Sunday, January 15, 2017

Photo of the Week #2: My Lit Candle

This is a candle I was given for Christmas. Isn't it pretty? I love candles. They are so warm and inviting, give off a warm glow, and smell great if you get the right scent. (This one is called "Raspberry Ice" and it smells good to me.) I have it sitting on top of our buffet (i.e. china cabinet), and it is in a place where everyone can see it and enjoy it. It wouldn't make any sense to light my candle and then hide it under a bowl, or inside of a cabinet, would it? It is meant to be seen by all who are in the room.

That reminds me of a small portion from The Sermon on the Mount (Jesus' longest recorded sermon in the New Testament). The part I am talking about is found in Matthew 5:14-16, where Jesus says: 
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
One thing I noticed from the last part of these verses is how "shining our lights" (or, helping others to see Jesus in us) is not just about doing good works. It's about doing two things consecutively: doing good works AND giving the glory (or praise) to God. Let me share what Pastor Chip Bell has to say about this. He explains it well in an article on Bible.org
The hope, the goal, is that people will give praise to God. This is an important point to catch. The goal is not that people will say, “What great people those Christians are. Look at all the wonderful things they do to help people. Look at how honorable their lives are.” Rather, the goal is that people will say, “What a great God they follow.”

You know, the only way that will happen is that if we make it clear that the reason why we are living moral lives and doing good deeds is because we are following Jesus. If we don’t give God the credit, then we are not being a light to the world. I think this means that in every good thing we do for our fellow man, it is important that we give God the credit. If we do good, but fail to point people to Jesus, then we haven’t done what light is supposed to do. Being “salt” means that our lives should be characterized by goodness. Being “light” means that people are able to SEE that God is the source, and purpose and cause of our goodness. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

EL's 5th MRI & A Visual Test

It has been over a year since I last gave a health update on EL. I have shared a few updates on my Facebook page but, for those of you who are not on FB, or for those of you who might have missed the updates, here is the latest info...

1.  After EL's medication was increased in November 2015, her seizures continued to return every couple of months. So, in July 2016, her Neurologist said it was best to add an additional medication. We were concerned, at first, with the possible side effects of this new med, but she did amazingly well and has, thankfully, been seizure free since then. It is great to know we finally seem to have the seizures under control!

2.  Her 5th MRI was in October 2016. There were no changes to the pituitary tumor, so that is another praise. She is now seeing a new Neuro-oncologist, and we like her. She seems very thorough and wants to make sure EL is getting the proper care needed. The previous doctor was good, but gave us the impression that we no longer needed to bring EL for any more follow-up MRI's (after this 5th one) because they keep coming back as unchanged. However, this new doctor explained that a pituitary tumor can grow at any time, so we need to continue keeping watch and do an MRI at least every 2 years from here on out, or sooner if she begins having symptoms.

3.  The new Neuro-oncologist also scheduled EL to have a special eye exam that tested her vision, specifically her peripheral vision, called a Visual Evoked Potential. A pituitary tumor can affect the optic nerve, so the doctor wanted to have a baseline of how well EL is currently seeing. The test was done on  December 14th in St. Louis. It was done in the EEG department, where they attached electrodes to her head and had her sit and stare at a red dot on a computer screen while black and white squares flashed around it. She did not like the test, but did fairly well considering her dislike. Due to the holidays, it took awhile to get the results back. But we finally got a call yesterday, and the test showed everything to be within normal limits.

So, with all this new information, the plan is to continue seeing the Neurologist every 6 months regarding EL's seizures. But, we will NOT need to have any more testing regarding the pituitary tumor (MRI's, Visual Tests, or bloodwork) until October 2018 (unless symptoms appear)! We are so thankful for this news, and are also grateful for all the prayers that have been sent through the years for our special girl!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Quick Update on Moving


It was a year ago today when I wrote:  GOD WILL BE WITH US WHEREVER WE GO.  I mentioned how my husband had taken a new job in December 2015, and we were anticipating moving to a different town 50 minutes away. So far, that move has not happened (which I am actually happy about) but that's about all I can share about it. Only God knows what the future holds, and we will wait to see what happens. But, no matter what, we continue to believe He will be with us wherever we go (or wherever we are).


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Photo of the Week #1: My Kids on New Year's Eve

 
It's the start of a new year, and I am going to try something new for my Sunday blog posts. I plan on taking various pictures throughout each week, and will choose one of them to share with you. (Or, if I don't have time for a new one, I might pull out an old picture to use.) I'm not exactly sure how this will all work out yet, but my hope for these photos is that maybe some of them will be encouraging and/or bring a smile to your face, while others will simply be thought-provoking and/or allow you to see things through my eyes - sort of like a peek into my life.

This first photo I am sharing was taken last weekend on New Year's Eve. These two kids of mine - I love seeing them get along. From the picture, you might think these two are ALWAYS great friends who get along well. But, no, they don't always get along well. They argue and they complain about each other, just like most siblings do. And, I actually had to ask them to put their arms around each other for this picture! But, despite the way they often get annoyed by the other one's actions, there are still many times when I see them warmly interacting. In these times, I can tell they really do love each other, and I am thankful that the love they have for each other overrides any wrong-doings. In fact, if it came down to it, I know JJ would even give his life to protect his special sister. That's what family is about. And, I believe this is a good example of how we all should be acting towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 Peter 4:8 - Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins. (ESV)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Bible Verse Website

I would like to share some information with you about a new Bible verse website. This is from BibleVerses.com author, Rich Howard:  
Strengthening your personal relationship with God is the goal of BibleVerses.com.  Created initially to provide free access to the many versions of the Bible for everyone, it is now evolving to a community of Christians seeking inspiration, motivation, encouragement and knowledge. 

Start your morning cup of coffee off right by subscribing to the daily e-mail to have a new verse and blog post right at your fingertips.  The blog posts and daily verses go hand in hand to encourage you to spend a little time digging deeper into your own personal relationship with God. The BibleVerses.com blog is a safe space to explore your own thoughts, ask questions and give your own insight to the daily content.
 
You can also take advantage of the user friendly search engine of the Bible in a large variety of versions.  Maybe you know the particular verse or phrase you are looking for, or you are looking for what God has to say on a specific topic, BibleVerses.com has the resources readily available to you.

Come join the company of others engaging in the same material as you every day! Find us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to be provided with additional uplifting content throughout that day.  We can't wait to have you join us.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

CHRISTMAS MEMORY: A Pregnancy Announcement


Merry Christmas, Everyone!

When you have a moment, here's another Christmas memory I wanted to share. This one happened during the Christmas of 1997. It was such a fun Christmas! After 5 years of marriage (and some trouble with infertility), David and I were beyond excited to announce the coming of our first child. I know that David's mom, and my mom, had both been praying for us to have a child, so we decided to make this announcement as part of our Christmas gifts to our families.

On Christmas Eve that year, David was on shift with the ambulance. So, he and his partner, Steve, met me, my parents, and my brother and his family at Grandma's house. When my mom read the card we made for her, I'm sure you could have heard her excited screams out in the street with the windows closed! I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call the police! (LOL)

The card was simple - a homemade card printed out on our computer. It had Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the front wearing Christmas hats and, on the inside, it said, "Merry Christmas, Grandma & Grandpa!"

The happy soon-to-be grandparents (for the 5th time)

The next day, we went to my sister's house and gave them the news while we were there. Then, David and I headed North to celebrate Christmas with David's side of the family. I remember we had extended family eating Christmas dinner with us and spending the evening, so we waited until after they went home before we opened gifts. David and I were excited when the time finally came to pass out our Christmas card to his Mom and Dad. We had Mom read their card out loud because we told her we made it and wanted everyone to hear what we wrote. When she first took a look at it, she seemed confused. The card had been made at one of those do-it-yourself Hallmark card machines and, on the front, it looked like a general Christmas card - nothing unique about it - but this is what it said:

(Front) A long time ago in Bethlehem, a Savior, Jesus, was born...

(Inside) As we celebrate Christmas with family today,
We just want you to know, there's ANOTHER child on the way.
Merry Christmas, Grandma & Grandpa!
 
The excited soon-to-be grandparents (for the 1st time)
 

Monday, December 19, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette by Max Davis [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

When I first started reading When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette by Max Davis, I wasn't sure what the main idea was supposed to be. By the title, I thought it would be about seeing Jesus in others, and I expected it to be a compilation of stories along those lines. As I read further, I realized the book was more than that.

The book is about the author's personal journey of how he came to know Jesus through the example of a green-eyed brunette (his current wife), and how he figured out what his purpose is in life which, according to Davis, is for him to "look like Jesus while in his own skin." (p. 63) What he means is that we all have our own unique callings in life, and he shared how he believes God called him to become a writer, and how God used his circumstances to help him be the kind of writer (and the kind of person) God wanted him to be.

Interspersed among his story, Davis shares stories from the lives of Christians who helped shape his faith. Some of the stories are about miraculous moments where someone had been physically healed. Other stories are about how God used someone's circumstances to bring about spiritual healing. He explains that, while God does sometimes choose to heal physically, the main focus should be for a healing of the heart.

Davis sums everything up by saying the purpose of this book is "about allowing the Jesus inside us to transform us and then use us to touch the people who come into our lives - to love people as God does." (p.179) In other words, the circumstances we face are not always fun, but ALL can be beneficial.

Enter the form below for a chance to win a copy of this book. Giveaway closes Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. CST. One entry per mailing address. U.S. addresses only.


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

CHRISTMAS MEMORY: Getting Engaged

Our friend, Janice (and also a family member on David's side), has fond memories of the Christmas she became engaged to her husband, Chuck. They were at Chuck's mother's house and Jan says:

"I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting it. I also remember that quite a few people were there, including a [family] nobody knew. They were traveling and got stranded near Chuck’s mother’s house. They stayed overnight on Christmas eve, and I think Christmas night also."
Chuck & Janice on their Wedding Day

On the same topic of engagement, I remember Christmas in 1991 when David came with me for the first time to spend Christmas with my family. It wasn't too cold that year because I remember going for a walk around Grandma's neighborhood on Christmas Eve. Grandma, Mom and I were walking ahead of Dad and David. I remember my mom asking why David didn't stay to spend Christmas with his family, and I told her it was because David wanted to have a talk with Dad. So, as we walked, we were letting the guys talk alone. I knew what was going on - David was asking my dad if he would agree to David and I getting married. He was asking for Dad's blessing. I knew this because, a few days before Christmas, David had asked me if it was okay for him to have that talk with my dad. I said yes. So, I guess you could say we were "unofficially engaged" at that time.

And, yes, Dad gave his blessing!

Mom, Dad, Grandma, David and Me - Christmas Day 1991


 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

REVIEW: The 100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible

The 100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible

1.  Its a thin paperback book.
2.  It is a short, easy to read, devotional type book.
3.  It is not full of non-essential words, as there is only one page per verse.
4.  It includes a lot of Biblical encouragement.
5.  It includes many familiar and expected verses, but also includes many I had never thought of as being encouraging.

The book I am talking about is The 100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible by Troy Schmidt.

An example of a familiar verse is Isaiah 41:10. It is fairly self-explanatory:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

An example of a verse that may not seem so encouraging at first glance is Genesis 21:6:
And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me."

The author has this to say about Genesis 21:6:
In times of despair, God can do things to make you laugh. Sarah found the humor in her desperation. She had given up hope; now she offered up laughs. Look for the laughter in your situation. (page 10)

If you like quick, easy devotional-type books, this would be a good one to have on your nightstand. You can read about one or two verses as you start your day, or pick it up before you shut the lights out at night. I have been encouraged by the book, and I think you will be also.


I received a free copy of this book from the  Bethany House Blogger Review Program for the purpose of this review.