Thursday, October 29, 2009

STORY Chicago

I've spent the past two days at STORY 09. The place, the music, the speakers = WOW! I love new info and questions to think about and process. It was a meeting of great minds and thinkers. Some of the thoughts were new, even edgy - a few raised questions for me. But still others were familiar and comforting - I'm happy to realize I'm not the only one thinking some of this stuff! I'll be writing more about it soon. (I think)

The overall theme was - learning how to communicate God's story and our stories better. And to not be afraid of our own stories - the good, the bad and the ugly. It was exactly the inspiration and motivation I needed to finish this darn book I've been writing the past four years. The book is my story of - major trauma, miracles, pain, amazing recovery and limitations that affect me now and will continue to for life.

And Hurricane Reality!

Hurricane Reality is what I've named the emotional and spiritual place I was sucked up in for a year or two post-accident as I tried to come to grips with this ...

 April - 2009

From injuries received in this accident - May 20, 2004, near Valencia, CA

I was a marathon runner pre-accident and woke from being in a medical coma for ten days to find out that I almost died, they almost amputated my leg and even if it healed, I might never walk again, due to that injury and several other severe ones (my pelvis and right femur were also shattered)

Today, I not only walk, but I run again - on my own two feet!

 June - 2009
  (Is there a pirate movie/show somewhere that I can be in?!)

The journey of accepting the lifelong effects was tougher than the physical recovery. In the process, I learned new things about God and myself. I've learned how to live in the tension of celebrating the miracles, while being real and honest about the disappointments of living with this for the rest of my life. I've written most of the story of our trip, the accident and my physical recovery, but I've been scared to write about my emotional and spiritual journey, because some of it is edgy and 'off base.'  STORY has inspired me and given me the courage I need to write my story.

Thank you Ben Arment and the STORY team!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Catching Up

Wow, time flies when you are having fun. I don't know how people that travel keep up with a blog. Even if I have extra time while traveling, I don't think of writing a post- don't know why. Guess I need to retrain my brain.
I had a great weekend  at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference. Beautiful facility. At the beach. Group of sweet women. Funny speaker, Cindy Foor. Heard about keeping our eyes focused on God as we surf the waves of life. Felt God's amazing love. Love the team of 9 wonderful, hardworking women that helped me coordinate the retreat - what a joy to work with them!

I came home Sunday night, spent Monday getting things done at home and repacking. And going to my doctor because I started getting a rash on Saturday night at the retreat and by Monday morning my face was double the size and rashy all over :(  Am now on Prednisone - it's helping, swelling and rash is better, but I still kinda look like a who from whoville. Ugh ... great way to meet new people, everyone keeps saying, "You don't look like your picture on Twitter or Facebook."
That's right, I don't!

Flew to Chicago early Tuesday morning for a full, fun day. Took car, plane, train and bus to get from my house to a snazzy, cool church in Chicago for Cultivate 09.  Right in the heart of the city - they renovated an old warehouse. Met some neat people and learned some new stuff about being real and communicating Jesus to our communities.

Rented a car and drove to the airport to pick up two women that needed a ride (met them on Twitter) Drove 45 miles west of the city to Aurora. Now getting ready to spend the day at STORY.

The fun and excitement continues!
Hopefully today I will remember to take some pictures ...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Winning Wednesday Winner

The winner of "Bloom Where You Are Planted" is ...
 Helen from Chicago, IL

Congratulations Helen!

I'm headed to the 2009 Women of Hope Retreat this weekend. The women from my church and I will be smelling sand and salt water at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference on Long Beach Island, NJ while learning to "Hang on and Surf the Waves of Life." But unfortunately, it also looks like we will be smelling and feeling rain drops :( I'm hoping for even one hour of dry weather to take a walk/run on the beach ... barefooted! After all, I read Born to Run - can't read that and not want to try running barefooted.

I come home Sunday afternoon - then on Tuesday at 6AM I fly to Chicago for  CULTIVATE 09 AND STORY! I'm excited to go to these conferences to be inspired, learn and meet new people. I don't know if and how much I will blog while there, but stay tuned - this blog will return to it's regularly scheduled programing ... soon ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winning Wednesday

Bloom Where You Are Planted
This book is compiled of writings from my sister Rosene, along with some information about her life - it contains her writings I posted earlier this week, along with many more. Rosene lived on earth for 39 years with too many limitations and too much pain, due to Cerebral Palsy. In her twenties, her motto became "Bloom Where You Are Planted" and she did! She put her thoughts in writing, ranging from What is Normal to Her Prayers and many more. She enjoyed people, whether it was her family or her friends. Through the good and bad, she trusted that someday things would be better, so she did what she could with what she had. 

Last year on this date, doctors told us that Rosene would not be able to live (breathe and eat) on her own after complications from a needed surgery. Our first instinct was to do all we could to keep her alive - but Rosene had been clear about her desires to all of us and in a living will, so we honored her wishes to not prolong her life with machines. She passed away the next morning - October 22, 2008. We miss her, but are so thankful she is finally free of pain and limitations. She loved butterflies - so I imagine she's dancing with Jesus with beautiful butterflies all around them!

I compiled this book after her death - I'd read most of her writings, but I found some on her computer that I hadn't seen before. You can preview the first 15 pages of this book at Blurb.
Leave a comment with your email address today and you will be entered in the drawing. I will post the winner on Friday morning.

I wrote about Rosene's life this past week - here are those posts. 
Post 1 Bloom Where You Are Planted
Post 2 What is Normal
Post 3 Her Prayers
Post 4 Friends
Post 5 Trusting

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Sister Rosene - Trusting

If you found your way here while strolling through the carnival, 
Welcome - glad to have you!

Today I'm joining a Blog Carnival for the first time. A blog carnival is when a group of bloggers all write about the same word - today its trust. One blogger is the host for the day and there are links to everyone that has participated on that blog. Today's host is Bridget Chumbley - after you read my post, you can go to her blog to read more posts about trust. 

Trusting - even when we don't like our current situation and we don't know what the future holds. That was what my sister Rosene did. She trusted that God would help her everyday and she trusted that after she died - she'd not only be walking, but be dancing! 
Trust was hard for her at times. Born with Cerebral Palsy, she had more questions than answers over the years. Why did she have all the limitations she did? Why couldn't she walk out to a car and easily open the door and sit down? Why couldn't she pick up a piece of pizza and steadily put it in her mouth as she saw all of us do? Along with CP, why did she have impaired vision and couldn't read anything unless it was in a super-sized font?  The list goes on and on and on ...

Those weren't just her questions, they were mine too. Her and I had numerous conversations about trusting God. She listened to many audio books and teachings, so we were equal partners in the discussions. We didn't always agree. And she was annoyed if I patronized her by being soft on her if I disagreed. Iron sharpens iron and our conversations stretched both of us.

We agreed that God is love and is our creator, so we can always trust that he has our best in mind. We agreed that all things can work together for good, but that doesn't mean all things are good. We agreed that CP was not good! We disagreed about whether he created her with CP or it was a result of living in a fallen world.

We also agreed that there will always be mysteries, we won't always agree or have answers to all our questions. Watching her live life trusting in God and writing about his love and goodness, even with mysteries and unanswered questions helped me trust, especially when I went through tough times.

One definition of Trust is:  confident expectation of something; hope.

Rosene had that and it showed by how she lived her life. She didn't wallow in self-pity, because she trusted that someday things would be better. So while she was here on earth, she ...
bloomed where she was planted
by helping others and doing
what she could with what she had.
She made cards to encourage others and for birthdays and other special events. We tied them on roses for her and then she gave them away.

When she was younger, her hands were steadier and she made colorful items from beads. After hearing a children's choir from India, she sponsored a girl from there. One key at a time, she wrote letters to send along with her support checks. She wrote a story for children about two cars that made a choice to have a good attitude, even when life wasn't good. We had the story illustrated and printed to give as gifts and/or sell, then Rosene used the money for her 'daughter' in India.
Dear Lord,  
You know exactly what I have to offer and it’s not much. I’ve been struggling with the circumstances of my life and sometimes that struggle has led me into some pretty dark moments. I’ve questioned you, I’ve doubted you, I’ve complained to you. I’ve scolded you. I’m amazed you still want to be friends, but I know you do. I’m getting the feeling that you want me to serve you in some way and that’s just crazy. There are so many others who can do much more for you - what could I possibly do? I’m wounded and spiritually limping. How can I show anyone else how to run this race? I’m willing to try, but it will have to be your power working, not mine.    
Your daughter,
That is TRUST!

She began walking and dancing last year on October 22nd. I found the prayer above on her computer after she passed away - it was written a few years ago. Tomorrow is my Winning Wednesday and I will give away a book I compiled with her writings after she passed away. You can preview the first 15 pages of the book on Blurb - leave a comment with your email address today or tomorrow and you will be entered in the drawing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My sister Rosene - Friends

Rosene was a grateful person, often saying Thank You to her family and friends. She knew, in a real way, how much humans need the love and support of others - many times even making a card on her computer to express how much she appreciated someone and what they did for her.

Rosene lived with my parents and also had a room at a nearby personal care home, where she met Faith and the two became great friends. Faith helped Rosene with her computer and read to her. They listened to music and teachings together. A favorite program of theirs was Joni and Friends by Joni Eareckson Tada. Rosene was thrilled to meet Joni a few times at events and/or camps.

Loving Hands
We need each other to hold up our hands!
Just like Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands.
So the children of Israel would be encouraged to keep on
fighting the battle of Amalec,
I too need friends to hold up my hands!

Helping hands
encouraging words
can do so much for the Lord
praying with and for each other
in Christian love can mean so much.
~Rosene Hoover

In Post 2, I mentioned that Rosene was involved in a local church and Bible study - Pastor Ed and Helen Kurtz, along with Rachel and Richard Deeds, were the folks that welcomed Rosene and showered her with love and support.
After the Deeds moved to Belize to pastor a church there, Rosene dreamed of visiting them. So in March 08, my niece and I took her on her first trip outside of the states. So thankful we did, because her health declined soon after that.

Sporting a new hairstyle a few hours after landing in Belize -
needed it for a Belizean feel.

Along with hanging out with the Deeds, we did some sight-seeing and were able to give Rosene some new experiences. I helped her write her thoughts about one adventure after we came home.

Reflections on a Cave Adventure
We went sightseeing to Barton Creek Caves where you explore a cave in a canoe. As we talked about going into the cave, I was excited to try two new things that I'd never done before - canoeing and going inside a cave. It was a slightly bumpy process to get me settled on the cushion in the bottom of the canoe, but once I was in, I was comfortable.

As we floated through the cave, I was amazed at the big, beautiful rocks deep inside of the earth. God created them thousands of years ago and only a small number of people every saw them. Why did He bother even making them? What was the point? Yet, there they stood - strong and beautiful. I decided God had a special purpose in creating them, even if I do not understand it.

I thought about all this, because it is something I have wondered about myself over the years. By reflecting on the rocks, I realized that God also has a purpose for me, even if I do not understand what or why. One joyous thing I thought of is the fact that I have something the rocks do not have - a personal relationship with God. I can understand and feel his never-ending love and care for me. I praise Him for that!
~ Rosene Hoover

This is Post 4 of writings about and from my sister Rosene
Post 3 is here 
Post 2 is here 
Post 1 is here

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Sister Rosene - Her prayers

 This is Post 3, writings from my sister Rosene
Post 1 is here and Post 2 is here

My Prayer

Oh how I want to be guided by your holy wisdom
and led by your steady hand.
So that I can bloom where I’m planted, for you, Lord!
I want to wear the clothes of righteousness
and be dressed with your dressings.
So that I can let my situation be an
inspiration to all for you.
But I fall short miserably!
But thankfully I’m a sinner saved by grace
and a miracle of His mercies!
~Rosene Hoover

Rosene loved the beach - she loved the smell, the wind, the sounds and the vastness of it. In the summer it was a New Jersey beach and in the winter a Florida beach. She was always happy to transfer from her wheelchair to the lifeguard's beach chair because that meant she would be able to get much closer to the water.

One is not happy if they are not like an ever-changing wave,
going and growing, being directed by the Master of all.  ~Rosene Hoover


Thy Word is a Lamp unto my Feet and a Light unto my Path!!   

It is so incredible that the Lord delights in me!
How ironic that he'll rejoice over me with shouts of joy.
God, the best way for you to get through to us was
for you to live and suffer with us and die for me.
When you only wanted to offer us pure love,
but what did we do?
We turned it into conditional love.
I will give thanks to you, Oh Lord.
Your love is so deep!

When I cry, you weep!
Even through all my pain and discouraging days,
You are there and comfort me!!!
How priceless to be a precious child that delights in the Lord!
God’s love is forever and always the same!
It doesn’t depend on your looks or your name.
How incredible is that thought!
Believing in God is all that is required and
by you our desires are satisfied.
~Rosene Hoover

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Sister Rosene - What is Normal?

This is post 2 about My Sister Rosene - Post 1 is here

What is Normal
You may say I’m not normal
But really what is normal?
Man’s idea of normal is an
Able-bodied and sound-minded person.
But Jesus measures you by your heart.

Jesus gave all humans one thing in common.
Our hearts need true love.
A heart that breaks and sinks with despair.
A heart that skips a beat at each treasured adventure.
A heart that cries for true love,
Love from above.

Normal is not in how much you know;
But how much you grow.
You’re really not normal
Until you give Jesus your heart!
Try your best and he’ll never depart.
 ~ Rosene Hoover

 Precious Child
I don’t know why this sound mind is locked in this disabled body.
But I thank God for a good mind and
it helps to remember I’m created with a special purpose.
And Jesus always comprehends, even when others don’t understand.
When I think this life has no value and the morals are all wrong!
It seems so pointless to keep on going.
Then Jesus whispers to me,
“I know you can comprehend even when
others don’t think you can understand.”
“Remember you are only accountable to me!"
"You’re my child, my precious child and I love you!”

I’m a ‘well-known’ person - loved unconditionally!!
Though I’m not a star or am not popular - I’ll go far cause
I’m a star on God’s stage, where the light of His son will lead me home.
I am seen and I am heard by the greatest producer!!
~ Rosene Hoover

Rosene usually had a smile - I received a note about her from a friend yesterday and she said, "My first thought about Rosene was that she was always smiling and I remember her as being happy all the time!"

This is true ... well, almost. Yes, Rosene often had a smile, but she did struggle with her circumstances. She generally did that alone or with family and close friends. She loved people and was often frustrated by her limitations to communicate clearly. She knew what she wanted to say and she often had good things to say - but her facial muscles were affected by the CP and her speech was slurred. Even those of us close to her had a hard time understanding her sometimes.

So the computer became her outlet, though even that was a long, slow process. She painstakingly typed one letter at a time with her steadiest hand. She'd write a few lines, then have 'Curtis' read it to her, make changes, ask someone how to spell difficult words and repeat those steps multiple times. Once she has some thoughts down, she would have my mom or I edit it for her. We would give suggestions if something didn't flow well, but mostly we left her writing as she wrote it.

All my many disabilities are so frustrating!
I like music because it takes me out of the confinement of my life.
Ever since I was a little girl, when I was by myself,
I pretended to hold a mic and be a singer,
If I could, I would be a star on a stage.
My fondest dreams are to be a singer for Him!
So I’ll keep reminding myself of that Heavenly choir,
where I will sing in the sweet angel’s choir forever more!!
Oh I just can’t wait!!!
Though I may be disabled from some things in this life,
but not from real, true, unequal love and the gift of eternal life!!
I feel sorry for some of those so-called normal people
that try so hard to buy other’s affection.
I’m so glad that the ticket to Heaven cannot be earned or bought,
but only be received by seeking and believing in Jesus,
who makes me a true millionaire!!
When I meet him in the air on that glorious day
all my disabilities will be invisible!!!
~ Rosene Hoover

Over the past eight years or so, she became involved in a local Bible Study and house church. This was a positive thing in her life - she loved the people and what she learned there. The pastor, his wife and people in the church showered her with love and care and from that she understood God's love in a whole new way. They drove her to and from church, Bible study and a local community center, called The Torch. She loved the worship time at these events. Singing was difficult, but she felt free as she didn't worry about people understanding her, she knew God understood her, so she freely waved flags or tapped a tambourine.

This Sunday evening I will be speaking at The Torch. They've asked me to share my story about recovering from massive injuries (which gave me that leg) I received from an accident 5 years ago. We didn't plan my speaking this Sunday because it's around the time Rosene passed away, we picked a Sunday that worked for them and for me, but I'm happy it falls on this week.

I spent three months in a wheelchair, she spent years in one. After one doctor's visit, I complained about needing the chair another six weeks. She quietly said, "What's six weeks?" Promptly changed my attitude! And then she was almost as excited as I was when I didn't need it anymore. She had this bumper sticker on her electric wheelchair ...
Don't Whine - But Shine!

If you knew Rosene, feel free to share memories of her in the comments.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Sister Rosene - Bloom Where You Are Planted

I have a vague memory of when I was almost four. Not many memories, just one day. A day when I was trying to understand what my older sisters were so excited about. There's going to be another one of us - what did they mean?

"That's why Mom has been gone all day," one of them said, being older and wiser, they knew things I didn't.

"She's at the hospital getting a new baby!" (that's how things were explained in that day)

A baby? That surprised me. I had one brother and three sisters and it never dawned on me that would change.

Everyone was excited and talked at once. 
"They'll be home tonight."
"It's a girl!"
"What's her name?"
"Mom hasn't quite decided yet - either Thelma, Laura or Rosene."

My memory of that day ends there - I don't remember Mom and the baby coming home, just remember the excitement when we found out we had a baby sister.

That baby sister became a woman who taught me many things over the years. Rosene was the name chosen for her and it suited her perfectly. Her smile was as bright as a rose, even when life was hard.

She liked her name and she liked roses. She was impressed with the fact that roses bloomed and were fragrant, even if life gave them thorns and her goal was to do the same.

Her motto was "Bloom where you are planted." 

And she did - even though her life was hard.

During Rosene's first year, my parents and doctors discovered that she would have physical challenges from a lack of muscle coordination over her whole body caused by Cerebral Palsy.*

Along with sweet smelling baby lotion and cute pink dresses, life now included many other things.

Though my family lived a somewhat sheltered life as traditional Mennonites, that didn't stop my parents from seeking out doctors and options to help her as much as possible. Over the years, this involved many things, including leg braces, surgery, custom strollers, daily therapy and exercises. Though she fell more than other toddlers, she learned to walk when fifteen months old. She had no mental challenges, so she learned to talk when others do, but her speech was slurred.
With time, it was also determined that she had severely impaired vision. (a separate issue from the CP) A surgery corrected her crossed-eyes, but nothing could be done to improve her vision. Even with all the challenges limiting her, she worked hard and was determined to do things herself. The clear, bright function of her mind was noticed by her teachers and anyone that took time to talk to her.
Though her walking was unsteady and she almost always had bruises on her knees from falling, she wanted to walk for most activities. When she fell, she would pick herself back up and keep going.
Life for Rosene started to decline physically in her late twenties and she began to use a wheelchair regularly. But she was always learning and stretching herself mentally and she learned to use a computer. A mouse wasn't an option with her impaired vision and unsteady hands, so she memorized how often to click the correct arrow key to get to the right place. She had a talking software program, that she affectionately named Curtis, that said each letter as she typed it. Since verbal communication was a challenge, the computer gave her a place to express her feelings and emotions and a tool to communicate her thoughts about God and life. She created cards and wrote poems and sayings.

God didn’t promise that life would be fair.
Only that He would be there to care! 

During 2008, Rosene's health declined when she began having excruciating pain in her feet, hands and arms. On October 16, 2008 Rosene had surgery to stabilize the vertebrates that were pinching nerves and causing the pain. Five days later on October 22, she passed on to be with Jesus.

I'll be posting some of her writings over the next week in memory of
a rose that bloomed brightly where she was planted.

Here's the other posts I wrote about Rosene ...

Post 2 What is Normal
Post 3 Her Prayers
Post 4 Friends
Post 5 Trusting

*Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that encompasses a group of non-progressive, non-contagious conditions that cause physical challenges in human development. CP mostly affects body movement and muscle coordination. There is no known cure for CP.

Winning Wednesday Winner

The Winner for Winning Wednesday is
Amy Neff

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winning Wednesday

UPDATE - Winning Wednesday will be kept open for entries until midnight tonight (Thursday) Yesterday I commented on the author Margaret Feinberg Facebook Fan page - last night she commented back and said that she will put a link on her page for any of her readers to see it and enter. 

Here's how the home page of Scouting the Divine describes the book -  
A woman living a modern life. A Bible full of ancient truths. Join critically acclaimed author Margaret Feinberg as she invites readers on the spiritual adventure of a lifetime. In her quest to better understand what God wants to communicate through the Bible, Feinberg explores the symbols and metaphors within the stories. To discover these deeper meanings, she spends time with a shepherdess in Oregon, walks the fields with a farmer in Nebraska, explore a vineyard of California, and talks with a veteran beekeeper in Colorado. Along the way, she gains deeper insight about how scripture applies to life today and discovers answers to puzzling questions. Do sheep really know their shepherd’s voice? How often does a grapevine need to be pruned? What does it mean for a land to be described as overflowing with honey?

My Search for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey 
by Margaret Feinberg

In Scouting the Divine, Margaret Feinberg connects two worlds - the writings from centuries ago with current day activities. She travels across the country and spends time with a grape grower, a shepherdess, a beekeeper, and a farmer. She joins their world for a day or two, getting dirty and muddy (and I don't think it was all just mud) while hearing fresh insights about familiar Scriptures. She's impressed as she realizes that God didn't just give us abstract ideas to read, but he gave us real examples of the way nature works, and stories about the way life is.

One interesting thing I took away is that while both hard work and rest are required to grow and produce wine, wool and honey, there's more than one way to do most things. So one person might have one beehive and another one a thousand beehives - it they are diligent in their work, both will get honey. Its a good reminder that each individual and/or church's journey with God will not be exactly the same - and that's okay.

I enjoyed the stories and the insight in the book. When I ordered the book, she was offering a 2 for 1 special and I'm glad she was. I liked the book and want to keep a copy, plus I want to share a copy with you.

Please leave your name in the comments section below - I will select and post a winner on Friday morning.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hope raises its voice ...

Hope. Hope?
My hope is in the creator - the creator of the world and of you and me. There’s many mysteries I don’t have answers to (and to my surprise the list of mysteries and questions is increasing instead of decreasing) but I still have hope.
Without hope, it's impossible to keep going on this roller-coaster of life. Many days, I’ve lived on the thought that, "Tomorrow will be better than today" - that's hope. Hope in something I don't see, but I believe in.

                                                             The Hope of a New Day - Janet '09

I recently read these descriptions about hope. I love them and want to share them because I've had a health concern recently and cancer was on my mind, plus October is a month that most of us think about cancer more, since it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In Erma Bombeck's book called “I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise - Children Surviving Cancer” - a group of kids who had cancer were asked to describe "hope" as if it were an animal. Here are a few of the responses: 
  • Hope is about two and and half feet tall.
  • He is covered with fur and it's fluffy.
  • Hope giggles.
  • When it talks, you're the only one who can hear it.
  • Hope raises its voice sometimes ... to talk louder than fear.
  • Occasionally, Hope is shy and likes to hide.
  • If you don't take good care of it - it can die.
  • It will come to you only when you need it.
  • Hope has offsprings like any other animal. They're called 'Hopelets.' You don't keep them. You share them with other people who need one.
Kids can be profound. I found something in each of them that made me say, “Yes, that’s right!” I think my favorite is about Hope raising its voice to be louder than fear. After reading those kid’s descriptions, I wrote my own. My descriptions for hope are -
  • Hope is as comfortable as a soft, fluffy blanket.
  • Hope helps you breathe.
  • Hope can be knowledge - such as: knowing broken bones heal.
  • Hope is priceless.
Do you have hope? What does hope feel like to you? 
How would you describe hope?

(Edited and reposted)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Saying

Rest. Rest. 
Rest in God's love. 
The only work you are required to do    
is to give your most intense attention to 
His still, small voice within. - Madame Jeanne Guyon

This quote brought comfort to me during the second year of recovery after receiving nasty injuries. My early recovery was fast and I could literally see my wounds heal week to week, but a year later, the recovery slowed dramatically and was mostly internal. I couldn't see my nerves or energy level heal, I just felt the negative effect of them - pain and fatigue.
I was a task person - feeling worthwhile when working or accomplishing something. So I was frustrated and depressed that I couldn't do what I did before, especially run, and that I had to rest periodically throughout the day. Thanks to book suggestions and wise counsel from a mentor, I learned how to rest in God's love and give my body the time it needed to heal.

Step by step (literally) I healed - and I know that even though my body doesn't require the rest now it did during that time - I as a whole want and need times of rest. Sundays are that time for me - I slow down, go to church, connect with family and friends, read or watch the clouds go by.

Do you give yourself time to rest?
And if so, when/what will you do?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday's Story - Roadtrip #2

On Saturdays, I post a portion of my stories from the once-in-a-lifetime roadtrip we took in 2003 and 2004. I'm working towards writing/publishing a book in the future that would include these stories, plus more. 

Saturday's Story - Roadtrip #1

I’m not sure we would ever have left Heaven on earth (the Florida Keys) if we had not planned on meeting my parents in Sarasota towards the end of January, where they spend a few weeks every winter. I wanted to spend some time at the beach with my mom and sister, but the weather was cool and cloudy during our stay there. After a few days of hanging around my parent’s house, we started making plans to hit the road again.

"Mom, check this out!" Joseph called, interrupting my reading. "It's the largest paintball field in Florida. Can we go to it?"

Joshua and Joseph had been avid paintball players for a few years. Paintball guns are small and easily fit in the storage areas under the motorhome, so the boys made sure they were packed and they wanted to find a field to play at in every state. 

"When can we go? It's in Ocala, is that near here?" His questions came so fast, I didn't even try to answer right away.

When he finally slowed down to take a breath, I said, "When you're done searching, give me the laptop, then I'll figure out if we can do it."

"Here," he said, dumping the laptop on me. "I know this is the paintball field I want to go to in Florida. Wayne's World - it's the biggest and the best! There's no other one like it. Can we go today?"

"Slow down, buddy. You're going to hyperventilate soon." Taking the laptop, I found directions and realized Ocala was not too far off our planned route.  Actually, I used "planned route" loosely, we really didn't have a planned route, just a general idea of where we wanted to go, so why not Ocala?

We left my parents and headed towards Wayne's World with a few excited boys. A few hours later, we arrived at the "biggest, baddest paintball field." It had a large grass area nearby suitable to park the motorhome for the day. Joshua and Joseph were thrilled with the size of the field (huge) and the number of people to play with (about 50). They played from 9 to 4.
Jonathan and I went to the closest mall and Jerry hung out, watched them and took a nap or two. He also tried out his new toy - a remote-controlled airplane. He didn't have a hobby in the last decade, due to lack of time and money. He always had interest in remote-controlled airplanes and when we came across a model shop a few days earlier, he finally gave in and bought himself one. It was about 5' long with a 5' wing span. We settled the 'where will we store it issue' by strapping it to the ceiling of the motorhome above our bed.

Life settled into a comfortable routine with us looking at the map and the weather forecast to determine where we would go the next week. We loved having a different part of the United States as our backyard to explore each week. We stopped at each state’s information center and gathered brochures, along with exploring the internet. I encouraged the boys to find something in each state that interested them and then we choose the best route/plan for that state from everyone’s options.

Jerry and I loved the rest and restoration of this lifestyle, compared to being business owners. and managers. It was interesting how each day did fill itself. Jerry had cleaner hands than ever - from the dishes he washed. Motorhomes come with many of the frills of home, but not dishwashers and we agreed since I did most of the cooking, he would clean up. Between grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning (yes, motorhomes get dirty also) and helping the boys with schoolwork, I don't know how I ever had time to run a business. Jerry also had on-going maintenance to do on the motorhome. It was a 1995 vehicle, containing a house, so there were always a few odds and ends that needed his attention. He enjoys hands-on work, especially in this scenario, where he had the time to fix or update what's needed it. 
We sampled all types of campgrounds, ranging from regular mobile home parks with an overgrown site or two in the back to ‘resorts’ where the entrance, landscaping and pool with hot tub rivaled 5-star hotels’ amenities. We also ‘camped’ in Wal-mart parking lots about once a week en-route to our next destination. Smart move on Wal-mart’s part to allow RV's to stay free in the parking lot for a night or two - we never left without spending at least $100 for food and supplies.
We ate at restaurants a few times a week, but most of the time we cooked in the motorhome. There were a few adjustments, as all changes in life have, but nothing we couldn’t handle with sunshine and a few days at the beach.

(gosh, I would love to do that trip again!)

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize 2009 

goes to President Barack Obama 

"for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy  

and cooperation between peoples"

Most of us were surprised to wake up to this news today. I stand fairly alone in my family and circle of friends (actually even in my own house) when I say anything good about President Obama, so I tend not to say much, but today is different - I'm going to voice my thoughts on this.

I don't think Obama is Jesus (or a 'savior') but I also don't think he is the anti-Christ. I find President Obama to be like other people in the world - whether they are people I know well or not. I agree with some of what they say/do, but can't believe some other things they say/do. 

One example, I am not an animal person - sorry, just am not. Doesn't make me a mean person or a serial killer, I just don't like them too close to me and especially don't want one licking my face (dog, cat or anything else) I am not mean to them and don't like if anyone else is either, but in my perfect world, animals would all be in the wild, on a farm or in a zoo. And I have great friends that I agree with on many things. These are good people, wise people - who have good hygiene, but they have a dog and/or cat in the house - hello, what's up with that? (sorry friends, love you anyhow;)

That's how I feel about President Obama - I agree with some of what he says and does, but not everything. I don't cry easily, but I cried when he was elected. I was moved by the major step it was for him, his family and our country. I've been thrilled with some of the decisions he's made and sad with some others. But mostly I wait ... I wait to see what the next few years hold. I give him the benefit of the doubt at this time on his many initiatives, plans and programs. Good things take time. 

Which is why I'm surprised he was given the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Prize own website says, "Every year since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace." 

That sounds like it should be given for achievements already done, not in the process. He's taken some major steps in bringing people together and promoting peace - but he's not even in the middle of his presidency yet! I think it is a premature award and I hope it doesn't take time and energy away from the work he needs to do. 

And I hope that someday he will accomplish many of his goals and then his prize will be even better than a medal - it will be the fact that more people live in peace because of his achievements. 

Should he or shouldn't he have won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Your thoughts?

Winning Wednesday Winner

And the winner of "A Thousand Splendid Suns is" ....
Deborah from Tennessee!

*Need an address Deborah

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

October Book Club

Book Club was about food as much as it was about reading this month. As I said in yesterday's post, we read Julie & Julia this month, which it a memoir about Julie Powell (the author) cooking her way through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (MtAoFC) cookbook. So the evening had a French focus.
The Hors· d'oeuvres - French Wine - Gimlets
(Julie often drank gimlets while cooking)

The Flowers
(not necessarily French, but what's growing in my gardens)

Each person brought a dish from the MtAoFC.
The Menu:
Potage Parmentier (Leek/Potato Soup)
Beef Bourguigon
Quiche Lorraine
Pumpkin and White Beans Puree
Zucchini w/Shallots
Tomatoes Grillees au Four
Cherry Clafoutis (cherry flan)
Poires Cardinals (pears w/raspberry puree)

Julie lived in a tiny apartment, so my small dining room fit the evening

The Book: As usual - a few loved it, a few didn't and most fell somewhere in the middle. And, also as usual, a few didn't read it
(but that's okay, we love you anyhow!)

Positive comments -
  • entertaining writing style
  • I could be friends with her
  • loved her sarcasm and humor
  • liked her commitment to her marriage
  • she had amazing discipline to reach her goal (cooking all the recipes in MtAoFC in one year)
Negative comments -
  • too much strong language
  • she's too young to whine so much!
  • would like to try her food, but won't want to eat in her dirty house
  • bored with some of it - too many details about chopping onions/etc.
  • committed to her own marriage, but very liberal with friends and their marriages and/or relationships - even encouraging a friend to sleep with a married man
Observations -
  • she cooked and ate brains ... and was so nonchalant about it!
  • she seemed 'empty' like she was looking for something to fulfill her
  • can't imagine doing major cooking almost every night after working a full day
  • it was wonderful that Eric (her husband) always did the dishes - yeah for Eric!
  • surprised she cooked the recipes in order and didn't jump around - which meant they had beef for days on end, then chicken, then fish, etc.
  • interesting that Julia was not impressed with Julie's project and sad that she passed away before the book or movie were released, she might have changed her mind
  • how do French people live so long with so much butter/cream in their diets?
  • Let's add up how much butter we used in the recipes tonight - no, let's not!
  • Gimlets are good!
Good-looking October Club!

Winning Wednesday

"A good book should leave you with many experiences
and slightly exhausted at the end.
You live several lives while reading it." ~William Styron

This week, Winning Wednesday is a book I read last year that I want to share with someone - "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini (he also wrote The Kite Runner) It is a good book and I experienced another culture in a way I hadn't before and I was exhausted at the end because I wanted to help every woman in Afghanistan. I wanted to fix their situation! Not that I think their world should look like mine, but I was sad at the centuries of traditions those women are burdened with and the degrading treatment and/or abuse that is a part of too many of their lives.
Well, you and I both know there are many facets involved in bringing hope to an individual, much less a country and/or culture. I won't be making amazing progress doing that anytime soon, but I think about how far the ripples from one drop of water go and I wonder ...
One Drop - Janet '07

Reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" opened my eyes to other world, taking my view beyond the pictures on the evening news. And if I allow it, I'll be more compassionate because I will better understand individuals with a different life than my own. Individuals created by the same creator as me - and in his image, just like I am.

Do you want to read it? Leave your name below for a chance to win it.

Also, I would love to hear your thoughts about how far one 'drop' can ripple. Have you seen that in your own life or someone elses?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

My bookclub

I've had a bookclub that meets at my house off and on over the past few years. Some of the readers stayed the same, some have changed - one thing that has never changed is that it's always been fun and interesting. This month we read ...

Julie and Julia:

My Year of Cooking Dangerously
365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

"Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto."

I have not seen the movie, but plan to when it comes out on DVD. I didn't really care for the book until about 2/3 of the way through it. By the end, I liked Julie and the book. More about the book tomorrow after hearing the other's thoughts tonight.
Since it's all about cooking, tonight's meeting is about reading and eating! Each person is bringing a dish from the cookbook tonight. My dining room is small, so I debated asking one of the others to host it, but decided we've fit the mood of the book better, because Julie lived in a small apartment during her year of cooking. This is my table now, with "Julie & Julia" and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" - check back for pictures tomorrow to see what it looks like tonight as we
"Eat, Drink and Be Merry"

Prayers Needed for Ruth Jackins

I received sad news yesterday. Ruth Jackins, a woman that is from a local community group I was a part of during the time I taught the boys at home was hit by a car. Ruth and her friend were out for an evening walk around 7:20, when Ruth was hit. Ruth's injuries are critical - updates can be found here ...

My heart is sad for Ruth, her family and for the driver of the car - each one is in a tough place. Please join me in praying for all of them.

I'm not writing the following based on the accident mentioned about, because I do not know details about speed, lights, reflective vests, etc. in Ruth's accident - I'm writing this to try and prevent the next one.
Please be careful on the roads, whether you are on foot, on bike or in a vehicle, especially at dusk. I think of this all the time, because I walk, run, bike and drive on the roads. I like to exercise on trails and I think this will make me head to the trails even more.
When on foot or bike, especially at dusk, wear the proper safety features - reflective vests and/or lights. Both of these are low-cost and sold at most departments stores in sporting goods.
Any driver at any age can be a sloppy driver, but I really think of the care needed when I'm driving with my 16-year old driver - most new drivers have no idea how careful a driver needs to be when someone is on the side of the road.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Review of "Find Your Strongest Life"

In "Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently" Marcus Buckingham attempts to teach women how to have content and strong lives. He does this by interviewing a number of women, some are successful and happy, others are not. He then tries to determine what makes the difference.

I'm into reading stories right now, so to read a self-help book was hard, I had to force myself to get through it. Some of the women's stories were interesting and I gained some insights from them. But I had a hard time staying focused on his analog about the stories. At the end of each chapter, Marcus has a few "points to take away from this chapter." Those were the best part of the book.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Saying

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing,
is giving up on being perfect and beginning
the work of becoming yourself."
~ Anna Quindlen

Friday, October 02, 2009

Book Winner!

Yesterday was a busy day, so I waited until this morning to pick the
winner for my first Winning Wednesday!

The Book:
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:
What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

Twelve names were written on pieces of paper and put in a dish.
My 19 year old son had the honor of picking one before he headed to class. (a mechanical engineer in the making)
He mixed them up and selected one.

Drum Roll please!

The Winner:
Billy Coffey*

Thank you all for entering!
In honor of the south (Billy Coffey is from Virginia, which is kind of south) y'all come back now!
Winning Wednesday - next week, same time, same place.

*need your address, Billy