Monday, January 26, 2015

Ten Books that have had a Lasting Impact on my Life



 
These books, four fiction and six non-fiction have made me who I am.


1.       The Bible—it changed my life by leading me to my Saviour.

2.       Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard—as a young, fearful teen, the character of Much-Afraid on her journey with the Shepherd resonated with me.

3.       Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard—her continuing journey taught me much about the Christian walk and the love of the Shepherd.

4.       The Murder of Jesus by John F. MacArthur Jr.—takes the four gospel accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus and weaves them together with new insights into the old, old story.

5.       A Tale of Two Sons by John F. MacArthur Jr.—retelling of the story of the Prodigal son in such a powerful way, showing that Jesus ended it where He did, with the invitation to the elder son to come and rejoice, to give the Pharisees an option to what they were planning to do.

6.       On the Triangle Run by James B. Lamb—the first book about naval battles in WWII in the Atlantic, which sparked my desire to read more, and then led to submarine technothrillers.

7.       The Reformers and Their Stepchildren by James Verduin—a great mix of biography, theology and history to show how we got to where we are.

8.       Mission Possible by Marilyn Laszlo and Luci Tumas—a missionary story of a single woman in Papua New Guinea with Wycliffe Bible Translators. This began my love affair with PNG.

9.       Luther, By Those who Knew Him by Elizabeth Rundle Charles—a fictionalized account of the life of Martin Luther, told from several viewpoints. It’s so exciting as you see history unfolding and people coming out of darkness into light.

10.   The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards—an allegory about God and His love for His bride. I am that girl!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Word of the Year


Many people choose a word of the year, and a verse of the year. In 2013 I chose the verse, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30  ESV As noble as it sounds, my first clue should have been that it was spoken by John the Baptist, who lost his life by beheading.

I soon learned it was the beginning of my health woes. Within two weeks, God tested the sincerity of my words. I developed trigeminal neuralgia, missed seven months of work that year, and learned what it was like to be set aside. Yet in that same year, He gave me strength to speak at two Women’s retreats and several ladies’ meetings. He increased while I decreased.

I don’t think I chose one last year. Maybe I was scared off.  J  I also was still dealing with many health issues, like the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and the emotional fallout of leaving my church after thirty years. I was still decreasing.

This year, I thought I’d choose a word for the year. It’s usually a word to set the tone for the New Year, like Trust or Adventure or Faith. At first I was going to choose Coping, as I would need to learn more about my illness and how to cope with a new normal.

But it seemed kind of negative and discouraging, as if I would trudge through the year, moving from one crisis to the next. But how does a Christian cope with adversity in life compared with those who are not Christians? Is it not hope? Paul says we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.

The book of Psalms is encouraging to the sufferer. Even if David begins with crying out to God in frustration or fear or anxiety, he usually ends the Psalm with hopefulness and praise to God. He tells himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11 ESV

So I changed my word from COPING, to a motto, of COPE WITH HOPE.

The only thing that helps me to deal with the prospect of living the rest of my life with a chronic illness that affects all systems in my body and all aspects of my life in one way or another 24 hours a day, is to look forward to the day when my suffering will be over. There is no Fibromyalgia, or grief or suffering or pain in heaven.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 ESV

So although I can’t promise I will not complain, (to God, if not to the world through social media), I do promise to stop and remind myself that this is not the end of the story. God will be glorified even through my suffering.

So in addition to my motto of the year, I am choosing a verse to remind myself of this truth.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 ESV

How about you? Do you have a word or verse for the upcoming year?

 

What next?


December Journaling

1. Enjoying the Psalms more than usual these days. David sure knew about anxiety and fear, yet even Psalms where he questions God, he ends with praise.

2. I’m thinking about a word of the year and a verse of the year, basically just something to set the mood for the year, and focus my anxious thoughts.

3. Breakthru: I prayed for my former pastor today; I knew that’s how I’d know I’ve truly forgiven him. So thankful for this. I know too many people to let bitterness ruin their witness and future effectiveness in ministry.

4. Leah came home for the weekend, feeling a little homesick. Always nice to see her again. Also went to see my niece in her high school musical. She has an amazing voice, like my sister-in-law. In other news; a guilty verdict in the case of a Baptist pastor we know who drugged and drowned his pregnant wife. Sad that a man who should have been protective of them was so wicked, and also that it brings dishonour to the name of Christ.

5. Kody would have been three today. Still miss that crazy dog. I talked with the counsellor about my grief over the situation with Kody.

6. We went to the annual Christmas open house at WINGS. Every room was decorated so beautifully and there were many vendors. We had our church Christmas party tonight. The funniest thing was the White Elephant gift exchange. It seems the most popular gifts to “steal” were a giant chocolate bar and maple syrup.

7. One of my aunts in Finland died today. That’s three deaths in a month in our family. I’ll take my bereavement day next week.

8. I can’t imagine how life changing my dietary changes will have to be, but it looks like I’m developing sensitivities to foods I’ve eaten and enjoyed forever, like nachos. I must be allergic to msg. It tastes like someone poured salt all over it.  What next? Maybe I shouldn’t ask that.

9. I went to the dentist today. I was reassured that my teeth are 9 out of 10. I worry because with FMS and some of the meds I’m on, some people lose all their teeth. Like I don’t have enough to worry about.

10. Trying to get my Christmas cards out.

11. I’m finding I have cognitive issues that are new. Things I’ve always been able to do as part of my job because of routine, I’m forgetting. Nothing serious but I feel more stress being at work.

12. What will the new year hold for me, I wonder. Will I still be able to nurse?

13. I switched back to the original meds I was on, which worked so well before. I only stopped them because I thought they stopped working, but as I am still just learning about my illness, apparently, in Fibromyalgia, you get “flares” similar to arthritis and lupus. So that’s what happened before. Then I had switched to a new drug which didn’t work as well, and also made me foggy for a few hours a day. Today I had energy to decorate for Christmas. Also, our daughter is back home till early January. Her first semester of law school is done.

14. We gave our testimonies in front of the church today and became members. The message tonight especially was so good, based on 1 Samuel 5 about the glory of the LORD departing.

15. Good thing I’m off tonight, since I’ve been coughing all weekend. Now I am stuffed up, headachy, nauseous, and on top of everything, I overdid it this weekend decorating for Christmas, so now I have a flare of my FM. So frustrating. I was so happy to have energy after so long, and now I pay the price.

16. Crashed. Pain, insomnia. I didn’t sleep one minute last night. I’m very sensitive to light and sound. Every noise is amplified and I just want to hide in a dark room. I can’t work. Taking these two nights off sick. . I can only do one or two tasks per day. I write a few Christmas cards and make dinner. That’s all.

17. All I could do today was pay the mortgage and get the Christmas letter printed. Then my legs start throbbing and my heart is pulsing in my neck. I’m so thankful to have found some fibromyalgia support groups on facebook. I’m not the only one! And I found out about other treatment options.

18. A quick trip to buy a few Christmas gifts, then a hot tub in the evening. Slow and steady.

19. I sent cookies to the family of the soldier I used to send care packages to; he’s now out of the U.S. military. Then I went to counselling, last one till next year. I want to learn some coping skills for my anxiety. I’m so thankful for the counsellor and how much she’s helped me with forgiveness, grief and other issues. I also bought a few workbooks to help with anxiety.

20. I have bad days, and not so bad days. Today is not so bad. I accomplished the following things; addressed 10 more Christmas cards, revised/edited two chapters of my novel, did two loads of laundry, wrapped a few Christmas gifts, read a few chapters of a book, and collapsed on the couch. My throbbing legs, shoulder pain, back and epigastric pain and stiff neck were my body’s way of saying, STOP already. So here I am, writing out my paltry list of accomplishments so you’d see how far I’d fallen from the days before FMS. I was happy to have a few hours of quiet, since my husband and daughter went out to see The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.

21. Still not caught up with my Christmas cards. Christmas time is stressful, and I don’t even have to host this year.

22. I’m starting to save for our grandbaby.

23. My husband offered to get me a cleaning lady once in the new year. He’s offering because he knows how exhausted I am, which is true. But another reason I need it is because the smell of the cleaning supplies, which never bothered me before. I had to escape upstairs when my husband was cleaning the floors because I felt like my body was buzzing.

24. In Finland, Christmas Eve is when they celebrate Christmas. As a Finnish Canadian, we celebrated like this: It was the best and longest day. I loved it. My uncle and I would go to the tree farm that morning and we'd chop down our Christmas tree and decorate it that day. Then a Christmas sauna. Then, Santa Claus (Joulu Pukki) would visit our homes (along with other Finnish families). Then we’d sing him some Christmas songs, he’d hand out the first gift, then ask us to finish for him, and off he’d go. I’m sure the neighbour kids wondered how we rated a home visit when they had to wait until the next morning. Then we’d open one gift, eat dinner, and then wash dishes. We four girls would have to wash the dishes before we could open any more presents. It took forever. Old school, no dishwasher. Then after presents, we’d head to our other cousins to play, then home to play with our toys till all hours, and sleep in Christmas morning. My sister hosted this evening. and we'd sing him a carol and he'd hand out the first gift, and then ask us to help with the rest, and ...he'd leave. Some years, if he couldn't come in person he'd call and ask if we'd been good. We'd be allowed to open one gift before dinner. We weren't allowed to open any more gifts until we washed the dishes. No dishwasher; old school. It seemed to take forever. Then all our gifts. It was good because the pictures were always good because we were all dressed up, not in our pj's. Then we'd go to our cousins for more fun, and then go home and stay up to all ours playing with our new toys. and we'd sing him a carol and he'd hand out the first gift, and then ask us to help with the rest, and ...he'd leave. Some years, if he couldn't come in person he'd call and ask if we'd been good. We'd be allowed to open one gift before dinner. We weren't allowed to open any more gifts until we washed the dishes. No dishwasher; old school. It seemed to take forever. Then all our gifts. It was good because the pictures were always good because we were all dressed up, not in our pj's. Then we'd go to our cousins for more fun, and then go home and stay up to all ours playing with our new toys. and we'd sing him a carol and he'd hand out the first gift, and then ask us to help with the rest, and ...he'd leave. Some years, if he couldn't come in person he'd call and ask if we'd been good. We'd be allowed to open one gift before dinner. We weren't allowed to open any more gifts until we washed the dishes. No dishwasher; old school. It seemed to take forever. Then all our gifts. It was good because the pictures were always good because we were all dressed up, not in our pj's. Then we'd go to our cousins for more fun, and then go home and stay up to all ours playing with our new toys. and we'd sing him a carol and he'd hand out the first gift, and then ask us to help with the rest, and ...he'd leave. Some years, if he couldn't come in person he'd call and ask if we'd been good. We'd be allowed to open one gift before dinner. We weren't allowed to open any more gifts until we washed the dishes. No dishwasher; old school. It seemed to take forever. Then all our gifts. It was good because the pictures were always good because we were all dressed up, not in our pj's. Then we'd go to our cousins for more fun, and then go home and stay up to all ours playing with our new toys. and we'd sing him a carol and he'd hand out the first gift, and then ask us to help with the rest, and ...he'd leave. Some years, if he couldn't come in person he'd call and ask if we'd been good. We'd be allowed to open one gift before dinner. We weren't allowed to open any more gifts until we washed the dishes. No dishwasher; old school. It seemed to take forever. Then all our gifts. It was good because the pictures were always good because we were all dressed up, not in our pj's. Then we'd go to our cousins for more fun, and then go home and stay up to all ours playing with our new toys.

25. Merry Christmas! Day off today. We finally did some Christmas baking and began the house prep for a New Year’s Eve open house for anyone from our church who would like to come. I needed to start now since I hardly have energy so I have to mete it out sparingly.

26. We went to my mother-in-law’s for Jamaican Christmas dinner. Then we had a secret Santa gift exchange and a singing game. That’s why I don’t do karaoke. I had to wear ear plugs to tone down the noise. Loud sounds actually hurt. I was talking with my sister-in-law and started crying. I swear I’ve cried more in public in the last year than I’ve ever cried in private in the last decade. Who am I?

27. We attending a Christmas care group at the home of one of the Elders from church. It was fun, and I led a game called the Reindeer game. But I was feeling really sound sensitive so we didn’t stay terribly long.

28. Great preaching at church, I mean really full and encouraging. Then I spent eight hours in emerg today. I was three hours in their after-hours clinic, thinking to spare the emerg and myself from wasted time, but they sent me there for further testing. My three hours there didn’t even count as time already served. They did an exam, bloodwork and an xray, then decided I could come back the next day for an urgent abdominal CT. I had a strange reaction while there, so sensitive to light and sound, I had to wear ear plugs the whole time just to muffle the noise a little bit. I also staggered like a drunk by the time the day was over. How is it that a nurse could be allergic to being in a hospital? What will this mean for my future?

29. Another four hours of my life I’ll never get back, and all to be told the tests didn’t show a cause for my symptoms. So frustrating. Story of my life. See the Herman cartoon above. Also the same reaction today in hospital. Tingling, throbbing, buzzing, headache, noise and light sensitivity, improved almost as soon as I left the building.

30. I went to see my neurologist for a follow up appointment. She didn’t listen to my neurological symptoms, told me to exercise so my blood pressure would come down, while saying that if it’s autonomic, then there’s nothing that can be done, and wished me well. Never to be seen again. Typical. Then, because I felt well today, I prepped for our come-and-go open house on New Year’s Eve. Then crashed, with a feeling of sirens going off in my body, throbbing, tingling, burning, etc. But I am so excited when I feel good, the last thing I want to do is rest. I rest when I’m unwell. Hard to know my own limitations at this stage.

31. We’re hosting an open house for New Year’s Eve at our house. I can only do a little each day. Also it’ll be harder to host like we used to, so instead I’ll host the whole church at once. Getting to know the people from our new church. I can honestly say I’m happy to see this year end, especially the last two months.

Reading List 2014


      1.       Fields of the Fatherless by Elain Marie Cooper

2.       The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonaugh

3.       Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonaugh

4.       Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonaugh

5.       Hidden Falls Episode One by Olivia Newport

6.       Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

7.       The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

8.       The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

9.       The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

10.   Love on Asssignment by Cara Lynn James

11.   A Path Toward Love by Cara Lynn James

12.   Romance-ology by Julie Lessman

13.   The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller

14.   A Great Catch by Lorna Selistad

15.   Debt-free for Life by John Dunn

16.   Rugged and Relentless by Kathy Eileen Hake

17.   Tall, Dark and Determined by Kathy Eileen Hake

18.   Strong and Stubborn by Kathy Eileen Hake

19.   Under a Blackberry Moon by Serena Miller

20.   A Promise to Love by Serena Miller

21.   A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano

22.   The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

23.   A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes

24.   Perfectly Matched by Maggie Brendan

25.   Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings

26.   The Ransom by Mary Lu Tyndall

27.   Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach

28.   The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz

29.   The Invention of Sarah Cummings by Olivia Newport

30.   Where the Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey

31.   The Forgiven Duke by Jamie Carie

32.   The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman

33.   Elusive Hope by Mary Lu Tyndall

34.   Flight of the Earls by Michael K. Reynolds

35.   Testimonies of Faith by Pia Thompson

36.   A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer

37.   Love’s Gamble by Tina Dee

38.   A Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

39.   Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

40.   A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

41.   Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

42.   Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

43.   Book Proposals that Sell by W. Terry Whalin

44.   A Suitor for Jenny by Margaret Brownley

45.   The Vigilante’s Bride by Yvonne Harris

46.   Fairplay by Deeanne Gist

47.   Stuck Together by Mary Conneally

48.   The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

49.   Writing Historical Fiction by Angela Hunt

50.   Creating Story Tension by Amy Deardon

51.   A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes

52.   Love by the Letter by Melissa Jagears

53.   Ismeni by Tosca Lee

54.   Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz

55.   Writing Days: 52 Devotions by Jan Thompson

56.   Something’s Wrong by Laurie Penner

57.   The Advocate by Randy Singer

58.   The Queen’s Handmaid by T.L. Higley

59.   A Match Made in Texas by Mary Conneally, Carol Cox, Karen Witemeyer,Regina Jennings

60.   Truth be Told by Carol Cox

61.   The Amish Cookbook by Georgia Verozza and Kathleen Kerr

62.   Submerged by Dani Pettrey