08 June 2015

How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively

Sure, God commands Christians to love our neighbors as ourselves. Yes, it is the second greatest commandment ("Love your neighbor as yourself." - Matt 22:39). I'm going to be honest here though - sometimes just walking across the lawn or down the street to get to know your neighbor is hard, let alone loving them. That's where this book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively comes in. Amy walks the reader through the reasons, the how's, the excuses we invent for ourselves and how to get over those excuses and gain the benefits of not only saying hi to your neighbor, but getting to know them and inviting them into your life.

Amy's book was very well laid out, easy to read and very encouraging. Not only does Amy help you overcome fears about getting to know your neighbors, but shares ways of lovingly sharing your faith with them. She peppers her practical advice with stories from her own life and how she overcame excuses, fear of rejection, procrastination and more to get to know the own people that God had placed her among in her town. Beyond that she shares the joy, friendships, help and laughter that she experienced once she got to know her neighbors. This very down to earth book can be a great help and encouragement for any person who hesitates on the threshold of their drive way or sidewalk when faced with saying hi to the stranger next door. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

**As a note to the author, if the Amy ever reads my review, it would be really neat to see a military edition of this book. The military community is extremely unique in our society, being a nomadic community that constantly changes with moves across the country or around the world every few years, which means new neighbors as often as every few months.**

The Hiding Place (Young Readers Edition) by Corrie Ten Boom with Elizabeth & John Sherrill

Corrie Ten Boom has worked alongside her father and the rest of her family in a small watch shop on a quiet corner in a friendly city in the Netherlands her entire life. Change is fast approaching as rumors of war and eventually war itself reach her quiet life. God has big plans in store for her and her family though, as they risk their lives to hide Jews and other people on the run from the Nazis. A secret room constructed in their home serves as a hiding place for several years as they help numerous people. Until the day they are betrayed. Torn from their beloved home, the family is imprisoned, first in the Netherlands, and then in the dreaded concentration camps in Germany. Even in the darkest of hours, facing starvation, stark loneliness, illness and even death, Corrie does not give up and brings the light of Jesus Christ to the darkness, delivering hope where there was none before.

This inspiring and gripping story written by Elizabeth and John Sherrill, as told to them by Corrie Ten Boom, covers Corrie's early life until the time of her death, with much of the book concentrating on the years that she and her family daringly hid Jews in their home and the time Corrie spent in German concentration camps. Corrie's, and her family's, unwavering faith in God for help and deliverance shine through every page of the story as their total reliance on the Lord led to incredible adventures, some heartbreaking and tragic. Besides being very well told, what makes this story so gripping is the knowledge that every detail happened. History unfolded before Corrie as she followed God's direction in her life and in doing so saved many people from certain death. I heartily recommend this story for young readers and adults alike.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

30 April 2015

Almost finished . . . .

As of right now, I have one exam left in my undergraduate degree.


I submitted my final two papers last night, and I have to admit, it was a bittersweet moment for me.

I feel like I've been doing this whole college thing for so long, it's almost hard to accept that this chapter in my life, this long, over-lapping chapter of many other chapters, is finally going to be over.

Finished. Completed.

It's a bit surreal, really.

I have some studying to do before my final exam early next week, and then the family and I are packing up and driving east to Oklahoma, where I will walk with my graduating class.

I must admit, I am nervous about that.

I've been doing a bit of reflecting on my college career, as long and drawn out as it has been. I remember lots and lots of nights staying late at the Oklahoma City Community College library until it closed, studying, no matter how tired I was. I disciplined myself to stay there every night after class, or on the nights I didn't have class, from the time I arrived after work around 5:30pm until the library closed at 11:00pm. Then I would drive home, fix and eat dinner, go to bed, and wake up at 7:00am to go to work and do it all over again.

I remember my first classes at Rose State College and how excited I was to be at college. I felt all grown up, even though at the time I was 20 and married (to my ex). It wasn't the getting married or buying a house that made me feel grown up; it was attending college. I loved that first English class.

I remember how excited I was to finally be in nursing school, and going to school during the day, like a "real" college student. At the time, I had been in college for four years, but every class had been taken at night or on a Saturday morning. I remember the thrill of walking the college campus and feeling so apart of it all.

I remember sitting in front of the computer for hours on end during my first online classes, my protruding round, pregnant belly making it hard to reach the keyboard comfortably as I typed away on my papers in those two English classes. I loved it though.

I remember falling asleep, face down, on my history text book, high lighter in one hand and pen in the other, on more than one occasion during that semester. It wasn't the history, which I really enjoyed, I was just tired . . .

I remember drawing a very large cell on my white board, located on the wall across from my daybed in my studio apartment, so I could memorize all the features and components of the cell any time I liked.

I remember working two or sometimes three jobs to pay my way through school on the semesters I didn't qualify for student loans. I'd say determination to finish would be an honest assessment of how I felt about school.

I remember crying leaving the Dean of the School of Nursing's office when I told her I was withdrawing from the nursing program because I was pregnant with my first child.

I remember being determined to not let that end my college career, even though it was the end of a dream.

I have so many other memories of my college path, too many really to recount at the moment.

I may have taken a years long break after I had my children, but I remained determined to finish. College was one thing I was absolutely not going to quit.

I knew it would be hard. And it was. I knew it would be a struggle. And it was. But I persevered, by God's grace, I will finish next week.

And now I have almost completed the race. I will be able to stand proudly and say "I did it. I finished. I didn't quit." And I will have finished well.

Though this chapter in academia draws to close, I sense that my career in academia is not over . . . I love it too much. Who knows what the future will bring?

08 April 2015

35 in 365 Update

I haven't updated on my 35 in 365 list in a while! I have been slowly, oh so slowly, working on it and I've been able to get a few things checked off.

Me and Sean Patrick Flannery from Boondock Saints at the ABQ Comic Con in January

Waiting for the Banana Slug String Band at Popejoy Hall Schooltime Series

We also saw "DinoLite" and we have tickets for "Treasure Island"

We went with great friends!

Finally made it the UNM Duck Pond! Why I have never been here before?!?

Finished Lord of the Rings - almost twice! I'm on my second reading for "Return of the King" for school.
Speaking of school - I'm finishing up my last two classes! I've ordered my cap and gown and will be graduating with my degree in four short weeks!

Speaking of graduating, I am taking a trip out to Oklahoma to walk with my graduating class, and while I'm there I'm going to catch up with my wonderful, cherished friends - can't wait to see them!

I'm registered to run a 5K in May! One other 5K and I'll have that completed.

Heading to the ABQ Art Museum this Saturday with the tickets I won on the radio! Thank you KHFM Classical Radio Albuquerque!

Clothing project is in final stage of completion - dropping stuff for donation this week, after selling several items at the New Mexico Kids Consignment Sale this past fall and spring!

I've been to White Sands Missile Range twice in the past month, but I'm not sure if I'm counting that one or not. I went to the southern end of White Sands to watch Mike compete in the Bataan Death March Memorial and we visited the Trinity Site as a family. However, when I put that goal, I was thinking white sand dunes at the National Monument, so that one is debatable for now . . .

I have plans to visit Bisti De Na Zin and Four Corners with Sierra, but that isn't until June . . . can't wait though!!

Do you have a goal list that you are working towards? Or a bucket list of places to see?

01 April 2015

Feeling Like an Imposter

Today the Special Needs Fair took place on base. The children and I got dressed and headed over (it's Spring Break - who says you can't stay in your pajamas until noon?). For once, the kids acted like perfect little angels.

As I wandered from booth to booth with my gaggle of children (is three a gaggle??) gathering brochures and making small talk with various representatives from everything from ABA Therapy to Music Programs for kids with special needs, I couldn't help but feel like an imposter.

Do I belong in this world of families with a child dealing with special needs?

The test results say I do. The behavior issues say I do. The feelings of being cut off from a sense of normalcy in some regards for my oldest child say I do. The school says I do.

I couldn't help but notice the glances I got as some of the representatives looked at my very well-behaved children (trust me, this is not a normal occurrence - the good behavior, that is), as if they were thinking, "What are you doing here, lady?"

In the past I feel like I have been judged by moms whose kids visibly have special needs when I speak up and say I deal with struggles too. Their looks say, "She looks perfectly fine - what could you possibly be dealing with??"

It seems that being a mom in this day and age is a cut throat business full of judging and competition. I admit I have been guilty of that, especially when my kids were much younger, but I've really tried to stay away from that for a long while now. It's so defeating.

And yet, even after the struggle to get Butterfly to use her words, to understand her, the super-long screaming tantrums, the struggle with homework (which we no longer do, thankfully), the struggle to get her to even associate with her siblings, let alone her peers, I still feel like people wonder what I'm talking about when I say I have a child with special needs. Like I'm crazy or something.

Only I know that I'm not. The struggle is real. It's hard. I cry. Butterfly cries. We endured a seemingly grueling therapy schedule for a year before she started Kindergarten and got therapy at school. I guess twice a week isn't too bad, I have friends who have twice as much therapy, or more, but being at therapy at 8:00 in the morning with three small children age three and under was really, really hard.

During that time I felt simultaneously emotionally stifled and exploding, reeling with a new diagnosis and all that it entailed, horrified that I hadn't realized so much sooner, feeling like an awful mom, struggling just to make it through each day before arriving in bed at the end of said day completely toasted, emotionally.

I feel like I'm caught between two worlds: the world of kids who are "normal" and the special needs world. Butterfly can dress herself (although she didn't do this until she was over four), she can feed herself, she does talk. It isn't until you start asking her questions and talk to her, on a more-than-superficial-level, that you begin to see her language processing disorder come out.

And yet, if you just looked at her, of casually talked to her, or observed her on the playground, you probably wouldn't be able to tell that she's special needs.

I feel like I'm alone in this. I have friends who children are on the autism spectrum disorder and I feel like they go through so much more than I do. The same with my friend whose child has apraxia. I can relate, but I can't. Butterfly doesn't have autism or apraxia. She has a language processing disorder and global developmental delays.

She's making progress in school, but not enough progress. She's improving, but not at the rate that she should be, whatever that means. After we had an IEP meeting before Christmas to discuss Butterfly's progress in school (which was nil in the general ed class with only six hours of special ed per week), her teachers and I thought it best to move Butterfly to the special ed class for all subjects except pull outs (art, PE, etc).

I guess I just feel lost. Sometimes at the end of the day I feel emotionally raked over the coals from battles with Butterfly. And I'm sure she feels the same way.

I accepted this new normal a long time ago. But that doesn't make the struggle any less.

25 February 2015

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

An academic book review by an author who was inspired by C.S. Lewis: Lemony Snicket.

Macabre and Humor for Children in The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

            A lot of children’s stories involve daring adventures, life lessons, examination of faith or simply entertain the reader; an excellent example of children’s literature that examines faith while also entertaining the reader would be C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  Not all together so with The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. This first story in The Series of Unfortunate Events collection, though entertaining and providing a great moral, does not contain a plethora of cheerfulness and good will.  This review will give you a glimpse into Snicket’s macabre tale and how, though the story is completely unlike Lewis’ works, Snicket uses some of the same style as Lewis.

            There once lived three small children named Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. They came from a loving home and were quite happy.  Until the day their lives were turned upside down in a terrible tragedy and afterwards became filled with all sorts of misery. The Bad Beginning recounts their woeful tale from that tragic day on, including a creepy house, bad food and sinister villains with dastardly schemes. The siblings, however, stick together and use their wit and love for each other to overcome adversity.

            Though Snicket’s novel deals with some very serious issues using quite a macabre tone, he does use a great deal of humor to lighten the subject matter.  While any inquisitive youngster with a penchant for reading, exploring and learning about the world around them and how it works can relate with the Baudelaire siblings, Snicket over emphasizes his villain to make him seem a little less believable, though still quite creepy. At times, the trouble that the Baudelaire siblings find themselves in can be quite frightening to a very young reader; hesitancy should be used with a child younger than age ten in reading this novel. For the slightly older reader though, the humor sprinkled throughout can help alleviate the tense parts of the story. The juxtaposition of the comedic and macabre bring a great balance to the story and without one or the other, it probably wouldn’t survive. Snicket’s writing will have the reader gripping the page one paragraph and the very next paragraph the reader will be laughing out loud.  To that end, any child that lives in the tragic world in which we reside today can easily relate to the very positive moral of this story.

            What about Lewis? Snicket and Lewis both write in such a style that when reading their books for children, it feels as though they occasionally take a sentence or two to speak directly to the reader - or in Snicket’s case sometimes a whole page to go off on a personal tangent – but this only adds to the humor of his writing. This kind of writing directly to the reader brings a much realer relationship between the author and the reader, while also providing reassurance that this book is in fact, a made up story, scary parts and all. Lewis and Snicket also use these little quips as opportunities to teach a child little life lessons.

            Should The Bad Beginning enter into your child’s library? For the mature reader, even the sensitive ones, yes. The Baudelaire siblings face terrible tragedy and reading about tragedy helps make it seem not quite as scary, or at the very least, not an end all forever. The Baudelaire siblings survive, learn and even grow while the lessons they learn help them overcome their tragedy in a positive way, something that most people would be better off knowing.  Lewis used his works to help teach children to be brave in order to face a sometimes scary world; it would not be far off to say the same of Snicket.

15 February 2015

PSA: Signs of a Stroke

In my goal to post at least once every week, I am bringing you this Public Service Announcement, based on a flyer I made when I was in nursing school (years and years ago). Without further ado, here you go - who knows, maybe you'll save someone's life by learning the signs of a stroke:

What are you doing to Prevent Stroke??

Stroke is one of the most preventable illnesses

Stroke is also the second leading cause of death

In the United States

Stroke is the LEADING cause of long term disability


Risk factors for stroke:

·        High blood pressure

·        High cholesterol

·        Smoking

·        Poor diet and lack of exercise

·        Atrial fibrillation

·        Drinking alcohol excessively
What can I do???

·        Lower high blood pressure through diet,
Exercise or take medicine as prescribed

·        Stop smoking

·        Eat less salt

·        Exercise for 1 hour at least 3 x a week

·        If you do drink, drink in moderation (1-2  beverages)

·        See your doctor and find out if you have an abnormal heart rhythm. If you do, get treated for it


How do I know if a loved one is having a stroke???

          Act F.A.S.T. :

Face – Does one side of the face droop?

Arms – If both arms are raised, does one arm drift downward?

Speech – Is their speech slurred or sound strange?

Time – If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest hospital. It’s time to Act FAST!!

(2007). Preventing Stroke. Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

         Retrieved 14April2008 from CINAHL Database.

“Stroke Facts” National Stroke Association. www.stroke.org

08 February 2015

Memoir Snippet: Full Circle

I wrote this back in August, at the beginning of the school year . . .

Clank-clank. Clank. The metal snaps on the flag clank against the pole, while the Stars and Stripes snap to attention in the brisk breeze.  A bright New Mexico blue sky looks down on a deserted and quiet playground. The heat of the summer has yet to calm and fade away to the coolness of autumn.  I walk down the hall of my daughter’s new school and see kids busy at desks and tables, heads bent intently over books, or sitting gathered around a teacher eagerly leaning in to hear a new story, over-head projectors lighting up dimmed classrooms as a new lesson is taught. My oldest daughter is a part of this world of learning and exploration now. She has entered the world of kindergarten.

            I feel a slight tug in my stomach as my own childhood academic memories flood back to me, set off by sights, sounds and smells at my daughter’s school. In the course of my school career, I went to ten different schools.  Such is the life of a military brat. Though there were many teachers, lots of new classrooms, differently designed schools and a plethora of names to learn, some things remained the same. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, I did. I loved it.

            I think back to when I was a tiny child with an oversized backpack and a long brown ponytail, starting school on a tropical island under a steamy sun on a small island in the East China Sea. How I loved the smell of rubber shavings emanating from new erasers, the feel of granite pencil tip on paper gliding smoothly under the direction of my clumsy child fingers, the smell of slightly decayed fruits and vegetables alongside peanut butter sandwiches, waiting in lunch boxes at the back of the classroom in their respectable cubbies. I loved that there was a whole world of newness that was opened up to me, and it was huge, waiting for me to come and take in more and learn everything I could absorb. I could never get enough. I delighted in skipping ahead in the reading, or continuing counting on past one hundred until the lines on the paper ran out on a quiz, just to show that I was ready to learn more.

            The rules at every school remained the same. The type of work was constant.  And there was a flag pole at every school, and the clanking metal on metal in a breeze under the red, white and blue. That feeling the school had when it was full of students abuzz with new thoughts and ideas. And the empty feeling of a lonely playground, abandoned until the next recess.

            These sounds, smells and feelings connected one school to another, across the country, around the world, and now, here, at my daughter’s school. Things have come full circle and I am no longer the little girl with the over-sized backpack. Now it’s my oldest daughter’s turn as she starts Kindergarten.

            As I think on these things I ponder what her school experience will be like. Like me, she is a military brat and doubtlessly will attend numerous schools before she graduates. There will be similarities, but there will also be many differences. I wonder if she too will come to find comfort in the small and ordinary, as she moves from school to school. The pencils, the desks, the overhead projectors, the lunches, and the playgrounds, all bringing uniformity and, therefore, comfort. And the clanking flagpole in the wind as the American flag flies overhead.