Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful in all circumstances

So, today we are in the car headed home after Thanksgiving in Louisiana. If I could use one word to describe how I feel right now it would be thankful. Very, very thankful. I am thankful that my brother was there to be with us for Thanksgiving. I am sad that he felt too bad to eat. I am sad that he looked like he was hurting. I am very thankful that he was there and I was able to give him a big hug. I am thankful that we were able to spend some time with my mom, aunts & grandmother. I am thankful they are all still here.

On our way into town, we got the news that one of Ernie's stepmom's brother's had passed away that morning. He was sick and had been sick for a long time. I have no doubt that he's in a better place, but there was a sense of sadness when Shirley & her siblings lined up for a family picture. Every time we snap a picture, I am reminded of the fact that we don't take enough pictures. My memory is terrible, so I am thankful for pictures. The kids were happy to spend time with family that we don't see near often enough. The city girl in me was a wreck when my kids went out into the woods out of my sight, but it worked out. I enjoyed the visiting and am now enjoying some quiet as we are driving back home.

Every time we leave Louisiana, I have such mixed feelings. I love where we are now & love the new friendships and the church we are visiting. I'm saddened that there wasn't enough time to see everyone I wanted to see. The people pleaser in me wants to make sure we see everyone, so no one has hurt feelings. It robs me of joy, though, because I can't be fully there with anyone. I'm too busy thinking about what else we have to go and do.

I am so thankful to be going back to my safe place. The place where I am the most comfortable. The place where I feel like grace meets me. God is such a gracious and loving Father. I am so thankful for the changes he has brought about in our lives over the last six months. So, instead of crying, because it might be my brother's last Thanksgiving, I'm choosing joy. I'm noticing the beautiful sky, perfect temperatures, the crunch of the leaves on the ground and I am saying thank you, Father for loving me and blessing me!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Being transparent is my goal. I think it is so important to me, because there are many people in my life that if you asked me what they are like, my honest response would be that I can tell you what they want other people to think they are like. I want people to know the real me and know what to expect when they come into contact with me. This year has been a tough one for me, but honestly, it has also been one of my bests! There have been many mountains & valleys. But when the mask has been removed, I am broken, but my Father is putting the pieces back together. My Father is allowing me to be broken, because in my weakness, He is strong. When I am at my lowest, He is the highest. I am growing closer to Him. I can be sure that He is going to carry me through this. I am thankful for every trial that He uses to make me the person that He wants me to be. I pray that He will show me ways to minister and help others as they suffer trials on this earth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just breathe...

Today is one of those days when I'm reminding myself to take slow, deep breaths and to relax. I have dealt with anxiety induced chest pains when feeling overwhelmed for years. Today is the first time in about 10 years that I've wondered if I need to go to the emergency room, which of course, makes it worse. I want to pull the covers over my head and not answer my phone or come out, until absolutely necessary.

Can you relate? How do you fight those feelings?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice by Kristen Anderson with Tricia Goyer

Kristen was seventeen years old when she decided she had had enough of this world. She had had enough pain, disappointment and sadness in her life and decided she was done. She laid down in front of a train coming, trying to end her life. On that horrible night, she thought she was done with this life and knew what was best for her, but God had bigger plans. She was held down by God and only lost her legs and a lot of blood that night. She had a long, painful journey ahead of her, but God was with her every step of the way.

The story is told very straightforward with a lot of encouragement for anyone that has battled depression and discouragement. I read this book cover to cover in 5 hours. I had no desire to put it down until I read the last word. It was a beautiful story. I give it 5 stars and would definitely recommend this book to anyone that has felt discouraged and/or hopeless.

I was given this book for free by Waterbrook Multnomah to read and give an honest review.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Gratitude Project Day 3!

Today, the thing I am most thankful for is my God. My Daddy, my Heavenly Father, my strength, my fortress, my strong tower. I could go on and on about what He is to me.

I'm going to get real, because real is what I am. If you don't want to read personal things, you might want to stop. :). Don't say I didn't warn you! This year has been tough. When I say tough, I mean tough. I think it is probably the toughest year I've ever had. Ernie changed jobs, we relocated 300ish miles from home and we found out my 31 year old brother has stage IV pancreatic cancer that has spread to his brain. Let me tell you, if ever I have felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest, it was when I heard those words.

I have wrestled with depression off and on since I was a teenager. After my Daddy died unexpectedly, I was taken to a psychiatrist & prescribed Prozac. I had days when life was good, but most of my teenage memories have been suppressed, because I was in such a dark place. A place that felt bleak, hopeless, worthless. I have many memories of thinking that this world would be such a better place without me. I always thought that those thoughts were because I was missing my Daddy so much. Fast forward many years, I get this news about my little brother(the brother that I have always wanted to protect) & my first idea after praying, of course, was to get back on Prozac. So, I went to my GP and told him I needed something to help me get through this. I wanted something to numb this terrible heartache. He gave me the prescription for Prozac & told me it would take 4-5 weeks to kick in and for me to start feeling a difference. I made it to 3.5 or 4 weeks and guess what? Those feelings of hopelessness, despair, helplessness, worthlessness, all came rushing back to me. The thoughts that this world would be a better place if I wasn't part of it came at me like a freight train. The thoughts that I'm not strong enough to deal with this heartache and I wanted to go first were screaming at me ALL day long. I did not want to get out of bed, much less do anything more than that.

Then my Father sent sweet friends to call out of the blue and check on me. Sweet emails for no reason, other to ask how I was doing. Amazing songs would play at just the right time that explained exactly how I was feeling. He guided me to a small group in my homeschool group that is encouraging me and lifting me up in prayer. He placed books in my path to read and review that are deepening my faith.

He has reminded me through friends tweets that if I am still breathing, He still has work for me to do for His kingdom. The medication I was on was not what I needed. More of God was. He has never said that He will not give us more than we can bear, but what He has promised is that we are never alone. That gives me courage to get up and face the day. I am not alone and He has a plan for my life. He has people that I might need to speak to or hug or even just smile at. For that, I am thankful. I am thankful that He chose me as His own. I am thankful that He loves me at all times.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Gratitude Project Day 2!

Today, I am thankful for health insurance! I took Annalee in to the pediatrician earlier this past summer, because she was having a lot of random stomach pain & her sides were hurting. Dr. Stanley ordered an xray of her stomach and the report said there was a fragment of a shotgun pellet in her intestines. He was not concerned & said it would pass. He said to bring her back, if she started complaining more often or if the pain got worse.

Fast forward about four months and she's having stomachaches & side pain again, but this time nausea is playing more of a role than the stomachaches. She's also very tired all of the time and her appetite seems to have shrunk. So, today we visited our new pediatrician. He examined her, did another stomach xray, urinalysis, CBC, checking thyroid levels, glucose, sed rate & lead levels. He suspects that she's dealing with IBS, because we have a family history of it. So, we are playing the waiting game and hoping for some kind of concrete answer, so hopefully we can get her feeling better! Thanks to health insurance, all this cost me was $15! I can't imagine the fees without insurance. Thank you, God!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Prayers and Answered Prayers...

Sunday morning we were back home in Louisiana and went back to our home church. At the end of praise and worship, they always invite people up for prayer. I went up Sunday morning and asked for prayer for my mouth. I specifically asked for one of our pastors to pray that nothing would come out of my mouth that God did not want me to say at a family get together on Sunday afternoon. With everyone in the family being stressed and worried, sometimes things overflow that you do not mean to say. My prayer was that the Holy Spirit would be walking with me every step and only encouraging things would come out of my mouth. Pastor Roy, the pastor praying for me, said that the message actually tied into what I was asking for prayer about that morning. He went up to start the message after praise and worship and one of the first things he said was "It takes wisdom to use words properly.". He used many Proverbs to back that up and stated that we can speak life into people. That is my goal in this life. I want to speak life and not death into people. I want to encourage, not discourage. He warned us to be careful what you say, because you never know how someone might take it. That reminds me of the saying that everyone is fighting a battle. You just never know how someone is going to take something. It might not affect them at all one day and the next, it could cause them to fall apart. He also stated that words that have never been spoken can hurt just as badly. That rings very true for me, because there are many words that I wish I had heard growing up and many questions I wish I could still ask my Daddy. Thank the Lord, I'll be able to ask him in Heaven one day! He quoted Calvin Coolidge and said "I've never been hurt by anything I did not say.". One thing he said that stuck out at me was that no matter how many times you apologize, it's impossible to retract your words. The damage has been done. I totally lost it this afternoon & yelled at Michael. He had done absolutely nothing wrong, I was panicking over life issues & when I was squeezed, ugly came out, instead of good. I am thankful tomorrow is a new beginning and am praying that once again, nothing will come out of my mouth that God does not want to come out of my mouth.

The Gratitude Project

My friend, Nicole, started The Gratitude Project last November to purposely name something you are thankful for every day of November, leading up to Thanksgiving. I joined her last year, but didn't do the greatest job blogging every day. I am going to try to do much better this year! These will not be in any particular order. I do not want to say the exact same things as last year. :) So, today, on this first day of November, I am thankful for my brother. We were told about 6 weeks ago that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer that has spread to the brain. He just turned 31 this past Sunday. He is a loving, tender-hearted guy that is always thinking of how he can help other people. Watching him suffer is the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life. I am very thankful for every minute that I have to spend with him. I am thankful for every text I get from him. I am thankful for every time I talk to him. I am thankful for every trip we are able to make back to Louisiana to see him. I am thankful for every hug. I am thankful for every I love you. I am thankful for every picture of him. I am thankful for all of the memories I have with him. I am thankful that he was there to walk me down the aisle when I got married. I am praying constantly for complete healing for him, but am also trying to make the most of every moment we have and to let him know how thankful I am for him!

My review of Shadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock

Logan Brisco shows up in a small town by the name of Serenity, Texas with every intention of robbing the town blind by conning the residents out of their life savings. He uses wit, charm and charisma to win the residents over. What he didn't count on was meeting Carny Sullivan. She was raised in a carnival setting and had seen all kinds of get rich quick schemes and was pretty well versed in con artists. She did not trust Logan from the beginning. Logan spent more time in Serenity than any other town he had ever stopped in. He felt welcome and accepted in Serenity, a feeling he hadn't found in other places. He started feeling remorse for stealing from the residents. Carny was there at every step, trying to prove to everyone that Logan was a liar and a con man. The longer Logan stayed, the more attached he started getting to the residents. He became pretty attached to Jason, Carny's son. Although, the book turns into a love story, it is not a romance novel. It is a beautiful story that weaves forgiveness and redemption into the story line. This was not a quick read for me. It took me pausing and reading slow and examining my own heart. That was not something I expected when I agreed to read this book. I don't normally find myself doing that reading fiction. It was a nice surprise! I would highly recommend this book. I give it 5 out of 5 stars! A digital copy of this book was provided to me by Zondervan and Shelby Sledge at Shelton Interactive in exchange for an honest review of this book. These views are my own. I am very thankful for the opportunity to read this book. It was the first book I have read by Terri Blackstock. I highly recommend her novels!