Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013: Cancer & Closure…

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As 2013 draws to a close I’ve been thinking about what this year has brought; the ups & downs, regrets & opportunities. A lot has changed this year & a lot has remained the same. Around this time last year our family found out that my Dad had cancer & the year started off with a series of multiple surgeries followed by chemo & radiation treatments. What we’ve been praying for was a healing in 2014, but about 6wks. ago we learned my Dad’s cancer has spread & with that news we face another year that, health wise anyways, could be more of the same.

From the outside you would guess that the year was marked by my Dad’s cancer struggle, but 2013 brought a closure to me that I was not expecting. For several years now I’ve been healing from guilt about deceit I was involved with a few years ago. Even though I thought I had moved on from it, in a quiet way The Lord brought this guilt back to the surface & really made me deal with it. What I had placed in an envelope sealed with,”to deal with later” The Lord showed me that “later” was 2013. After an 11wk. intense Bible Study on Beth Moore’s Breaking Free that culminated in me delivering my testimony at our church’s Woman’s Retreat; where I confessed the deceit, lying & manipulation I was involved in & I finally knew that chapter of my life was closed. Not to be forgotten, but to remind myself that I’m not that person anymore & I was created to be better than the person I used to be who chose that route.

My relationship with God has changed in ways I’m not sure I even understand yet. I’ve been angrier at Him more this year than I ever can recall being, yet simultaneously I’ve also relied on Him more than I ever have. The enemy has fought hard for me this year & he won more times than I’d care to admit. He dug into my insecurities, weaknesses & temptations and I willingly allowed those thoughts & actions to steal my joy. I’m not afraid to admit that following The Lord was hard this year. The closer I seemed to draw to God; getting & studying deeper into His Word, changing patterns in my life that line up more with His plan & will than my own, Bible Studies, church leadership roles & enrolling in an in-depth discipleship program, the heavier stresses seemed to come my way. Working through pain is never easy, but I think God makes you deal with painful shit because He knows the amazing work you’re going to do for His kingdom because of where you’ve been & where you stand now. Plenty of times this year I lacked faith & plenty of times The Lord revealed Himself to me in the midst of my doubt. I think The Lord deals with us in stages because we couldn’t handle a clean sweep all at once (as awesome as that would be). If The Lord came in & cleaned house for us, without any work on our part, how long would it take for us to trash it up again??? Not long because we would never appreciate how truly muddied up our lives really were unless we got our own hands dirty cleaning it.

This was the year He laid the opportunity at my feet to start cleaning up that specific mess. And I obeyed even though it was painful. This prayer of closure that I prayed years ago, has been answered. The harvest can now come.

My Dad’s a smoker. He’s seeing the consequences of years of abuse. As a child I used to pray to a God in my Children’s Bible that once delivered 3 teenagers from a fire, Jonah from a whale & Daniel from a lion’s den that He would get my Dad to quit smoking. Fast-forward several years & a Doctor telling my Dad he wouldn’t even do surgery to remove the cancerous tumor unless he quit smoking & my Dad has finally quit. God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want him to. Sometimes He makes us get our hands dirty; by having our lungs grow tired, our body ache from chemotherapy & the possibility of years being taken away for us to realize we don’t ever want to be that person again. We don’t get to choose how or when God answers our prayers, but if having cancer- regardless of the outcome- is how God chooses to work His hands in this situation, I trust that.

I come into 2014 hopeful. Hopeful that this is the harvest season for so many long- prayed-prayers. And I’m so grateful that God hears those prayers even when I think He doesn’t. And the promise that He will reveal His answer when the timing is absolutely perfect.

Blessings to you & yours for the promises to be revealed in 2014!!!

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50 Shades now for kids!

What’s acceptable for kids’ eyes sure have changed since I was young! Gone are the days of the Baby-Sitters Club & Sweet Valley High. Book-nerds will recognize the 50 Shades Trilogy 3 rows down from the top. I’m predicting an influx of junior high pregnancies this year….

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*well played BAM at Sandusky Mall, well played. Stay classy!*

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Right Now: my reflections, obsessions, & thankful’s in this moment.

I’m blog-stealing this idea from my friend Heidi H., (http://www.bananabuzzbomb.com/) who blog-stole it from a friend of hers. It’s all about what’s current & weighing on my thoughts in this moment. Because I like to tweak things & add my own flair, I’ve narrowed this new blog-topic into 5 categories & hope to continue with this idea monthly.

Thanks to all my blog-readers who have journeyed with me through 2013! May 2014 be your best year yet!!!

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1.) I’m currently reading, watching & listening to…
The Last Valentine by James Pratt. Not sure how I feel about this book yet. Normally I give a novel 50-100pages (depending on the size of the book) to hold my interest; if it doesn’t, it gets tossed. This book passed the 50page mark, but now has flatlined. I’m debating on whether to continue on or axe it.

Little House on the Prairie. Favorite show of all time. Every few years I whip out the DVD series collection I own & brush up on favorite episodes.

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Helluva Life by Frankie Ballard. Not a fan of the music video, but can’t help loving this song. http://youtu.be/Y8zXV18DGFw

2.) I’m worried about…
-my Dad. About 6 weeks ago we learned that his cancer has spread. It means more surgeries, more chemo treatments & some big decisions for our family. Praying that God has his hands all over this situation we’re facing going into the new year!

3.) I’m improving myself by…
-getting back on track with eating healthy & exercising! Since my race in September I haven’t been running at all & I’ve gained 7#’s back. Which doesn’t seem like much, but when you take into consideration I haven’t been on a scale in 2mos. & the holiday season was free with cookies, pumpkin rolls & cheesecake I have a feeling that 7#’s has doubled!!! For the first time in my life I’m looking forward to putting healthier food back into my body & regaining energy back that I feel I’ve lost.

4.) I’m excited about…
-2014!!! Just a few days away! And with the start of new career position, a higher salary & the promise of new opportunities I’m so looking forward to all the potential 2014 offers!

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5.) I’m grateful to God for and asking His forgiveness because…
-a Christmas holiday spent with family. It was such a great Christmas. Some of my relatives from out-of-state were visiting & can’t remember a time when I’ve laughed so hard. And thanks to my Aunt Toy who researches our family Geneology, I learned that my blood 10th great-grandmother was one of the 10 accused woman who were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials. It was amazing to learn not only about her, but all the relatives that came before me.

-in a spoiled child tantrum last night I told God how ticked off I was at Him. That prayers seem to fall on deaf ears & I don’t understand why. This is the biggest area I struggle in, the biggest area I lack faith & even prayers of “help my faith” seem to be ignored.

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My top 10 favorite books of all time!

….Disclaimer: this list is subject to change at any given time without notice depending on my mood & not-yet-read books… 😀

So this marks my first blog post that is being done entirely on my smartphone. I’ve always seen the WordPress blog icon on my home screen, but have yet to try it. Weather outside is reminiscent of the Great Flood, so seemed like an appropriate time to try it out. Considering my blogs are usually novel length I figure typing it up on my smartphone might shorten this one up. But since I’m talking about books I have big doubts!

My friend Stephanie recently posed this question to me asking me to name my top 10 favorite books of all time. Even though she told me not to put much thought into it & just spout them off, that wasn’t likely to happen since I over-think most everything especially when having to choose “favorites” #lifedecisions 😉

After much editing I feel pretty (fairly) confident in my chosen top 10. Honorable mentions go out to: The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson & The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (wow! That’s a lot of Nicholas’ in one category). They were all so close to making the list, but sadly ended up second strings. Maybe next year boys!

In no particular order:

1) The Bible, by some dude I can’t remember his name 😉– within these pages I have found comfort, answers, tears, questions, confusion, anger, sadness, forgiveness, love, joy, peace & many other emotions. All spoken to me by God himself. The living Word that I turn to almost daily.

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2) The Loop by Nicholas Evans–my all-time favorite author. This is the story of a wolf biologist who is observing & monitoring a pack of wolves in the mountains of Montana & her fight against a town that wants to extinguish this pack out.

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3) The Cross Gardener by Jason F. Wright. About a guy who loses his wife & unborn child in a fatal car accident. One day he takes a cross to the accident site where his wife died & meets The Cross Gardener, a guy who travels roadways caring for crosses & memorials that people have placed at loved ones accident sites.

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4) The Tale of Three Trees by a Folklore– Kids book about 3 trees that each have dreams they want to grow into. Their dreams don’t turn out how they planned, but God uses them in mighty ways for His greater purpose.

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5) The Pillars of the Earth & World Without End by Ken Follett–these are two seperate books about the village of Kingsbridge, England during the 1100’s-1300’s. Pillars is about the building of the Kingsbridge Cathedral & World is about the village. Be prepared to devote some time to these novels, each is about 2000 pages long!

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6) Steve & Me by Terri Irwin–Terri Irwin’s autobiography chronicling her life with late husband, the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. I was such a big fan of Steve & Terri even before I read this novel, but after reading it I gained even more respect. Such an adventurous life & I laughed, bawled & was humbled by this couple.

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7) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell–I have read this novel so many times that I can quote lines from it. First read as a kid & broke my heart so much that it stirred in me a deep passion for animal rescue. The whole novel is told through the eyes of Beauty & you go from loved beginnings to a life of abuse & neglect. Classic that everyone should read at least once!

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8) In the Presence of My Enemies by Graicia Burnham– true story of missionaries in the Philippians who are kidnapped & held hostage for several years. The grace, humility, & forgiveness that got them through their ordeal is such a testament to faith in God. After reading this novel it made me appreciate missionaries more & opened my eyes to how desperately I want to be a part of that front line of ministry.

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9) Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo– true story of Todd’s 3year old son Colton & his trip to heaven & back after he died for several minutes during a surgery. Only book I’ve ever read that I actually called in “sick” to work because I couldn’t put it down & wanted to finish (shhhh…don’t tell!). Changed & in some ways answered questions I had about what heaven’s really like. Heard Hollywood is converting this movie to the big screen, anxious to see how it transpires.

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10) Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls– another book I first read as a kid & have read countless times. Story of a boy who lives in the Ozarks during Depression-era. He saves his money to buy 2 Redbone Coonhounds & hand-trains them to be hunting dogs. Have the Kleenex in hand!

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There ya go fellow book-nerds, my top 10 (as of today any ways!). I’m always on the prowl for good books so pass your suggestions my way!

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Book Report: Radical by David Platt

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“Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses”

This was the first line that I had underlined in the book, “Radical” by David Platt. A book that I was roped into reading by deciding to join the 2013/14 MTI (ministry training institute) program at my local church.

This line rubbed me the wrong way & thus started a love/hate relationship with the novel.

While the author, David Platt, had a lot…A LOT of ideas & key points that I agreed with, he equally had a lot that I didn’t. For me, the over-riding tone of the novel was how arrogant the author came across to me. I wouldn’t say that I’m a defensive person; I’ve accepted my strengths & weaknesses and when they’re pointed out to me, it’s often a trait that I’ve already realized I have. But I’ve never had somebody, especially an author that I haven’t met, so “in my face” & “you’re doing Christianity wrong”. In other words, he’s telling me that I’m loving Jesus & representing him wrong.

Not a fan of that!

I will admit, I am FAR from the model Christian. And I don’t strive to be. What I do strive to be is somebody that God can be proud of & that I represent Him well. Imperfections and all. This novel made me feel that unless I’m selling all my stuff & living a nomad lifestyle, floating between society to society spreading the gospel that God will look at me one day & say, “you’ve failed me”.
And I don’t believe that to be true.

While I do agree in living with LESS & giving MORE, I don’t think that God wants us to struggle in order to help others. If we did that, then we (in turn) would be the ones struggling & would need the help. And I also agree, big time, that God does want us to travel; to get out of our comfort zone and spread the gospel, however, I don’t necessarily think we have to go to foreign countries to do that. And somebody shouldn’t feel bad about not having a calling to go on an extended Missions trip. Personally, I would LOVE to go on an international Missions trip & I know that I will one day. But I also know that plenty of people are hurting in your own country, town…family. Sometimes things don’t have to be big & extreme, sometimes you can start small with the people closest to you.

David Platt, oftentimes, came off pompous to me. And that’s exactly what he’s trying to tell us NOT to be like, his whole novel was about humbling oneself & being a servant. And I agree with that, completely. But throughout the whole novel he told us what his church was doing; how his followers were making a difference, the letters he was receiving from those that have heard him speak…his, his, his. Yeah, we get it. You’re trying to be “Radical” & it’s working in your awesome Mega-church. But how about you leave your mega-church, donate all the proceeds from your book sales & live on the $10,000 that you’re preaching most of the world lives on (which I believe to be wholeheartedly true), uproot your family & lead them into dangerous & uncharted territories. My guess is he wouldn’t do that, and who can blame him? God hasn’t called him to do that. And he shouldn’t be faulted for living a “comfortable” lifestyle & not living a life that would make people question if he was homeless. However, my impression is that he wants his church-goers & readers to do that because that’s the only way you can be a true disciple of Jesus.

And maybe he’s right. I’m very limited on my understanding of God, Jesus & the Bible. God does want us to trust Him, have faith in Him beyond measure. And I know that I, personally, struggle in that area BIG TIME. However, I don’t think I’m less of a Christian or God is disappointed in me & thinks I’m a bad disciple because I take a step back & question things. If God chooses to bless me financially where I don’t have to struggle to pay bills, then I know he’ll bless me with knowledge on how/where He wants me to spend it. But until that time comes & I don’t have to pray ferociously that my income will cover basic needs I refuse to feel guilty that I don’t give enough. The season of my life that I’m currently in, is one where I’m learning to give up control & walk in faith. This is the season that God has decided I need to be in at the moment, I don’t like it. But I accept it.

The “Radical” challenge presented I like. And I’ve been giving it a lot of thought & praying very hard over it. I have not signed it yet because I’m not sure if I can give up a year to that dedication. Again, reading the Word, praying…no issue with that at all. But the giving up money for a specific purpose/going on a “missions” trip. I just don’t know if financially I can afford to do that. And I also feel there’s things that God is still weeding out in my own life & this might not be the right time to focus on a “Radical” challenge. If he calls me to do it, then I will. If I make a commitment to accept the challenge, then I know I’ll give 100% & I have no doubts that I will see dramatic changes, however, I’m just not sure if this is the right time.

In conclusion, this book gave me tons to mull over & think about. Which is, I imagine, the author’s main point. To get us “thinking”, which he has succeeded in. Tough book to get through and even though I never threw it across the room in frustration, I did roll my eyes at some statements. At a different point in my life, this novel could really spark a positive change in me, but at this point it only sparked me feeling defensive & closed minded.

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When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

I started the novel with huge expectations. I didn’t know anything about it, but found it on Book Sneeze & thought I’d give it a try. The description sounded awesome; spiritual but with a supernatural twist. I even found a YouTube video promoting the novel & it really peaked my interest.
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At first I couldn’t put the novel down! Loved it! It’s not a long read (about 330pages). The chapters are fairly short & divided up by “days” leading up to a town carnival. The main character is a child named Leah; an only child, introvert, with a stutter. The novel centers around her & her relationship with an imaginary character she’s named, “The Rainbow Man”. Through her The Rainbow Man tells her things & gets her to do things that are a little off-the-wall; she paints a picture with hidden numbers that cause a town member to win the lottery, she approaches an abusive husband at the mall & tells him things that nobody else could possibly know, etc. Every main-character in this novel is pained in some way; her father is a psychiatrist who escapes into his work, therefore, neglecting his wife & child causing problems at home, her good friend & elder, Barney is struggling to take care of his wife’s failing health, the town minister is lacking in his faith & finding it impossible that God would speak his Word through a un-“religious” child with no formal Biblical training & her best friend Allie wants to believe her friend, but when it gets personal for her, she fights with unbelief. Not to mention the town, Mattingly, is full of supporting characters each with their own demons & secrets.

After the initial excitement & allure of the first few chapters wore off, I found this novel…well, kind of boring. I hate to admit that “hearing” Leah’s stutter was a total put-off for me. She has quite a bit of dialogue in the novel (obviously) & I found it annoying the way the author wrote her lines (“It’s nuh-no-ttt-not a h-h-h-ho-hole Mr. Bu-Buh-Barney”) I know that it was used for descriptive purposes because Leah has a stutter, but it added quite a bit of un-necessary paragraphs. Seemed to take a long time for the novel to actually take off. I also didn’t like the introduction of so many sub-characters, too many to keep track off! And I got so confused when the author started talking about a town called Away, had nothing to do with the actual storyline. “The Rainbow Man” character was never really settled for me; was it God, was it an Angel, perhaps even the Devil??? I’m sure that was the author’s point, that we draw our own conclusion, but I’ve got this “thing” about wanting a novel to be “closed & finished” when I’m done reading it. I really didn’t get the whole “Rainbow Man” concept. Reverend Grogginess was an interesting character. While I did agree with some of his ideals & beliefs, he was a little to Bible-Thumping for me. If the author’s point was that through Reverend Groggins’ character people would be introduced to God I think he turned people off more than he led. Barney’s character I did really like. Every small town has that one old guy who is just a good man. Little rough around the edges, but loves the Lord & lives his life very simply. Things are black & white for Barney & I love that! The chapters that tugged at my heartstring most were the ones where he took care of his ailing & disabled wife, Mabel. During her passing, I wished the author would’ve focused more on The Rainbow Man being present at that time. He did focus on it somewhat, but it seemed a little under-developed to me (and forgetful). Leah’s dad, Tom, the town psychiatrist was an interesting guy. It’s not that I disliked his character, but I didn’t necessarily like it either. I never really understood what his deal was. For being such a main character, he seemed a little confused to me. Like the author didn’t really know what to do with him. He left me feeling a little…blah. Leah’s best friend, Allie, was cute as a button. She was the typical bubbly, funny little kid that you can’t help but fall in love with. Again, her character seemed a little undone & I wasn’t sure what the author’s intent was with her.

The storyline was weak. The big event that the whole novel alluded to (as the chapters were all labeled: Chapter 6, 4 days before the Carnival….Chapter 9, one hour before the Carnival…etc.) that I was expecting something huge to happen. It was a tornado. True, a tornado that ripped the town apart but I was left feeling a little disappointed. To be honest, the whole novel & storyline reminded me of a movie I saw a few years ago (that scared the beejeebees out of me) called the Mothman Prophesies. I just didn’t get it….

I wouldn’t recommend this book to a friend. It’s a fast read, even though it took me 7months to get through it. But mostly because it bored the snot out of me. “When Mockingbirds Sing” turned out to be a big disappointment.

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