SUMMER TRAVEL AND SOME FUN NEWS

I sit in the swivel chair in my home office staring at the plaque I may have gifted myself and reflect on the travels we’ve had this summer. In black lettering are J.R.R. Tolkien’s timeless words, “Not all who wander are lost.” He must have been thinking of me when he wrote this.

Travel is good for the soul. It provides rest from daily responsibilities and a refreshing change of scenery.

In May we visited my husband’s family in Florida. The week was packed with Love bugs, long walks on the beach and catching up with loved ones.

On to Missouri in July where my daughter and I attended a wedding in the quaint destination wedding town of Hermann. 

There we celebrated and had all the feels of seeing our dear friends’ talented beautiful daughter wed her beloved fiancé. Never mind the stunning view at the venue and most of all giving hugs to friends who are like family. 

In August we travelled to sunny Los Angeles to set up house for our youngest daughter. We met her new roommates for the Fall semester and cruised up the Pacific Coast Highway old school style in a beefed up muscle car. 

Once again, we experienced all the feels of saying goodbye to our precious girl so she can experience a “dream come true” as a student and intern at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.

Finally, in November we are attending our niece’s wedding in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

In our wanderings we experienced  bumps in the road that go with air travel. Through all the harrowing tsa checks, airline delays, stormy weather, out of order air trains, lost suitcases and rental cars given away I loved every minute. 

So, my faithful readers, you’re probably wondering, “Kelly, what’s up with the writing?”

I’m here to tell you that I haven’t stopped working on my stories. In fact I will be a contributor to a book of devotions published in Spring 2020. Isn’t that exciting?

Watch my blog for coming news of this book. I think it will be wonderful and worth the wait. 

 Now that we’ve caught up on my end,  what’s new with you?

BOOK REVIEW FOR THE FAITH OF MIKE PENCE

THE FAITH OF MIKE PENCE by Leslie Montgomery

 

The 45th Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, is more than the president’s right hand man. In Leslie Montgomery’s biography The Faith of Mike Pence we discover our VP is an affable, gregarious leader who knew he would serve in politics at an early age. And after reading her biography one might say he is the best man for the job.

The book closely follows America’s Vice President on his journey of faith. Born into a devout Catholic family, Pence conveys he had a personal experience with Jesus Christ in college. Through his education, early career, marriage to Karen and children he has grown in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Quick to give his testimony without beating it over anyone’s head, he is known for his authentic faith by everyone he meets. 

It’s no wonder his appointment by President Trump was viewed as a wise decision on our president’s part. Ms. Montgomery states throughout her book,our VP is a quick-witted, well spoken, and strong orator. 

As a strong man of faith, V.P. Pence relies on his beliefs to carry him through a rough start to his call to serve. He came to his first elected position in a roundabout way. His first attempt to win an election he describes as “the most divisive and negative campaign in Indiana’s modern congressional history.” 

The humbling experience led him to wonder if he had ruined his chances for another governmental run. 

His natural gift of the gab made him a good candidate to host a popular radio show called “The Mike Pence Show.” 

When invited to try another run for Congress, he didn’t back down. This time he was doing it God’s way.

His successful time in Congress progressed to a stint as Governor of Indiana. 

The Faith of Mike Pence is thought provoking and jam packed with compliments to the man who helps lead the United States. Those closest to the VP and his wife reveal a couple dedicated to fulfilling their vow to serve the people of the United States.

Despite the negative press directed at them and POTUS our Vice President is lauded as a man of integrity and moral fortitude.  Mike Pence, we learn, is committed to his God, his family and his nation. 

This reader finished the book with a profound sense of relief for the future of this country. The Faith of Mike Pence is an inspirational book I’d encourage every American to read. A story of one man’s rise to the most powerful position in the world. And one man’s commitment to a sacred vow to make a difference to change our nation’s history.  

RUNNING TRAILS

“Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful!” Proverbs 15:23 The Message

“Get that animal away from me!” A fellow trail walker screamed.

At six months old our golden/rottweiler mix was clearly a puppy. I pulled on her leash to calm the irate stranger.  “Okay.”

Enraged, the woman turned around and moved back towards myself and my dog, Layla. “I have been attacked by dogs. You should keep that dog away.” 

My family and I had just purchased the bouncing ball of fur from a local mennonite family. The picture of friendliness, we found her wandering near an adorable toddler boy dressed in full button down white shirt, shorts and black hat and we fell in love with her. 

On the trail I moved as fast as I could in the opposite direction from the woman. I  intended on leaving and not returning.  

At the end of the path we encountered another dog owner crouched down with her three cocker spaniels. 

 She looked up. “Can he play?”

I eased up on the leash and watched Layla scamper towards one of her dogs. 

We talked about the weather and the recreational area. I mentioned that I’d come to explore the trail for exercise and relayed the incident. 

“Oh honey, everybody brings their dogs here. Don’t mind her.” She waved her hand as if it was nothing.

I listened to the kind woman’s words that day and continue to enjoy the beautiful trail with our frisky pup.

It has been three years since we first visited the park. And, in that time, Layla has been trained while I’ve lost 25 pounds as a side benefit. It’s my peaceful place to pray and listen to the Lord. 

You never know what a kind word will do for someone. It may mean the difference between a bad experience or blessings that continue in their lives for years to come. 

GOD'S HAND

     “You mean the hair falling out kind of chemo?” I edged the seat across from the oncologist as my husband, Sam, gripped my hand in the chair next to me.

        Eighteen years ago this month we sat in  Dr. A’s office and heard the words of my greatest fear.  “We think you have cancer.”

     At the time I was a 40 year-old mother of three beautiful girls ages 14, 10 and almost 2. 

     Four months prior to this appointment we had learned I was pregnant with our fourth child. Though unexpected we grew to anticipate the newest member of our family with great joy. 

     After experiencing migraines and unusual symptoms during this pregnancy my ob/gyn took more blood tests and ascertained a problem. He was concerned enough to send us to Dr. A.                

     “Less than 1% of the population are diagnosed with choriocarcinoma. A cancer of the lining in your uterus.” When Dr. A left the room, Sam and I held each other and cried. 

     How was this possible? I was young, healthy and busy wife, mom and sometimes counselor. 

     The series of tests that followed were intense and painful. 

     My arms were bruised from needles and a pic line that had been inserted for the chemotherapy. The pic is a wire that they run from an opening in your arm to get the medicine in without damaging the veins from constant probing. As painful as the physical injustices on my body, there was no comparison to the raw emotions of loss. Grief hit me like a tsunami. Loss of my dreams for another child,  my health, and our newest little blessing. It seemed an impossible situation to endure. 

     Things became graver still when an MRI revealed that the systemic disease had traveled from my uterus to my liver. Three spots specified tumors had started growing. 

     In spite of the danger to my life I could not shake the doubt that our baby may be alive. If that was true, could we try and save her by holding off on the necessary chemotherapy that would save me but, most assuredly harm a fetus?

     Time flew by as Dr. A’s office scheduled me for a D&E. The same procedure used for abortions. We were told that the condition in my uterus had so softened the lining it could be dangerous for me to wait. 

     A dilation and extraction was not an option for me. 

     As a Crisis Pregnancy Counselor I knew unborn babies were often referred to as “tissue.” Now, we were told, this baby was a lump of tissue?

     A registered letter arrived at our door threatening me with the possibility of death if I failed to follow the perinatal doctor’s orders. Finally, he agreed to give me an ultrasound so I could see there was no living child.  

     The ultrasound picture delivered the final blow instead of the typical outline of a baby mine showed a fuzzy mass.

     That night I dreamt of a baby’s coffin and the reality of what we were dealing with sank in.  In 16 weeks we’d gone from  the joy of expecting a child to a scary cancerous situation

    About eight weeks into the stringent rounds of medicine, my hair began to fall out. We struggled with the knowledge that we were dealing with a deadly disease and there was no guarantee I’d make it. 

     My husband coped by researching the disease and I spent as much time as I could with our sweet girls. 

     In need of hope I traveled to a nearby city to attend a conference where prophetic prayer was available.

     I remember laying on the chairs nauseous and weak as I waited for the team to pray for me. I was the last person in the room when it was my turn.

     Without explaining my situation, the first woman stood in front of me and said my full name. Then she said, “The Lord says, ‘I know your name.’”  I won’t ever forget those precious saints who told me the cancer would be gone in three months.

     Encouraged, I played the taped prayer at home for my husband. We stood on that word. And, three months to the day of my diagnosis, I was declared cancer free. 

     What a miracle! After my first test results came back we were told instead of an expected 10% drop of the cancer marker there was an incredible 98% drop! We often share our story to those who are going through difficult times.

     As wonderful as the miracle of the healing had been a greater change had occurred in me. I would not ask to go through cancer. However, I no longer judge those who have faced a similar situation. 

     It’s not for me to judge whether a woman makes a choice to have an abortion.  And, though I am thankful that I didn’t have to choose between my life and my own child’s,  I have compassion for those who do.  

     

See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
— Isaiah 49:16 NIV

DIAMONDS IN WINTER

“ALLOW GOD TO USE THE DIFFICULTIES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS IN LIFE AS POLISH TO TRANSFORM YOUR FAITH INTO A GLISTENING DIAMOND THAT TAKES IN AND REFLECTS HIS LOVE.”

ELIZABETH GEORGE

Rays of sunlight turned the icicles hanging from a tree into a sparkling jewel against the creek’s green froth. The frozen tree tips had turned an average outing into an illustration of God’s steps to make me sparkle. Hadn’t I asked him enough times to make me a shining example of his love?

The fanciful sight may have been hidden to me had I not been picking my way through the icy side of the waterway as I walked our golden/rottie mix on a break from being indoors that day.

The slush covered dirt pathway made it tricky to traverse the narrow path of the Monocacy Trail.

But, warmer temps and blue skies were too much of a draw for me to venture out with our housebound pet. Had I not stopped to look more closely at the natural wonder, I would have missed out on the pristine picture right by my side.

Winter Seasons are times when we see little movement in our heart’s desires or our unanswered prayers. They can be times of great temptation to be discouraged, depressed or lethargic in doing what we know is right.

Some of the questions I have asked during my winter time are “where are you God?” “What did I do wrong?” and “Please make it stop.”

The last statement may sound exaggerated, but, as I’ve been in that time of seeing little fruit for the hard work of my labor, it has not been fun.

So, these clear crystals hung swaying just above the turbulent white ripples of the high waters in our creek. These nature’s gems stood out to me in the size of the orbs first of all. They must have been hanging out there for some time forming layer after layer of water build-up to produce the golfball sized orbs.

And, then when the wind caught them in a spinning dance, how the light sparkled off of them. They appeared to be diamonds.

The illustration reminds me that even when the landscape of my life seems to bear no fruit or, the work of my hands appear to be for nothing. All of the hardship I’ve experienced during this time like the turbulent waters, freezing winds and harsh elements are actually forming a cluster of treasures. I only needed to open my eyes to see.

RETREAT~ DESTINATION COEUR D'ALENE

What do you get when you fill a football field- sized room with comfy loveseats, overstuffed armchairs and tables set up for your laptop? Add a great group of women, Brandilyn Collins, and wonderful food?

You get a perfect formula for one amazing weekend in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. 

The Fantastic Fiction Retreat held in Brandilyn's home is a cozy place to learn with other writers the art of creative writing while enjoying a stunning view of the area. And though the retreat I attended had only women, men are welcome too!

Brandilyn's workshops and time spent with other writers made this storyteller's dream come true. 

My family lives in Coeur d’Alene so my husband and I also were given the treat of seeing the area through my sister and brother-in-law’s eyes. 

One of our sightseeing tours included a boat ride around beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. The sunny 80 degree day  was perfect for an interior look of the hidden jewel that is this place.

Riding bikes on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is an amazing experience. The trail is a 72-mile paved path that spans the Idaho panhandle between Mullan and Plummer. It is known as one of the most spectacular and popular trails in the western United States. Other than the macadam path, the area remains visibly untouched by man~ an outdoor adventurer's delight. 

 While sis and I hiked on Tubbs Hill  also known as one of the best 10 places to hike in the area, we caught up on life and had more fun than we have in years. Nothing like rounding the bend of the foothill to face a monstrous dog that resembled a black bear to keep a sister on her toes. 

Honestly, the best part of our vacation/retreat was spending precious time with my sister, brother-in-law and our nieces. All and all an unforgettable trip!

So next time you're planning  a vacation think retreat. 

 

HIS LAVISH LOVE

Even the strongest among us slip up once in awhile.

We assume life will go on as usual in an unconscious attempt to control the universe around us.

Then the unthinkable happens and our crown slips. Just a little. The bills are paid, somehow. Our child gets over the flu, hopefully. Work issues are resolved, eventually. And then, we move on to the next best thing.

Everything is 'doable' at some point. We face the shadows of the valley of death and lose our loved ones. Prayerfully, we hope to see them again on the other side of the veil. 

Our faith can weaken after hits from life's trials. Or, as love would have it, our faith grows strong. 

That is the ultimate in the purpose of our time on this earth. 

We can cover up painful feelings of abandonment, loneliness, or feeling out of control. But, our father is always there. 

Whatever you are dealing with right now~ maybe you are even thinking ... "where are you God?" "Have you forgotten me?" "What possible good could come out of the fiery trial I'm in?"

I guarantee these questions are inevitable. They are also valuable and even necessary to face. 

And, it's not a symptom of weakness to bring your deepest doubts and heaviest sorrows to him. He is rather waiting for you to bring them to him. 

How do I know? Because he tells me so. "Come to me..." "Cast your cares..." "I love you." 

So when all you do is like spinning the wheels on a hamster wheel and your hopes are running dry. Know that this is the time to pour out your soul to the soul keeper. YOUR soul keeper. He will listen, he will answer, he will attend to your wounds. And wash away your weariness. Rest your head on his shoulder for he knows your deepest desires. 

Then straighten your crown, pull back your shoulders and keep going. You've got this! 

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SIMPLE SMOOTHIES AND JUICE RECIPES FOR THE BODY AND SOUL

It’s January. All the Christmas decorations have been taken down. 

The once bright snow lies dingy on the side of the road and cabin fever is setting in.

The geese are only now beginning to fly south for the winter and spring time seems light years away.

So what’s a person to do?

One thing that makes my winter days brighter is to start the morning with a glass of fresh squeezed juice.

 Especially from the citrus family.

Orange juice, grapefruit juice, mandarin and tangerines. My taste buds are popping at the thought. 

I have a friend who believes that typically healthy people get sick more in the winter not because of germs but, because of eating habits.

Think about it~ halloween arrives in October with it’s sugary treats. Quickly followed by Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That’s three months of treats and overeating rich foods that we don’t normally enjoy. 

Along with the added stresses of shorter days, less sunshine and heavier work/school loads we have a cocktail of pressures to suppress our immune system.

Our bodies have now been subjected to an overload of excess sugar, adrenalin and mental burn out. 

I agree with Andrew Weil who says, 

 

                               “You can’t afford to get sick, and you can’t depend on the

                                  present health care system to keep you well. It’s up to

                                  you to protect and maintain your body’s innate capacity

                                  for health and healing by making the right choices in how

                                   you live.” 

 

If you have a blender, and most folks do, why not whip up some sunshine with a quick and easy smoothie?  Also, an investment in a good juicer will go a long way to help you stay healthy and happy through the rest of the winter. 

To help you get started or if you are already juicing, here are a few of our favorite recipes. 

RECIPES

1. Hubby’s favorite Smoothie

 

2 bananas

 12 ounces Strawberry kefir

1/2 cup of cut up strawberries

Add sliced fruit to the kefir in a blender and enjoy! 

 

2. Hello Sunshine

6 organic oranges~ peeled 

3 tangerines (or other sweeter orange)

1/4 cup of organic raspberries

This one is my absolute favorite! If you have a juicer 

throw the ingredients in, mix the juice well and enjoy!

If you don’t have a juicer remove the seeds before putting 

the fruit in your blender. 

 

3. For Your Sweet Tooth

6 unpeeled large organic carrots (scrubbed well)

1 organic honey crisp or other firm apple that has a bite to it will do

We use the juicer for this delicious vegetable juice when we want

to give our digestion a break from the holiday goodies.

 

So now that you know some of our healthy drink favs, feel free to use the comment section to share yours!

 

MAKING A POSITIVE MARK ON THE WORLD

“When can we eeeaaatt?” “What’s for dinner?” “I’m so hungry!” “I don’t like that food…”

When my kids were little, they didn’t always care for the dinner I chose to prepare. Five different individuals with five unique tastes can be an interesting challenge to overcome.

After what seemed to be endless complaining, my solution to the problem came by deciding to teach them that whining would not produce the change they desired.

“Mommy can’t hear whining.” I would tell them. 

Young children often need a repeat of the lesson you try to teach them. 

“We’re not whining!” 

“Oh, but, you are.” I would say as I worked on dinner. “One or two times is a request, repeated times turn it into a whine.”

My point is that complainers never win. Whether it be about dinner, a new toy or their bedtime. Or anything else in life. 

We often set goals and work hard towards them until we reach a setback or obstacle in our plan. 

Circumstances change. Life often doesn’t go as planned. We can either allow the setbacks to be motivators in our lives to continue towards our life goals, seek counsel on making necessary changes or stop us in our tracks.

One surefire way of stopping progress is by getting caught up in the negative and allowing it to control our minds and our mouths. This in turn bleeds into our actions. 

Sometimes just choosing to focus on the positive or positive thinking is not enough. Sometimes we need to take a long look at our routine to see what we’ve allowed to creep into our life to bring on the downward spiral of complaining.

Are we hanging around with negative people? That includes the news, social media and even co-workers. Research has shown that negativity from complaining can actually change the healthy function of our brains.

Are we looking at the current administration and blaming the shape of the current economy, world events, and hate mongering on the political system of the day?

It’s tempting to look at the shape of the world and cast stones at the other person, system, or organization to rationalize our setbacks. But, in reality the only person who can choose the outcome of our lives is ourselves.

Some effective measures to end the destructive cycle of complaining~

  1. Go to God with your heart issues, worries, complaints. If anyone can help you it’s the King of the universe.
  2. Ask him to show you scripture which deals with the problems you are facing. Then look for verses in the bible that deal with that topic.
  3. When your problems become overwhelming go back to these verses and read them, think about them, speak them out loud. 
  4. Make a list of the things you are grateful for and focus on these things. 
  5. Do what is in your power to do. Continue to grow and learn new ways to use your gifts and talents. Then trust God to perform the rest. 
  6. Praise and worship God for being good even when life is not. 
  7. Sing and laugh. A lot! 

When we apply these steps liberally our mark can be remarkable.  

 

 

 

HOSTILE RESTING FACE IT'S A THING

Hostile Resting Face Syndrome is a thing... or is it?

It started with my youngest daughter. 

The beginning of the answer to the mystery of why so many people ask me “are you mad?” And I’m not.

We sat across from each other during lunch the other day. “Mom, are you okay?” 

Her question stopped the trajectory of my spoon towards my gaping mouth. “Yes.” Well, I was thinking about things other than what we’d been discussing. But, that was besides the point. “I’m fine… why?”

“You looked mad at the nail salon that’s all.” First, who could get mad while they are getting a treat? Second, I was thinking about missing said daughter when she leaves for college this fall. 

The topic came up again while I was scrolling through the internet looking for a pair of sunglasses.  An article captured my attention.

I’d looked for the best styles for a diamond shaped face. The writer made the point that sometimes an unsmiling diamond shaped face can be read as “catty.”  I have a diamond shaped face.

After reading the post, memories of people calling me snobby, catty and arrogant ran through my mind.

The struggle is real folks. I can sit by my lonesome with no thoughts of being superior to anyone, or just enjoying my soup and I am looking somehow arrogant. Or, snobby, or intimidating.

This is a complete mind blow to me. Because for the most part, I am a people person. In fact, I’ve gone so far as embarrassing my poor family by talking with “gasp” strangers. All. the. time.

So the next time you think someone is intimidating or arrogant, remember, they might be suffering from Hostile Resting Face Syndrome. I can't say it without smiling. Who knew they'd name a syndrome after my face? 

How about you? Have you ever been accused of something that is the polar opposite to who you are?  If so, what do you do to change the misperception?