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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

 
It has been a while since I posted a book review, but I don't want ANYONE to miss out on this debut novel by Erin Bartels.

If you love historical fiction, get your hands on this immediately.

(Seriously.)

I wasn't asked to post this review.   I have no connection to the author or the publisher.

When a book is this good, no one should miss it.  I feel that strongly after reading this.

This is one of the best historical fiction books that I can ever remember reading.

Just this morning, I told my friend who shared this with me, that you when you close a book and you're still thinking about it many days later, THAT is a good book.

It was eye-opening, and heart-wrenching and I couldn't put it down.

It was so well written that I just sank into it like a warm cozy bed that you don't want to get out of.

I had to tear myself away from the story, because life doesn't stop but I easily could have read this in one sitting.

The subject matter was handled so well.  Hard to believe this is a "debut" novel, but I have added Erin to my Goodreads list of authors and I cannot wait for her next book.

I am not going to spoil it for you, but if you are interested in American history, Michigan history, etc you will not be disappointed in this one.

You can read more about the subject matter over at Goodreads:

We Hope For Better Things


Read an excerpt of the book here


Or you can check out Erin's website here


 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Country Life Conniptions

(No, sadly this is not where I live)

I have mentioned before that a few years ago we left the big brutal city behind and moved to the country.

We love where we live.  We don't love our living situation mind you, but we do love the area.

I've been converted, much to my own surprise.

Traveling to town (and yes its a haul to get there), I pass huge green fields with red barns and silos on my way to the grocery store.   It is like a picture on a postcard.  My heart soars every single time and I feel like I can breathe deep.

In the fall, those same green fields explode into amazing colors.  Horses graze peacefully on my way to town and in the winter, they are decked out in Christmas "sweaters" that make me smile, even on the most mundane days.

My favorite miniature donkey couple, who I have affectionately named Jack and Jackie, have no idea that I am their biggest fan.  They make me smile hard.  I can hardly stand their cuteness as I drive by, gawking like a typical city girl trying to reform.

But what this city girl was not prepared for was the not so cute creepy crawly kind of critters that also dwell out here in the country.  I am fine with the hawks, foxes, deer, and other wildlife that roam around our apartment complex.

I am not fine with the creepy creatures that think my apartment has an open vacancy.  Namely, spiders.

Country spiders are a whole other rodeo.   Trust me.

So after we moved here, the first one I saw caused quite a disturbance.  And being new, I felt bad for the screaming, stomping, shrieking and other sounds that traveled through the building as I waged war on the enemy.

I was just minding my own business, heading towards the coffee pot when a spider larger than I have ever seen before in my entire life, literally did a Usain Bolt maneuver across the living room floor.

Out of the corner of my eye, I first thought, "Was that a mouse?"   I'm not kidding.  It was that big.

And then my eyes adjusted fully and I nearly fainted, realizing I was going to have to handle this.

This is part of the actual email I sent my neighbor down the hall, so she wouldn't think the new people were hoodlums:

"My apologies if you heard a ruckus down in Z10 this morning. There was a black spider about the size of a golf ball galloping through the living room early this morning. It was not a good way to wake up.   When I went to kill it, it jumped on the front of my couch.  I finally got him, but it was terrible.  Hand to hand combat before I have my coffee, isn't my preferred way to start the day!  I will be spraying this apartment."


As I was waging war on the hideous "thing" trying to kill me in the living room, my son stumbled out and in a sleepy voice, asked what was going on.

My reply was................"Get something.  Find me something!  I don't want this thing on my shoe, oh my gosh, find me SOMETHING!!"

My son's response was..........."WHOA, mom.  That is a huge spider."

I was not about to take my eyes off of it, as it had now jumped on the front of the couch and was working its way up.  I knew if I lost sight of this thing, I would never sleep again or live in the apartment I had just signed a one year lease for.

Finally, my son rallied and brought me the vacuum.  Crisis averted, thank you suction hose attachments that are really really long.

I vacuumed every square inch of the apartment, got rid of the vacuum bag, and sprayed a "bug barrier", (thank you Ortho).

My neighbor?  Found this hilarious, as she has lived out here all of her life and is apparently used to arachnids the size of a dinner plate in her dwelling.  She found my reaction to be amusing and entertaining.   So glad I could brighten her day.

I had to be brave.

And since then, this city girl has learned to shoot.




Monday, August 13, 2018

Waiting For The Sun To Shine


The photo you see above, is the view from my bedroom window this morning.

The photo won't win any awards, but just go with me okay?

I hastily grabbed my camera (my phone was charging) when I opened the blinds, and saw this enormous sun coming up.  

I had just been thinking about the phrase, "God makes the sun shine at just the right angle."  (Taken from one of my favorite Sabbath Society letters)  

When I opened the blinds, there it was.   Faithfully coming up again, as it does everyday.  It was like a personal reminder to me from God, that indeed, He is in charge of it all and He will move us when it is time.

I've been waiting a long time for the upcoming move.  

I've mentioned it several times, and how hard waiting is.  Especially when what you are waiting for is more of a true need, than a want.

I have to remind myself that His timing is not my timing. 

He knows best, I don't.

So my goal is to wait peacefully, rather than in anxiety and fear.  

I want to wait with wonder and hope.   I want Him to find me expectant, trusting and calm when he says, "It's time to go."

I have a lot of work to do.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

While I'm Waiting

I listened to this song again last night. It's an old one, but the lyrics mean as much to me now as they did the first time I heard them.

I've been thinking a lot the past few weeks on the verses in Daniel 3, where the three Hebrew children are standing in faith waiting for God to show up. Their faith is so strong, they tell the King that they believe God will show up and there's no need for them to defend themselves.

But it is that last statement that gets me everytime I read it...

Daniel 3:18: "But even if he doesn't, we still won't worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”

Even if He doesn't.

Even if we never see the manifestation of what we fully believe was spoken to us a year and a half ago about our move.

Even if we never see complete healing this side of eternity.

Even if God never gives us exactly what we are praying for, believing for, or what we hope to see in our future, we will still love Him.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Looking Back On The Laughs - Precious Memories 29



One of the many MANY things I miss about my mom is her sense of humor.  She made me laugh.

Her birthday recently passed and I was telling my friend how much I missed laughing with my mom.  We could be together doing nothing at all, and find the funniest things on the most normal mundane days.

After I was married and out on my own, we had a standing weekly date for lunch. She would pick me up at work and we looked forward to this time together every week. It was one of the ways we stayed connected.  Just us girls.

When I was about 8 months pregnant with my son, I had a voracious love of food in general, but specifically…I craved chicken wings.

Don't judge.  I would happily eat platefuls of them much to my husband's shock and fascination. I was never a big eater.  I never cleaned my plate.

Until now.

One day, my mom picked me up and was so excited because she had a new restaurant all picked out. She told me she had heard the chicken wings were really good, and this place was getting rave reviews.

She couldn't remember where she heard about it, but she was convinced I was going to be pleased.

As we began driving, I asked her where it was and she said in her sweet Southern accent...

"It’s somewhere over by the mall and has a really funny name..……they call it Hooters?” 

 (long pause)

We ended up at the salad bar buffet down the road.



*The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  


You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 


You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Stormy Weather - Precious Memories 28

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Stormy Weather - Precious Memories 28


I have mentioned before that I was unaware of the “stages” of Alzheimer’s.

As much as I read and tried to educate myself, I don’t think I could have ever have been prepared for the personality changes that took place so suddenly.

It is hard to say what was more disturbing and painful at each stage, but watching my mom turn into someone that she would never have wanted to be, was rough.

It was one more thing for me to grieve. 

I have intentionally written about some of my childhood memories and what she was like as I grew up, to help me remember. As the disease began to overshadow our lives, it was easy sometimes to forget what she was really like. I go back and read those posts sometimes, to help me hang on to the mom I knew.

So many emotions and thoughts were swirling that my days were a blur. I was a wreck to be honest. Just a walking, numb, mass of confusion most days, struggling to find my way through. Some days I couldn’t accept that she was losing her mind. I hoped and prayed and wished. I had read enough to know that she was going to suffer. She was already suffering, and yet it would get worse unless God chose to take her.

At times I couldn’t stand it – I wanted to beat my fist against the wall and scream. And yet I had to push my anger and grief to the side, and focus on her well being.

The first behaviors I noticed were restless, repetitive movements. I would see her tapping her hand on the table, or rubbing her pant leg repeatedly. In bed, she would “pick” at the bedspread or if given a Kleenex, she would shred them. We quickly learned not to give her photos or important papers of any kind, as they were promptly ripped into pieces!

Then, some anger began to surface. Especially when paranoia or suspicion came into play. Bingo was always a fun and favorite activity of hers, but all of a sudden I noticed that she would become agitated when someone else “won” a prize. She began trying to communicate to me that they were “cheating” and her comprehension of fun and games started to decline. At one point, she went from laughing and moving her bingo cards, to cage fighter mentality, because someone else ‘won”.

Sadly, I realized bingo would have to be over.

It was getting hard to take her to socialize and make sure she didn’t injure herself or others. She would ball up her fist, ready to pummel whoever came near her. At times, she became very territorial and didn’t want anyone near her wheelchair. I would make sure there was wide berth in the hallways and especially the dining area. Anyone violating her space would receive a loud, hearty “NO NO NO!” and a shaking of the fist, warning them to stay back.

If they didn’t respect her wishes, she would often punctuate her phrases with cuss words, letting them know she meant business. I would sit and observe, trying to comprehend this new personality.  My heart just ached.

Sometimes I had to laugh, but at the same time, I was embarrassed for her. 

My mother would not have acted this way in her right mind. I tried to study and educate myself on how to keep her aggression levels down and create as much calm for her as I could. I also learned that at times, her acting out was a sign of not feeling well.

UTI’s (urinary tract infections) are very common in dementia patients and the elderly (something else I didn’t know). She had several of these over the course of her diagnosis, though she hadn’t had any issues with them that I could remember growing up.

Her immune system was weak and as a result, she would easily develop a UTI. We worked really hard to make sure she was clean, bathed and properly cared for. It was just something that happened and when it did, it would cause her to lash out.

Overstimulation was another trigger. My mom did best with a calm, normal, predictable routine. She never enjoyed crowds when she was in her right mind and she certainly didn’t enjoy them, once she had Alzheimer’s.

Overall, I took a crash course in how to expect the unexpected. 

Though her physical body was still with me, my mother was gone.

I had to learn how to honor and love the shell of a woman, she left behind, and keep her as comfortable as I could.


 

*The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  


You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 


You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Rules Of Engagement -Precious Memories 27

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Worth Waiting For

 
 wait·ing

The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

To remain stationary in readiness or expectation


Almost a year ago, I wrote about the prompting we sensed, and that change was coming.   

And it has.     

But the change that has taken place so far, has been mostly inside of me.

I am learning that waiting on something you really want or need, is a test of sorts.

It can also be a time of character building, patience stretching, attitude adjusting, and heart softening.  

 God's timing isn't my timing.  In a world that screams speed, and the need to "instant" everything from coffee to pressure cookers, I find myself being directed to wait.  And it is so incredibly hard.  

I whisper to myself multiple times a day, "Isaac, not Ishmael", as my own personal reminder to be patient.

I have learned there are some blessings in the waiting, as far as my own personal journey is concerned.   It is possible to wait patiently, because scripture tells us so. Psalm 40:40 shows what happened when David waited patiently on the Lord:


Psalm 4021st Century King James Version (KJ21)

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry.
 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.
Waiting on God is worth it.  
Isaiah tells us that waiting on the Lord renews our strength.  Other scriptures show that waiting teaches us to draw near and get closer to God.  Waiting teaches us where to direct our hope and confidence (not in man!).  Waiting humbles us.
Waiting on God to move means that we have been brought to a place where in and of ourselves, we can't correct or improve whatever is going on.  We can't do this alone, and He doesn't want us to.
And so I continue to put my trust in Him, knowing that God is in control.