Friday, May 31, 2013

10 things I did this week

Of course, my idea for this post came from Julie and her 10 things list

1.  I got some shorts on Monday and that was quite an experience. I thought about sharing it, but I don't really have the words to make it a good story. And I don't want to put something crappy up here. So the post I had planned for today has now gone away. So I'm just going to type some stuff that I have done in this week.

Photo Credit: Old Navy

2.  Last night my mother in law came over and helped me cut a bush back to size. We seriously cut it in about half. It finally looks like right. So with my yard right now, I'm at a point where I would like to start pulling weeds. However, I don't want to do that until we get the black plastic and mulch to put down when I am done. So I'm at a bit of a stand still for the moment.

Photo Credit: Me

3.  I'm in the middle of reading The Hobbit for the first time. And I LOVE it!! The book is amazing. I don't know why I was so convinced I wouldn't like it. Silly me.
Photo Credit: Amazon

4.  I have been playing too much Candy Crush and Angry Birds Space recently. That is probably why I haven't finished The Hobbit yet.
 Photo Credit: Google Play
 Photo Credit: Google Play

5.  We have a lock in planned tonight with our youth. I don't look forward to lock ins because I like my sleep. However, we will be bowling and I do like that.
Cosmic Bowling Photo Credit: Blue Devil Wrestling

6.  I have a couple sentences of a story written, but I haven't written any more because I really have no clue what else to write. I know I should probably just sit down and write to see what happens. However when I have done that, I end u p with characters, plot lines, and settings that I don't like. So those poor little sentences are still hanging in the wind.

Photo Credit: Me

7.  Next week, I'm going to make homemade cinnamon rolls for the first time. I'll take some photos along the way, so you guys can have a good story.

cinnamon rolls Photo Credit: tvol

8.  In June, which is tomorrow, I will be available for an upgrade. Part of my phone broke in April, so I'm really looking forward to having a working phone again. And I think I can get the iPhone 4 as a free upgrade,  so I think I'm going to be getting an iPhone!
Photo Credit: Sprint

9.  Yesterday I got a delivery of the Best. Soap. Ever. from my friend Judy, who just opened up her shop on Goodsmiths where she is selling the Best. Soap. Ever. And 10% of the proceeds go to the Community of Magdalene because she is just awesome like that. I got the Oatmeal Cookie bar and it smells AMAZING. I took a 5 minute shower last night because we were in a hurry, so I can't comment too much on the amazing soapy properties of it because I didn't have time to enjoy it. So I'm thinking of taking another one today just so I can enjoy the soap!
Oatmeal Photo Credit: Best. Soap. Ever.

10. I haven't eaten breakfast yet and I don't really have anything else to say, so thanks for listening to the ramblings. OH and speaking of breakfast, I got a Keurig machine with the water reservoir for FREE this weekend, which meant I could pass on my Keurig to which you have to add water for FREE. And I've been drinking Decaf Coconut from Land of a Thousand Hills with Caramel & Coconut creamer from CoffeeMate and Girl Scouts.
Naturally Flavored Coconut Decaf  Photo Credit: Land of a Thousand Hills

And I was not paid or otherwise encouraged by any of the above companies to link to their products. I just wanted pictures and didn't want to break copyright laws with the pictures. I do advocate you going to Best. Soap. Ever. and buying that. All the rest is at your discretion.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Simple Summer

So many people have grand summer plans of trips and camps and what not. Normally, I feel bad about not having these fantabulous plans to share. I feel like I'm missing out on 'what summer is all about'. However, I am proud to report that I have grown past that. I read this post from David Rupert at Red Letter Believers and I sighed with pleasure. A simple summer sounds like a wonderful idea. My husband and I are home bodies. We enjoy spending time at home, so planning some elaborate picture worthy vacation complete with legendary stories of travel fun is not really our idea of fun.

So what are we doing this summer?

Great American Backyard Campout - Gathered around the firepit Photo Credit: KristinNWF

I am going to spend 30 minutes or so a day getting our yard under control. Today I trimmed cut in half an overgrown bush. I have two more to do this week and then on to weeding. I'm not going to get in a hurry. I'm not going to over do it. And I'm not going to worry myself that it isn't getting done fast enough. I'm not going to worry that it looks bad. I'm going to slowly and deliberately reclaim my yard.

We are going to spend a few days in Illinois with my family. We are also going to spend a week at church camp and I have a 2 day long conference to attend. We are going to go tubing with our youth group. We have VBS one week. And we have a wedding to attend.

Outside of 30 minutes a day that I'm going to be gardening, I'm going to play with my son more and maybe even go back working out a little. I'm going to bake more. This week I'm going to make homemade cinnamon rolls and I'm going bake some bread. We're going to have a few friends over and grill out. We're going to get a little fire pit thing and hang out around it.

Gardening, baking, playing, family, and friends. That is my plan for this summer. And I'm excited about it!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Trip to the Book Shop

 On Friday night, we took a family trip to the 'book shop' as my son calls it. I took a few photos along the way. I missed the photos of him playing with the Thomas trains and him standing on the stage area. I'm sure you are terribly sad to miss those. Anyway, this is what happened in the rest of the visit to the book shop.

My music baby loves to listen to some music there. He was jamming to some jazz and folk/country music.

I managed to restrain myself from getting a overly caloried coffee and pastry-ish thing by looking at books. These boys didn't. It's cool though because they're naturally thin.

What books was I looking at?

There were a few books I was interested in reading.

I'm so picky about my Austen that I refuse to read most written with her or her characters. This one is making me wonder if I should change my policy.

My husband would like this one.

These books sitting next to each other seemed to be odd couples.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 5-21

I'd Laugh, But It All Happened To Me

But all of that paled in comparison to the experience of actually trying to canoe the Buffalo River. It was scenic...I think. But I don't really recall, because what I remember most clearly is that the river had no water in it.  Arkansas was in the midst of a drought, and the river had simply dried up.  For the better part of 8 hours, in 95 degree heat, we CARRIED our boats down that river bed. 

Katie Axelson - Living a Story Worth Telling - Book Review: Unblogger 

That night a brother and sister shared life. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My blog didn’t get written that evening, comments weren’t responded to, tweets weren’t sent, and the online conference on my calendar wasn’t attended. And it was good.

The Grocery Run - Break It All The Way

I vowed to be Gluten-Free (I just finished a piece of toast, and had bread for lunch yesterday with my eggs and asparagus).
After last week’s successful cleaning spree, I swore that I would clean one room a day (It’s Tuesday. Stuff is everywhere. I’m avoiding it all.)
I decided that I need more sleep if I’m going to be sweeter and calmer to my familia (I stayed up till midnight last night reading “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.)

101 Books - When You're Writing an Essay About Your Dad's Novel 

Let’s say your dad’s a famous novelist. Let’s say you’re taking a literature class and your professor asks you to write an essay on your dad’s novel—presumably, without knowing about your dad.
Do you ask your dad for help writing the essay?
Ian McEwan’s son did when he was given the assignment of writing an essay about his dad’s novel, Enduring Love.

Christianity Today - You Can't Buy Your Way to Social Justice 

And so some American Christians scare me. Passionate blog posts about offensive words like "the voiceless" and beautiful photos of homemade clothing and inspiring essays about living off the land inspire me to make more informed choices. But they also make me nervous about my ignorance after years of being outside this milieu and evolving language. They leave me with a pressing question and, at the same time, provide part of the answer.

Hope Mob and Convoy of Hope are in Oklahoma helping out. Can you help them?

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Giant Anteater, Brazil

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why I don't like Summer

1. It's hot!

'051:365 - 06/20/2012 - Hot Hot Hot' photo (c) 2012, Shardayyy - license:

2. There are mosquitoes and other bugs.

Mosquito - Zancudo Photo Credit: haquintero

3. There are shorts.

 Photo Credit: Google Images

However, today begins my summer break, which means more time with my family and trips to see my far away family. It also means time for me to do some hard core cleaning and weeding in and around my house. And lastly, I have to dream and plan about the next school year and what I can do to make it better.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Counting my blessings

You may have noticed that I didn't post anything on Monday. I didn't really have anything to say. Today I'm late with my post because I didn't think I had anything to say today either. What in the world could cause me to be so speechless?


I can't even say exactly what I'm stressing about. It is a little of this and a little of that and some of this other. All of that adds up to minor frustrations and tiny worries. However these little things have stolen my words. So I decided to fight back by counting my blessings. Not all of them just the things that have happened today to remind me that God is still here with me.

In no particular order...

1. I found my Scooby Doo coffee mug that I bought in college even though I didn't drink coffee because the mug was just so amazingly Scooby that I had to have it. Anyway, I thought I lost it and then this morning I found it again!
 (Not the best photo)

2. My medicine that I dropped in Wal-Mart somewhere yesterday shortly after buying it was turned in to the Wal-Mart pharmacy and I even had time to go pick it up this morning.

3. I finally found a station I really like on iHeartRadio, KSHE 95 out of St. Louis! I grew up with KSHE and had forgotten about it until perusing on iHeartRadio for something I really wanted to hear. So I'm listening to it now and getting things accomplished.
KSHE 95 - Real Rock Radio - Saint Louis, MO

4. Speaking of getting things accomplished, after 3 days I finally got all of my Spanish 1 grades finalized and recorded in a way that parents can understand. So glad to have that done.

5.  As I was leaving this morning I saw Ben's Sin Cara mask on the table and his tag team belt on the floor and his little wrestling figures and wrestling ring on the floor. I had to smile. He is entranced by the pagentry and the drama and the costumes and of course the 'wrestling'. It is a perfect mix of sport and drama for him.

6. I remembered that my parents are coming to see me this weekend! And that is only 3 days away. I can't wait to visit with them.

7. I slept hard last night and I slept all night long and only woke up once. It was the best night's sleep I had in a few weeks.

8. There are leftover hamburgers and hot dogs from the 6th grade cook out, so I have a great lunch today.

None of these things are huge neon signs, but I don't really need huge neon signs. I just need little nudges throughout the day to make me smile.

Have you counted your blessings today?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 5-17


Pictures of Poverty - El Salvador

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Patagonia, Chile 

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Mount Errigal, Ireland

Stuff I think you should read 

Maybe you could tell by my posts on Wednesday and Friday that I have been struggling with my image recently. So it makes sense that the posts that are really speaking to me,

She Is Fierce - Because You Can't Photograph Strong  

If Strong is really the New Sexy, let's stop with the photos of your muscles and start with the celebration of your accomplishments.

Let's start encouraging women to embrace their figure the way it was made, and instead of saying things like 'Real Women Have Curves' and convincing all women to whom God did not provide them that they need to surgically create them, let's say things like 'You're Already Beautiful'.

Write Human - An Open Letter from a "Fat Chick" to Mike Jefferies, CEO

The Grocery Run - One Step At a Time 

Stop looking at food as a burden and lift it to God as a blessing.
Eat what’s real.
Eat what you live.
Eat what makes you feel amazing.

And some honesty in advertising here

Jaime, the Very Worst Missionary - Deciphering Missions 

While I was virtually paralyzed by depression and anxiety, I used Missionary Code to turn every innocuous coffee date with a friend into “discipleship time”. Hours spent circling Facebook were important to “support development”, and everyday interactions with grocery store clerks and bank tellers suddenly became meaningful when referred to as “intentional relationships”. Oh, and the things your supporters do in their time off (like running, or taking classes, or hanging out with their kids) are things you get to claim, according to Missionary Code, as work.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sometimes I Hate Being a Woman

'Scale-Gina' photo (c) 2011, Twentyfour Students - license:

So Wednesday I talked about some of my struggles with losing weight. And for most of this week I've been feeling pretty good about what I'm doing. Not that I have eaten great this week, but I have recognized the times I haven't eaten great and worked to fix it. That is a success.

Last night we went to my new favorite place to eat and I had soup and half a bagel and a small cannoli. I did not end up stuffed, but I was a little more full than necessary. Then we went to the book store, a clothing store, and the grocery store. By the time we got the grocery store, I was feeling very fat and rather depressed. I was thinking something like the following thoughts.

I ate way over my calorie limit.
This is why I had to use the fat button on these pants.
This is why I gained those 2 pounds.
This is why I have those gross fat rolls. 
I'm going to look disgusting in shorts this summer.

When I got home, I added my calories up and I was under my calories even without my exercise for the day. When I added my exercise, the 45 of shopping and the 2 hours of standing and walking while keeping track of students who weren't testing today, I had over 900 calories left.

So even if my calorie count was off (because what I added wasn't from my hometown bakery), I was still under my calories for the day. I was probably even way under. So what was I stressing about? Why was I beating myself up?

Because as women, we have been told and to some extent believe that beautiful women are one shape and one size. So we beat ourselves up when we aren't that shape and size. We convince ourselves that we are ugly and gross and unlovable because these pants don't fit right or we ate that cookie or whatever nonsense runs through our head. Then that nonsense gets stuck on repeat.

So sometimes I hate being a woman.

Can we agree to break that record that keeps repeating in our head? Can we just love ourselves because we are hard working, intelligent, funny, amazing, and BEAUTIFUL women?

Will you work on that with me?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eating habits

So you may or may not have noticed the little graphic on the right side of this blog.

Go look. I'll wait.

'diets are sad' photo (c) 2008, Lauren Manning - license:

So you can see that I have lost 20 pounds so far. My goal is 40 by the end of the year. The first 20 was pretty easy. However in the last few weeks eating well and exercising has been hard. In fact I've gained back 2 pounds. I haven't put it on my tracker because I really don't want to feel like a failure. If I saw it in real numbers, then I would probably feel that way.

When I can keep my eating going according to plan, then I lose weight. I have a plan for breakfast to keep me full until lunch. My lunch plan is Greek yogurt and sometimes a nutrition bar. Then I start feeling guilty for spending the money that those cost. So I either don't eat anything or I eat whatever is in the house. Either one is unhealthy and not a good plan.

I have also been tracking my calories. When I actually see them in print, good decisions become easier. When I see them all added up, then I stand and work a little more. I haven't been doing that for a couple weeks because I can get to be a perfectionist about tracking calories and take away from my family. That isn't cool either.

I feel like I'm giving up on the losing weight thing to focus on my family, my job, and my writing. And those are good things to focus on. However when I stop 'working' at losing weight, then I feel like a failure and I feel fatter.  So that doesn't help.

These are really just tiny little changes. So why am I stressing over them? Why can't I figure out how to do them all? How do I end up just feeling guilty for everything I do?

My take away from all of this is the following.

Eat because I like it. Not out of obligation. 

I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.

(And I want to be able to go up and down the stairs in our house 25 times without getting out of breath.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Where I would like to be

'Kinokuniya Book Store -Seattle International District' photo (c) 2007, brewbooks - license:

So in the last few months, I have requested a couple books through NetGalley to read. They weren't bad, but just not my favorite. In fact one of them I couldn't finish. (A bit to graphic, but mostly the characters weren't likable, even the narrator didn't like them.) Both were set in the same place. It was not a setting that I normally read. I was kind of excited about reading a new setting. I assumed the first one was just a story I didn't like. So I started reading the second one, but couldn't finish it. Now I'm thinking, I just don't like the setting. So with that thought in mind, I'm going to tell you the settings that I do like.

What I like....

The British Isles any time in History 

England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, etc. I love them all. It could be Jane Austen or Hamish MacBeth and I would be equally in love and enthralled. When I read a book in this setting it feels like coming home again.

Spain 20th century

I have read a few novels set in Spain, like The Time of Doves and The Shadow of the Wind. I am currently reading Verse in Arabic. And I love them! This is another place where I open the book and the streets all seem familiar and comfortable.

New England any time

Anything from Jessica Fletcher to Nathaniel Hawthorne and I'm in love. The houses, the weather, and the people have me intrigued. I'm ready to read on and already thinking that this will be a good story and this will be a strong character.

Small Town Ita

I can only think of two books I've read with this setting. However, they both impressed me. The Reluctant Tuscan and The Miracles of Santo Fico were both simply wonderful. The sense of place was strong and comfy.

Towns on the river or a lake

If it is set by a body of water, I will probably like it. River's Edge and The Lake of Dead Languages are a couple water favorites. River's Edge is obviously one of my favorites because I keep going on and on about it. The Lake of Dead Languages is a book I read about 10 years ago. I even had to do quite a bit of googling to discover the name again. I had forgotten the name, but the setting sticks with me to this day.  (As a side note, I just added about 4 more of the Carol Goodman's books to my Want To Read shelf on Goodreads now that I have discovered her again.)

What doesn't interest me...

The South 

There are some books that I have read that are set in the Southeastern United States that are very good books. For instance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Widow of the South were very good novels that I enjoyed. I even enjoyed the setting. However most of the time when I have read or attempted to read a book set in the Southeastern United States the characters all seem unrealistic and too stereotypical. The setting then comes off seeming fake or forced. Maybe I just haven't read the good ones. 

New York City

My complaints are similar here. The characters are too stereotypical and not realistic. The setting is portrayed the same way. Of course I may not have read the right ones. And the ones I can think of off the top of my head are a bit old, The Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar.


The very few novels I have read with France as the setting have all seemed to be forcing the envelope too much. I'm just not interested in a bunch of gratuitous sex and violence. The characters all seem to be obsessed to the point of sacrificing the story. They start to get annoying. Then I root against them which is the opposite of what the author is doing, so I end up disappointed.

These are all totally my opinion and you have every right to disagree with me. That is the fabulous thing about literature is that we don't have to agree.

So agree with me or disagree with me. Prove me wrong even. What are your favorite literary settings? Or least favorite?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 5-11

Pictures and Videos:

Foreign Policy - 14 Hairless Cats That Look LikeVladimir Putin  

These are hilarious!

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Shelf Cloud, Saskatchewan   

HOLY COW! Is this real?

Oxford Dam Overflowing 

Local dam overflowing because of the rain earlier this week.

Little Stones, Little Stars - Today We Laugh

"Reading Rainbow" a la The Doors by Jimmy Fallon. Too funny!

Cool Stuff to Read

Drip Jesus - Renovations and Lingering in the Mess  

you actually begin the renovation process.
And then you realize that you are in way over your head.

World Observer Online - 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy 

We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them.

Popsci - Why I Let My Students Cheat On Their Game Theory Exam 

On test day for my Behavioral Ecology class at UCLA, I walked into the classroom bearing an impossibly difficult exam. Rather than being neatly arranged in alternate rows with pen or pencil in hand, my students sat in one tight group, with notes and books and laptops open and available. They were poised to share each other’s thoughts and to copy the best answers. As I distributed the tests, the students began to talk and write. All of this would normally be called cheating. But it was completely OK by me.

I'd Laugh...But It All Happened To Me - Where the Buffalo Roam 

Buffaloes, on the other hand, respond in the exact opposite manner.  When they sense the storm brewing, they charge full speed INTO the path of the cloud!  They know that on the other side of the storm they will find fresh water and fresh grass. On the other side of the storm they will find the blessings they seek.  And they will spend LESS time in the rain by meeting the storm head on.

Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - One Day 

One day, the Kenet will be a part of Durres in the eyes of the governement. One day, their roads will get paved. One day, things will be different. One day, things will be better. One day. That’s all the hope most Albanians have. One day.

The Grocery Run - A Cup to be Filled

In the midst of it, one of my friends makes an incredible statement, “At one point, I realized that I couldn’t take my cup to them anymore. You know what I mean? They can’t give me what I need, so I don’t expect it from them anymore.”

Jaime, the Very Worst Missionary - Flabby Thighs and Flappable Confidence 

When I was like 14? I walked into a room just as Pamela Anderson was making a mad dash down the beach on Baywatch (For those who don't know, Baywatch was a 90's TV show where hot people rescued ugly people from the ocean or something). As she ran through the sand - hair whipping, bronze flesh glimmering in the sun – a man in the room hissed, “That girl needs to tone up if she's gonna run in a skimpy bathing suit.” His voice was dripping with disgust.

Pamela Anderson, you guys. Pamela Anderson needed to “tone up”.

The Esau Project - Follow Me

It’s unfortunate that people in leadership feel like they have to sugar-coat their vision.  All Jesus said was “Follow me.”   That’s it.
And that’s where my questions come in.  Well, what are you going to want me to do?  How long is this going to take?  Can I finish what I’m doing here because this is going to be awesome?  And probably one of my biggest and most-nagging questions is this:  Why me?

The Grocery Run - Wednesday's Recipe: Calzones

The recipe I have to try soon!

The Deliberate Reader - Book Review: Wolf Hall

The book that just made my To Be Read List.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day

 Photo Credit: My friend Amanda

I have written or tried to write about Compassion and what it does before. They send me emails about blogging assignments. I often think they sound good, but somehow can find the words to really express what I'm thinking. So it comes off sounding high handed and overly guilt trippy. Then I read really great blog posts like this one from Katie Axelson and feel even more unqualified to speak about this topic. However my trials challenges hardship stuff this week and the subsequent encouragement I received from this video and my friends has refocused what Mother's Day really means to me.

For me, I often feel like a fake on Mother's Day. People talk about these inspiring women and I think of my own mom. I don't live up to those people. I mess up regularly. My  kid eats unhealthy foods, watches too much TV, and plays too many video games. There are mothers that are better and more qualified for the title than myself.

I wonder if mothers in other countries feel the same way. I wonder if the ones who can't feed their children properly feel like they are a good mother. And the ones who can't give their kids the medicine they need. And the ones who can't provide their children with a proper education. Do they feel like they are good mothers? Do they feel like there is anything they can do to be a better mother?

When I think too much about it, I feel like the situation is hopeless and it is too big. Thankfully Compassion is there to remind me that I can make a difference. One family making a difference for another family really is enough to change the world. Donate once or once a month. It helps. And maybe it will help me believe that God can use my little bit to make a big difference in my son's life and the life of other sons and daughters in the world.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Wild of God: A Review

Story Cartel is a pretty awesome website that gives me free books in exchange for an honest review. I get to read the description and decide which ones I want to review. And I like it that way because I don't have time to review a bunch of books that I don't think I would like.

A few weeks ago I got an email and read the description of this book. I wanted to read it, but I was skeptical about liking it. I was afraid it would be all about how he shared God with these people and they were amazed and blessed and stuff.

I was very pleasantly surprised that the book is focused on his growth and his relationship with God. He sees the beauty and power of God in all of these people and places. He learns from them as much as they learn from him. He is respectful of the places that he is going and what they are going through. He does not try to make them more like him. He simply observes and attempts to help. He goes on some crazy adventures just to see how God will show up. It isn't something that everyone could do, but it is something that everyone can learn from. It isn't a one time event that only rich people with extra time can do. It is something that most anyone can try because the World Race is a mission trip that anyone can go on.

His approach to the entire experience was an attempt to learn. That makes all the difference in the book.

My Amazon Review:

I often forgot I hadn't lived these stories. I found myself wanting to tell others about his experiences as if they were mine!

His story telling is powerful and realistic. His revelations about himself and God are right on target with where I find myself in my walk. His observations about travel and its impact resonated with the things I have learned in my meager travels.

The only negative I could find was that there was a legend he contributed to the Mayans, but I thought it was Aztec. However, that is often the case with those two people groups. Their stories and legends often get mixed up. And even this negative proves the reality of travel, the story you are living is bigger than the facts you thought you knew.

Book Description

January 9, 2013
Eric Hanson claimed to follow the most remarkable person in history, yet his life was as exciting as sugarless gum. Confronted with a disparity between a promise of abundant life and what he saw in life surrounding him, he left everything behind for a year to travel around the globe through the world’s poorest countries.

Refugees, hermits, prostitutes, mobs, secret police, monks, and a motorcycle gang. A dangerous journey introduces us to a fresh side of faith, God, and a fulfilling life.

“"My eyes were opening to whole new levels of pain and poverty, darkness and despair, I saw new and altogether beautiful things become real to me. The Bible is full of God’s promises of healing and restoration, but those words always seemed plastic and hollow to me. For the first time in my life, I began to see God move and heal—to truly touch people in the midst of unbearable pain. And in that, God’s message of restoration suddenly took on a significant, real-life meaning to me.

As I watched Jose’s transformation, my heart was ripped from my chest and squeezed until my muted soul could hear God whispering that this—real change, real love, not contrite phrases in an old book—was the heart of God for His people.”"

Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: WestBowPress (January 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • Price: $13.41

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, Story Cartel, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I thought I knew

'Positive pregnancy test' photo (c) 2007, Thomas Widmann - license:

I thought I was pregnant. I had all the signs. I thought for sure this was God's plan. I heard him speak to me about pregnancy. Drew had a dream about a baby and a name. I knew it was still early and the home test said no. But still I just knew this was it.

We had a doctor's appointment and I was sure it was a formality. This would be positive and that would be the proof needed to tell everyone.

The doctor said negative.

Maybe we were off on the timing. There is still a chance. I mean I still have all the signs right. I have fatigue and shortness of breath and headache and more. So it could still happen.

Then I felt it. I felt the cramps coming. We asked people to pray that God's will was clear. It is becoming clear, but I'm not yet ready to admit it. I can't admit I was that wrong.

The sun has set long ago and I'm still trying to go to sleep. The cramps are the worst I have had in a long time. I feel the pain in my thighs and my back and my stomach and my hips. I have to make sure to lay the right way or the pain radiates down my legs. And another pain is in my heart. Did I do something wrong? Did I eat the wrong thing? Did I drink too much caffeine? Could I have been better?

I finally fall asleep. I get up in the morning and I feel a little more ready to face the truth. I get to school to administer a test. I try to stand as the administrator should. My whole body is protesting. I feel the pain pulsating in my hips and thighs. My bones begin to ache and I can't possibly keep standing. I sit and feel better. I walk frequently, but I can't just stand. Today I am thankful for such a good proctor. I am so glad there are two of us here because today this pain is killing me.

I get an Advil at lunch. It begins to take affect and I can face the rest of the day.

We asked people to pray that God's will was clear. It is now quite clear. His answer is not now.

It still leaves me wondering. Did I really hear him? Is that really what he said? Or did I mess it up that bad? If I missed this so badly, if all symptoms were all in my head, then what else have I gotten wrong? Are there words I need to take back? Are there pronouncements from God that were really just from me? What does this say about my faith? Have I led others astray as I led myself astray? Am I really good enough to to tell people about him?

I will quiet the questions.
I will quiet the doubts.
I will quiet my mouth.
I will wait on Him.

Monday, May 6, 2013

When Inspiration Strikes

Almost Mirrored Lightning Strikes Photo Credit: fiskfisk

I have been trying to write more on a story for a few weeks now and nothing has been coming. So I finally decided to set it aside and go on with life and see what happens. I honestly haven't even thought about the story in days.

Then this morning at church while I was praying for something else, inspiration struck multiple times.

I haven't actually written anything down, but now my action sequence has multiple pieces running through my head. I have much to be writing now! I have no clue how it all goes together yet, but I'm okay with that. I now have something to write about. Yay!

Some might say to write through the crap. Sometimes that is the right thing to do, but in this case it just didn't feel like the right thing to do. I'm glad I listened to that voice that said, "Wait."

So for those of you out there doing creative things, know that it is okay to wait for the inspiration to strike sometimes. Do what works for you in the time that it works for you.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 5-4


Pictures of Poverty - Tanzania 
National Geographic Photo A Day - Waterfall, Iceland

Articles You Should Read

The Esau Project - Go And Do Likewise  - But, Jesus, this guy drives me crazy. This guy is hurtful. This girl is just not someone who I want to deal with. But, Jesus, I don’t even know her.
I can come up with 100 different excuses every time. But what it boils down to is that Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourselves, and then he said that it was the Samaritan who was his this stranger’s neighbor. Why?
Because he had mercy on him.
Go and do likewise.

Mustard Seed - Marriage Monday: Grandpa Loved Grandma  - As I sat and watched the movie I could not believe my eyes.  Their before me on the  screen was a story very similar to my grandparents.  I’m not saying that Mr. Sparks stole their story or anything.  My grandparent fell madly in love with each other as teenagers.

The Ramblings of Denise Dilley - It's Your Choice - Thankfully, Mondays aren't completely hopeless. Once I finally find a way to climb out of the pit, Mondays usually turns out to be a pretty decent days. Especially when I remember that it is my choice as to how I'm going to respond to my circumstances.

The Grocery Run - When Inspiration Strikes - A few months back, I learned that if I’m going to get something done, it has to be tackled four squares at a time. Time is limited and whatever I do has to be taken in small bites. Saturday comes, I want to run, and in the back of my mind, I think I can run four miles. . . surely.
I stretch, set up my treadmill, hop on with exhilaration, and stop just when I’ve barely broken a sweat. I run one. I stop myself and this is a good thing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Happy Stuff

Happy Face  Photo Credit: PinkMoose

Today threatened to be a bad day. I left the house a smidge late. The pants I have on are too big (yay) and I forgot a belt. (boo.) I noticed a stain on my shirt when I was already at school. Then I locked my keys in my car. However, I refuse to think of it as a bad day. And here's why:

1. I had sushi last night and it was super yummy. A Philly roll and an Athena roll. Both with salmon, avocado, and cream cheese. One fried and one not.

2. I am about to finish The Wild of God, so look forward to that review. I'm looking to forward to reviewing it.

3. I am really looking forward to the specials in May and June with Scentsy. I've got big things going on in my mind!

4. The youth group is going to a Crawdads game tonight. Baseball in the summer! Does it get any better for a Friday? And we have a fundraiser on Saturday which should involve me getting some yummy food at Shells and helping to raise money. Great weekend planned!

5. We have had some really awesome responses from God about some of the stuff that has been stressing us out. Why do I even worry? God comes through and makes it all okay.

6. I locked my keys in my car for the 8th time, at least. But my husband has a key and is just down the road. So it's all good.

7. Our football program at school is selling BBQ as a fundraiser because they are going to have so many on the team next year. So I posted this on Facebook. 1 person from my hometown liked the status AND one of the youth parents shared the status. I love it when social media works the right way!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Healing of Emily Jones: An Excerpt

Time seems to have run away from me today. So I thought I would share something I recently finished writing, The Healing of Emily Jones. This is the novel that I started writing for NaNoWriMo last year. I finished it. I haven't edited it yet and probably won't get to that for a while. However if you would like to read it in its unedited first draft glory, you can comment here and I will email it to you. Then I would love you to email me your suggestions and edits and what not. And just a reminder, you have already read the first couple parts here and here. This is toward the beginning, but still in the middle. And I really want to take them time to edit this part! Oh well, here it is.

This time I stopped in Chicago. I got a job waitressing at a very nice restaurant. It was the most peaceful few months I had known. I had no men to worry about and the restaurant paid my meager needs. My soul began to heal and so did my heart. After about six months, I felt well enough to start looking at men again. I met Mark unexpectedly on the train. He was full of good Midwestern values and I played the part well for another six months. He asked me to marry him and I knew then I wasn’t healed. I said no. We both cried. I ran again. This time back home.
            Three years can change a place mightily. I didn’t recognize all the new business or the new people filling the positions. I worked as a custodian in one of the new offices. David was young and rising quickly. He needed stability to prove his staying power and continue rising. He offered me an easy life in exchange for the sham of engagement. He created the story and I followed along. I had met him in Chicago. We fell madly in love, but I wasn’t ready for commitment. He left for a better job and I followed him here even unto the custodial work. He lovingly took me back and we were engaged immediately. We hadn’t set a date, but that would be coming soon. After four months of that story, he was forced to add the caveat of a dream wedding in Italy. He was saving to give me my dream. He was actually trying to talk me into a marriage of convenience. He was planning on wooing me into submission in Italy. It didn’t sound like a bad plan. I warmed up to him and the relationship began to take on a real quality.
            One would think with his careful job planning, he would lack adventure. Oddly not true. He was constantly seeking adreniline. We visited Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, the Jersey shore, and Nantucket. We climbed mountains and ate at exotic places. He bought me nice things. He liked me looking expensive. It proved he was more ready to move up. I liked the going. I liked the looking nice. I even liked him. Marriage sounded like a great option. He was always honest about his goals and intentions. I liked that. When I wasn’t ready for a physical relationship, he waited. He was always around. He would sit and watch TV with me. We didn’t have to say anything. He was just there. He started sitting at the other end of the couch. As time moved on, he sat closer to me. He would put his hand on my knee. He would brush my hair out my face. He would put his arm around me. He would bring his dog over. Boomer was so sweet and gentle. He would sit at my feet and follow me around like he was protecting me. We would walk him around the neighborhood or take him to the park. It was almost like a family.
            As fall neared and our Italy trip grew closer, I gave him more privileges. I went to his apartment some. I even slept over and yes it really was sleeping. I did let him kiss me and we started going out. We went to the movies and went out to eat. So people in town started talking about us as a real couple. Italy was looming and he asked me when I would make a decision. I told him Italy. I laughed and told him if he was more handsome than the statue of David, we would go straight to the church. He laughed at the thought and said it was a deal. Within the month, we were in Italy. The first place we visited was the statue of David. He asked what I thought and suddenly I didn’t know if I could go through with it. He saw my reticence and took my hand. He demanded nothing. He said, “When you are ready.” At that moment, I knew it was love and it was real. I looked up at him and said, “Let’s go.” He laughed loudly. He got a mean look form the guard. We quickly slunk away looking appropriately shamed. He said, “Em, are you sure?” I nodded yes. He asked, “Now what?” I dragged him to the gift shop and didn’t find a mirror. Left with no choice, I dragged him back to the statue of David. I promised the guard we would be quiet. We walked back to the statue. I squinted carefully at them both. David just stood there waiting.  I touched his chest and felt his heart beat. “Yeah. You are a more handsome man than the marble statue. Let’s go to church.” He took me in his arms and lifted me into the air. We giggled like little kids and got another mean look. We passed the guard and David said, “She’s all mine. So we best be moving on.” I blushed red, but was insanely proud at the same time. We hurried out without seeing any other art. We started running toward our hotel hoping for a church recommendation. 
              About halfway there, we saw a church. He looked at me and said, “Here?” I was in love and so was he. We entered and begged the priest. He was Catholic, but I wasn’t. So the priest gave us communion to make me ‘closer’ to Catholic. Then he performed the ceremony with a local woman as the witness. We signed a paper in Italian that we couldn’t read and paid him more than he wanted. We stared at each other in the expanse of the cathedral for minutes. We eventually walked slowly back to our hotel. The day seemed brighter. The air was cleaner. The street noise was quieter and farther away. We made it back to the hotel. We made it to the door of our room, but not to the bed. Hours later we dressed in our finest and had a five-course dinner with champagne. We came back full of love and food! We continued our honeymoon and saw the Tuscan farms, the Fountain of Neptune, the Duomo, and all the fashionable stores. We floated down the Arno. We even went back to the museum. We saw the other art and passed David again. I patted him and said, “Yes, definitely more handsome.” We giggled quieter this time.
            Ten days passed so quickly. I wasn’t ready to leave. He promised we would save up and go back soon. We flew back in to JFK. The reality hit me and I worried. We talked in the airport and he assured me we could plan a ceremony for my parents to attend. “Besides, we don’t even know what this paper says.” I can still hear him saying it. I was comforted and assured again. He was magic like that. We decided to go straight to my parents house to tell them the news. We never made it there. That year we had an early snowstorm. There was ice. We didn’t see it. Our car turned over and over and over. He grabbed my hand and said, “I’m so sorry.” Three days later I woke up in a strange hospital and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t there holding my hand. I asked and asked about him. No one answered and I knew it was bad. My dad came in and told me he didn’t make it.
            I closed off then and there. I floated through community college until Professor Thorn introduced me to St. Ignatius. Then I began healing and opening up again. I owe him my life and my soul.”
            Emily finally stopped. She looked up a bit surprised to see someone sitting in front of her. “Sorry, I haven’t had a friend in a long time. I don’t get to talk about David much.”
            “Oh. Not at all. Stories need to be told. It’s the best way to share God.”