Friday, April 21, 2017

Prove Me Wrong

Prove Me Wrong is a song sung by Mandisa. I started watching the lyric video, but stopped before I reached the midway point. It was beautiful, and it sang to my heart; but I don't want to cry today. But because, after all these longs years, I denied myself a chance to cry at all my heartbreaks, thinking that I had to stay strong for my kids, for my family, for myself even, in the end all I did was damage my own heart. Like the song says, prove me wrong. And I was. I was proven wrong that I had to be strong. I should have cried; because then I would have emptied my soul out to God and it wouldn't have taken so long to heal.

I didn't cry that much. I held it in when I lost my daughter. I remember holding her little body that never took a breath. Days later I dreamed of her. My son ran through the door. It was so bright outside that the sunlight spilled into the small living room of our single wide. There at the door was my little blonde headed daughter, smiling and with such life in her eyes. She waved and went outside to play.
That was a healing dream, I believe. God gave me a chance to see her alive and happy.

When my grandmother died a couple years after, I didn't cry. I was lonely because this was my favorite grandmother, the one who was always there for me and who I spent a lot of time with, be it watching a baseball game or taking her to the doctor. Shortly after, I awoke from sleep (or thought I did) and there she was sitting at the foot of my bed with a deck of cards. She spoke to me (I don't remember what was said) and started dealing the cards to play rummy. God allowed a healing dream and one that gave me one last time with my grandma.

When Jimmy died, I became a widow. Before we married he told me that God would take him home while he was doing something that he loved. He loved being a firefighter. He knew it was his calling. And he was killed in the line of duty. I don't remember days after that, nor weeks. It is all a blur, even today. But I do remember my daddy's hands comforting me throughout the ordeal. 

Two months later, my dad died. I couldn't save him. I can't remember exactly what happened. My mind has blocked the memory, but I refused to cry. I had boys to take care of, and my mom to be strong for, so I couldn't allow myself to cry.

For months I dreamed of Jimmy and Daddy. Soon Jimmy said farewell in a dream. I was healed from that heartache. But I never faced my dad's death. Even today, six years later. I can't listen to the song "Daddy's Hand" without breaking down. I still dream of him from time to time. 

I've experienced an ectopic pregnancy and lost that child. I miscarried again five months later. I am not able to have another child, and that's a loss to me. I didn't cry. Why should I?, I thought. Then I dreamed, many nights, lots of dreams. I held a baby, I cuddled a baby, I called him John Arno (because that would have been the boy's name), I loved him. Then I would wake up.

God gave me a chance with all these dreams to be able to heal. Sometimes I allowed it. Sometimes I haven't. I still question why He took my father away? Why He didn't allow me to have one more child? 

 And  now this song by Mandisa says it all. His ways are higher, and I may never understand. But I can lean on Him, and maybe someday in the loneliest hour, in solitude, I may allow myself to cry and fully empty my heart out to Him, the One who knows. That day may be today....

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month and unfortunately most people do not understand what "autism" means. Even myself cannot fathom the depths of this condition, but I have met two extremely handsome young men and one beautiful little girl with autism.

Just a little over two years ago my son befriended a boy around his age who was diagnosed with ADHD but also with autism. I'm guessing the autism was slight, but it had him where he seemed always a little behind in maturity compared to the other boys. Noah was a delight to have around. And I quickly learned how to deal with his conditions and how to help him respond to our lifestyle at our home. Sadly, he no longer comes around and we miss him at times, but that year and a half made a difference in not only my life, but that of my son's.

 About five years ago I started attending my husband's church. We were engaged at the time. Although the Pentecostal church was quite different than what I was used to, I became enraptured over a little girl who had autism. Sometimes I felt as though she was misunderstood, but for some reason my son and I developed a small rapport with her. She loved colors and I tried to encourage her to communicate through her coloring. For a while she did and began to hang around me. I loved her and thought she was so precious. Sadly, once we left the church, I never saw her again.

Six years ago I met fellow author D'Ann Renner. She has a son with autism. This was my first time ever seeing a child with this condition. At first I didn't understand it or knew what to make of it, but with D'Ann's help her son, Luke, and I could carry on a limited conversation. I even received a hug from him. 

It takes courage and strength to raise a child with autism. This isn't some mental illness or something to despise or consider a sad life happening. No. This is an opportunity for others. Each person I met saw life in a different way, an innocent way. Watching through their eyes opened mine. Because of their lack of communication skill, which varies greatly, it is difficult to raise these children at times. To me though, the women and men who have autistic children have a hidden blessing. They see more to the life God wants us to lead than any other person ever could.

To celebrate April Autism Awareness Month, I would like to share with you the story D'Ann wrote; a story inspired by her son, Luke. Follow the link at the end to read more about D'Ann Renner on Rebel Book Reviews. Click on the title if you would like the option to purchase a copy of the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Dancing-Shadows-DAnn-Renner/dp/1620201127/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492493569&sr=8-1&keywords=dancing+from+the+shadows

"In her own unique way of writing, D'Ann brought forth a truly wonderful tale. From the first page I was captured and pulled into a story that gave me a heart-rendering and intimate look inside life with a special needs child. To make it even more potent, D'Ann Renner shows, not just tells about, life with an adopted special needs child. From laughter to tears and back again, this book is more than just a story...it's a look into true family love.

The title, to me, is most profound. Life with a special needs can be hard, at most times frustrating. It can feel as though you are living in the shadow of the world, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Her portrait of the heartache, the joy, and the wonder of life is an eyeopener to a world most cannot even imagine, and it is a definite must read."


http://rebelbookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/03/dann-renners-dancing-from-shadows.html

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1 1/2 Weeks of Books

It isn't everyday that I can sit down with a book and read it without interruption. I was able to squeeze in the time to read a couple of books, though. 

Sometimes I don't even the luxury to be able to read a book; but, this past week and a half I have been quite ill and without the strength to move around a lot I was given the opportunity to read. To my amazement, I came across some really spectacular books!

In no particular order here is a list of what I read. If you click on the title it will take you to the publishers' website where you can learn more about the author, the book, and where to buy it. If you can't purchase the book and prefer to read library books, then I hope you will encourage your local library to order these books. Believe me, these are truly excellent books to read.

1) 
http://ambassador-international.com/books/following-wherever-he-leads/
 
2)
 
3)
 
4) 
 
5) 
 
6) 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The High Calling of Motherhood

Chimene is the the Founder and President/CEO of Passion4Moms, a non-profit ministry that is dedicated to bless, encourage, and inspire mothers.  Chimene’s passion for the family and seeing mother’s succeed in their role as a wife and mother, led Chimene to begin this ministry in 2011. Passion4Moms offers yearly conferences bringing in a variety of professional speakers covering the mom as a whole person providing continuing education for marriage, parenting, spiritual growth, health/nutrition, fashion/decor, offering practical tools for success. Chimene also frequently teaches a six-week marriage course at their church. In addition to teaching marriage classes and speaking engagements, Chimene works 1 on 1 with women in a coaching role providing tools for success in their marriages, parenting, and other relationships as well as life skills for women.

 She is the author of the nonfiction book titled The High Calling of Motherhood which is published by Ambassador International.

~Does motherhood matter?


Have we lost our sense of identity, especially through social media, which can pour both accolades and acid into our hearts and minds? Does our role as a mother have any lasting purpose? What about the hard stuff? Do we self-medicate more than we self-motivate to fight for our families? If we don’t have a sense of purpose, how will our children?
In The High Calling of Motherhood, Chimene will challenge and inspire you. Motherhood can change the trajectory of a generation as we discover the authority that God has given mothers. Chimene desires to see mothers experience the joy that comes in the value and worth that God places on motherhood.
~ [from the back of the book]

Below is my review of the book and where you can connect with Chimene Shipley Dupler. 


As I'm writing this review, I am still reading the book. This isn't a "sit down and read at once" style of book, but an insightful piece that is meant to be savored piece by piece. It's chocolate in word-form.

Chimene Shipley Dupler wrote a compelling book about the importance and honor of being a mother. Throughout the book she stresses the battle we wage against culture and a society that sees motherhood as demeaning or less important. We are encouraged, enlightened, and strengthen by her words to see that we are important. We are the "bricklayers" in our children's lives.

The High Calling of Motherhood is such an in-depth, honest, and profound book that will speak to a host of women.


Many passages spoke to me, such as these:
  • "Motherhood is an honor. It is a responsibility. It is a gift. Motherhood is a high calling from God."

How many times do we feel as though we are "just a mom"?

  • "Fear breeds insecurity. Insecurity breeds comparison. Comparison takes our eyes off Jesus."

Too many times we find ourselves comparing our lives as mothers to what others post on social media, failing to realize that social media only shows "the good, the fun, the highlights" and not reality.

This passage really spoke to me:
  • "When we understand who we are in Christ, this revolutionizes our identity and role as mothers. We begin to parent with an eternal perspective. We begin to stay focused on our goal for parenting. We develop a game plan for success. We understand who we are, which frees us from the bondage of fear and comparison to our fellow mothers."

How powerful is that statement? How freeing is that statement? How wonderful is that statement?

In The High Calling of Motherhood, so many truths are made evident. We are raising royalty. We belong to the One True King and as such, our children are royalty. It is our blessing and duty to raise them to serve their King.

I encourage everyone to take a chance and read Chimene Shipley Dupler's The High Calling of Motherhood. It's a true gift to every mom.


 Below is a list of place where readers can connect with the author. And click on the book's title anywhere in this post to pre-order the book.

Chimene Shipley Dupler:
www.facebook.com/chimeneshipleydupler
www.twitter.com/chimenedupler  www.instagram.com/passion4moms
www.instagram.com/chimeneshipleydupler

The High Calling of Motherhood releases early May 2017 in paperback at all major retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also purchase The High Calling of Motherhood through Ambassador International’s online store

We are hosting a "Winner's Choice" giveaway for blog followers.
The winner will get to choose between a custom made “World Changer” necklace by The Giving Keys or two tickets to attend the Passion4Moms conference being held in DC, May 5-6, 2017.



The High of Calling of Motherhood Blog Tour Giveaway

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Uplifting Others

It has been something that rankles me, how other Christian authors consider this profession as a competition. I would think this if I were in the secular, aka general, market where I was up against other authors and trying to make my name known and my book sold; but, I am in a Christian market where our first and foremost thought, at least I would assume it to be, is to glorify Jesus Christ and lift up His name.

When Paul wrote his letters and traveled from place to place, he did not begrudge Peter, Barnabas, or Timothy as they traveled to places, too. No. He lifted them up in prayer knowing that what they did benefited all and glorified Christ. He didn't see these men as competition, but as brothers.

That's how I see my fellow CBA authors: as brothers and sisters in Christ. When I share their books, their successes, their posts, their news, I am sharing a portion of the gospel so that it will reach others. I'm thrilled to share those books that I have read and loved. And if a person chooses their book over mine, I am happy for that author. Do I feel saddened that I wasn't chosen?

Well, yeah. A wee bit. But it may be that my book wasn't what was needed for that person, but the other book was. And that is what I am elated to rejoice in.

To me, by sharing another author's book, I am sharing a message that glorifies Christ and may help another. As Christians we are to uplift each other. And for each act of kindness, blessings unfold exponentially. (which I see like this: for 1 act, there are 2 blessings. For 2 acts, there are 4 blessings. For 4 acts, there are 16 blessings. For 16 acts, there are 256 blessings, and so on.)

We may never see each and every blessing, but they are there. And if you really sit back and think, helping out another makes you feel good, and I mean really good. You are happier. Everything starts to look brighter. That is because we are concentrating on the positive, and not the negative.

So when you get a chance to help out another author, do it. Share that story. It may be just the one that leads another person to Christ. And do not forget, that person may also want to read your book, too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Abby Banks & Love Him Anyway

Abby Banks is a mom turned author and special needs advocate. A speech and communications summa cum laude graduate from Clemson University, Abby has a passion for finding God in the hard places. She and her husband, Jason, reside in Greenwood, SC, with their three children, who inspire her daily: Jay, Austin, and Wyatt.

 She is the author of the nonfiction book titled Love Him Anyway: Finding Hope in the Hardest Places which is published by Ambassador International.

~One night can change everything. Abby Banks put her healthy, happy infant son to sleep, but when she awoke the next morning, she felt as though she was living a nightmare. Her son, Wyatt, was paralyzed. There was no fall, no accident, no warning. A rare autoimmune disease attacked his spinal cord, and there was no cure. In an instant, all her hopes and dreams for him were wiped away. The life she envisioned for her family was gone, and she was frozen by the fear of a future she never imagined. As she struggled to come to grips with her son’s devastating diagnosis and difficult rehabilitation, she found true hope in making a simple choice, a choice to love anyway—to love her son, the life she didn’t plan, and the God of hope, who is faithful even when the healing doesn’t come. In Love Him Anyway, Abby shares her family’s journey from heartbreak to triumph and reminds us that hope and joy can be found in life’s hardest places.~ [from the back of the book]

Below is my review of the book and where you can connect with Abby Banks. 
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Abby Banks wrote a book of raw honesty and a look into the life of a Christian parent. We all struggle with feelings of selfishness and unselfishness, that duel between anger and love, and the ping-pong effect between bitterness and praise.

Love Him Anyway is such a heart-touching soul-wrenching testimony that leaves the reader breathless and needing to set the book aside in order to ponder those words written.

Many passages spoke to me, such as these:
  • "My wrestling sessions with God happened in the quiet and darkness of night when sleep wouldn't come and the eyes of the world weren't on me."

How many times have we felt we had to put on a "good face" for others, and then end up in our own wrestling match like Jacob?

  • "God didn't make me or Wyatt or anyone for a life of simple existence. We were made to live and experience life to the fullest, whatever that may look like."

I had to laugh at his part because it brought to light a new meaning to NeedtoBreathe's song Happiness. We aren't meant for a simple life. We are encouraged to chase our dreams and glorify the Lord.

But most of all, this passage says it all:
  • "I serve a God who has the power to part seas and bring the dead to life."

How powerful is that statement? Through all our hardships, our boomeranging emotions, and even through our praises, God is there for us and never leaves us. We are that special to Him.

In Love Him Anyway, this is made more evident. And the title has its own impact. Yes, they love Wyatt anyway, and they also love God anyway, too.

I encourage everyone to take a chance and read Abby Banks' Love Him Anyway. It's a true gift to every reader.


 Below is a list of place where readers can connect with the author. And click on the book's title anywhere in this post to buy the book.

Abby Banks:
www.fightlikewyatt.com
Twitter: @fightlikewyatt 
Instagram: @fightlikewyatt
                  @abbywbanks   
www.facebook.com/wyattsfightagainsttm

Love Him Anyway releases February 21, 2017 in paperback at all major retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christianbook.com. You can also purchase Love Him Anyway through Ambassador International’s online store and use the coupon code “LoveHim” for a 10% discount. You can also enter to win a free signed copy below. The winner will be announced March 2nd at www.fightlikewyatt.com 


 




Win a signed copy of Love Him Anyway!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Late Night Scare

Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

This verse has more meaning than ever today. 
 
After an ER scare last night when I couldn't move my left arm, numbness and tingling down the left arm, and was all "puffy" feeling, I had no idea what was going on with me. Of course anxiety sets in and my blood pressure rockets skyward and my heart joins the race.
 
"What was happening to me?", I wondered. Nothing like this ever happened before, not this kind of feeling. Months and months ago after having an EKG, I was told that I had a "good" heart, so I started wondering, was something wrong with my good heart?
 
I knew that my head was rebelling against me. Apparently it wanted to annex itself from my body.We had been at war for days.

I hitched a ride to ER courtesy of two paramedics and tests were ran on me. The EKG still proved I had a "good" heart. After the CT scan result showed that, yes, I do have a brain and a good looking brain (that's what they said and I will take their word for it), and the x-ray showed that my shoulder is right where it belonged, it was determined that I may be suffering from Cervical Radiculopathy. 
 
Oh, my. Now that is a big word that sounds scary. Well maybe to some...basically it's just a fancy word for pinched nerve. 
 
Apparently, probably from having a war with my head for the last four days (and by the way it is still where it belongs; the annexation was denied), the migraine may have caused a bulging spinal disk in my neck or the narrowing of the spinal joint from the beginnings of arthritis. Who knows?
 
Well, God does, so that verse is on par with me today.

Through it all, I held steadfast to my faith and love for God. It didn't matter if I was told my heart was broken, or my shoulder decided to relocate, or my brain decided to stroke out, I knew that God was with me all the way and still is today.

My strength may be less today, but with all my strength that I possess I will love Him anyway.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two Days+One Book=Infinite Rewards

The other day a book's title was shared with me. Curious about an author from across the pond, I thought I would buy it and give it a try. And boy, was it a reward beyond belief!

There was so much insight and knowledge, perfect for the everyday reader, that bursts forth from Following Wherever He Leads by Joan Crory. To me, it was a truly remarkable and rewarding book.

A passage from the book: "And God has put you where you are to help meet the needs of the folk around you.", speaks volumes. This book is the epitome of that statement. It was put here to meet the needs of its readers.

I know it met a lot of my needs. From learning that to follow Christ means not to lead a simple life to knowing that Christ knows all our trials because He experienced them all. And the part about prayer and our prayer life? The analogy used broke this concept into easily, understandable bits and pieces. The more I read into each chapter, the more rewards I received it seemed. 

My favorite was the last chapter: Memorandum. An out-of-the-box thinking that pushed me to view my relationship with Christ from a whole new angle. This was truly a remarkable book and one that I plan on revisiting time and time again.

If you are curious about it, read my review at Rebel Book Reviews. You won't be disappointed in this deeply insightful book.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I Don't Speak to Dead People

2 Timothy 4:1-5 talks about false teachers and hearing the truth. Matthew 7:20-23 basically speaks about those who teach contrary to His word.

I know that the world will persecute me for His sake. Matthew 5:11 says they will. So because of that, I know many will not like this post or me. But that's okay.


My post is about the dead do not hear the living and why I should not talk to a dead person. Here's my thoughts on this.


2 Samuel 12:18-23
David's son died, but while the son lived David fasted and prayed. When the son died, David rose, bathed, and ate. When asked about this, he stated: "But now he is dead, wherefore [why] should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (KJV)
This showed me that even if he went to "talk" to his son, he will not hear him or be with him. Instead David, a man after God's own heart, turned his eyes on the Lord, going to the house of the Lord and worshipping.


Ecclesiastes 9:5 showed me the futility of talking to my dad or grandma.
"For the living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten." To me this is true. No matter how hard you try to remember, the love remains but the face or voice of a loved one fades away. 


Even though this passage in Jeremiah 16:5-7 talks about the ending of Israel and God's relationship, to me it was a good passage that showed a nation (me) that would not rely upon God and then gladness and peace were taken away.
In the same book, verse 22:10a, "Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him", helped me realize that those who are dead and knew Christ are happy.


In Luke 24:5b, "...why seek ye the living among the dead?", it reminded me that those who are in heaven are alive, not dead. I should not seek them among the dead, in other words, at graveyards. Even though this is about Jesus' resurrection, it is relevant about those who die.


So why do I not talk to the dead? Is there more to show my reasoning? Yeah, there is.


If I talk to my dad or my grandmother, or even my late husband (who will not be my husband in heaven--Luke 20:35), then I am placing the conversation with them above Jesus. That would be a form of idolatry.


If I spoke to my dad, "What would you do in this situation, Dad?", is it not better that I ask the Lord, "Lord, what should I do?" Who is more deserving of my question? If I say "Happy Birthday, Dad" on November 1st, who am I doing this for? Not my dad, because he no longers ages. But for me, which is seen as pride, lover of self, and again, idolatry.
Galatians 5:19-6:18 helps me to understand this in detail.


And my ultimate favorite about the dead, Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
Verse 26 states: "And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us, that world come from thence."
Meaning, the dead neither see nor hear those still on earth or those in Hell.


So I do not speak to the dead because 1) They cannot hear me, and 2) it would be putting myself and the conversation with the dead above Jesus.


Jesus knows my pain and He knows how much I miss my loved ones who have died, but I talk to only Him. He is more to me than a conversation with thin air.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Those Nasty Little Grudges

I used to think I didn't hold grudges for that long, until today. At times I find myself plucking that little dark morsel from my heart and reexamining it. Usually this happens after reading an article or seeing a post.
 
When I was 9 I had a teacher call me a liar in front of my classmates. She also treated the "richer" kids nicer than those of us who were poor. She made me feel dumb and mortified when I was presenting a project in front of my classmates about my father's job. I worked so hard to build a shadow box about him. She belittled my ignorance between "construction" and "steel construction". I was given an "F"; but after my mother met with the principle, all the "poor" kids who received "Fs" received an "A". There was only two grades: 100 for a completed project and 50 for no project. I held a grudge against her. And find myself still disliking her for the damage she did to the other children.
 
When I was 17 I had a teacher that didn't like what I wrote in English class because it scored higher than her favorite students. She changed the wording in my submission and made it sound horrible. (Of course I changed it back for the final submission). She also tried to keep from joining her class, but after my recommendations and scores she had to allow me. She treated the poorer students like they were beneath her. I've seen her scoff at other students for what they wore. I've seen her label them as unworthy. I held a grudge against her for her harmful actions against others, and for making them feel less.

When I was in my 20s, my son's grandmother made life difficult. She went to any and all lengths to tear my son away from me. In the end she lost, thanks to my wonderful family. I've seen her cheat cleaners on a bill. I've seen her treat the working class as less than she (even though she was a blue collar worker herself). I still dislike her and see her as nothing but evil. That grudge still seems to stick around.
 
When I was in my 30s I had a boyfriend who owed me lots of money, and when I got it back he stole it back from me (literally taking it out of my account or out of the books I kept my rainy day funds in). Plus, I had believed his lies. That's on me. But it's knowing his true self that I hold a grudge against.
 
I'm in my early 40s now and I still have one more grudge that I don't like to talk about, but nevertheless it is there. It bothers me most of all, but I am learning to deal it with.

So when I look at the grudges, I see them for what they are. Not grudges at all. But memories and lessons learned about the injustice and harmful ways of others. Lessons that I can reexamine to insure that I don't make the same mistakes or treat someone as badly as the person treated me. It makes me empathetic to others. Lessons that help me understand the motives or reasoning behind the person's actions.

And I realize, I no longer dislike the person. I dislike their actions and the harm it did. We may forgive, but we don't forget. That is how we prevent ourselves from falling into the same trap of the past. 
 
Maybe those grudges aren't so nasty after all. If we don't let them eat at us, they can stay around to help us grow. And every once in a while, when I pluck that little grudge from the darkest corner of my heart, I can then decide, "does this grudge help or hinder?". I will keep those that help and cast away those that hinder. 
 
Like a piece of dandelion fluff, I can blow it into the wind and let it be carried far away from me.