Friday, August 23, 2013

Crazy, Busy, Sad, Happy.

That is the best description I could come up with for the way 2013 has gone. I am a little shocked that August is almost over! I am also a little shocked that I have not posted on this blog since November of last year -- OOPS! I have several books that I need to write reviews on so look for those to get here soon as they are WAY overdue!  I am going to see if I can just give a quick recap of our year in one post!

Crazy - Our oldest finished his first year of Junior High which included basketball games and track meets! He also became a teenager this year!  (So far this having a teenager thing is no big deal - except maybe for the grocery bill!) Hard to believe that the first day of school next year will include one starting High School!  Our baby finished First Grade and is now in 2nd, he reads like a maniac - something he inherited from both parents! We celebrated our 9th Wedding anniversary - looking forward to #10!!


Busy - During the school year it felt like I was constantly running from one thing to the next, I thought (incorrectly) that it would slow down when Summer started. Then there was swimming lessons, weight training & basketball for the eldest, my niece visiting from Washington, 3 birthdays, work, farm stuff, moving, Farmer's Market, and the list goes on!! School has started again and it's not too crazy yet but there will be FFA stuff, basketball, Scholar's Bowl, and who knows what else! I am now on the Library Board here in our city and we are almost done with the renovations and getting ready to open, I have been to more meetings this year than I ever thought possible!


Sad - We walked through something with friends that I never imagined would happen. Their precious baby girl was born with severe Hydrocephalous, only 11 other cases in the World as severe as hers. She was born in January and I got to meet her when she wasn't even a day old, I fell in love immediately. When she was 6 weeks old they had to decide to either do a very risky surgery or allow her to slowly die. Obviously neither of these options were ones that they wanted to have to choose but they wanted to give her the best chance at life. On February 19, she had the surgery and things were going very well but then suddenly they weren't. We had to say goodbye to a precious little one we were just getting to know.  She impacted so many lives in her short 6 weeks here on Earth and her momma & daddy have too as they have trusted,  and are still trusting God as He guides them through this time in their life.

Just a few short weeks after saying goodbye to Grace I also had to say goodbye to a man who had been a close family friend for my whole life. He and his wife had been another set of parents to me and he passed away very suddenly. My parents have lost a few friends this year and the reality that life is short here on Earth is one that is becoming very real to me.

It is difficult to go right from sad to happy, but so many good things have happened this year also. We have been richly blessed!

Happy - Without a doubt the biggest happy thing this year was that we became homeowners! This was a first for us and a crazy process! We really had not been looking to buy a house nor were we really ready (is anyone really ever ready for a big thing like that?). I was becoming very frustrated with our lack of space in our rental even though it was bigger than what we had previously had. One day my mom said, let's go look at this house for sale I just have this feeling about it every time we go by. So we looked at it and fell in love! It was a long (for us, though not sure it was really that long to anyone else!) process and definitely frustrating at times! Though as  I sit here today I realize that all the blood, sweat & tears we put into it were so worth it! Having our OWN home and all this wonderful space is awesome. The moving part was not happy, SO thankful for friends, family & church family that helped us through it!


That is pretty much this year in a nutshell! I am going to try to get back in the blogging habit, especially because I want to do more book reviews - I miss reading!!

Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to enjoy some time with your family &/or friends!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review - To Love and Cherish by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

 

I have been needing to write this review for awhile but I have been putting it off and I wasn't sure why. I finally figured it out this morning, I just didn't love this book. Writing a review for a book I love is no problem, I can easily come up with a post on things I love! I didn't dislike this book, I just didn't love it.

I have enjoyed several books by both of these authors previously and was looking forward to reading this one.  This is a second book in a series, something I didn't realize until after I had read it. It is actually fine as a stand alone book, I don't feel like I missed anything by not reading the first one. 

As the story starts it is set in Bridal Veil Island, Georgia  1898. The main character Melinda Colson is a ladies maid  (also called a companion in the book) to Mrs. Mifflin who is an older lady that is quite used to getting her way.  The Mifflin's live in Cleveland but spend part of the year at Bridal Veil Island.  Melinda had grown up accustomed to a wealthy lifestyle, when her parents both passed she was suddenly left with nothing. Mrs. Mifflin was kind enough (in her own opinion) to take Melinda in and give her a job. Mrs. Mifflin is very controlling and Melinda would love nothing more than for her beau to propose and rescue her from her current situation. Unfortunately for Melinda her beau, Evan, hasn't even thought of marriage yet. 

The Mifflins have to hurry back to Cleveland for a social event and Melinda is very disappointed to be leaving without the promise of marriage. Evan and Melinda continue with long distance communication which isn't always clear. When a Hurricane strikes Bridal Veil Island and Melinda doesn't hear from Evan she leaves to go find him. In the process leaving her job with Mrs Mifflin who is angry and threatening. She heads to Georgia with her brother who has a history of gambling and is somewhat unreliable. They make it safely to Bridal Veil Island though news of a death on a young man on the Island has Melinda very concerned that Evan is not safe. 

Melinda and her brother stay on the Island and help with the clean up in preparation for the busy season. Her brother gets in with some shady characters which end up causing trouble for him in the end. Melinda proves herself worthy of a more prestigious position and enjoys the challenge of the new job. She and Evan continue their relationship, though he is hesitant to marry until he can provide well for them. There is much hurt and confusion but they work through their relationship. 

It was an okay book but not one I would immediately recommend to someone. I was somewhat disappointed as I have read some fantastic books by both of these authors. Granted, this is all my opinion and others may absolutely love this book. 

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just a quick check in!

Life has been pretty busy around here lately with a certain young man having a birthday (my baby is 7!) and work and just keeping up with life! I am just making a quick post now as I have to work soon, but wanted to share something with you! I had mentioned previously that I have lost some weight during a cleanse and before that due to some medication I am taking. At the end of the cleanse I had lost 20 pounds, just during the cleanse and then 25 before that! I have also lost since the end of the cleanse! I FEEL so much better! I have more energy and just overall feel better. I have dropped 2 clothing sizes and it feels so good to pick up an 18 instead of a 22(these are not misses sizes but plus sizes, I am in a 20 misses. Women's sizes are such a confusing mess!). Yes I just told the whole internet world what size clothes I wear (my mom will probably be totally appalled!), but it is 2 sizes smaller than where I was and it feels awesome! I made a little weight loss ticker so I could see my progress, it also calculates my BMI, which is down 7 points!  Once I hit the halfway point from my highest weight this year to my goal weight (5 more pounds!) I am going to buy myself a pair of boots I have been drooling over. Not something I would normally purchase so it is definitely a splurge but I would rather have new boots than a food reward (my old usual reward for whatever).




Pretty awesome to me that I have made that much of a difference in less than a year! I am hoping that in one more year I will be at my goal weight! It didn't come on quickly and I don't expect it to come off quickly! We are doing low-carb now and it is pretty easy, especially when compared to how restrictive the cleanse was! I am always looking for new low-carb recipes so please feel free to share any with me! I am also working to stay away from preservatives and fake sugars, using only stevia now. Making my family healthier a day at a time!!

The ticker currently says my BMI is 33.3 and my loss is 47.8, this will change as I enter in my weight on a weekly basis so I wanted o record the current data here on this post.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review - Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry R. Morgan




I was incredibly excited to read this book as I have felt very uneducated on other religions but haven't found a resource that has a great variety in one place. This book covers so many in fairly short chapters that makes it easy to read and then understand. There were times I had to pull out a dictionary to make sure I knew what certain words meant, but that is all part of the learning & understanding process!

The first chapter works on defining religion. Since there is not really one right definition the author uses this working definition: "Religion is an organized system of beliefs that answers ultimate questions and commends certain actions or behaviors based on the answers to those questions".  In the next chapter he goes on to discuss why it is important to learn about other religions, and also some of the differences in the religions in different parts of the World.

He starts with Christianity, then continues on to Roman Catholic Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Protestant Christianity and Evangelical Christianity.  I will be honest and say that I really didn't know the difference between some of these before reading this. These chapters really helped to clear some things up for me personally. There are also chapters on Judaism (past & present), Folk Religions, Native American  Religions and Traditional African religions. They were explained very clearly and I really got a feel for what the people believe, if only on a small scale.

There are six chapters focused on Islam, digging into their beginnings, beliefs, varieties and theology. Obviously there is a lot of discussion and fear about Islam & Muslims in our country, and much of that is based on a small part of Islam. Just because someone is a Muslim does not automatically mean they are a terrorist. Also like just because someone is a Christian does not make them like Fred Phelps (well known for picketing funerals of fallen soldiers and declaring what God hates).  This is where being educated on religions is so helpful, I am going to be less likely to form an opinion (judge) about someone due to their religion when I understand more about their religion.

There are also chapters on Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and several other religions that I was not at all familiar with such as: Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto and Secular Humanism.  After these religions which have all been around for a very long time, he addressed Cults, "Isms", and Contemporary Religious Movements.  Under these categories you will find Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Scientology, Unitarian-Universalist, Unity School of Christianity, Unification Church, Neopagan religions, New Age Religions and Transcendental Meditation.

He tried to cover each one in a way that if a person from that religion read the chapter they would agree with most or all of it. It was written very thoughtfully and carefully, so that it would correctly reflect each religion. This is a book I would highly recommend to someone who is strong in their faith and wants to understand other religions and where they originated. I personally would not recommend it to someone new in their faith, as it could be very confusing and might cause them to question their own beliefs. Overall I really loved this book and plan to keep it as a great reference tool. As soon as I finished it my husband grabbed it and started reading! My oldest son who is 12 has even read some of the chapters and it has been great for discussions with him.


I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wearing a Smaller Size Feels Better Than Chocolate tastes!

That is a bold statement coming from me, because I LOVE chocolate. A lot. I have fought with my weight ever since my Sophomore year of High School (the same year I was no longer required to take P.E). Hmmmm, pretty obvious connection there. My love affair with food has also been an issue for me. It really has been more of an addiction. I have done Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, and at one point I had a set of "pens" that I was supposed to sniff before eating to curb my appetite. However, I have just never been able to give up my love of sweets, carb-filled foods and especially chocolate.

I have also dealt with depression for many, many years. I have been on medication for it for at least 10 years. I have reached a point where I feel like the medication is doing me more harm than good. The side effects have been in some way detrimental to my health or my relationships with others. I decided to take control of things and get off of the medication. This was not done on a whim, I have done a lot of research and have the full support of my medical doctor and a natural health professional. This is a HUGE step for me. It has involved a lot of prayer on my part and the prayer support of my awesome friends!

I am currently halfway through a 6 week cleanse. This is the first step in the process to get rid of the prescription meds. I am on a very strict diet for the whole 6 weeks, no sugar, no grains, no carbs, no vinegar, no yeast, and no processed foods. You would be amazed at how many things have those ingredients in them! The only fruit I can have is berries, and the only dairy I can have is plain yogurt. Yes, it is very limited! BUT, because I am doing this for my health and for my family I am pushing through. I have eaten lots of eggs & chicken breasts! For the first 2 weeks I also took supplements to flush out the toxins, I will do this again for the last 2 weeks. One of the things that keeps me going is the weight loss. Since starting the cleanse 3 weeks ago I have lost 9 pounds. That has been enough to put me into a smaller size of clothes! I have lost a total of 35 pounds since Spring, some of which was due to a side effect of my depression medication.

During the first week of the cleanse I had some body aches and extreme tiredness but it could have been so much worse.  I strongly believe the reason it wasn't as bad was because I had asked a lot (80 or so) of people to be praying for me through this process. Never underestimate the power of prayer!! I am also amazingly blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband who has helped make it possible for me to do this.

This past week I have really seen and felt the difference in my weight, I can look in the mirror and like what I see.  I even had someone who didn't know I was doing this notice that I had lost weight! It felt great, it felt better than any food tastes. I am working on overcoming that addiction to food and I can truly see it as possible now.

The day before I started the cleanse I went through The Steps to Freedom in Christ. I went through this with a lady who has led many people through it and if you ever do go through it I recommend finding someone who is very familiar with it and has had some training. It allowed me to let go of some past hurts that were really hindering my every day life. It also helped me to see that my love of food was an addiction, not just an innocent love of food. I have felt such a peace since then. Don't get me wrong it is not a fix all, but it really made a difference in MY life! It is something you have to be ready & willing to do.

This is all a big part of the reason I haven't been posting much here either, been focusing on making my mind & body healthy! Lots of changes going on!  I will be posting some book reviews soon, finishing up one on World Religions and it is incredibly interesting to me.

 The kids have been in school for almost a month already and G is enjoying 7th grade and Jr High life. Still hard to believe I have a Jr Higher! D is in 1st Grade and is going to give his teacher a challenge or two this year! He taught himself to read at age 4, has been doing multiplication for about a year now and this morning was figuring out division! He is his Father's son for sure!

So looking forward to Fall here, especially the leaves changing color and the cooler weather! Hoping you all have a beautiful week as we head into Fall!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grief Processing - my own way of dealing

 How is it that animals can wrap themselves so tightly around our hearts?  Especially the one I always said I would NEVER own.

 I did not want a male dog. Ever. Female dogs only for me. Then I met Jack. Oh Jack. Some good friends of ours were taking care of him until a permanent home could be found. Even though he was a dachshund (I do love doxies!) I figured it would be safe for me to see him and not want him, since he was a male dog and I was never going to own one. So much for that theory. He was just the most adorable thing, and had an amazing personality that made him irresistible.

So, we decided to take him home for the weekend and see if he would get along with our other doxie Rune. She wasn't real crazy about him at first, she let him know right away who the dominant dog was! He was fine with that, he was just happy as long as there were humans to scratch him and blankets to burrow under! Well that weekend quickly turned into us becoming his forever home. What we didn't know at the time was how short his forever was going to be. He was maybe 4 or 5 we didn't know for sure and we thought it would be great to have him as Rune is now 9 and we don't know how long she will be around. 

He brought much joy to this house, to the humans as well as to Rune - they would play like crazy together! He loved the boys and would choose to spend time with each of them, which only endeared him to me that much more! My mom said it best the other day when she said that he made everyone feel like the one he loved most. It's true, he really did make us all feel that way.  

Last weekend we noticed he was being more gentle with his back, walking down the stairs (3 to go outside) carefully and not jumping up on the couch. However Sunday he seemed to be doing better, so we figured we just needed to be very cautious with him and not let him jump or do stairs. Then, at 10:30 Sunday night after being outside he was walking towards me and just stopped. I called him and he came another 2 steps barely and stopped again. He never regained the use of his back end after that. We did what we could to keep him comfortable Sunday night and then got him to the vet Monday morning. We had the boys say goodbye to him just in case. 

The vet said it was very serious but there was a treatment they could try, so we decided to leave him there and let them do that. They also made sure to control his pain. I tried to get updates through the week and all I really got was that he did seem a little more himself. When I spoke with the vet on Thursday morning he told me that Jack had not responded at all to the treatment after 3 days. In this type of situation with this treatment there is change within those 2-3 days, if there isn't it means the damage is permanent. Well, we knew we didn't want him to be in pain or to have a hard life but making the decision was not easy. Especially when you have to add in the fact that we have two boys (6 & 12) who love that little dog. Unfortunately the decision that was best for Jack was the one that was hardest for us (still crying as I type this). Thankfully my parents live a block away and were able to come over and be here as I had to tell the boys (hubby was still at work, this wasn't easy for him either). We decided to put him down that day. We all went in and got to hold him again and say goodbye through the tears. We then took him out to our farm land and buried him.

I am quite sure he will never be forgotten by us. He was only in our lives for 8 months but he left such an impression. We loved him dearly. Rune is also missing him, she still looks for him and is mostly only drinking from his water dish. He truly was an amazing dog, and as much as this hurts to lose him I am so incredibly thankful that we were blessed to have him as a part of our family!

 A friend shared this quote with me that day and it truly was a comfort:

 "I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there in Heaven, I believe he'll be there."
                                --Billy Graham



Then as the boys and I were driving to the farm from the vet this song was playing and it was so perfect.  It was an opportunity to share with my boys that even though it hurts and even when it's hard God is still here with us. It can sure feel like He has forgotten about us when we are hurting but in fact His heart breaks too.  It kept spritzing small amounts of rain that day and I kept telling the boys that God was crying too. 




I have written all this out as a way to deal with the grief I am feeling. We know we did the best thing and we looked at all the options before coming to this decision (would I really put my family through all this if I thought there was another option??). I would appreciate if you have comments about other options there could have been, if you would not share them. Thanks for listening (reading) as I work through this pain that has been left in precious little Jack's absence. 

Jack-Jack Chunk-a-Dunk Stink-a-Dink you will be greatly missed! Thanks for brightening our lives little dog!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review - Unstuck by Arnie Cole & Michael Ross



Stuck. It is the perfect word for where many of us are in our Christian walk. I have known that things haven't been where they need to be in mine, but I've been having a hard time figuring out what I needed to change. This book, Unstuck, really came at a perfect time for me personally. It took me a little while to get through it, not because it was difficult to read but because there was so much to digest.

When I first started reading it I was really in to the information and statistics they provided. The more I got in to the book, the more it affected me at a spiritual level and I became aware of how terribly stuck I have been. Unstuck is not the answer to all your spiritual problems, however it is a great tool that gives very clear, uncomplicated directions on how to get out of the rut.

One of the things I love most about the book is the personal stories. It is so nice to know that there are others struggling with the same things I am and overcoming them! We have become so humiliated and embarrassed by our misgivings that we are quick to hide them for fear of someone finding out about them. Not to mention the fact that we desire to have control over our lives (and sometimes the lives of others). A little tidbit found on page 96 - "Relinquish any fantasy of control". I am pretty sure that was there just for me!

The book is broken into three parts:
1. Why We Stall Out
2. The Powered by Four Solution
3. Engage, Untangle...Grow!


It starts out giving examples of people who were stuck and the sins/hindrances that were keeping them there. Chapter 2 discusses what holds us back and how to start moving forward. I'm going to give a big part away of what this book is about - getting into the Bible is the key. Well, sure it is! That seems easy enough, just read your Bible every day, right? The statistics on how many believers read their bibles is really quite shocking. It was very convicting for me. I finally picked up the One Year Bible I have been wanting to read for quite a while and actually started reading it on a daily basis. That is not going to get me unstuck but it is getting me into the Word on a daily basis, which is more than I was doing!

As it moves into the second part they being talking about how to mature spiritually and truly engage in the Bible, not just read it. One thing that really stood out to me in this part was this on page 123 - "God loves us passionately no matter our imperfections".  That is amazing to me, I have a hard time loving myself due to my imperfections but God loves me PASSIONATELY despite them!! I am trying to let that truth penetrate my life.

The third part is where we are putting this information into action! Moving forward and growing deeper. Engaging in the Bible, Untangling from what has been holding us back and Growing into the people that our loving God has designed us to be!


At the end of each chapter there are "Spiritual Stepping Stones" which are devotions as part of a 45 day plan. There are also "Research Reveals" which are bits that have been learned through their research and "Encouraging Nudge" which are notes encouraging our growth.

I did not do the 45 day journey with this, however I am getting ready to. My husband is wanting to read this book but I am going to have to buy him his own copy since I have done some highlighting and written in this one. The book is used in connection with www.unstuck.gotandem.com, a resource to help you engage in the Bible and help you to get unstuck.  There is a confidential spiritual growth assessment and then you will get content for what you need and you get to choose how you want to receive it. Again, I have not yet done this but I am going to soon.

I feel like even though I have fully read this book there is still so much for me to gain from it. I highly recommend this to anyone who feels stuck or anyone who doesn't! It is well written and very easy to understand. I am incredibly excited to read through it again and do the 45 day challenge!

I encourage you to go to www.unstuck.gotandem.com to learn more about the book.


I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.