Friday, December 28, 2012

It Just Takes One

It Just Takes One

Years ago I went to my first Writers’ Conference hoping to get encouragement or insight, even if it meant discouraging me from becoming a writer, because I wanted to write a memoir about how I got into and out of the drug world. I left the conference with a lot of information about what the literary industry wanted, and also with a little book titled “You Start with One” by Deo Miller and Susan Titus. It was the story about how Deo and his wife wanted to help abandoned children in Sri Lanka find homes. They were overwhelmed by the needs of these kids, but they decided to find one child a home and they ended up helping multitudes.

Later on in my journey to be an author, I read Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird another book about doing things little by little. So that is how I wrote my memoir, little by little over 20 years; one idea, one memory, one line, one chapter at a time.

When the economy tanked I spent over a year filling out mountains of paperwork, month after month, trying to save our home from foreclosure: contacting our bank and every program we fit into, trying every lead, and getting nothing but overwhelming stress and buckets of tears. Then as I was ready to give up and walk away, my husband who has learning disabilities, handwrites one letter with spelling and grammar errors included, to one person; the CEO of the bank, and sent copies to every politician and news media he thought might help. Immediately the bank called, and started helping us get a loan modification. We are finishing up the trial modification and should get the permanent loan Modification in February. From that one letter we now have letters from The White House, the governor, 2 senators, an assembly man, a state representative, the Department of Justice, The Department of Treasury, including a call from our district attorney’s office, another assemblywoman, and a personal contact with our attorney general’s office who is working closely with us to save our house. Everyone made phone calls and sent letters to our bank to help us, and many more people prayed that we’d get help. When all else fails remember it just takes one; one person who goes that extra mile and doesn’t give up.

As we head into the New Year the news is filled with pending doom of the Fiscal Cliff, the people we put into office can’t seem to find common ground and yet if one person, one Party, would shift a little, to do the job we asked them to do, to look out for us and put us first we could break through this quagmire and start the year united.

We have just celebrated Christmas, a time where we remember that one young girl said yes to God and put her needs aside, and she changed to course of mankind forever. Will we be the one that looks at the impossible and says with God all things are possible? I hope so. A Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

Lilly, our newest foster dog, who had a broken back
and still lives her life running at full speed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm thinking about and remembering all our servicemen and women today, who put their lives on the line to serve our country and stand for freedom. With many prayers and thanks for all they do. Here is the story of one brave man and the dog who helps his recovery.
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him 

Luis Carlos Montalvan


I originally picked up this book to give it to my brother-in-law, who had recently lost his Golden Retriever, but then I read the introduction and couldn’t help but read the whole thing—it’s that compelling. This is the story of 2 heroes, Luis Carlos Montalvan is an Iraq war veteran who came home wounded—most of the wounds hidden, like a traumatic brain injury, but they devastated his life nonetheless. He is one of thousands of servicemen and women who are struggling to find their way in a society that doesn’t comprehend the trauma’s they have lived through. His determination to survive being “home” and his succinct writing gives voice to many who are slipping through the cracks. The other hero is Tuesday, his service dog, who made it possible for him to write this book.


Tuesday’s story is as captivating as his; a puppy born to be a service dog who went through some heartbreaking issues at the beginning of his training, and who didn’t quite have the personality make up of a traditional service dog. Yet he became the perfect dog for Fmr. Capt. Montalvan. Until Tuesday, gave me new insight into the training of service dogs. If you love dog stories, war stories, or inspirational stories then this is the one to read. I have one warning for parents, because of some graphic details of the Iraq war I wouldn’t recommend this for children.  For me it is a definite 5 stars story.  

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fruit of My Spirit Reframing Life in God's Grace

Fruit of My Spirit

From the moment I began reading the preface of Fruit of My Spirit I chuckled; here was a writer I related to; a real person, close to my age, who responded to life like anyone else, her words not spiritually sugar coated: “I’m impatient whenever life has the audacity to thwart my plans. I get frustrated whenever life presents a detour or a hurdle.” Oh yeah…Amen sister, preach it!

Deanna Nowadnick’s memories of love, marriage, family, her childhood, her teen years and adulthood are down to earth, sometimes funny even embarrassing and I know that many people will be helped by her way of seeing Gods hand in even the most trying times. Her book helped me, and that’s a miracle because I’ve been in the midst of one of the hardest years of my life. It made me happy to start each day, these last 2 weeks, reading a chapter. It was good to look at my circumstances in a different light.

As Christians, Deanna reminds us that to be a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect, and perfection doesn’t matter because God loves us just the way we are, in spite of our short comings. Anyone who is not a Christian will read her memoir and get insight into those “not so perfect” relatives that keep bugging them to go to church. The thing is, we didn’t just “arrive” in holiness when we said yes to Jesus—we arrive when we enter heaven, all else is the time we spend preparing to be ready, and sharing the love of God. I’m giving five stars to this little book (90 pages) with hope that you will pick one up and let God’s grace touch you through her message. Hurry now, go read Galatians 5:22-23 and find out about the fruit of the Spirit.

*Here's a special note to Deanna...We didn't need to watch Survivor on TV, we survived Blue Birds and Campfire girls... I don't "Do" camping either. Our joke is "my idea of camping is a room in the Holiday Inn in a sleeping bag." ;-)

here's a link to Deanna Nowadnick's Fruit of My Spirit

Friday, April 13, 2012

Awesome Book by Susan Casey about Big Waves

Book review:  The Wave: In Pusuit of Rogues, Freaks and the Giants of the Ocean  

“Except for luminous glints of turquoise at its peak, the wave was sapphire blue, gin clear, and flecked with white. If heaven were a color, it would be tinted like this.” This quote is Susan Casey’s description of seeing a wave up close at Jaws, a Maui surf spot known for huge dangerous waves.

At fifteen, my father gave me a 9ft Ole surfboard—it was too big for me and I could barely drag it down the beach. I wanted to look cool with it under my arm like all the surfers did and I wanted more than anything to be the girl that the Beach Boys sang about in Surfer Girl. It wasn’t going to happen, but that big board attracted surfers who wanted to help me get it into the water and teach me how to paddle out. I loved watching them catch the waves. Years later my love affair with Ocean waves and surfers really took off when I watched early surf films and saw the shots Greenough took inside the tube of pristine waves; their glassy faces a peek into another world. So when I heard about Susan Casey’s book, The Wave, I had to read it and she didn’t disappoint. It is the perfect blend of surf stories from some of the best big wave riders and the guys who help them make it out to those waves along with the guys who help in the rescues when the waves eat them up and spit them out; and a look into the history, physics, and science of freak monster waves that appear out of nowhere and cause massive destruction. Read this book and it will change the way you look at the seas around the world. An entertaining and educational 5 star read for anyone who loves the Ocean.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A New Christian Classic

Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places  Chuck De Groat

Sometimes you find the right book at the right time; Leaving Egypt was that book for me. I embraced the words Chuck De Groat wrote and hugged them to my heart every morning during my quiet time. Here is someone who is speaking too many of us who are holding onto things that are keeping us in bondage. Whether those burdens are actual possessions or addictions, or even comfortable habits that detract from our true purpose in this life, we need help to move on.

Based on the Exodus story, De Groat draws comparisons between Israel’s slavery in Egypt, and deliverance through Moses who leads them through the desert for forty years; with the areas in our lives that we are stuck in. We sometimes, like Israel, are frightened to let go and follow God not knowing what lies ahead. He shows us how we cling to the past, because it’s known, and how we have trouble trusting that God has a better plan and wants freedom for us. This book is a must read for believers who desire a closer walk with God and I believe it could become a Christian classic along side devotionals like Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest. The format is easy to read with short chapters, subsections, and a few key questions to ponder at the end of each chapter. Leaving Egypt can be used as a basis for bible study or group study, and also good reference material for anyone in ministry who counsels the hurting and those struggling with addiction. 5 stars. I read this book through the Amazon Vine program.

Sometimes you can't see what's uphead, that's when trusting God makes all the difference. Traveling this journey with you ;-) 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Collecting Memories

Looking through the window in the door at dad's house in the evening after his memorial.

That time passes so quickly takes me back, I am stunned by the thought that tomorrow would have been my dad's 82nd birthday, one we all thought he'd be celebrating with more to come in the future. I've been cycling through the stages of grief, missing him one moment, mad that he's gone the next and tearing up at odd times.
In a book I'm reading I came across this poem by Henry Scott Holland; it begins:

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
What ever we were to each other,
That we are still.

In my heart I know it's true, but here on earth death is a tearing apart, a seperation across a divide that we can't cross; no more words spoken, no more smiles shared and we are left with memories more precious than gold. Thank God for pictures, and family and friends that still remember "the time when....."  What I remember is a father's hug, wisdom shared, laughing at his sarcastic quips, and working side by side. 
Happy Birthday dad, love and hugs ;-)

Friday, January 27, 2012

City of Tranquil Light Bo Caldwell

Exotic locations, adventure, earthquake, kidnapping, murders, bandits, government upheaval, romance, and a powerful message that cuts to the heart; if that sounds interesting than you’ll love this book, I know I did. Edward Geisler, a Mennonite Missionary to inland China, shows up at Will’s family farm in Oklahoma in 1906. He’s there to speak to their church about the need for missionaries in China and after talking with Will he invites him to go there with him. He tells Will that “The suffering is great, as is the need for help, physical and spiritual.” Will, who is 21 years old, struggles with his decision and yet leaves everything and everyone he knows to go where he feels God, is calling him. In China, Will finds a dangerous dark place, the Mandarin language is hard to learn, every day life is difficult, but he also finds love for the people and the villages and towns where he travels, and for Edwards’ sister in-law Katherine, a nurse who has traveled with them.

The story is told from two viewpoints: Will’s memories and Katherine’s journal entries. It is based on the author’s maternal grandparents, and many other missionaries that went to China. Beautifully written, it grabbed my heart and spoke to my soul. There are so many good quotes I could have underlined the whole book. One of my favorites is when Edward, looking back on his life there, tells Will “To love a place. To hold it so dearly that one aches at the memory of it. Are we not most fortunate.” I read this novel on my kindle, and have to say it is one I’ll read again.

Backyard Finch 
oils on Cigar Box lid
Art by John Barrett

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Word for the Year

My word for the year is life. I've been reading articles about choosing one word that resonates with you for the year, well life is what I choose, but let me tell you it's hard when so many people I've known and loved have passed away. I feel like I need to say it out loud "I choose to keep on living", regardless of the grief, in spite of the inner-pull to not care, in spite of the doomsday predictions of Apocalypse and the Mayan calender. I want to live joyfully, abundantly, to continue to find things that are funny in the obsurd. Speaking of that, I kept thinking that the anniversaire of my mom's death was on the 19th (a few days from now), so I spent the morning looking for a picture of her to post. She was someone who lived life fully, traveling all over the world, making friends out of strangers, speaking her mind even when it would cause conflict because she could see the bigger picture and wanted the best for others. After going through many albums I came across this picture of her in the Holy Land, her first trip there; and she went without a traveling companion. 
Under this picture she wrote the word Allelujah! 

I have to smile when I see this picture of her and Sammy the camel with her friend Ali the Bedouin. Anyway back to today, we drove into town and on the way home John asked me if I wanted to stop by her grave. As we cleaned the headstone, he pointed out laughingly that today (not the 19th) was the anniversaire of her death...hmmm....then I looked around and saw ciggarette butts scattered by the grave where she and my step-father are buried and it was just like they were having a smoke together in the old days. Here's to a new year full of promise and life and joy ;-)