Personal

42 Reflections On My Life

1. Being a preemie survivor is a lot to mentally digest.

2. I have no shame in eating pizza with a fork and knife.

3. Were braces worth the four years of headgear torture?

4. Being a bookworm has always been a comfort to me.

5. I always seem to be drawn to the underdogs because I, myself am one.

6. Fashion is overrated compared to wearing comfy clothes.

7. Being babysat by a lady who rakes inside her house? Priceless.

8. First kisses sometimes don’t count.

9. Friendships come and go like the seasons.

10. I never allowed myself to be a classic girlie girl after my brief stint liking the color pink in 1st grade.

11. I don’t like odd numbers.

12. I can be very chatty or quiet depending on my mood.

13. I love writing poetry.

14. My first celebrity crush at 8 was Fergie.

15. I got to be in the audience of “Kids Inc.” as a preteen. That experience opened my eyes to the cruelties of Hollywood.

16. As a little kid I would dutifully look in the newspaper for any local movie auditions. I wanted to be an actress.

17. I still recall how much I loved my cheesy Punky Brewster high tops that had her hologram face on the side.

18. I loved being a tomboy with enjoying He-Man and Transformers.

19. As kid I had a big imagination (still do) and enjoyed exploring a ditch behind my house. Loved to make up stories to go along with random items found.

20. I was a dare devil as a little kid. I’d ride on my plastic imitation big wheel and fly down the street. It was a very steep street. I’m shocked I was allowed to.

21. I always wonder what my life would be like with a different name.

22. When I was 8 I wanted to be a pastor.

23. I was quite the legalist as a child. No drinking soda in the car.

24. I lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake. Once you’ve experienced one you never forget.

25. Reaching 100 books read in one year is a great feat, but a lonely one.

26. I will always love Six Feet Under, This Is Us, The Fosters and Gilmore Girls.

27. Trees energize me as does rainy/cloudy weather.

28. I can’t stand dresses, but a part of me longs to wear 40’s/50’s vintage style dresses.

29. Worst haircut of my life was a buzz cut.

30. Coming out to oneself is the hardest thing EVER.

31. I’ve always felt ‘different’ from others since I was a little kid.

32. As a small child I was always nervous hearing planes flying overhead, afraid of b**bs. I didn’t watch war movies growing up, but then fell in love with WWII in 4th grade. A few years ago watching a documentary on that topic I had a flashback of living in that time period. That freaked me out. Maybe there is something to past lives.

33. I believe God is BIGGER than any Holy book.

34. I was bullied for being so small and short.

35. I have a Booktube addiction.

36. I studied with a JW for four months. Fascinating to be challenged to explain my faith and why I believe what I do. Sadly that friendship’ was not legit.

37. I don’t know why cults are fascinating to research (JW, Mormonism, etc). I think it’s the desire to belong and have your life scripted for you. I think there’s a comfort in that and a feeling of safety.

38. I am learning in life it’s not about how many friends you have, but the quality of friends, those you can truly trust with your life.

39. I can’t believe I’ve been a book blogger for over 3 years.

40. I never expected to love reading fiction from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

41. I’ve always felt awkward about receiving gifts, like I’m not worthy to.

42. LOVE is not cookie cutter.

Book Review · Books

Take The Day Off

The word Sabbath brings a few images to my mind: church and quiet time on Sunday afternoons to nap, or read. The Sabbath for me always equals Sunday’s. It involved going to church, Sunday school then later having a quiet time in my room. I love how my mom would always bring a little snack of candy to much on for my quiet time.

Mr. Morris talks about how we have lost the art of observing the Sabbath, to take a FULL day to rest. I think sadly the church has turned the term Sabbath into a bad of word of sorts. Instead of being viewed in a positive light it’s dreaded because it equals boring with nothing fun planned. It’s not meant to be boring, but a time to recharge and be refreshed. Socially we are so addicted to being productive nonstop we don’t know how to just sit still. The author reiterates a number of times it doesn’t have to be chained to Sunday. The point is take 1 day off to rest up.

I learned some new things about the Sabbath through reading, Take The Day Off. I started this book with my preconceived biases about this very churchy topic, but this book changed my view in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I received a complimentary copy of Take The Day Off by Robert Morris from Faith Words. The views are mine and of my own choice. If you want your view of the Sabbath altered then go grab a copy. This book is readable, relatable and will give you a new perspective on a challenging topic.

Book Review · Books

The Transformation

Everyone deals with some kind of trauma in their life. No matter how large, or small all types of trauma are valid. The Transformation by James Gordon, MD is a book about ways we can tackle our trauma in healthy, creative, engaging ways.

Some examples provided in this book are:

Drawing a picture of how you see yourself now, then drawing how you see yourself with your current challenge, and finally drawing a picture of what you’ll look like once that challenge is resolved. I’m not the greatest artist, but I love to doodle and I think this is a great way to visualize how we see our trauma and how we can unearth a solution by being artistic.

Dancing and shaking stress off. I am not a dancer. I have to two left feet and always feel weird dancing in front of people. I believe this idea could help us get exercise, allow ourselves to be silly and literally shake away our trauma.

Visualization can sound woo woo. This example is a way for you to discover your place that you feel safe at/in. I recall doing a visualization exercise in around 1st grade. It does take some decent imagination, but as an adult I have visualized I was laying in a warm bath and it helped me relax so I could fall asleep at night.

Finding your guide to give you guidance. This idea is one I’m personally not comfortable with.

Be part of a healing circle or group. This suggestion made me think of going to PFLAG, which is similarly run. It’s confidential and laid out in a similar way where you can share if you want to, but not required and there’s no pressure to.

Creating a genogram. To me a genogram is like a family tree that you detail with personal information about who you are able to, to see any generational themes. I think this example is fascinating as it helps us see how our ancestor’s choices affected our lives today.

There are other great examples, but I want you to be inspired to read the whole book. I am glad I read this book. It’s not long in length, but thick in information. I would recommend reading it with a highlighter and note tabs because there is a lot to absorb. I received my complimentary copy of The Transformation by James Gordon, MD from Harper One, care of FSB Associates. The views are mine and of my own will.

Friends

Take A Moment

You befriend a fellow bookworm on social media and the next thing you notice is they have posted a Go Fund Me link. You click the link and realize it’s for their mom, whose recently been diagnosed with stage 1 cancer. You can’t imagine being a senior in high school ready to graduate then having this life crushing news hit you just weeks before graduation.

I’ve never met Colleen. I have had family members have cancer. It’s a diagnosis you never want to have to encounter for yourself, or anyone you love. We all know treatment is beyond pricy. Every little bit helps. Think on it. Know that every donation helps ease Colleen and her family’s stress a little bit. I helped out a little myself. I couldn’t not.

Shannon’s Cervical Cancer Treatment

Book Review · Books

Aly’s Fight

The family on the cover look picture perfect. Do I really want to read a book about a couple that has it all together? Their smiles look too, happy if that’s possible. I decided to read and find out the story behind the title.

Aly and Josh Taylor met in high school. Josh knew Aly was different when on a school trip he noticed her reading her Bible in her room instead of socializing at night with the other students. They get married after high school and of course want to start a family, but there’s a health challenge. Aly discovers a lump on her breast. Enter stage III cancer.

This memoir is Aly and Josh’s journey through Aly battling her breast cancer and walking the difficult road of infertility. This couple might look too, perfect on the cover, but their story is anything but. It is told with raw honesty, no holds barred. Their faith isn’t perfect. They struggle with doubt, anger, frustration, but most of all hope at miracles God can preform.

I received my complimentary copy of Aly’s Fight by Aly and Josh Taylor from Worthy Publishing care of Hatchett Book Group. The views expressed are my own and of my own accord. Are Aly and Josh the real deal? Yes.

This book is one of my all time faves this year. I wasn’t expecting that. I was bad and at first judged the book by its cover. Too, perfectly Christian. I was in for a reprimand. Aly and Josh have been through a Hell few will ever deal with and their faith has survived and thrived through it all. They are truly best friends, not merely husband and wife. Their journey is an important one you can’t read and stay the same after the last page. Please, write another book Aly and Josh.

Personal

RIP RHE

I’m sitting here in shock. We think we are invincible until reality slaps us in the face. An author I admire, whose books helped me know that questions within Christianity are ok has passed this morning. I still remember reading the originally titled Evolving In Monkey Town and how thought provoking it was to read about a believer who understood the need to revisit what you’ve been raised to believe and to carve out your own faith apart from your parent’s faith. She was only sick in the hospital for 2 weeks. Such a short time.

I can’t fathom He took her home. RHE was young with a husband and little kids. She still has books I’m sure she was intending to write. You never plan to go home early (spiritually speaking). I can’t imagine the pure guttural grief her family and close friends going through. I know so many readers out there were praying for her to recover.

This passing is going to take time to process. I didn’t know RHE personally, but her books are such a gift to those who struggle with their faith, church and Christianity in general. Rachel’s books lead me to read Elizabeth Esther’s book, Girl At The End Of The World and Sarah Bessey’s book, Jesus Feminist. RHE you are leaving quite the legacy. Thank you for writing your heart out, being honest with your own faith journey.

Books

RIP RHE

I’m sitting here in shock. We think we are invincible until reality slaps us in the face. An author I admire, whose books helped me know that questions within Christianity are ok has passed this morning. She was only sick in the hospital for 2 weeks. Such a short time.

I can’t fathom He took her home. RHE was young with a husband and little kids. She still has books I’m sure she was intending to write. You never plan to go home early (spiritually speaking). I can’t imagine the pure guttural grief her family and close friends going through. I know so many readers out there were praying for her to recover.

This passing is going to take time to process. I didn’t know RHE personally, but her books are such a gift to those who struggle with their faith, church and Christianity in general. RHE you are leaving quite the legacy. Thank you for writing your heart out, being honest with your own faith journey.

Book Review · Books

Beauty In The Broken Places

What would you do if your spouse had a stroke right in front of you and you are only in your early 30’s? What if this happened in the air on a plane? Novelist, Allison Pataki experienced this on their way to their Hawaii vacation to celebrate the daughter they were going to be having. Beauty Of The Broken Places is Allison’s memoir of what happened after that fateful June day.

This memoir was a front row seat to what it’s like to experience your loved one ending up with a traumatic brain injury and how to care for them. Allison doesn’t hold back the raw fear, frustration and sadness over what happened. She also, shares how her and her husband, Dave’s friends, family, strangers they met along the way helped out. Allison also, covers the topic of faith, doubt and hope.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Beauty In The Broken Places by Allison Pataki from NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own. This memoir is my second favorite book I’ve read this year. This book is intense and such an important read. This memoir is truly about the power of family and friends, how even the smallest assistance given when someone needs it is huge for them.

Book Review · Books

The Girl In Building C

I can’t fathom being 16 and stuck living in a sanatorium with tuberculosis. Marilyn Barnes lived this reality in the 1940’s, during WWII. Marilyn lived with having different treatments and having strict bed rest. Getting letters from family and friends kept her spirits up and the different roommates she had throughout her stay at Ah-Gwanghwamun-ching State Sanatorium in MN. The Girl In Building C is the collection of her letters and photos from her three year stint at the sanatorium.

Only select activities were allowed. Marilyn’s life mainly consisted of reading, naps, and writing letters. She was only allowed certain privileges till her tests came back negative for tuberculosis and even then it was baby steps to doing normal things like going to the restroom. I love resting, napping and reading in bed, but what would my view be of it if that was my life for 3 years? Can you fathom not being allowed outside for months, or to even just walk around in the building? I always thought that expressions from the 50’s was a tad exaggerated in movies, but Marilyn’s hearty use of words and/or expressions like: swell, kids, gee, folks was fascinating. I didn’t realize those were from the 1940’s.

This book was educational. The procedures and surgeries that Marilyn endured boggle my mind. The mid 1940’s was not that long ago. Can you imagine having ribs removed?

This review is for an ARC of The Girl In Building C edited by Mary Krugerud from Edelweiss Plus care of the Minnesota Historical Society Press and is my unbiased, honest opinion. If you enjoy reading nonfiction that is in letter format you won’t be able to put this book down. If you enjoy researching different ailments then this book is a must read, though if you tend to be a hypochondriac or a vivid imagination then I might caution you.

Book Review · Books

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends

Memoirs are my favorite genre to read. When I was asked if I wanted to review My Glory Was I Had Such Friends I said, “Yes,” without even reading what the memoir was about. As long as it’s a memoir I’m down for reading it. When I got my ARC copy in the mail the hummingbirds on the cover stood out to me in their different colors. Now that I finished reading Amy’s story I know the symbolism behind the hummingbirds.

Amy’s memoir takes you on a front seat tour of what life is like living with a heart transplant and realizing it’s time for needing a new one. Her descriptions of procedures are not for the squeamish, but are important to fully understand what her life and many other’s lives are like who have a donor’s heart. Amy is candid, funny, grumpy and strong-willed. She will make you laugh and cry throughout this gem of a book.

This book is not only about Amy, but about her assortment of close girlfriends who rally around her to help her out while she is staying in the hospital waiting for a second heart transplant. The one she’s had since age 25 is waving its white flag now that she’s 50. That feat in and of its self is a miracle. Each of Amy’s close girlfriends are depicted in all their uniqueness, quirks and all. One of her best friends puts together a spreadsheet of whose coming to stay with Amy when and each time someone stays they email the circle of friends to update them on Amy.

I received an ARC copy of My Glory Was I Had Such Friends courtesy of TLC Book Tours to review and give my honest assessment. This book shows how friendships change through the years, but close friends are vital to our lives. It’s sad to me that superficial friends seem to be the norm. I don’t know how many girlfriends in my life would do what Amy’s friends did for a weeks and sometimes weeks at a time. These women had their own families and obligations, but they made Amy their priority even when it wasn’t easy or pretty. May we all have the depth of friendship Amy is blessed with. Thank you for blessing me with your memoir. To get your copy click here to purchase from HarperCollins.