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.

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...