideals and dreams and what they want to accomplish in the New Year.  It feels like a clean slate, a new chance, a make over, if you will. It feels fresh and new and clean and you feel invigorated, energized and ready to make your mark on the world.  Am I making New Year's Resolutions this year?  I guess you will have to come back tomorrow to find out.  I am not promising to post tomorrow--I just might IF I make some New Year's Resolutions or decide to share some of my hopes and dreams and goals for 2015.

Now, what reflecting have I done as I think back over 2014?  In the interest of full disclosure, I can't say that I have done much.  Last night it kind of hit me that tomorrow, now today, was December 31 and the next day would be January 1 and I/we had no plans in place to celebrate.  I had my agenda in my head (yes, even on limited activity I have an agenda, a rather scheduled agenda if I may say so, that I might follow rather loosely as it can get interrupted) and I had no plans to do something special on New Year's day.  I have even been planning to do bookwork on New Year's Day, which now that I think about it, is sounding perfectly awful.  But back to reflecting.....

This year has probably been the hardest year of my life to date.  It started rather viciously with the birth and death of Nicole and in many ways that has defined my life, my year.  However, I think I can say that it has made me a better person.  I like to think it has made me more sympathetic to the fears and griefs of others. I'm certainly not perfect in this; I have an address of an Amish couple who lost their baby a year ago this month and I still have not written to them and honestly, I don't know if I will.  Going through grief does not give you the magical words so that you know what to say to the next person who is grieving.  I can wax "eloquent" at times, yes, but then feel like maybe what I had to say meant nothing to that person because we all grieve differently and different things mean different things to different people.  I know, that was profound wasn't it? But I like to think I have grown through this year, if in no other way than to give people the space they need to grieve as they need to grieve.  Everybody grieves in their own way and there is no right or wrong way-- of that I am convinced.  I suppose we could branch out into the realm of unhealthy, prolonged grieving, but that is a topic I don't want to touch, though I would imagine there are those out there who think I have landed in that category myself. I'm not going there!!!

This year has also had some positives in it.  D has a great job that he mostly likes.  I'm not sure today when it is 10 below zero and possibly windy and he's sitting up on his loader that he's real fond of it, but all in all I think he enjoys it and it has certainly been a blessing to us.  I have been blessed with a few different fun jobs: going to market, working at a bulk food store, doing some bookwork, doing some transcription work.  Those are paying jobs, but then the fun of sewing and scrapbooking and even cooking.  I'm not adding cleaning to the list of fun jobs, but it feels good to me when it is done.

And the most positive thing about this year is that it is December 31 and I am still pregnant.  I'm not going to go into this with much detail, because I just talked about it in my last post, but it is a blessing that I am trying to treasure.

What about you?  What have been your highs and your lows this year of 2014?  What are the best memories? What was your biggest accomplishment?  What big fears have you had to face and did you overcome them?  I would love to hear about them.

And maybe I will be back tomorrow with a few resolutions or goals for 2015.  No promises though.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Need to Read More and other Random Thoughts

Okay, I really don't want this blog to turn into a complete book review blog; however, I just applied with two more book review programs.  I don't think the one will accept me, but the other one might.  We will see. I suppose the only way to make this not become a book review blog is to post more often.  Ha Ha!!!  We'll see how that goes as well.

Christmas songs are something I've been thinking about more this year.  I'm very disappointed that I got to help sing so few Christmas songs this year. I think I sang all of one last Sunday in church.  I like Christmas songs. I have played a few on my keyboard.  What are your favorite? And have you really stopped to consider what they say?  My understanding is that some people people don't like Christmas songs because they seem so shallow, but really stop and listen to some of those lyrics.

Even Away in a Manger: "Be near me Lord Jesus. I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me I pray..."  Who of us doesn't need to pray that song on a daily basis?

I've already mentioned Star of the East.

"Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room." If the Lord hadn't come once, we couldn't be looking for the Second Coming, so there is great joy to remember.  And our hearts need to be prepared, cleaned out and made ready to receive Him as our personal Savior.

I'll stop there, but it has struck me that there really is meaning in Christmas songs. It also convicts me that I need to pay more attention to the songs I sing all year long.

You know the saying,  "My eyes are bigger than my stomach" generally said in reference to putting too much food on your plate at meal time.  In this case, I think it could refer to the recipe book I'm putting together.  I have taken my favorite food blogger and am going through her recipes and printing out everything that looks good or looks like something I would like to try.  I'm not even close to done and already my stack of pages is large and looming.  I've decided that doing this when I am unable to cook is a rather poor decision because EVERYTHING looks good and I am SURE I will make everything and be this wonderful cook and baker and we will have gourmet meals and eat hearty all summer long.  One can hope, right?  But, I have big plans for this cookbook, complete with cut and paste pictures on most recipes.  But it's a challenging job for a somewhat OCD person?  Do you categorize alphabetically each recipe or by kinds of recipes, or how?  And what if a recipe fits under two categories? Then where should I stick it?  My life is full of large problems, you see.

In exciting, thrilling news:  I HAVE MADE IT TO 30 WEEKS!!!  I HAVE MADE IT TO CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!! There's a part of me that is rebellious and now wants to get off my chair and get to work because really my baby has a really good chance of survival now, nothing seems to be happening as I sit in my chair, so why now?  Then D gently reminds me that we really don't want our baby hanging out in NICU for 8 weeks because her mother was stubborn and rebellious and disobedient.  So I sit in my chair and plan what all I'm going to do at 36 weeks.  I am trying to view every day that baby stays tucked inside as a blessing and one less day she would spend struggling for life.  I do hope that she won't decide to get too comfortable and hang out until 41 weeks.

Also, in the next six weeks, I am hoping to get a whole bunch of baby sewing done: blankets, burp cloths, and other fun stuff.  No, I'm not making much in the way of clothes, so everyone can relax.  I do think there are some darling little girl dresses that are cute and homemade, but that's not on the agenda at this point.

Okay, this has been really random and discombobulated.  I think I had better go before I come up with more randomness that makes completely no sense.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Product Details

By Julie Klassen

This book was given me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions are my own.

It's time to get reading.  I currently have three more books that are waiting to be read and reviewed. One would think with all the down time I'm supposed to have, I would get lots of reading done, but I don't really read that much.  This week I have charted an hour in my schedule every day for reading. We will see how that goes.  Anyway, back to the review:

I first read Julie Klassen on another Bethany House Review book and I really liked her style of writing.  This book was not disappointing.  It had some twists and turns in it that I didn't see coming at all.  Maybe I wasn't observant enough, but I sure didn't catch on to some of the plot until it was laid out before me. That to me is a sign of a good book.  I like books where everything comes out okay in the end, but I don't like to have it figured out in the first chapter. This book certainly didn't do that.

I'm not going in to details of the story, just a very brief overview.  A family loses a lot of money through a bad investment deal and is forced to sell their house in London.  They are offered this Pembrooke Park from an unknown benefactor.  When they arrive to look at the house, the house has the appearance of having been vacated in the middle of activities.  Tea is dried in the tea cups; dust and cobwebs abound.  Also abounding are the rumors about a secret room and a treasure that is supposedly hidden in the house somewhere.  Of course, this creates the intrigue along with the cloaked figure seen at night roaming the house.  I'll stop there.  Too much more info and the story is ruined.

Julie did a good job of keeping her characters straight and portraying their personalities very effectively.  I will be keeping my eye open for more of her books.

In other very brief news: I have reached the 30 week mark and count each day from here on as a blessing.  I made it to Christmas, which has always been my goal.  Now, to 36 weeks and being able to get up off my chair and cook a meal and clean my house and maybe even go on a little walk.  The countdown is on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Two years minus two days


Kept Forever in My Heart

There are two of these little figurines sitting on our dresser--two little reminders of our heart's greatest treasures.  It's almost two years since we said goodbye to our eldest child-- a child we never had the privilege of meeting, a child we barely got to know, a child we didn't even know how much we loved until he was gone.  I wanted a reminder of this baby, something I could look at and see regularly.  We chose this figurine.

Then, when we said goodbye to our second child, I wanted another figurine in honor of her, but wasn't sure if I wanted to go with the same style or not, but then my friend answered that question for me when she sent me an exact replica of the first Willow Tree and I knew it was right and it is.  Two little figurines sitting one either side of our unity candle on our dresser.  Fitting, I think.  Our two little babies are a part of our family-- they have driven us together.  In sickness and in health, in grief and in joy, our love has grown stronger.  We will always miss our little ones, but I can truly say that we have been made better, stronger, fuller, more sympathetic of those going through similar losses.

And yesterday, when dear little Mya came to our house, I was able to hold her in my arms and hug her and give her a little kiss and I didn't fall apart.  It felt right. It felt good. Yes, I thought about what it would be like to have had two little girls playing on the floor together and fighting or staring or whatever it is 7 month old little girls would do to each other, but I could rejoice in the gift of life. I could find joy in the big eyes that looked up at me and slowly blinked in her own little game. I'll have to be honest, that was a first for me, I think, to be able to enter into the life of another little girl and enjoy it without wanting to just walk away.

And as I look back two years, I miss our first born as well, but God is good and He is faithful and I have no choice but to trust Him.  Healing takes time; it doesn't all happen at once, nor do I think it happens in one continuous line.  It's more like a spiral--a little progress and then coming around the corner where you battle the same losses and the same tears and the same fears, but you get a little higher each time.  There will always be parts of my heart that will belong to my two little angels in heaven, but I think those parts of my heart are enabling the rest of my heart to love in a deeper, fuller and richer way those who are left below.

The thing that pulls the hardest is knowing how to answer the question: Do you have children?  Yes, we have children, but how do you explain that in a 30 second sound byte without the conversation getting awkward? If I say no, I feel terribly guilty for not acknowledging Nicole and if I say we had a stillborn, then I feel guilty for not acknowledging our firstborn, but how do you do all that?  And when, Lord willing, I hold me newborn baby in my arms, what will I tell people?  That she's our oldest?  But she's not.  It's so confusing!!!!!!!! And while for the sake of conversation and awkwardness I make a difference between miscarriage and stillborn, in my mind and in God's sight there is no difference.  They are both children, loved by God and, I like to think, playing at His feet.

So this Christmas season, in the midst of all the busyness, treasure the gift of Life that was made possible by Jesus coming to earth.  There will always be joy overshadowed by sorrow, life in the midst of death, but as the Christmas carol puts it: "Sorrow and grief are lulled by thy light; thou hope of each mortal in death's lonely night."

And someday, by the grace of God, our whole family will be together forever and the struggle to describe our family will be over. What a day that will be!!!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

What would you do?

This post would be much better with pictures, but I didn't think of taking any.  Maybe I'll see what I can snag off the world wide web to better portray my story

A package comes in the mail or better interpreted an overgrown envelope:

2014 Prepaid Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

At first it's exciting like you might be getting a small gift from someone:

Happy Face Clipart

But then you look closer and you see words that don't inspire a happy face at all.  Instead, they might inspire more of this:

grumpy girl clip art

Because you see words like this on the package:

Household Television Survey.

You debate throwing the envelope away without even opening it, but for some reason you open it.  Then you are going to trash it, but wait something catches your eye:

Nini d'Amour

You reach into the envelope and remove five brand-new crisp one dollar bills:
Nini d'AmourNini d'AmourNini d'Amour

Nini d'AmourNini d'Amour

You smile now:

Big smile pictures

But wait: the company is paying you in advance for doing their survey.  Now what?  A pause, a moment to think and then into the

... Trash Cans 23 Gal. Automatic Stainless Steel Touchless Trash Can® NX

goes the envelope and into the
Small Partner Desk
goes the cash and you wonder to yourself: Is that money really real?  You will find out you guess when you try to cash it in for some

girl drinking McCafe | McDonald’s McCafe White Chocolate Mocha ...

The question is begging to be asked.  How many of you have thrown out white boring survey envelopes in the last month without first opening and checking inside?  I would like to be able to get all those one dollar bills too.  I will look more closely from now on.

PS: There was a small amount of guilt experienced at not doing the survey, but beings we don't even have a TV, it would have been a very boring survey result anyway, so guilt was mostly assuaged.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

A huge shout out of thanks to Hannah for doing all the hard work.  If you need something fun to do, make those hanging cinnamon ornaments. Not the greatest pics but for better views come visit me.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Well, that was a long day wasn't it?

I don't think I really promised to absolutely every day post something I was thankful for, did I?  If I did, I'm truly sorry, but here in is the beauty.  It's my blog and I reserve the right to make any and all changes to the content that I wish and that includes how frequently I post.

It really is a little pathetic. I quit posting on the day we had a sermon on thankfulness.  How ironic, huh?  To add further to the irony is the fact that I was more than a little crabby and moody the rest of that day as well.  But it's been better since.  I'm starting to go a little stir-crazy and realizing that ten weeks is a really, really, REALLY, REALLY long time, but by God's grace I will make it for as long as I need to.

Am I bored yet?  Getting there, but I still have things I can do.  I have only half met my goal for today on my online transcription job, but truth-be-told, I was getting a little tired of transcribing a focus group for undergarments.  Now, I know my work is to be kept confidential and everything and really I have no intention of squealing about the hours of pointless work I did this afternoon, but really?  People have meetings to discuss undergarments?  I had no idea.  It's a whole other world out there that I know nothing about.

Black Friday?  Black Friday just ain't the same when done sitting in a chair.  I struggled to get enthused, but I do have a few parcels coming even if they are as boring as black ink cartridges. The exciting thing about the black ink cartridges?  I am hoping to put together two cookbooks from my two favorite food bloggers.  Thanks so much Jo for introducing me to both of them.  I'm also getting myself lots of work in the parcels that are coming.  If I can't go shopping for the munchkin, I will sew for the little tyke instead.  Poor D is quite concerned that our baby will be dressed in complete homemade clothes, but I have attempted to reassure him that I am only looking to make blankets, burp clothes, washcloths, changing pads, etc.  I'm not sure I even have it in me to attempt sleepers and onesies when you can buy onesies for a couple of buck on clearance or at a second-hand store. But, the purchasing ability is a little more limited when you can't actually go to said stores and buy the things you need, but I have solicited a little help in that department and of course, there's always the internet, if I can make enough money transcribing about undergarments to pay for it, I guess.  OH BOY!!!

It's actually kind of exciting to be getting excited about this baby.  It's been awhile in coming and I keep waffling between expecting a 9+ pound baby at my due date or expecting it any moment and then spending weeks in a NICU.  Either way, I am realizing that I should start making some provision for the child lest it be born without a mother who even thought to provide it the very basic essentials.  Speaking of essentials, what does one consider essential when raising a baby?  I would like some very honest input.  There are all kinds of ideas out there in cyberspace, but I would like to know what you, my friends and acquaintances think is needful.  Please respond.

Pray the Scriptures When Life Hurts

Product Details

By Kevin Johnson

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

I liked this book.  It's a very different style of writing, but I think it works.  Kevin has 10 chapters dealing with anything from loneliness to questions to peace to surrender and ending with hope.  He talks a little about his own journey and places a person can find themselves in, but mostly he takes a Scripture, divides it out into 4 or more sections and has you pray it.  He offers a verse and then gives some open-ended sentences to allow you to tell God what you are really feeling.

For example: II Corinthians 12:8- "Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away."  His open-ended sentences that follow are: "You've said no to....." and "When you say no to my pleading,I feel...."  This allows you to really analyze how you are feeling and talk to God about it.

And there were some positives too, like "I confidently expect..." after reading Psalm 27: 13, 14

Kevin also wrote a Pray the Scriptures Bible.  I would like to take a look at that sometime and see how he put all that together.  Obviously, he didn't write the Bible portion, but he talks about the prayers he wrote for it and the healing it brought him on his own journey out of depression.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Today, I'm Thankful For....


I mean, really. What's nicer than a day where you can kick back, relax and be lazy without a trace of guilt?  You can go to church and worship God, come home and gorge yourself on a "way too big" Sunday lunch and then veg all afternoon while complaining about you much you stuffed yourself at lunch.  

Unless you live at our house, then you're lucky to get a good Sunday lunch.  It's more likely to be leftovers or some other simple food stuff.  Today, for instance, we are having Chicken Barley Soup.  It's a new recipe and because I'm lazy, I tweaked it and threw it all in the crockpot and am hoping for the best.  Because, I will just say it on here and be done with it--I really hate waiting for my lunch when I get home from church.  One test of a good Sunday lunch is that it must be ready to be put on the table in 15 minutes or less from the time one arrives home.  Along, with the soup, we may have some yummy Miller's Potato Salad and maybe some cheese curds too.  

But, I digress....  Back to the gratefulness aspect.  Other good things about Sunday: D is home from work for the whole day.  We can just hang out and not feel like we should be doing household chores or cleaning up the garage or whatever else is needing attention at the moment.  

We can have company for lunch if we like or we can not have company for lunch if we like.  I'm not very good at the company thing--I resolve that someday I will get better at it, but right now I have a pretty good excuse.  At least one, I'm going to milk for all it's worth anyway. 

I already mentioned the going to church and worshiping, but it's also a time to catch up with friends and do some socializing, unless you come from my family tree and then you can find the after church banter a little hard to follow sometimes.  I'm not sure what happened to my family, but I think, at least 4 out of the 5 of us siblings, would way rather leave church pretty much pronto after the service is over rather than stand around making small talk.  Now, I won't deny it; sometimes I can do a great job of it, but other times it feels stale and stilted.  And what did we do?  We married somebody just the opposite.  Once, not that long ago, D went to church by himself.  His comment?  "I could stay and visit as long as I wanted to."  "I'm sorry dear.  I try to be patient, I really do."  And please, don't think you can't talk to me after church.  I don't mind at all carrying a conversation or listening to a conversation; I just can be at a complete loss sometimes for how to start a conversation.  Anyway, enough about that.  

What are you grateful for on this Sunday?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hunting Days

Now, this could very controversial in the realm of gratefulness and there are varying ways of looking at it.  One could be grateful that there is only one week of gun season; or one could be grateful that they get one week of gun season.

I'm not sure where I come out at on the whole hunting thing: I really don't mind that D goes hunting. When we lived in the central part of the state, hunting meant I would likely see D less, but he had a really cool tree stand that you could heat and so Thanksgiving day became a traditional "wife-goes-hunting-with-man-hunter" day. I would go with him, struggle up the tree stand, get cold, talk too loud, not creep around quietly enough and sometimes wonder why in the world I came with. I would bring a book or try to find good Black Friday deals, etc.

This year? This year is different.  He didn't go racing out the door in the blackest of the night, nor did he do a sleep over in his tree stand like last year.  He left with his jug of hot spiced apple cider, multiple layers of clothing and went to sit in an open tree stand that friends from church graciously offered to him.  I expect to see him back mid-morning to lunch sometime and then I'm guessing he will go out again tonight.  He might go hunting in his old stomping grounds come Thanksgiving, but this year? This year, I will likely stay home-- no tromping in the woods for me this year.  (I just realized that the last three Thanksgivings, I have been pregnant--wait this is supposed to be a grateful post)

If he gets a deer, the big question is always, what are we going to do with it.  I am intent on trying to empty our freezer and get rid of meat that has been sitting in there for way too long.  But I do like to make jerky and beef sticks with venison if he gets one.  And I sure don't want to help butcher a deer this year.  I'm pretty positive that would come under things you can't do on limited activity.  I think our conclusion might be that we would like a couple of pounds of  meat to do beef sticks and jerky with and the rest we would give away.

You can only hunt bucks up here this year, so D likes to lie in wait for the big ones, so unless some staggering 10 or 12 point impressive buck shows up, I'm not too worried I will have to deal with venison issues this year.  Now, that might be something to be grateful for :) :)

Two big differences between this year and other years: 1. I think if he goes hunting this year, I will actually see more of him than I do when he is working.  Other years, I would say I saw less of him, especially on Saturdays.  2. He doesn't have a lovely warm hunting shack to hunt from this year.

I try not to worry about the whole hunting thing and especially if they do drives, etc.  I try to remember that he is capable of looking out for himself and God is with him in the open stand as much as he was with him in the heated shack.  But I still tell him to text a little so I know he's okay.  I still need to work on the holding my loved ones with an open hand and not hanging on too tightly.

So to conclude this: is hunting season something you are grateful for or something you dread?  What are your thoughts on all of this?  And do you eat venison or turn up your nose at the very idea?

Friday, November 21, 2014

More Things to be Grateful For

As I sat here this morning thinking up another post on the benefits of limited activity, I thought why not do a daily post on things in my life I have to be grateful for?  This is the Thanksgiving season after all and I for one could sure use a dose of Thankfulness each and every day of my life.  I'm not making any promises on whether I will actually manage a daily post, but if ever I have the time, it would be right now.

So my first post is going to be the "Blessings of Limited Activity"

I've been a little sad that I won't be able to go Black Friday Shopping.  It has been a tradition the last five years, I believe, to go shopping in the early hours of the morning with my co-workers.  I knew this year was going to be different because we don't live in the same area anymore.  I hadn't completely given up hope of being able to go with the same group of people, but I wasn't counting on it. However, I was still planning to go somewhere in the early morning hours of Black Friday.  But I have given that up and it makes me sad.  It's not the benefit of all the good deals scored; it's simply the fun of getting up at crazy hours, bucking the crowds (which have seriously diminished over the years thanks to the whole Black Thanksgiving? shopping, which is a whole other post in itself because I think it's a despicable practice),  laughing at other people's impatience and all capped off with a lovely breakfast out at the end of the shopping experience sometime between 8 and 9 in the morning usually.

Anyway, continuing on to the gratefulness part of it: I realized that with not being able to go to work right now and being more housebound than I have ever been in my life, I likely wouldn't need Black Friday anyway.  I thought I "needed" a new coat and maybe a new pair of boots, but hey, who needs a coat and boots in the house?  So, $100 saved.  I also won't be attending many parties and such like, so no additional gift buying will be necessary--more money saved.  Going out to eat has been somewhat hampered--another $30-40 a time saved.  Look at all of the money we are saving by my staying home.  Perhaps there will be more people begging their doctor for similar orders.  With as cold as this winter has been already, I don't have to go out and brave the elements at 3:00 in the morning; instead I will sit on my lovely recliner and punch buttons and do all my Black Friday shopping from the comfort of my heated house.  Maybe I will drink a cup of Spiced Apple Cider from Miller's Market while I do it too.  And then when the angst of shopping for a good deal is over, I can lay back and take a nap or I can get up and scrapbook.  Of course, I will have to make sure I have somebody to tell about all my good deals I secured online.  Who knows?  Maybe I will turn into an online Black Friday shopper?

I just want to know one thing: they call it Cyber Monday--so are the best deals online going to be on Monday or Friday?  That is important to me because in the scope of being grateful, I want to gratefully accept the best deals offered by the best stores on the best day.

Now, I do want to acknowledge one tiny little thing before I end this post:  I realize that if our winter this year is anything like last year it will be a frightfully cold one and I also realize that about the middle to end of January at the latest, I am going to get my walking papers.  At that point and time, it will be determined if I really do need a new coat and boots or not.  If I do, I should maybe buy them now when I can score good deals, don't you think?  :) :)   I can be very persuasive in my arguments.  However, the new boots I want would involve lovely little heels on them and I'm not sure at that point in my life, that would be such a good idea.  Man, I hate practicality.  Okay, you need not be bothered by the further thought processes that I go through when deciding on what purchases to make.  I will tell you this much: it can be so incredibly painful!!!!

Farewell to all:

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Limited Activity: What Does it Mean?

When your doctor puts you on limited activity--what do you think that means?  To ease the minds of all those plaqued with indecision about what they can and cannot do, I've compiled a list of "can dos" and "cannot dos".  I hope it is helpful to you.

"Cannot Dos"

1. Cannot vacuum the floors
2. Or scrub them on your hands and knees
3. Cleaning the bathroom is out
4. Washing Dishes
5. Ironing
6. Cooking, (unless of course, you'll go nuts without your daily kitchen fix)
7. Organizing that messy back room
8. Bookwork (way too stressful)
9. Laundry
10. Grocery shopping

"Can Dos"

1. Extensive reading of all favorite books
2. Internet browsing until you're so sick of it, you could throw the computer
3. Scrapbooking
4. Sewing, unless you hate doing it, then all those sewing projects you had lined up for the winter must be given to someone else to accomplish for you because you really must have them done now.
5. Naps
6. Consumption of lots of hot and cold beverages (having a maid to prepare them for you is the best; you wouldn't want to strain a muscle stirring the drink mixes)
7. Sleeping
8. Knitting and crocheting and all other crafty projects you have been waiting to do
9. Coffee with Friends
10. Extensive gossiping

Please note: this is not a complete list and should not be undertaken without express approval from your doctor.  This is not intended to serve as a guideline without your doctor's express written permission.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

November 13, 2014

Today is a milestone for a few different things.  First off, my sister has a birthday today.  Happy Birthday to my wonderful, caring sister who lets me call and run at the mouth about my life and my frustrations and my sadness and my tears and my triumphs and my joys.  Even though we live many miles apart and are quite a few years in age apart, I always love a good long chat on the phone as we solve the world's problems.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!  The Glick little girls say, "Happy Birthday, Aunt Vivian.  We can't wait to meet you!!

Today marks the 10 month mark since Nicole Brooke went to be with Jesus.  It hit me again this morning how much I miss that little girl--my little ray of sunshine she was going to be.  How can you miss someone so deeply that you never really got to meet--never really got to know?  I don't fully understand and I probably never will--I just know my arms can ache with the emptiness that should be filled and our house seems empty and devoid of life on a morning like this.  No little girl chatter--again how can you miss something you never had?  I don't know how, but I know you can.

And then, the third milestone?  Today is 24 weeks.  Today is the day that marks the "magical" date when everything will be done to keep the little "miss?" alive if she were to decide to debut early as well.  That feels like a huge milestone of joy as well, but how do you balance it all?  The bittersweetness of this day? I don't know.  This I do know.  I am trying to choose to enjoy every day I am given with this little one as an extra gift from God because I have learned the hard way that there is no guarantee.  I will also continue to miss and grieve the big sister who didn't hang around to let me make mistakes with her and do it wrong and get it right, but most of all to love her heartily.  I choose to try and walk this tightrope of grieving and rejoicing all mixed up together.

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart

Product Details

This beautiful looking book showed up in my mailbox from Bethany House yesterday.  It was given me for the purpose of writing a review about it.

Now obviously, I didn't read the whole book since I just got it yesterday and I am not a speed reader, but I leafed through it and read a few random days to get a feel for the book and how I liked it.

First off, I love how it looks.  It has a nice feminine appeal--actually very peaceful looking if you want to consider the title of the book as well.  I opened the package and immediately wanted to like the book very much simply on the basis of how it looked.  Shallow, right; but hey, I like pretty things.

I opened the book to around where we are in November and the first verse I read was a verse I had read in my devotions that morning or the day before: "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15 (NKJV)  That was a verse that had spoken to me so it really stuck out when I read it in this devotional book.

Then this morning, before I blogged about the book, I decided to read today's reading.  Anyone who knows me very well might know that to just randomly read through a book is a bit out of character for me.  I like to read things orderly, which is why I would never start this book as a daily devotional book until the beginning of the year.  It's quite likely that this will be the book I choose for my daily devotional book in 2015, but that's beside the point.  Back to today's reading.  The Title for today is "The Dark before Daylight".  Underneath the title is a verse for the day; this is followed by an inspirational reading and then another verse at the bottom.  Off to the side is a prayer.  The verses talk about crying at night with morning bringing rejoicing and our sadness being turned to a joyful dance. The reading talks about trusting God with our anxieties; resting in Him and believing that He will take care of us while we sleep.  The prayer goes like this: "God, please calm my fears and give me rest.  I want to trust you, Lord.  Please release me from these worries so I can praise your matchless name. Amen."  This is a very timely reading for me because today, November 13, 2014 has some important dates attached to it (see my next blog post for more details) and worrying and fear has been a part of my last few months.  I have tried to trust and I think I am trusting, but I still get scared and this was a good reminder for me to again trust God and let Him take control.

So, all in all, I am excited to have this book and am looking forward to using it in the future on a daily basis.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Abraham by Charles Swindoll

Product Details

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

Quite a few years ago, I had read a few of Charles Swindoll's Biblical biographies and I really enjoyed them.  I had no idea he was still writing them until I got this opportunity to review Abraham through Tyndale House.  And really, it's quite impressive.  Charles celebrated his 80th birthday before the book went to the printers.  That is a life well-lived and he plans to keep going.

This is also how he views Abraham: a man who lived well and lived fully.  Charles doesn't make Abraham out to be perfect; we all know Abraham made mistakes and even made the same mistake twice at times.  But Abraham had the one thing we all need in life: faith.

Normally, I don't like to quote too much from the book because it can detract from the story, but for this book, I want to give you some of the quotes that struck me in the hopes that it will trigger your appetite for more and make you want to read the book.

"But if we know the destination and have all the details, we don't need faith, and we will never experience it's rewards."  This is a good thing for me to remember right now especially as I grapple with what faith, hope and trust are and how they are the same and how they are different.  I don't know the outcome of the next four months, but I know the God who does and so I need to have faith that God will work out the details.  Along with that: "Trusting God never fails to satisfy.  The rewards along the way are exhilarating." And then:, "Everybody I know is waiting for something.  Waiting for relief. Waiting for an answer to prayer. Waiting for a dream to be fulfilled.  The people who have grown deep in their relationship with God have learned to wait with anticipation instead of worry.  They know that God keeps His promises, so they don't fret over whether the fulfillment will come but only when it will take place."  And I would add to that, how it will take place.  I am in a state of waiting right now.  I am waiting for our dream to be fulfilled, but I know from past experience that my idea of answered prayer and God's idea of answered prayer can be very different.  I don't have any assurance that my dream is going to be fulfilled in this lifetime, but I do know that if it isn't, my "dream" will go to heaven and someday I will see it fulfilled.  And in the meantime, I need to have faith and allow God to work in my life.  I want to grow deep in my relationship with God so that I can wait with anticipation like Abraham did.  He believed God was going to make a great nation out of him, but he had no idea how.  Yes, he took things in his own hands and it didn't turn out that well, but ultimately I think Abraham exercised a great deal of faith, I know he exercised more faith than I feel capable of many times.

Along with all that, there is this piece that God is never late.  Another quote: "When we finally receive what we desire most, we will see that no time earlier and no time later would have been right."  I will be honest, I can struggle with this thought, because I think that having our little girl alive and well and about 6 months old right now would have been the best thing in the world right now and yet I have to believe that God knew and knows best for her and for us and he will grant us a child when the time is right.  As Charles says: "Forget about your own schedule and plans. Your agenda cannot take into account all the details that affect other people, and you cannot see how futer events will unfold.  Fortunately, God has the perspective we lack, and He loves us more than we love ourselves.  So His plan will give us greater joy than anything we could devise for ourselves.  It could be said, then, that God answers the prayers we would pray if we could see what He sees."

Okay, I think I have gone on on enough now.  You get the point that this book was a good read for me and I want to develop a faith like Abraham's; not that it will make me perfect, but it will make me forgiven and able to move ahead trusting in the unseen and believing with hope that God is faithful and that He has my ultimate best in mind.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Product Details

Evergreen by Susan May Warren was given to me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

Yes, I have found another publisher who offers free books in exchange for my opinion about the books.  I cannot pass up a good deal like that.  Evergreen was a short novella based on the Christiansen family in upper Minnesota.  The timing of this book was perfect because I have read the previous book in her series and this one seemed to play into the right timeline.  I like the Christiansen family--they seem down to earth, practical, and overall a fun, normal family with normal family struggles.  In this book, the two brothers are estranged because of a fight they had.  Because I read the other books, I know what the fight was about, but the book didn't elaborate at all on it.

This book was about the parents, John and Ingrid and their dimming relationship. The root cause stemmed back to a miscarriage or stillborn, I wasn't sure which.  The overwhelming sense of responsibility and the fear of losing his wife had overwhelmed John and he had taken matters into his own hands and made sure there would be no more children.  This distressed Ingrid and she allowed bitterness to harbor in her heart for years.  This was very sad to me--I know how much havoc grief and death can wreak on a family and it was disheartening that she had allowed it to fester and yet, I know how easy it could happen.  Husband and wife grieve in very different ways and one of the ways John grieved, in my opinion, was by taking care to make sure the same thing never happened again.  Very much like a man to fix the problem and very much like a woman to feel like she should have been consulted and allowed an opinion.  Both had valid arguments.  Mistakes were made on both sides and in the end, as happens in all good fiction books, peace and harmony was restored and they fell back in love again.

I really do like Susan May Warren's books and will continue to look forward to reading them.  I have started to really try and dig out things that I can learn and apply to my own life from the fiction books that I read.  That is why I really emphasized the grief aspect in this book because that speaks to me right now.  I know how differently a man and a woman grieve and if you don't talk about it, it can quickly drive a wedge between you because you don't understand or think that your spouse even cares about what you are going through, so my plug to everyone who reads this review is to talk it out with your spouse.  Don't let it fester for many years as it did for John and Ingrid until it finally comes to a head.  Get it out in the open and talk about it and then you won't have to go through the winter of your relationship like John's had to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wave of Light

Today, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  If tonight at 7:00 PM, everyone in every time zone across the world would light a candle and leave it lit for at least one hour, there would be a continuous WAVE OF LIGHT over the whole world.  How awesome would that look if you could see it from above.

To those who have lost littles, they are not forgotten.  May God give you comfort and strength for each day as they live forever in your heart.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tried & True

Product Details

Tried and True by May Connealy.

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

Well, the picture on the front cover gives you a hint that it just might be a romantic chick flick.  And that is pretty much what it is.  Kylie and her two sisters, Bayley and Shannon are basically forced by their dad to fight as men in the Civil War and then to go out West and claim land.  This was all in honor of their brother Jimmy who was killed in the War.  Reality?  It's very sad because the dad has no love or concern for the safety of his daughters, he just wants land to build his "Jimmy" ranch.  I just think it's sad that their dad, Cudgel, couldn't see the beauty of his daughters and the blessing they could be to him if he would be willing to accept them as daughters instead of wanting them to represent the son that was killed.  It's a challenge to me to value each of my children, if God chooses to give us living children, as an individual person and to accept and love them for the talents they have and what they can contribute.

So, back a bit to the story.  Of course, it is discovered that Kylie is a girl and not the man she was trying to be and she falls in love and gets married and is harrassed first by someone who wants her land in hopes of winning the big rancher's hand in marriage and then by a lunatic best friend ofher husband's who is determined to kill her family.  But, of course, everything works out and they will live happily ever after.

As far as a good chick flick, it was a good story and I will likely try to get a hold of the rest of the series when it comes out.  Hopefully, it will be on Bethany House blogging review list. I do like to find something besides the romance that can be commented on and for me it was the rude, insensitive way their dad viewed his daughters.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Breaking Point God's Turning Point

Product Details

By Ricky Texada

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

These days I find myself drawn to books that talk about grief and healing and tough times.  This is a book that talks about the loss of Ricky's wife in a car accident, his subsequent remarriage and then the loss of at least one child through miscarriage.

Ricky had a lot of good points in this book, but I'll be honest.  There were parts that left me disillusioned and maybe that is to my shame.  While I believe he really did grieve deeply the loss of his wife, he describes his experience as though it was just a big drawing closer to God time in his life. As I read it, immediately upon hearing that his wife had died, he chooses to draw closer to God, he asks God to not be silent and he prays that Debra's death is not in vain.  I am not doubting his sincerity in all of this, but I just wonder where was the anger, the grief, the "whys", the tears?  And I think he does allude to those things a bit in his story.  I also have to realize everyone processes things differently; for me I found myself almost unable to pray and to seek God and feeling God carrying me along through the prayers and support of His people around me.

Another thing he said that really puzzles me is this: "I'm no longer grieving, though I miss Debra terribly."  This was written about 6 months after she died.  Again, this is something I cannot really fathom.  How do you decide when you are done grieving?  Grief for me is sporadic--I expect to grieve Nicole the rest of my life--not as intensely as I did at the beginning, but I will always miss her. Is grief and missing someone two different things?  Am I trying to make mountains out of molehills and it really isn't a big deal?  I don't know--I just remember reading that and going, "Whoa, who decides this?"

Otherwise though, it was a great book.  One of the things that I really needed to hear, but didn't necessarily like was the encouragement to reach out through community to help those around me.  It has been difficult for me to reach out in the last 7 months--I tend to close in on myself, but I do think there is benefit to be gained in reaching out and allowing our hurts to strengthen us and in turn strengthening and encouraging others.

So that is my take on the book--I would recommend it as a good book.  It had a lot of good things to be learned, but remember that everyone has a different journey, a different perspective, a different way of grieving and processing.  I do feel I could use the challenge to draw more closely to God through my grief rather than using it as a road block to growing my spiritual life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two poems

It might appear that I am on a grief kick again and maybe I am, but I don't think you ever really know when grief is going to hit.  For instance, I came home from work today feeling good.  I opened the TLC (Together Learning to Cope) newsletter and read two poems and they both made me cry.  And I want to share them here.  I don't expect everyone to be able to relate to them or to even appreciate them, but they touched me.

Before that though, mark your calendars: October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and if everyone would light a candle at 7PM on that day and let it burn for at least one hour, there will be a continuous wave of light over the world on that day.

Strength by Terry Jago

In the early days of my grief,
A tear would well up in my eyes, 
A lump would form in my throat, 
But you would not know-
I would hide it.
For the strong do not cry--
And I am strong.
In the middle days of my grief, 
I would look ahead and see that wall
That I had attempted to go around
As an ever-present reminder of a wall yet not scaled.
Yet I did not attempt to scale it.
For the strong will survive--
And I am strong.
In the later days of my grief,
I learned to climb over that wall step
by step, remembering, crying,
And the tears flowed steadily as I
Painstakingly went.
The way was long, but I did make it--
For I am strong.
Near the resolution of my grief,
A tear will well up in my eyes,
A lump will form in my throat, 
But I will let that tear fall
And you will see it.
Through it you will see that i still hurt
And I care--
For I am strong. 

Broken Dreams/Different Me
(Remembering Kaitlyn Mae, August 17, 1990 written by Mary Updike)

I dreamed and waited for you for so long
    before you finally were a part of me.
The dreams I had for you were so much bigger
    than you would ever get to be.
You left before I even got a chance to tell you what they were.
I dreamed of seeing you grow and play and learn.
I dreamed music and dance lessons,
    of watching you play on school teams
I dreamed of mother-daughter outings and shared secrets.
I dreamed of confirmation, graduations, a wonderful career
    and someone special for you.
I dreamed of a wedding...and grandchildren.
And I dreamed that you would have made a difference in this world, 
    not only for me but for others.
And I would have been proud to have been your mom;
    but you never had the chance;
    and neither did I
Instead, you made a difference in my life that many
    people can't see or don't understnad.
It's taken a lot of time to feel happy again.
And sometimes, I'm still not
People who didn't know me still do not know me
    as I used to be; before you.
And now I know I'll never be like that again.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of you, miss you,
    and dream of what might have been for you.
    ...and I miss the me I used to be. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I saw this on Facebook this morning and decided to share it.  I never thought of it in this way before, but it is so true.  It would sometimes irk me when people would express sympathy and offer condolences and their arms and/or belly was full of baby.  And I would vent to D and say, how easy it is for them to tell us this is all part of God's plan when everything seemed to be going good for them.  And yet, I did want to accept their heart and their well-meaning wishes despite the frustrations you could sometimes feel.

A comment on Facebook said something to this effect: God doesn't need anything, but He welcomes His children home.  That is a beautiful thought.

Okay, I'm done now and should get back to the myriads of work I need to be getting done today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions

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

You may wonder why I chose a book about answering my kids' questions.  In reality, Nicole doesn't need any questions answered, she could answer many for me if I were given the opportunity to ask her.  Someday, I will have that opportunity and I will have questions.  But, maybe someday, we will have children that do have questions and besides I am always interested in hearing an author's take on the big questions of life.

Elyse Fitzpatric and Jessica Thompson are a mother/daughter team that wrote this book and I would have to say they did a good job.  They talked about each question first and then broke it down into age groups and gave age-appropriate answers to the questions.

The questions were as follows:
1. What is sin?
2. Why do people die?
3. What is Satan? What is hell?
4. Why do people get divorced?
5. Why does the Bible say that? (difficult Bible stories)
6. Why and how do some people sin sexually?
7. Why does God let natural disasters happen?
8. Why do people fight and kill?

It was very interesting to read their perspectives on these questions.  The divorce chapter was of interest because it is rare to get someone who believes as I do, but I would have to agree with some of their view points.  They allowed divorce on 2 stipulations: adultery/fornication and and unbeliever wanted to split with a Christian.  They also allowed that some Christians make no allowance for divorce.  They would also have been okay with remarriage, I think.  They went under the clause of "most Christians" and I assume they included themselves in this mix.  While I don't agree with the remarriage option, I was impressed that they were as strong as they were on the subject.

One other thing I liked about this book was on question 6.  They gave some concise, but not overly explicit guidelines for talking to your children about sexual abuse and the areas of  your body that are not okay to be touched in any way.  This is something I have thought a lot about--how do I teach my children to be aware of these things without creating an unnecessary awareness that they are too young to handle.  I don't know if that makes any sense.

I can spend a lot of time analyzing and questioning and discussing with D about child training and teaching our children about God and about His truths.  One thing the book stressed is you are not your child's salvation.  You are responsible to show them Jesus, but their salvation is through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and not your words.  So, if you stutter or are eloquent, it's about grace and being an example, but also stepping back and letting God work in your child's life.  I thought that was a very good point.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whatever happened to the schools of yesteryear?

So, it has come to my attention that school just isn't done the way it used to be and I wonder what happened.

When I went to school, you went on a Tuesday, the day after Labor Day--No Exceptions.  You went at 8:30 in the morning, you listened to the chairman talk about school and whatever else he wanted to.  Then you listened to a list of dos and donts for the school year and then by 9:30 or so you got to work.  You spent your day studying vocabulary words and perhaps paging through your Lightunits and seeing what you were going to learn about in your new books.  Everything felt new and exciting. Then at 3:00, you went home.  Most teachers let you go home without homework that first day of school, a really generous teacher might even give you the whole first week off from the fear of homework.  You came back the next day and the next and you studied.  Yeah, there were the occasional parties and things, but the teachers were busy and didn't have time for a lot of extracurricular activities.  We got the occasional piece of candy and we would never have thought of being ungrateful for.

Now?  It appears that you can't always handle being ready for school on the Tuesday after Labor Day and so you wait until Wednesday.  And because you have just spend your whole summer being free, you couldn't possibly handle sitting in a desk all day and so you have only a half day that first day to help acclimate the students.  On top of that, you have doughnuts or cookies and milk or some other such snack.  Really?  A snack?  I thought it was a big improvement when we were allowed to get a snack from our lunch boxes at first recess, but now the school board or teachers bring in a snack?  Somebody is obviously not busy enough.  Some schools even have coffee breaks occasionally.  Coffee?  For the students?  Don't these modern teachers know that coffee stunts a child's growth?  Look at me, for example.  Oh wait, I didn't actually drink coffee, but.. you get the idea.  Then, this year, apparently one half day at school was just too much.  The next day, we only make it for an hour until school is cancelled.  The reason?  A rain day, I guess.  (Okay, I know the basement was flooded and it was a mess and everything, but just pack it up and move elsewhere.)  Where's the sense of adventure and creativity gone?  Probably too much time spent making cookies.  Candy has become such an expected thing that it seems perfectly acceptable to complain about the teacher's choice of candy and how she could at least buy chocolate sometimes.

And then we wonder why children are growing up to be whiny, little life-owes-me-everything brats.  It's because they have been given everything.  Maybe it's time to drop the teacher:student ratio back to 1 teacher per 15-18 students.  The student waits an average of 30 minutes to get their flag answered.  They learn to be grateful when the only candy is for a neat desk and is only a butterscotch disc, but hey it's candy right?  After all, the teacher is probably making in one month what their dad makes in a week.  Who really can afford chocolate candy on that kind of a salary?  Then maybe when they are 18, they will be willing to go out in the world and work for what they get instead of continuing to expect the adults to spoon feed them their knowledge and their food.

Okay, this post was not intended to criticize any past, present, or future teacher, student or school board member.  It was simply written in sarcasm, but with a definite note on the way things have changed since this blogger went to school.  And it is true, I do hope to raise my children to be grateful for the butterscotch disc candy when they really wanted chocolate and I do think sometimes children have a you-owe-me mentality because life has come handed to them on a silver platter.  I can talk because I haven't raised any child to adulthood yet, so therefore I still have all the answers.  But come on, who doesn't love a butterscotch disc?  I still think it's got to be one of the better candy options out there.

Miracle in a Dry Season

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

 Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I'm really not sure what I want to say about this book.  I don't know if I really know what I think about this book. It was interesting and yet rather different; well-written and yet too simple.  Let me try and explain.  I would give Sarah credit as a good author with the ability to use language in a way that writes a vivid story line, but some of the events seemed too unbelievable.  Yes, I know it's fiction and you can do what you want with fiction, but I still like it to be a little real to life.

Okay, now I think I'm confusing everyone, myself included, so I'll just say some of the things I liked and didn't like about the book.

It's a nice story; an unwed lady comes to town with her 5 year old daughter and a 35 year old bachelor slowly falls in love with her after her overcame his judgment of her and her illegitimate child.  The town talks about this lady and makes rumors about her and in general doesn't accept her.  She also has this "gift" of making food stretch as far as it is needed and this kind of freaks people out and they think she is a witch.  The pastor goes right along with the witch theory and basically preaches against her.  Eventually, he decides to deal with her, except his "dealing" with her is to make a pass at her.  This falls short when the bachelor's dying father hurls a block of wood at the pastor.

So, one thing I don't like is this "gift" of making food stretch.  I do believe in miracles, but this just seems a little weird.  Another thing I don't like is this drought.  The drought seems to start very suddenly and it seems like almost immediately everything dries up and the crops fail and people run out of food.  I don't know a lot about droughts, but it just seemed to sudden to be believable.  It also ended very suddenly and I realize that droughts can end that fast, but they had one afternoon of rain (I don't know how much) and suddenly the gardens can be planted and the fields green up, etc. etc.  

So, in saying all that, I wouldn't be opposed to reading another of Sarah's books, but I guess I would look for a little more story to them, a little more suspense and realism to it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

$ 10 Great Dates

$10 Great Dates

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

Help, I'm behind on my blogging reviews because I spent the last three months consumed with a reading program.  But now I have 7 brand-new free books coming in the mail--all books I've never read.  Now, who doesn't love the sound of that.  And I have a total of 5 books, this one included, waiting to be read and have a review posted about it.

$10 Great Dates is a nice little handbook for when you feel out of creative juices, want to do something fun for a date and don't want to break the bank to do it.  I haven't read through the whole book--it's not the kind of book that most people will pick up and read from cover to cover. Probably only weird people like me will do something like that.  But I've read enough of it to know I want to try some of the suggestions they gave.

There are definitely a few ideas that won't work for us.  For example, one date idea was to go to the library and spend the evening looking through books about home improvement, DIY, child-training, marriage, etc.  Now, I might enjoy this kind of a date, but D would definitely label it an abysmal fail.  Libraries are NOT his thing and while he indulges me the occasional library trip when he is with, I try not to drag him along on a regular basis and try not to stay long when I do.

Other options that I think we could enjoy would be going on a $10 drive back scenic roads we haven't explored before.  Take along a picnic lunch and stop along the way somewhere to eat it.   Your only expense is your gas--I guess the food doesn't count because you brought it from home.  This would be more down D's line than mine.

Other fun suggestions were: pretend to be a tourist in your hometown and see what new things you can find.  I think Mini-golf and ice cream at a cool ice cream shop would be a great idea for this, but in our town, you couldn't go mini-golfing for under $10 much less buy ice cream.  Or just walk Main Street and check out all the touristy stores.  Go out for dessert only--this way you can go to nicer restaurants, still get dressed up, but you save a ton of money by eating your main meal at home.  You could generally at least share a dessert and keep it under $10.

I definitely want to try out some of their suggestions.  It's definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of book, but I think every one could find a few suggestions in there that would be fun for them as a couple.  The book also includes some conversation guidelines and a wrap up section to help you ponder your marriage.  I would definitely recommend chronicling these dates with lots of pictures.  They would make fun memories to look back on down the road.

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.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...