Reviews and Giveaways

CSB Explorer Bible for Kids Review

CSB Explorer Bible for Kids Review

CSB Explorer Bible for Kids Review

 

It’s been a while since I have done a review and giveaway with Momentum Influencer Network!  I’m glad to offer a look into this cool new Bible for kids!

For those who have been with my blog for any length of time, you know that I have a love for Bibles. It is comforting to me to be able to read, in many versions, the Scripture that I hold so dear to my heart. Yet this time, I get the privilege of sharing this with my youngest child. My prayer is that Scripture can come alive for my children. As they get older, I pray that that love of Scripture evolves with them as they reach different stages of life.

Here I am introducing the new CSB Explorer Bible for Kids! It has a ton of fun facts, timelines, photos, and more. The Scripture will come alive to children. They have QR codes that you can scan that will provide videos to go along with the Scripture. There are also discussion questions, and activity pages. Also, there are areas of applying the truths and imagery of the Bible to real world experiences that kids face. This Bible is available in hardcover and leather touch editions.

This is an easy to read Bible that is full of amazing color to help a child be engaged in the beauty that lies within the words! It has two tables of content. There is one that is in order and the other is sorted alphabetically. There is also a topical concordance and index of Bible stories.

CSB Explorer Bible for Kids Review

Links

  • Get 50% off your CSB Explorer Bible TODAY by using the code EXPLORERGIFT50. This is valid for 50% off retail price for up to 1 copy of the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids. This is only available at LIFEWAY.COM.

**VALID THROUGH 12/31/22, CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH ANY OTHER OFFER, LIMIT 1 COUPON PER PERSON.

  • Here is an interview that Jean Thomason did with Andy McLean. Mr. McLean is the Bible Publisher with Holman Bibles.
  • Here is the link to the CSB Explorer Bible for Kids homepage.

Giveaway

Giveaway: A name will be drawn for 1 (one) copy of the Lifeway Explorer Kids Bible. Please like or comment on any social media post (on this blog, Facebook, or Instagram) to be eligible to win by 12/12/2022. If your name is drawn, I will reach out to you to get your information. If you do not respond by 12/14/2022, I will draw another name. The winner’s name will be submitted to the company for them to send out your Bible.

CSB Explorer Bible for Kids Review

Disclosure

Many thanks to Lifeway Christian Resources for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

New Video from NORD

New Video from NORD

New Video from NORD

Here is a brand New Video from NORD. For those who have no clue what NORD is…it is the National Organization for Rare Disorders. This site does not have run-of-the-mill type of conditions. By “run of the mill,” I mean those diagnosed frequently.

Awareness

This site is all of the hardcore, rare, little to no treatment type of condition. I am very excited that Mike Michaelis and his team have worked hard on the OMS Life Foundation.

Who DOES NOT buy things from Amazon? If you do, you can go to Amazon Smile and make all your purchases there. It is the same as Amazon, only this time, a percentage of what you buy goes to a charitable donation.

Amazon Smile does not cost you a dime:

  1. Choose your charitable organization and type in “OMSLife Foundation” (in Cypress, TX).
  2. Select that option.
  3. Anything you spend will help the foundation raise money and increase awareness of H’s condition.

NORD Rare Disease Video Library

“The NORD Rare Disease Video Library houses educational videos on rare diseases for patients, caregivers, students, professionals, and the public. NORD works with medical experts and patient organizations to develop the videos, which are made possible by individual donations, educational grants, and corporate sponsorship. NORD is solely responsible for the content.”

All About Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

All About OMS

If you click on the above link, it will take you to an awesome video that explains OMS very simply. All the things in my head have formed into a video. I am pleased as punch for them to highlight this condition.

OMS is not a “money maker” because it is so rare. That means funding and research are not done because there is nothing for big pharmaceutical companies to make. These kids are like human experiments. It is all trial and error.

Let’s bring light and awareness to this condition and help kids get a PROPER diagnosis and begin proper treatment. I don’t want another family to deal with everything H has.

 

Book Processing

The Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships

The Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships

The Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships

Elizabeth B. Brown discusses the Foundation Blocks of Healthy Relationships in her book Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People. She places them under four headings—first, respect. Then, accepting personal responsibility for one’s behavior. There is also allowing others to bear the consequences of their behavior. Lastly, caring without enabling.

Good grief, those last two hit me square in between the eyes. With my family’s situation, I have a hard time saying no. I want a healthy relationship with the difficult people in my life. Respect baffles me. How does one respect people who do/say/act the way they do? I don’t know that one. I have accepted personal responsibility for where I have been the screwed-up person. The last two are “allowing others to bear the consequences of their behavior and caring without enabling.” Those two I have not nailed.

Objectivity in Healthy Relationships

“Objectivity in healthy relationships encourages each person to be responsible for his own choices and actions and the consequences of them.” There is my problem. I do not have objectivity. Honestly, I don’t know how to have that in these relationships. How does one care without enabling a person? Hmmm. If I respond with simple direct responses, that comes across as cold and unfeeling, which could hurt someone’s feelings. However, if I give too much fluff or information, it can be used against me. In my eyes, I can’t win. I don’t know how to walk that fine line.  

“Turning a toxic relationship into a healthy one requires hard work and a new vision. You can’t change your situation if you fail to see the problems and the options.” In my situation, I can see the problems quite clearly; however, I can’t see the options. Rock and hard place is where I’m constantly sitting.

Questions to Ask Yourself

“These six questions will jump-start your efforts to unscrew difficult relationship problems.”

  1. What emotional tornadoes does the difficult person in your life spin off?
  2. How do you react to the screwed-up person in your life?
  3. How does your difficult person react to your reactions?
  4. If the other person is the problem, are you growing unhealthy actions and reactions in response to him or her?
  5. Are you the screwed-up person driving others to reactive behavior?
  6. How do others react to your actions and responses?

I filled this out for the difficult people in my life. You can give a “pat” type answer or sugarcoat it. However, I laid it all out there in the margins of my book. It isn’t helpful to you or your difficult person to make light of a complicated situation. Be completely honest with yourself and see where you are at fault. Apologize if you can do so safely. If not, then write a letter and apologize. You don’t have to mail it; get it out. 

Yet, if someone causes you great conflict in your life, you have to have boundaries. I struggle with the boundary-setting thing. I fear that if I set a limit, whoever will not speak to me again will lose that relationship. It is easier if it is an acquaintance or a “friend,” but not so much when it is family. That is brutal.

It Takes Only One Person to Change a Relationship

“Do you really want to bring about positive change in your negative relationships? If so, you must be willing to change first. Unless you change first, it is unlikely your relationship will do anything but sink deeper into distress. Reactive behavior rarely brings positive change. It is impossible to continue the same type of interaction if one of the parties has metamorphosed his or her actions and responses.”  

What can one do? Stop enabling. Love with boundaries. Love yourself enough to say no to the request of a difficult person. Maybe you don’t even have to say no; perhaps you can say I will do as I can when I can, but I can’t stop the world because you asked me to do something that is not easy. Yes, I’m talking to myself. I had to say that, and then I felt as if I had put a wedge further between us. Yet, the request was not feasible with the busyness I have going on right now. Honestly, I don’t mind fulfilling the request. It is just going to take time.  

“Patterns can be reversed. It is possible to regain control of thoughts and restructure a life that abuse has tumbled into chaos through the years. People can change. You can change.”

Clear Vision Test

In Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People, Elizabeth B. Brown outlines this test with these instructions: 1=never; 2=sometimes feel this; 3=quite often feel this. Answer honestly and do one test per complicated relationship.

  1. I stew and seethe in silence before our time together.
  2. I worry about and anticipate difficulties and chaos that will come after most of our times together.
  3. I feel manipulated, intimidated, and controlled most of the time.
  4. I feel unappreciated most of the time.
  5. I feel I am always having to defend myself.
  6. I feel overwhelming guilt after our being together.
  7. I feel like “something is eating me alive.”
  8. My conversations with others often spin off the negative actions or reactions I have to this person.
  9. I seem unable to control my anger, resentment, or hurt.
  10. I feel like I will never be able to measure up to what is expected.
  11. I feel like a loser when I express my ideas, needs, or beliefs.
  12. I try to plan out my actions and reactions before we get together.
  13. I fantasize about getting even.
  14. I fantasize about getting out.
  15. I feel I must protect someone other than myself from harm – physical or psychological-caused by the difficult person.
  16. I long to help this person change so he or she will be happier.
  17. I long to help this person change so I will be happier.
  18. I explode at the most unexpected times.
  19. I do not feel happy most of the time.
  20. I don’t like me most of the time.
  21. Most of the time I long for our relationship to be different.

If your score is:

21: Your relationship is normal and healthy.

22-34: Your relationship is skewed.

35-63: Your relationship and your reactions to it are unhealthy.

Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

Reflecting on an Anniversary I Would Rather Ignore

Reflecting on an Anniversary I Would Rather Ignore.  It has been 5 years.  So much is the same, yet so much has changed.

But, on this day,

Dys- Learning Disabilities

Our Lives Changed Forever

Anniversary I Would Rather Ignore.

What began as a somewhat normal day.

Turned into……

A nightmare.

Get up at 8:15 am

G got H up and ready to eat breakfast.

He ate normally.

Noticed he was a bit needy.

He wanted to be in my lap, at all times.

He was a bit whiny.

The boys saved me and took him to their room to play with Legos.

That lasted for 10 minutes.

I kept hearing N say “buddy, you are not in trouble…why are you shaking and screaming?”

I called him back into the dining room.

We snuggled.

He still was throwing a fit.

I had him sit on the step to calm down.

As he shook, he cried.

I told him to stop shaking and he could get up.

He stopped.

He ate lunch.

N put him down for a nap at 12:30

We were all relieved because we would have no screaming time.

At 4:15, we got him up.

He was carried downstairs (as normal) and put in my lap.

We snuggled until he woke up.

I told him he needed to sit on the potty (5 steps away).

I put him on the floor.

He screamed.

He Fell

I thought his legs were asleep, so I picked him up and rubbed his legs.

After about 5 minutes, I put him back down to go to the potty.

He fell again.

Concern began to enter my throat from the depths of my toes.

I had N go across the room (about 10 steps away) and I had H walk to him.

He wobbled like he was drunk, cried, shook, and fell.

A Year Ago Today

That’s when I knew……

Our lives would be forever changed.

Please pray for a miracle.

Romans 4:18a “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing….”

Romans 4:20-21 “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

2 Years Ago Today

He walks, unassisted.

We had our wheelchair ramp removed.

He can ride a tricycle.

Most of the time, he can feed himself.

He struggles with this speech.

Also, with behavior.

Wobbly legs, but better.

Shaky arms/hands are still troublesome.

He runs.

The Meds are working.

God is good.

We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

 

 

Book Processing

What Does ‘New Vision’ Mean

What Does 'New Vision' Mean

What Does ‘New Vision’ Mean

Elizabeth B. Brown discusses having a new vision in her book, Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People. Here I attempt to process my thoughts on this concept. “You keep saying I must see what I have instead of focusing on what I don’t have in a difficult relationship.”

That is one of the first quotes from this book, and it hit me square between the eyes. I feel like fractured relationships within my family, and I am not allowed to enjoy the people still in my life. Some readers will not understand that statement. Others, sadly, will feel what I am saying and nod their heads in agreement.

A friend I have not seen in many years also pointed this out. She knows me but doesn’t know me. This friend has wiped my tears during an uncertain time in my life and has faithfully prayed for my family and me. After about fifteen years, I knew it was time to call and get her advice.

A Massive Conversation 

There were pleasantries and catch-up moments, but for the most part, I dove in head first with everything in my head. She listened and responded with grace, love, dignity, and bluntness. See, I tend to keep things to myself or only talk to people who I know to love me, therefore, agree with me (for the most part). This person was not going to tell me what I wanted to hear. She told me what I needed to hear.  

Some parts hurt, others were “aha” moments, and then there were moments when I cried silently. We are many miles apart, but the love of Jesus poured through the phone and settled in my mind and heart. I appreciate her taking the time to call me and advise me. She gave me a perspective of someone who loves us all but sees the situation with a new vision.

A New Vision

Fast forward to reading this book, and Elizabeth B. Brown nails me between the eyes again. Solidifying the truths that my friend spoke. People, Jesus can talk through any vessel if you are open to listening.  

In Successfully Living with Screwed-Up People, Elizabeth B. Brown talks about Aerial Vision. That is your new vision. “Aerial vision would help me see that there were no arbitrary lines, triggers, or buttons – unless I allowed them. NO ONE COULD CONTROL ME UNLESS I ALLOWED THE CONTROL. I needed to understand that if takes partners to developed a screwed-up relationship.”

I am clearing up and gaining a new vision regarding my complicated relationships. Hopefully, I will begin my healing process and learn that “It takes two people to keep conflict and control alive.” The difficulties did not always start with me. It takes two people to continue down this road of destruction. There have been relationships where I have done my part and apologized, but forgiveness did not occur. Once I am obedient to Christ and apologize, it is up to the other person to do with that information what they want. I can’t make them forgive me or want a relationship with me.

On the other hand, I can recall a couple of complicated relationships where I’ve apologized without knowing what I’ve done wrong and the other person own’s that hurt and tension. It was their perception of a situation, not anything I had done. They have apologized, I forgave, and we attempted to rebuild the friendship. However, when that continues and communication does not freely flow, I shake the dust off my feet.

My Difficult Relationships

In complicated relationships, I always take the entire blame and apologize incessantly. Sometimes, I do so without even knowing what I’ve done wrong. Other times, I continually apologize for things I have already apologized for in that relationship. Also, I apologize for something I think or have uttered under my breath.  

It is not wrong to admit when you are at fault. I want to make that completely clear. What is wrong, in my case, is that I continue to apologize and shame myself. Remember from Brene Brown that shame is when you view yourself as a wrong person. It is not the same as guilt.

In Christ, when we are convicted of something we have done that is wrong, we repent. In that repentance, we try not to do the same thing twice. Free will plays a huge part in that dynamic. Once we ask forgiveness from Christ, we go to the one (if you can) that you have hurt or offended, and you apologize to them. Sometimes you can’t do that due to circumstances. In that case, you can write a letter and then burn it. I have done that many times.

When those things are done, then you are done. Either your relationship is restored, or it isn’t. There are times when it can be repaired and others where it simply can’t. However, I continue to harbor the fact that I have hurt someone. I continue to live in shame, and it eats away at me.

That bad behavior must stop in me. There has got to be a point where I offend, repent, apologize, and then forgive myself. After that, I must let it go and release the shame and the guilt. This book has helped me understand these dynamics.

Aerial Vision

Aerial vision allows you to see:

  • the possibilities
  • the improbabilities
  • the impossible

“Aerial vision clears away illusion: Wrong actions are wrong: wrong responses to wrong actions are equally wrong,” I tell my kids all the time that they are responsible for their actions but not the reactions of others. That is a hard concept for kids, but it is also hard for adults.  

The possibilities of newness in a relationship are endless. True friendships can withstand disagreements from time to time if communication is in play. That statement is also true for marriages. However, when you are in a problematic relationship, things are a bit skewed. When you allow the Lord to open your eyes so you can see clearly, you will be amazed at what you can see. Several “minor” types of relationships have been complex. I’ve done my part and can’t control how the other person receives it or what they do with the information. I know that the relationships are no longer continuing.  

Yet, I have two relationships that I struggle with, which are essential to me. These are the two people that I have to focus more attention on in my life. It isn’t easy to walk away from them because I want greatness, but it is a one-way street right now. I cannot continue to beat myself up when I am rejected. Also, I cannot allow myself to be manipulated or controlled. I do not have a clear aerial vision yet of these relationships.  

Living in the Swamp

“Our choices will either keep us from being pulled into the muck and mire of a screwed-up relationship or cause us to sink as we fight the whirlpools spinning off the person we find difficult or off the longing for what we are not going to have.” My choices have kept me in the muck for a very long time. I have been sinking for so long that I don’t know what it is like to be on solid ground. It hurts my heart, but at some point, I must have self-preservation and let go. 

My prayer is reunification and healing, but it may not happen on this side of heaven. For now, I guess I will settle for peace. I am slowly gaining that peace because I’m beginning to set firm boundaries. In reality, “The swamp bottom is often the beginning of renewal.” I am all about renewal.

Difficult Relationships are like Swamps

“Difficult relationships are like swamps. In a swamp, your vision is obscured by vines, alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. Screwed-up relationships are mired in the muck and swamped by chaos. So much is going on, you don’t know how to find solid ground. About the time you begin to wade out of a period of turmoil, a snake bite or an alligator threatens and you lose your footing. Your struggle for self-preservation so occupies you that you are unable to analyze the source of your problems. You wonder: Am I responsible for all the chaos? Or is the person who drives me crazy truly messed up and responsible for the havoc?”

I have lived with this difficulty for many years. It is time that I step out of the swirl of shame, confusion, and chaos. Those are not qualities that Christ has for us. Christ is not a God of shame, confusion, or chaos. He is a God of love and peace. I have been listening to the whispers of the evil one for far too long, and his reign is ending.  

“When your vision is obscured by the swamp, you must see your relationship with a challenging person from a different perspective.” I slowly see these relationships from a different perspective but have done so over many years and tears. With the love of God, how He speaks to me, through others, and just self-meditation, I’m finally getting it. When I lose sight, I have people to set me straight and remind me of how far I’ve come.

I look forward to exploring more of this book and continuing in my healing. I did change the wording to reflect Elizabeth B. Brown talking directly to me in some of the quotes.

Faith Journey

Setting Boundaries VS Putting Up Walls

Setting Boundaries VS Putting Up Walls

Setting Boundaries VS Putting Up Walls

Setting Boundaries VS Putting Up walls is something I struggle with because I sometimes live in fear. I am choosing not to live in fear because fear is a liar. Honestly, I am so tired of living under the judgment of others. Let me tell you something, friends, oh my word. I’m fixing to use my words and all of them. My words may not be pretty, but sometimes you must let it out.

I will have to take a few minutes and watch a Chopped episode. My brain moves faster than my fingers, and the emotions are strong. Let’s say I am completely and totally over it. A change is coming, and it may take till Jesus returns, but I am done!

Let’s Try This Again

I am not a people person. Yet, I’m empathetic (so I’ve been told), and I have the heart to help others. Those people who are unseen. People that other people snub their noses at because they don’t dress/live/act “appropriately.” I’m just saying that those are my people. I see them, I feel them, I understand them.

Their problems, I feel deep within my soul. The look in their eyes can tell a thousand stories, and they want to share that story. They want to be loved, accepted, and NOT judged. I CHOOSE to love, take, and not pass judgment on them. Honestly, I want to meet them where they are currently and walk into their world. It is an honor to step into their stories.

Hard Realization

What a brutal realization that most people in this world do not think the same way. I just don’t get it. How can you not love and SEE the people around you? The unseen, the less than, the “you are not in my circle. Therefore, you do not exist” people.

For the love of all that is holy, Jesus’ second greatest commandment is to LOVE OTHERS. Matthew 22: 36-40 clearly states, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ‘ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. The first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

The Things That Have Happened

I cannot and will not detail the struggles we have had this summer. It has hit me hard that not everyone thinks like this. Love as Jesus says to love. What they want is to steal, kill, and destroy my joy. My joy is my family. They are all I think of and commit to 100% every minute of every day.

So Much Loss and Pain

The loss and pain were entirely preventable. Let’s try something radical. If you think something is wrong with a friend or their family, then TALK TO THEM. Ask how you can help them, pray for them without details, and listen to their cry. Clean their house, run an errand, cook a meal. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Radical, you think?

Outcome

Well, our outcome has been standing on Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight your battle. You have to be quiet.” I was quiet. There were lots of tears, lots of reflection. There was a period of hiding, a valley of severe depression and anxiety, another medical condition for a child due to the STRESS so-called “friends” put us through. Thank you for that, honestly. It’s been the most fun.

My Oak

This woman. She blew in like a whirlwind. Then, she ironed out all the people in my house. Next, she found me. With that hug, I melted into her arm. I felt her love permeate every single molecule of my body.

She gently walked me upstairs, and we both lay down and talked. I cried, and she sat in silence and rubbed my hair like when I was a little girl. She permitted me to wallow for a day, but tomorrow I have to get up and wash my face and face the day. There will be no hiding for her little girl.

She loves me. Unconditionally. She sees me. Truthfully. She knows all that has happened, yet she loves those who hurt her baby so profoundly. My kids will be blessed if I am 1/2 the mama she is when I grow up. She blesses me.

A Few True Friends

We discovered those who would stand by us and those who judge us. Prayer warriors surrounded us and kept us safe. We stood before God clean. Our family came out on the other side with no truth coming from the claims and lies.

For Now

I choose self-care. Pet a cat (or 12), bake, eat candy, smile more, block people on social media, keep loving on the “less of these” people, wash my hands, wear a mask, parent my kids, love my husband, and love my God. My enemies cannot hurt me because God goes before me, after me, and stands on each side of me. If you want to get to my family or me, you must go through Him first.

Good luck to you.

 

 

 

Cooking

Brunzi Baseball Casserole

Brunzi Baseball Casserole

Brunzi Baseball Casserole

1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained

1 large onion, cooked

Seasoning

Cream of chicken, 2 cans

Chicken noodle soup, 2 cans (or you could make your own and use it)

2 c. uncooked rice

Brown meat, onion, and seasoning.  Drain.  Add in soups and rice.  Stir.  Bake, uncovered, in a greased 13×9 pan at 350 for 45 minutes.

Additions:

With this recipe, you can add spinach, kale, cheese, chopped-up peppers, or mushrooms; gracious, the world is your oyster. My kids love this recipe. I have been sprinkling a bit of cheese over the top lately, but it isn’t necessary.
With rice there, I choose not to make potatoes or other noodles as a side dish. My kids are happy with a salad and maybe some green beans. We are pretty simple in the side dish department around here. I guess I need to up that game because I know there are ways I can make veggies more fun.
I could make carrot muffins or bread (sugar, I know). There are a thousand and five ways to make zucchini or squash. Anytime I make that, my kids and husband approve. I like doing simple zucchini spears, drizzle some olive oil, seasoning mix, and parmesan. Then, I roast them in the oven until they are fork-tender.

Servings:  10-12

Calories per serving:  220

 

Life or Something Like It, Vacation Days

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

This was written 8 years ago.  This year (2022), we celebrated 28 years of marriage together.  He is my favorite human ever.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

Living Out God’s Story 20 Years Strong

Living Out God’s Story 20 Years Strong. Today is the day I married the man God intended for me to marry.

I met him during a horrible time in my life. Sadly, I was in an abusive relationship and very beaten down. I had just transferred to our local university. Also, I had moved out of my home. My family was in turmoil, and it wasn’t easy.

I remember walking into the game room. Amazingly, I had gotten a job on campus, and this was it. I was late because I had driven from my parent’s home, an hour away. By the time I got there, the other employees had already lined up at the front desk and heard the “speech” given by the head guy.

I noticed a boy, about the third or fourth in line. He had whitewashed jeans, a light green shirt, a cub’s hat, and a lip full of tobacco (yuck). I only saw his profile.

My first thought was, “I’m gonna marry him.”

I had no idea his name as if he were single. Honestly, all I knew was his butt looked AMAZING in those jeans. Also, he had a kind expression on his face.

I walked to the end of the line and heard the speech. Then, I got my schedule. I remember looking at it in detail. Sadly, I knew no one. I was paired on the weekends with two guys. One of the guy’s name was Shawn, and the second guy, I remember looking at his name and thinking, “who would name their kid Bart?” Seriously, I had no idea who “Bart” was. Honestly, I just got tickled with his name. I even called my sister, snickering.

Then, as I went for my first shift, I met Shawn. He was a nice guy who loved to pick his nose on yards upon yards of toilet paper. As I sat there, I looked up, and here he came, Bart. He was the guy with the whitewashed jeans. I remember thinking, “OH MY GOODNESS!”

My heart Flipped.

His eyes were sky blue. He had a bitty mustache. He was quiet and reserved. His hands were HUGE….my thumbs put together would equal one of his thumbs. He was smart. Soft. Encouraging.

My “relationship” with the guy I had been with was very controlling. He did not allow me to talk to ANY male person. Also, he would come and watch me. It did not go well when I had to speak to a guy. He would stand there and watch. I walked behind him. I had no opinion on any subject. He told me what to think and do, how to act, and who to associate with, and it was sad. Even sadder, though, as I yielded to that mindset and treatment.

We had bowling alleys in our game room, and they occasionally broke down. Bart and I would have to go back to where my “boyfriend” couldn’t go so we could work on the lanes. He would talk to me and tell me what he thought I deserved and how I should be treated, that I should be treated like a princess and without abandon. I deserved better.

He loved me, and he showed me love. Also, he taught me how to love.

From meeting to marriage was about a year, and today, we celebrate 20 years of marriage. I’m so thankful my first reaction was spot on and that through the years of love, laughter, pain, and loss. He has never left my side.

Happy Anniversary to my FAVORITE person (you’ve still got a great butt)

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

On our 20th Anniversary Trip, we spent time in Canada, Buffalo, NY, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and more. We booked a reservation at the Skylon Tower. Then, we went for a walk through Toronto and Ontario. Well, we got lost in Toronto.

It was breathtaking. All of it was just breathtaking. This is a place I would go back to year after year. I have never seen anything so gorgeous in all my days. It is a close second to Dhera, Ethiopia.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

 

We saw many nations represented.

In addition to the Falls, we saw Tibetan Monks, Rabbis, a sweet Jewish family, and many Amish and Mennonites.

We looked up and ran into old acquaintances among the many, many people. We have not seen these people in years. They were as shocked as we were. We attended church for years and taught each other’s kids during AWANA. It has probably been ten years since we had seen them. Then, we ran into them in Canada.

Tonight we had dinner at Fuji Grill. It was a hibachi grill, and it was wonderful.

 We were blessed enough to share our table with a traveling couple from Indiana.

We laughed, shared, and talked the whole time.

Tremendous.

Part of my Bucket List

Part of my bucket list is Kissing Big Daddy under a waterfall (at Niagara Falls). Well, I successfully did that. There was a quick moment of Kissing Big Daddy Under the American Falls at Niagara.

There was a moment when we were attempting to get under the falls. The pressure, the wind, and the force of the water made it hard to stand. So, I got under, and he tried to get a picture. Then, Bart got under it, and I tried to get a picture.

As He Was Walking Out From Under the Falls

I remembered my bucket list and made him run back under the falls. Then, I tucked my camera under my poncho and ran under there.

Then, I did it. Success.

It was windy and wet.

However, there was no picture until after the fact.

Check it off my list 🙂

Now, for 1001 more items to check off my list. One by one, Big Daddy and I were doing what we love to do. He is my favorite travel buddy!

One day, I want to sell everything when the kids are gone. Then, I want to buy an RV and travel all over the place. The thought thrills me to my toes.

On 20th Anniversary Trip Day 6, we slept in, which was lovely.

We went to the mall, and I had my first experience in the Coach store.

Big Daddy let me in the store alone. Big, big, BIG mistake.

The colors and the smells dazzled my senses.

Big Daddy tried to whisk me away, and he did so in vain. I was helpless in the clearance section. I also had a 50% off coupon. This was such an exciting moment. I remember when I would cry in the drive-thru at McDonald’s because I had $1.00 to get a sandwich.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

It was too much.

I succumbed to the powers of the store and bought a bag. It was fabulous. However, since I bought a bag, I told Big Daddy that I would see a movie of his choice.

It was X Men.

Say a prayer.

In my opinion, these movies are stupid.

It was a good movie, shockingly enough. Since I went into it knowing nothing, Big Daddy had a lot of explaining to do. He didn’t seem to mind. It is lovely spending time doing something that he enjoys doing. I mean, I did get a new purse and all!

On our 20th Anniversary Trip Day 8, we went to the Mansfield Reformatory.

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

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It was WOW and WOW.

I have lots of pictures.

The thought of how many young men died in this prison was mindboggling. Bart’s dad played baseball with the inmates on this front lawn. How cool is that? Oh, how I wish he were alive so we could share this with him. I would love to hear all of his stories.

The new prison is beside the old one. We accidentally got into the parking lot of the wrong prison. I guess the no trespassing sign should have been a cue. Honestly, we looked up and saw the line of prisoners walking from the yard back to their cells. We left quickly.

We also headed into Big Daddy’s parent’s hometown of Cardington, OH.

There, we met up with his aunt and uncle. They were gracious enough to let us stay with them overnight. They took us out to a great little diner.

We left the diner and headed to the campground, where I met another aunt and uncle (after 20 years of marriage).

We stayed and chatted for a while and then headed back to sleep.

On our 20th Anniversary Trip Day 9, we headed into Amish Country.

The place we chose, which we remember when we were 20 years ago, is in Holmes County, OH.

We ate at Boyd and Wurthman’s Diner. It was locally owned and operated. The food was delicious.

I got a few pictures, not many because the Amish do not want their picture taken. I took a picture of one little boy. Respecting their beliefs is important to me because it was important to my father-in-law. I chose to respect that.

Sad Fact

It was not as we remembered. There were so many more businesses, English businesses. It has become very commercial. We only shopped at locally owned stores and no “English-run” businesses. The scenery, however, was just as we remembered. It was gorgeous.

We went to Heini’s, and we sampled about 20 different cheeses. It was wonderful. Heini’s is a cheese factory. Let me tell you; it will be in heaven when I get there. A place dedicated to cheese. Yes, please.

Excellent food.

We also got to see a covered bridge and a castle 🙂

Niagara Falls, Holmes County, and the Mansfield Reformatory

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Faith Journey, Medical Issues, Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome

The Prophecy and The Call

The Prophecy and The Call

The Prophecy and The Call. Last December, we were at church and getting ready to worship. We have been church hunting for a while and landed on Christian Fellowship. Honestly, we knew the pastor and his wife, as well as a few families. We had not been going very long, but it was different than what we were used to attending. This was originally written on June 21, 2017.

People Watching

Before service started, there was a welcome, and then our pastor called up a man because he had a “word” to give some people in the congregation. We have learned that this is somewhat normal but still very abnormal to our family. We were not used to that. So, we sat and watched this man pace back and forth in front of the congregation.

I am a people watcher/reader, and the thing that caught my eye was that he never opened his eyes when he was pacing or talking. He kept touching the insides of his hands. You could tell that he was uncomfortable but obedient. He said that he had had this word from the Lord. Also, he wanted to make sure that it was from Him and not from this man’s flesh. However, he realized through his sleepless nights that this was from the Lord, and he had to be obedient.

The Word

He said he had a word for someone in the congregation, so we sat, listened, and watched him pace. He made his way down the aisle we were sitting on and stopped in front of Big Daddy. I felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room, and my mind was whirling. He asked Big Daddy to stand up. I looked to the altar, where our pastor was standing, and he gave me a look, a nod, and a smile that it was okay.

This man, whom we had never seen or met, told Big Daddy to hold onto his hand. Big Daddy is not a tiny man, and his hands are ginormous, so when he stands, he is noticed. This man said that the Lord was telling him to “Hold on. Hold on tight to the rope and do not let go. To trust and hold on tight.” I felt an energy move through me, and tears flowed freely. This was strange because I don’t usually cry or get swept up in my emotions. The moment was fleeting, but the air was thick, and I knew, in my soul, we were in for a ride.

Come the beginning of 2017, so many things happened.

My daddy had quadruple bypass surgery. Then, my niece was sentenced, and my nephew was close behind her. My daughter went to military school due to her behavior. Also, we had a family issue involving another baby that was devastating. Oh, let’s not forget my oldest daughter called off her engagement. She was downsized at work. We were also fighting with insurance companies for my son’s needs surgery. Add that to my Lady getting sick. Then, the straw that broke the camel’s back happened. We were reminded to “hold on” throughout the first six mths of 2017.

Even More

Big Daddy and I tried hard to win a case during the incident involving a family member. It was simply out of our hands. We knew what we could do to help the situation and were willing, but it was not our call. As I spoke to a friend, she said I needed to “hold onto hope.” She also noted that the Hebrew meaning of “hope” is “rope,” so hold onto the rope. I caught my breath, texted her back, and asked her who had told her that. She said it was a word from the Lord to me. I asked her if she knew the man who had said the same thing in December, and she did not know him. That is twice the Lord has said to “hold on.” I felt like we had held on pretty well.

My Sister

Then the call came. My sister called me on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Now, she rarely calls me on a Tuesday. We’ll talk on Monday 🙂 I asked her if everything was okay, and she said she woke up to an odd text. She said it was from a friend, a former neighbor, that she used to walk with around her neighborhood. That friend said that the Lord placed my name on her heart and that she was praying for me. I have never met, spoken to, or even seen a picture of this woman. She knows me from what my sister had said, and I’m sure I wasn’t the topic of every conversation, although I am awesome like that. I told my sister I did not like that, and that meant that something was fixing to happen. My sister told me to take it as a blessing, but I was unsettled.

Daddy

After he got sick, H and I spent almost two weeks in the hospital. I missed my family, was tired, and was over it. The doctors had told me 1005 things, and none of it was good. Thankfully, one day, my sister (H’s Mamaw) came up to give me some respite on MRI day.

She came in and handed me my flatter than a flat pillow, my granny’s quilt, and a gift from my daddy. Again, I am told to “hold on” in some form or fashion. I carry that with me to this day. It reminds me that my heavenly Father and my Earthly father love me and know it will all be okay!

 

 

Adoption

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms

Adoption Terms Closed, Semi-Open, Open. These terms can be daunting. I’m not sure about the other adoptive mamas out there, but when we first embarked on the adoption journey, these terms were never tossed around.

After eight years of being in the adoption world, I am very familiar with each of these things, and I stop and look at what they each mean to my family.

Ethiopian Adoption

In an ideal world, my kids would have been parented by their biological parents. My two children’s biological mother would have had a great support system who would teach her how to parent correctly. My Ethiopian son’s biological mother would’ve been taught basic hygiene, basic first aid, garden, manage money, and live successfully in the country she loves.

Sad Reality of Adoption: International, Foster to Adopt, or IntraFamily Adoption

We live in a fallen world. We all have a choice, whether good or bad. The reality is that when bad decisions are made, natural consequences will occur. My two kids’ lives were riddled with all sorts of negative things. It has changed their lives and shaped who they are and their thought processes. My Ethiopian son had medical issues that could not have been avoided. A death occurred, and unforeseen issues came to the surface.

International Ethiopian Adoption

 With my son from ET, I yearned for open adoption. I knew things. I have a heart for his sweet mama and his brothers and sisters. Open adoption is impossible due to laws (ET and American) and the fact that an ocean separates us. This sweet family lives deep in the jungle. I have no way of getting them anything. So we hang pictures, talk about them, and watch videos. I want my son to know that she loved him so deeply that she gave him life twice.

Future Adoptions

I will still choose semi-adoption or open adoption with any future adoptions. One day, I would love to be chosen by a birth mom. To allow her to be in their child’s life in a controlled, safe environment. I would love for grandparents to be grandparents if that is an option. Aunts and uncles to still be aunts and uncles. I will say when red flags occur, changes can be made. Safety is a number one priority.