Lady in Waiting

This book by: Susan Meissner is the story of two women named Jane; who live centuries apart but are connected by a betrothal ring. Jane Lindsay finds an antique ring with the name “Jane” engraved on it and sets off on a quest to discover the history behind it. Jane is enduring an emotional roller coaster while her marriage is falling apart. Lonely, she feels connected to the “Jane” who once owned the beautiful ring. Step back to the sixteenth-century and follow the life of Lady Jane Grey of Tudor England through the eyes of her dressmaker, Lucy Day.

Meissner does a great job incorporating both lives and stories in this contemporary and historical fiction. Reading this book sparked my interest in the true history of Lady Jane Grey and a more in-depth leisurely study of general Tudor history. I found this book very interesting. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the sixteenth century time period; understanding that it is a work of fiction.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Lady in Waiting

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The Legend of the Candy Cane

This book written by: Lori Walburg and illustrated by: Richard Cowdrey is a thick board book with beautiful illustrations. It tells the story of a new candy shop opening in a small town. A little girl named Lucy helps the shop owner unpack the candy jars and fill them. She comes across a candy that she was unfamiliar with and the shop owner tells her the story of the Candy Cane. J is for Jesus, Shepherd’s staff for the shepherds that were told by angels of Jesus birth, Red stripes for the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, and white for Jesus making us pure.

This is a cute book that tells the legend of the Candy Cane to young children. The board book style makes it perfect for the younger children while the illustrations are perfect for any age. I think that this book will make a great gift for my young nieces!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Zondervan provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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The Legend of the Candy Cane

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unPLANNED

This book by: Abby Johnson is the personal story of a former Planned Parenthood director. She tells, from her perspective, how she came to work for Planned Parenthood, her beliefs and values, her personal experiences with abortion, her job responsibilities, etc. She explains both the pro-choice and pro-life perspectives when addressing personal, political, ethical issues. She describes her experience of assisting during an actual abortion for the first time and how that experience completely changed her worldview.

This book is a must read for anyone who has any interest in the abortion debate. While Abby Johnson is now clearly pro-life, she very delicately addresses the viewpoint from the pro-choice side. As someone who has had abortions, worked for the abortion industry, and now is a pro-life advocate, she is able to give a unique perspective on the subject. She now has a heart for the women and men who work in the abortion industry and her ministry involves helping those who want to leave the industry. I highly recommend this book. It gave me insight into the mind of someone who had the pro-choice perspective that I may not have otherwise considered. When I discuss abortion and my very pro-life views with people who do not agree with me, I often reference Abby Johnson’s story and recommend this book.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Tyndale House provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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unPLANNED By: Abby Johnson

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Quick Update!

I have been silent for awhile, not because I have not wanted to write more frequently but because I have been keeping busy as usual!

Here are some quick updates that I hope to elaborate on soon…

Our new exchange student from Germany arrived in August and has blended into our family very well!

Both of my girls are now in elementary school which has freed up my schedule enough to have a job. I am a new consultant for Norwex and I house cleaning other people’s houses (using all Norwex-chemical free cleaning)!

I am on the leadership team for our local Community Bible Study. I am the media director and run all of the sound & media equipment as well as create all of the slide presentations for the lectures.

I am the PAC (parent advisory counsel) President for my girls elementary school. Which means I am at the school often volunteering.

I am in choir at church and will soon be joining the newly formed worship team!

I help when I can at our local Pregnancy Resource Center. We just had a fundraising banquet last month that and I was in charge of all the decorating.

Between my 3 girls, they do Awana, soccer, dance, cross country, and other church and school activities.

Keeping busy apparently is my motto! In my free time, I still love to read, watch movies, and write!

By Alysa Posted in Life
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When Our Military Spouse Is Deployed…

It is difficult to make an all-inclusive list of everything that goes on in the lives of a military family during deployment and TDYs. I have read several attempts at making lists so that friends and family may better understand our perspective. Unfortunately, they all fall short of giving the full picture of our lives. My list will fall short as well. Many things on my list apply even if my husband is not deployed but when he is gone for any length of time it makes these points much more applicable. In no particular order, and with the understanding that this can’t possibly include everything, here is some things you should know about us…

We live paycheck to paycheck.

B1~Even when my husband is home, we are out of money by the end of the month. This is not because we are always careless with our money. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do my best to manage the money well. I realize that not everyone is as organized as I am but I personally have a large binder that holds all of the bills that we pay monthly. I diligently budget out where our paycheck goes… down to the penny. Inevitably, something comes up that requires money that we were not expecting to spend and our budget for the month goes out the window.

~We do tend to spend more during deployment. Usually there is a little more money coming in the paycheck. This is the time to try and catch up with the bills, to buy that extra “toy” that we haven’t been able to afford, and to treat the kids to a restaurant or activity… all before the money runs out and we are back to our normal routine.

~We also do whatever we can to help earn more money to help the finances. If we do not have a full or part-time job, we have yard sales, home businesses (Norwex, Thirty-One, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Scentsy, etc…), we babysit, do yard work, and basically will do anything we can to earn that extra cash. The money we earn ensures that we will be ok if we grab happy meals for lunch or get an extra outfit that the kids fall in love with, so our kids can do extra curricular activities, and so that every once in a while we can pay a babysitter and go run errands for a few hours without kids.

We stay busy so that we (and the kids) don’t have time to think about Daddy (or Mommy) being gone.

B5~Very few days go by that we do not have to leave the house and go somewhere. School, appointments, play dates, church services, church activities, library, pool, lessons and practices, clubs, etc. Even if we are home, we are cleaning house, making meals, having friends over, reading, watching movies, and sleeping. A full day keeps everyone distracted so that we don’t worry about Daddy or Mommy (What they are doing, How & Why they are doing it, Where they are, and When they will get at chance to call us).

~We often do things that we do not want to do for the sake of our kids. As an example, a few weeks ago, I took the girls to the BBQ on base for families with deployed family members. It is way outside of my comfort zone to interact with people I don’t know. I was the one sitting on the bench watching the kids and not talking to anyone. But, I felt it was important for the girls to play on the bouncy house and get a backpack. This gave them something to do that was a treat out of the normal routine.

We do not know when Daddy (or Mommy) is coming home.

~We may or may not know an approximate time frame. If we do, we will answer your question usually sounding like this: “Hopefully he will get back the end of August or the beginning of September. There is a chance he could be extended and have to stay a couple of months longer. You never know with the military!” There was a time that I was told 4 different changes to his return schedule within a 4 hour timeframe!

~Most of us have learned our lesson about avoiding the countdowns with the kids. One time we were told he would get back the night before Easter. So we set out the Easter baskets early and bought a cake that said “Welcome Home!” Then, I had to deal with the aftermath of telling a 2 1/2 year old why Daddy didn’t come home while she was sleeping. Never again will I tell them he is coming home until he has set foot in our town. Often, we just surprise them and let them figure it out when he walks in the door or when they wake up in the morning and find him sleeping in bed.

We do not watch the news.

~With the exception of articles I see on facebook (which I can choose to read or not read), I do not want to see what is going on in the part of the world where he is at. It is better for me not to know and not worry as much (we never stop worrying) then for me to be constantly trying to figure out what part he may or may not play in the overseas drama. He will tell me (if he can) when he gets home. If he cannot tell me, then it confirms my reasons why I don’t want to know while he is there.

We need help but there are very few people we will ask because we do not want to be a burden.

B2~Unless you are family or a friend who we absolutely consider family, we will not ask for your help. The exception is if we are paying you to do a service like babysitting, yard work, etc. We attempt to do most everything ourselves but if for some reason we can’t it is embarrassing for us to actually ask for help.

~We “save” our favors. If we know that we may need to ask a certain person for help during a deployment, we limit our requests to when we have no other option but to ask them. We do not want to overwhelm the same person with all of our potential requests.

~Even if you offer to help us, we most likely will not take you up on the offer (unless you are family or a friend who we consider family). We have found that most offers are half-hearted or completely insincere. We would rather that you do not offer at all then offer and not really mean it.

~There are a few women who act like they cannot lift a finger to do anything for themselves. These women are constantly calling their husband’s shop to demand help with everything and cause hardworking men to resent them because they insist that they be taken from their jobs & families to tend to the needy wife of their co-worker. These women give military wives a bad name but I assure you there are very few who actually fall into this category. The majority of us would only call our husband’s shop in case of emergency or something that legitimately cannot be solved without the help of a military organization (finance, family readiness, etc.).

We will help others even if we need help ourselves.

B4~This goes along with keeping busy. We often over book ourselves with activities and helping others. You may really need someone to watch your kids, carpool kids, help you with your house or yard, take care of your pets, run to the store, hang out and watch a movie, have a deep conversation about something important, etc. We will most likely do any and all of these things, even if it causes us to burn out from exhaustion, because you are our friend and we care about you.

~At any given time, WE could also need any and all of these things.

We may look like we have it all together but inside we are crumbling.

~We miss our husbands (or wives).

~We carry the fear of the unknown and the “what if’s.”

~We carry all of the stress of running a household, finances, everything that goes wrong, raising/teaching/disciplining the children, etc. because there is no way our spouse can handle any of it from afar.

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We are exhausted.

B3~We do not get enough sleep, we wake up frequently during the night, we do not get to sleep in. Enough said.

~Coffee (& coffee creamer), Tea, and Wine are essential to our survival. If we go to get a drink of any of these items and they are not in our kitchen, we feel like a tidal wave has engulfed our entire body. Coffee in the morning to help us wake up, coffee or tea for lunch or snack to keep us going, tea or wine to help relax us enough so we can go to sleep. All three (at different times) are essential to a great conversation with a friend, reading a good book, or soaking in a hot bath.

We take lots of photos.

~During deployment so that we can post them on facebook so our husbands (or wives) do not feel so disconnected from the family.

~Before deployment so that we might just happen to get photos like these:

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Here are some practical ways of helping us during a deployment or TDY:

~Pray for us.

~Write us an encouraging note.

~Bring us a meal… or a cup of coffee… or a bottle of wine.

~Support our home businesses if we sell something you love and spread the word to your friends!

~If we are relying on you for something, make sure that you follow through with what you said you would do for us.

~If you go by our house on trash day and our garbage is not on the curb, take a minute to stop and do it for us. We most likely completely forgot.

~Watch our kids for a day so that we can get some things accomplished without the constant interruption of kids. Or better yet, watch them for a whole night so that we can actually get some sleep.

~Recognize when we are crumbling and allow us to vent our frustrations or cry on your shoulder.

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All photos not marked with “Heart Treasures” were found on Google Images.

12 Year Old Girl’s Anti-Abortion Speech

Yesterday, I posted a long perspective on Why I Am Pro-Life. Shortly afterward, I came across the following video of  a 12 year old girl’s anti-abortion speech. This is most definitely worth 5 minutes of your time!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOR1wUqvJS4

“A person’s a person no matter how small”

(Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss)

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Why I Am Pro-Life…

I have always been raised with an anti-abortion outlook because of being raised in a Christian family.

However, just because I was raised a Christian doesn’t mean I actually was a Christian. I had to choose to have a relationship and believe in Jesus as my God. And although I made that decision at a young age, I continually study God’s Word and I love researching culture, history, archeology, and science that affirms my faith.

In the same way, when it comes to abortion, I have researched from a medical perspective and from a personal experience perspective. I have several friends who have had abortions and they either regret their decision and are pro-life or they do not regret their decision and are pro-choice. I have had many debates with the friends who are pro-choice but even though we disagree, we still have great friendships.

Due to a recent conversation with a friend, I started to think about why I am pro-life. There is not one defining moment. Instead there are several circumstances throughout my life where I have had the opportunity to contemplate the pro-life perspective. The following stories are some of the significant experiences that contributed to why I am pro-life. For further reading about the truth of abortion you can go to my list of blog posts relating to the topic (including my opinion on if the mother’s life is at risk). After reading the following stories, I would love to hear your input and opinions relating to my experiences. Feel free to comment respectfully. Any rude and inappropriate comments will not be posted.

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twinsI was first exposed to “abortion” when I was around age 5. Although, I fully did not understand what was going on until later. My mom was pregnant and while she was doing a marching band performance during a pro-football game half-time show she started bleeding. Her doctor recommended a D&C (dilation of the cervix then scraping or suctioning out the tissues inside the uterus) because he thought the baby was not going to survive. My mom questioned if this was an abortion and the doctor decided to do an ultrasound to confirm his suspicions and reassure my mom. He immediately was able to see why my mom was bleeding. He saw that the baby was tearing off of the uterine wall because a second baby was pushing him. He told my mom that if one baby died, the chances of the other baby surviving was slim. He put her on strict bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. She was in and out of the hospital and consistently being monitored as high risk. My mom, family, & friends prayed fervently over the babies and they were born one month before their due date and survived. I would not have my brother and sister if the doctor had not done an ultrasound that day.

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I lost my virginity when I was in college and still living in my parent’s home. I went into panic mode not only because I had been planning to wait until marriage but also because I imagined how getting pregnant would affect my entire life. I assumed that everyone around me would judge me for not being the good Christian girl that I claimed to be. I assumed I would be asked to leave my parent’s house.  I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to finish college. I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to financially support myself. A couple of days later, I called an OB-GYN office to ask how long it would take for me to know if I got pregnant or not. The nurse gave me the usual “based on your period” response and she recommended Plan B. She told me it would keep me from getting pregnant if I had not yet conceived but she could not assure me that if I had already conceived that it would not cause a miscarriage. I told her I needed to think about it and I would call her back if I decided to make an appointment. I never called her back. I decided that because I made a stupid decision, I would hope for the best but I would have to live with any consequences. I could not justify causing an abortion even if I did not know for sure if I was pregnant. A couple of weeks later I was relieved to know that I was not pregnant. Shane and I got married several months later in August 2002.

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2003-2004 I was working as a nurse (LPN) at an OB-GYN doctors office. At the time, the office had 9 doctors and a Nurse Practitioner who were apart of the practice. When I went to the office for my interview, the head nurse saw, under volunteer work, on my resume’ that I had gone to Brazil for church mission trips and she assumed that I probably would be against abortion. During the interview, she confided in me that there were a few doctors in the practice who sometimes did surgical abortions at the surgery center. She also said that on occasion, some of the doctors would give abortion causing pills in the office. She made it very clear that the nurses who are morally against abortion could ask another nurse to take over during the time these patients were in the office. I really wanted to be in the OB-GYN field so Shane and I prayed about it and decided that I should still work there. When I was hired, I confirmed with the head nurse that I was very against abortion and that I would not participate in it at all.

During my time there, I cared for women during their pregnancies, including when they miscarried. I remember one woman came in to confirm her miscarriage and brought the passed tissues in a baggie. I think that she was about 11-12 weeks along. The baggie was given to the nurses so that we could send the tissues to the lab. In the bag, there was a perfectly round circle of tissue (about the size of a half dollar). The nurses gathered around and we held it up to the light. We could see an amazing outline of a baby. I will never forget that image. My heart ached for the woman and for the tiny baby that I held in my hand.

Several months later, one of the doctors had given a teenager (I don’t remember how old she was but probably 17-18 years old) the abortion causing pills. She went home to complete the process but the pills did not work properly so she came back into the office. The doctor completed the process in the office. We heard the girl’s cries of pain from down the hallway. And of course, it was the responsibility of the nurses to send the tissues to the lab and clean the instruments used during the procedure. I was not prepared for the wave of emotions I felt. I was angry at the doctor who did the procedure in the office. I was in shock that it had actually happened the way it did. I felt bad for one of the other nurses who had no clue that some of the doctors did occasional abortions. I resigned later that week making sure my boss knew that I felt that the whole situation was completely unacceptable.

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16weeks500x379In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I had always wanted children and was very excited. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor didn’t say for sure that I was having a miscarriage. But as a nurse who had worked in the OB-GYN field, I knew what was going on. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote a poem called My Valley. We chose the name Kendal during this time, based on the poem which I wrote “as I walk through the valley of death”. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil and we almost got divorced but during the time we were trying to reconcile we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006 and Kendal was born 9 months later. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together.

During my time of grieving, I found it very difficult to read articles or hear news related to abortion. It physically & emotionally hurt to know that there were babies being discarded when there were people like me who wanted a baby so badly. Yes, I was eventually able to have my own children but there are many couples who for whatever reason cannot have children and would give anything to adopt and love an unwanted baby. Some day I would love to do the same.

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Audrey was induced and born in 2009. I had a smooth delivery but after the epidural wore off and I tried to get out of bed for the first time, I started hemorrhaging and passed out. The doctor determined that I had retained placenta and they manually tried to get it out. I was in extreme pain and went in and out of consciousness. I stayed in the hospital an extra day because I had lost a lot of blood and they were making sure that I wouldn’t need a transfusion. At my 6 week postpartum exam, I was still bleeding on a daily basis since the delivery. The doctor scheduled me for an ultrasound which was several weeks later. The ultrasound showed that I still had placenta in my uterus so she gave me Misoprostol (abortion pills) in order to cause my uterus to contract and hopefully expel the remaining placenta tissues. I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly painful this process was. I was in a lot of pain for several days that even Percocet could not alleviate. I have experienced the physical pain of abortion without actually having an abortion.

When this process did not work, I ended up having a D&C to scrape the retained placenta out of the uterus. This procedure is often used after miscarriages and for 1st trimester abortions. I had general anesthesia during the procedure. Unfortunately, anesthesia is often not used during abortions. When I went to the doctor for my follow-up, he did an ultrasound to make sure that the procedure worked. It did not. There was still retained placenta tissue still visible. So I had a second D&C (the doctor used an ultrasound during the procedure to confirm that it was completely removed). Finally, after 6 months of bleeding, medications, surgical procedures, pain, depression, etc, I was able to recover from Audrey’s delivery.

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Sometime in 2010, I started this blog website. I used my writing to help me get through some difficult times in my life and marriage. I started interacting online with other bloggers and following pages that interested me. A few of those blogging friends kept me updated on abortion related statistics, politics, news, etc. Although I have always considered myself pro-life, I started feeling burdened to be a voice for the unborn. I started posting about abortion on my blog and on facebook. I started having real conversations with friends who disagree with me in order to know their perspective. I had a desire to help women who are contemplating abortion or who have had them in the past.

When we moved to New Mexico, I found out that there is a Pregnancy Resource Center in our town. They provide free pregnancy tests, counseling, resources, classes, etc. to women and girls who have unplanned and/or crisis pregnancies. I have not yet been able to volunteer directly with the clients (due to timing and other commitments) but I have taken the peer counseling training, have helped raise money, helped with the fundraising banquets, etc.

My hope is that someday I can truly make a difference in the life of a woman with an unplanned pregnancy. There are other options available to women that are not often talked about (adoption and keeping the baby). There is counseling, resources, and help available for women who choose options other than abortion. And there is counseling, resources, and help for those who have had abortions in the past. My purpose for being pro-life is not to condemn or judge those who have had abortions but instead to help others see that there is value to all life born or unborn, young or old, etc.

Have you taken the time to think about why you are pro-life?

Observing Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday… the day that many observe the Lent season. I was not raised in a family that participated in Lent. I always thought that Lent was a Catholic ritual. In high school I asked several friends why they came to school with ash on their foreheads and they could never give me a good reason for why they “observe” Lent. They seemed to be doing it because they were told to do it or because that is what they have always done. I never actually participated in an Ash Wednesday service until 2010 when we were living in Japan. When the pastor of our church did the service, I found that I really liked the concept behind Lent.

 Got Questions?org gives this definition of Lent:

“Lent is a period of fasting and repentance traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations in preparation for Easter. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 40 days. During this time, participants eat sparingly or simply give up a particular food or habit. Ash Wednesday and Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves to repent of their sins in a manner similar to how people in the Old Testament repented in sackcloth, ashes, and fasting (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3; Matthew 11:21).”

I have found online that there is great controversy between Christians who think it is okay or not okay to observe Lent. It is important to note that Lent or any other Christian tradition or act of faith is NOT required in order to receive God’s gift of salvation and it will not win God’s blessing or make us more holy. It is not required for salvation and it is not commanded in scripture to celebrate Christmas or Easter but we do so because it brings us joy to celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. While participating in Lent or other traditions, some people may have wrong motives or they will be doing it because that is what they have always done. For me, it is a time of reflection and a time to remove something from my life that is hindering a closer relationship with God or to add something to my life that should have been doing already.

A friend linked to this graphic yesterday and I think that it gives a good representation of how I choose to observe Lent:

Lent-R1

This, of course, is something we should keep in mind all year and not just in the weeks leading up to Easter. I think that observing Lent is a humbling way to focus our thoughts and actions. We also need to keep in mind that while doing any type of fasting/abstaining/self-denial that it should be personal between you and God. While there is nothing wrong with telling others that you are observing Lent, it should not be used as a way to bring attention and glory to ourselves. Instead, we should be humble and desire to bring glory to the Father.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 NIV

This year, I prayed about what God would have me do (or not do) during the Lent season. The church that I attend does not do an Ash Wednesday service, so I will not have ashes on my forehead today. I found my Ashes to Fire Lent devotional book that I received from my church in 2011 and I plan read through the daily reflections. I also am starting “The Love Dare for Parents” a 40-day challenge to daily demonstrate love to my children. My prayer is that during this time I will purposely be focused on Christ and with His help also purposely make time to show my love to my girls. My daily prayer is for the Lord to give me patience and wisdom and help me to be slow to anger.

Do you observe Lent? Why or Why Not?