Monday, January 15, 2018

What Dreams May Come by Alana Terry

First,  Yes, I know I had discussed starting a new blog that reviewed a new book each week.  However, with Mom becoming more I'll and having a stroke, I feel that I need to say no and step back. So I will do my best to give a book review here each Monday.  I may not always succeed, but I will give it my best shot.

Okay now to my book review.  What Dreams May Come - I bought this book, because I was interested in the story behind the story.  Author Alana Terry has captured my attention before but I was especially interested in this story because it's her story in a sense of how she and her husband met.  There are some differences of course, but otherwise, it's their love story.

Young Susannah Wesley Peters has a burning desire for missions.  The oldest daughter of a widow who also has a young disabled sister, Susannah dreams of going overseas and changing life for those who need to hear God's word.  So much so she begins talking to Scott with Kingdom Builders and what starts off as a desire for missions and an intern interview turns into more.  When tragedy strikes, Susannah cuts Scott out of her life to fulfill a promise she made to her mother before she died.  Can they overcome Susannah's promise to her mom?  Can Susannah still care for Kitty and forget that she loved Scott?  Is it possible that God really wants Susannah to give up Scott?

I really enjoyed this book.  I am not really a romance reader as a rule. I enjoy some of them, but really I prefer more than just a love story, I want action and adventures.  What Dreams May Come is definitely a romance, with very little action, but the story still grabbed my attention and I had to fight the urge to skip to the end and see if Susannah and Scott get together.  Alana Terry does a good job weaving a story that makes you care for Susannah and Scott as they struggle to live without each other.  

I encourage you to read this book on a day when you don't want to think very hard but want something positive and uplifting to read.  You won't be disappointed.






Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lessons, Trials and Learning Experiences

Facing this situation with Mom and her stroke has shown me things.  Some of these things I already knew.  Such as no one lives forever.  Or life isn't fair.  Some of these things are things I needed a refresher in because I had forgotten.

Being an adult who has seen loss, trauma and some sad, sad things mean a lot of things, some are okay, some are dark and some mean I have to explain myself a lot.

I look for EVERY possible worse case scenario and make a plan.  My Bonus Dad, Bud has too so I get where he comes from when he asks certain questions sometimes.  For example, he asked about hospice when we had a meeting with Mom's rehabilitation team.  He didn't ask because he thinks she's dying, he asked because like me he is thinking of all the worst-case scenarios and knowledge is important if you want to make a plan.  He has to make plans for Mom, so in his mind, it seemed logical to ask about hospice.  Especially since hospice has a larger role these days than just end of life stuff. 

I worry when Chris and the girls aren't with me.  Having Lily with me helps a lot, she is great at staying close to me and letting me pet and love her.  I worry about being left behind.  Whether that is due to Chris up and deciding he no longer loves me, or people I love dying or walking away, it's a valid concern because in my life it has happened.  Several times, different scenarios but either way it stinks.  What if's are my worst enemy, but in making a plan, I feel more prepared to face whatever may happen.  Although, really something you can never prepare for happening.

I'm hesitant to form attachments to people.  Not because they aren't nice, but because what if number three happens.  It's more pain, more heartache.  It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I refuse to live life fearing what might happen.  A lot of kids in foster care struggle with this, or who have come from unstable homes. So while I never survived the foster care system, I get their fear and anxiety, especially when it comes to having friendships and embracing relationships.

For a long time I was and still sometimes, depending on the situation, am waiting for the other shoe to fall.  Why wouldn't I.  Even my seasons of joy and being on the mountaintop are tainted in some small part because the other shoe always falls, the mountaintop time isn't forever, but I never know what is going to trigger the new season of lessons and learning.

So how do I combat all of this?  Well, several ways. First, I keep trying to grow in Christ and I keep giving him my dreams, my fears, and my hopes.  Second, I learn from others who are at times wiser than I am.  My friend Cari, showed me that even in the midst of heartache, trials, and pain, you can praise God.  It gave me a goal to strive for - to rejoice even when life is tough.  Finally, I  ask God to carry me through and to be my strength when I don't have it anymore.

The last one was my prayer when Mom became ill.  My prayer even now is that when the time comes to say our final goodbyes, whenever it happens (she isn't dying, but she is almost 70 years old, so it's not impossible for her to pass sooner rather than later) that He help me to praise Him even in my grief.  He has even given me peace about Mom's being ill and her stroke.  I know that no matter the outcome, He is holding her in His hand and that her heart still belongs to Him. 

I hope you all have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Joys and Dilemmas When Writing Your First Book

In case, the title didn't give it away I am working on my first book.  I don't want to go into a ton of detail, because, hello, I would like you to actually read the book itself.  But here is a sampling of my problems as I write this first book.

1. Rewriting or completely deleting entire pages because they aren't working right for the story.

2. To swoon or not to swoon.  I've chosen NOT, my main character isn't Pamela after all and really who wants a heroine who swoons all of the time.

3. Crime Scene Analysis and Forensics - how far have they come in my world and how detailed do I want to be.  Also how much information do I really need?

4.  Must. Stop. Buying. Books on Forensics and Crime Scene Analysis.  I think you see how three and four go together.

5. Is my writing this book real or am I just using it as an excuse to buy more books?  Then again do I really need an excuse to buy more books?  No, I'm definitely writing a book because I have a story to tell.

6. How do I write the story but not give away everything? I want the reader to keep guessing along the way so questions will eventually be answered in subsequent books.  This means I am constantly second-guessing and mulling over whether I want that tidbit I dropped out there in this first book or if I want to wait for a few more books down the road. 

7. Thank goodness for journals.  This one especially has helped me suss out and decide things for the book when I can't seem to think clearly.

8. Thank you, Lord, for a school that taught me to write in cursive and to love writing things out longhand.  It is really cathartic and it helps me get things out better sometimes.

9.  Should I go mute for a few days to understand my character?  Would my family be able to survive this?  Would my head actually explode from unexpressed thoughts that pop into my mind if I couldn't speak them out loud?  

10.  Do I really want this character to die?  Or would it be better if someone else died?  Hm. .someone is going to die, I just have to figure out who.

11.  Did J.K. Rowling or Dee Henderson struggle like this when writing their first book?  Did other favorite author's struggle?

12.Would my family be annoyed if I drifted into my bedroom and didn't come out until I finish writing this book?  The answer I have since discovered is yes by the way.

13. Maureen, whatever you do, do not make your main characters like Bella Swan or Edward.  They are just not a good template or realistic ideal couple. Even if your main character isn't romantically attached to anyone yet.

These are just a few things I'm facing as I create an entirely different world and try to create a character who captures the imagination and heart of readers as much as she has mine.

I hope you all have a good weekend.
In Christ,
Maureen

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sass and Sunshine


This face looks so angelic at that moment, doesn't it?  It would never say to you, I'm a D-I-V-A.  And yet, behind that pretty smile, blonde hair and blue eyes lurk the heart of a first class Drama Queen.

I often write about Elizabeth, but I don't about Beka.  Not because Beka isn't important, but because I'm constantly trying to figure out how to describe this little powerhouse bundle of emotions.  She is under five feet and has some very strong and forceful emotions.  Heaven help the man who marries her if he isn't a strong personality as well. This little cutie is smart, sassy, at times hilarious and even when she's struggling can smile and radiate sunshine.  Now if only I could get her to show that sunshine more than her tush to others.

She started school this year and I wanted to tell her teacher, "I'm sorry" when I first met her.  She would have looked at me funny and wondered why.  Now though, she has met Rebekah and she knows.  She knows she is smart, funny and a bundle of powerful emotions.

These days though, my challenge is to see if I can find a way to help her learn to like school. With these strong emotions comes a desire for quiet, calm and her parents.  She was telling me last night, she misses homeschooling because she likes being home with Chris and me instead of others who don't love Jesus.  I love that and I hate that.  I love that she wants to be with us and wants to love Jesus without hindrance, but I hate that she has to learn to fight this fight.   I hate that for her to succeed she is going to need to remain in the world a while to learn to channel her frustration and her emotions into something positive to help change the world.  I can see God using her strength for his purpose and plan, but right now in these moments, I'm asking for wisdom and guidance as I try to help her learn to use her passion for Christ in a constructive and life-giving manner 

For several years I needed to focus on Sarah, then I needed to focus on Elizabeth, then Elizabeth and Sarah each with individual issues separate from the other and Beka was small, cute and sunshiny and was great at giving you a smile and cuddle that made it all seem better.  Now it's Beka's turn for my individual attention.  So here we go, trying to figure out how to best help Beka acclimate to school.  Truthfully, it hasn't been easy.  Beka struggles with change, she struggles with loud noises and she struggles with people who are different than herself.  Basically, everything she is finding herself facing in elementary school. 

One of the ways we have helped her is noise canceling headphones to protect her hypersensitive ears.  Another is allowing her to walk sometimes from school to home, it has improved her disposition quite a bit.  Her teacher has been kind and patient, but also firm as needed.  She really does have a good teacher who cares about her.  Albeit I wonder if she ever goes home and shakes her head and thinks, "Why did the Koeppel's decide to put this girl in public school now?"

We used to joke that we homeschooled Elizabeth to protect her from the other kids, but we homeschooled Beka to protect the other kids from her.  This has become more apparent this year as Beka struggles to adjust to working with others, learning to accept people who are different and that she must follow the rules.

I hope you all have a good week.  I will happily accept any extra prayers you want to send our way.

In Christ,
Maureen

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When Satan Decides to Interfere

Our church has been without a pastor since April 2016.  It was a sad time, we missed Dr. Pointer, but it was time for him to join his family.  So with fanfare and well wishes, we saw him off to Midwest. 

Then began the process of selecting a new pastor.  We needed a committee to make that choice.  A few Sundays after Dr. Pointer had left I was approached by one of our church board members about joining our committee.  At the time I was working with the teens and I think the idea was I would be there to help represent them.  I told them I needed a few days to pray about it before answering and the board member was kind enough to agree to let me have time requested. 

I understood that this was a big decision and it needed prayer.  Then Satan or one of his minions showed up and decided that I needed to be distracted.  So first, I was working on Sunday lunch and a 16 oz can of pumpkin dropped right on my big toe.  That sounds like it's small, I know, but it fell from one of the upper shelves and 16 oz in an aluminum can, plus gravity and velocity made it hurt a whole lot more than if it had fallen from the bottom shelf.  As I stood there trying to breathe and not say all of the bad words that popped into my head the girls joined me.  I hobbled to an armchair and Elizabeth grabbed me some frozen vegetables.  Chris came home and we put lunch in the fridge and decided maybe eating out would yield better results. It didn't.

At our favorite little Mexican restaurant, Beka was in full on meltdown mode, Elizabeth whacked her head.  Rebekah whacked her arm, my toe was throbbing, our moods were awful and that's when it struck me, someone was messing with my family.  I took a deep breath and said firmly, "I don't know who you are, but this family is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ and you can just leave right now." The change was instantaneous.  My toe stopped throbbing, the girls calmed down, Chris was happier and we had a very pleasant Sunday.  

Sometimes we just have a bad day, but sometimes also Satan messes with God's children.  If he can distract us, it is much more difficult to listen for God's voice.  Maybe it's Sunday morning and the kids can't seem to stop fighting.  Or maybe you have a big choice coming up and you need God's guidance.  It could even be that bad things begin happening after you've dedicated more of your life to Christ.  In the end, Satan loses and you can help him lose each day with prayer and spending time in God's word. 

I hope you have an excellent day.
In Christ,
Maureen 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Update

Just a quick synopsis of what is going on for those reading but not following me on Facebook.  In early December my mom was admitted to the hospital for severe septicemia/blood poisoning.  She had started off with a Urinary Tract Infection and been taking antibiotics, but this strain was e. coli so apparently the antibiotics didn't work or she stopped taking them or something.  Anyway, she almost died but thankfully the doctors were able to save her - there is more information in the blog post Twelve.

Mom left the hospital and was admitted to a nursing home for rehabilitation, however, it wasn't a very nice place and so my aunt was able to get permission to move her from that home to a really, really nice rapid recovery rehabilitation center where she has a private room.  The next day, Mom suffered a stroke.  The good news is that the doctors were wrong when they suspected she might have bleeding on the brain.  The bad news is that she suffered a stroke, we were all devastated. 

A friend of our family bought me a plane ticket to come down here.  She is an angel and so is her husband.  They have been our friends since I was in first grade and I'm almost 44 years old now, that is a very long time. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to them.

The day I arrived, Mom was not as alert as I had hoped.  I had heard she was slowly becoming more alert, but it was still heartbreaking to see her in this state.  I arrived December 27 and today on January 4th.  She can talk more, has fewer tics and is able to sit all of the ways up.  The day after I arrived, I had bad jet lag, but in the afternoon we had a meeting with the team to agree to change her therapy plan.  Originally the plan was to help her regain her lost strength after the blood poisoning had sapped what little muscle strength she had away.   So now they are working with her to help her recover from her stroke.  And her team is very nice and thoughtful.  Mom is improving.  I don't want to share too much on here because it is Mom's health and there are some issues that come with strokes that I know she would prefer we not share and I want to be respectful of that.

What I can share is that she can stand for five seconds now, but only once and she needs time to doze for about five to seven minutes in between.  Her left hand and arm are regaining feeling and so is her left leg and foot, this is good news.  Also, her center of balance is correcting itself with some help.  After the stroke, she felt the need to slump to the left side.  Thanks to some creative devices and our catching a few things that happened, we are slowly seeing her center readjust and she is regaining core strength.  She does have some speech issues, but she has a really nice speech therapist who is working with her and she's going to get there.  Bud and I are also using essential oils on her to help her brain heal, her emotions to remain calm and her body to recover slowly but surely.

I hope you all have a good weekend.  I will try to resume blogging daily in late January and start reviewing books again soon.  I fly home Friday January 5.  My other family need me as well.  :D

In Christ,
Maureen

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's Okay to Not Be Okay

Today I am not okay.  I was able to get adjusted at the chiropractor's office, but needed to sleep while the ibuprofen did its job this afternoon.  There were some good things that happened today and I'm battling to focus on those, I feel better, I didn't owe $30 to the chiropractor like I thought, but the call that took all of the winds out of my sails was talking to Mom.

I have always known Mom won't live forever, but facing her diminished health is hitting harder today than other days.  I spoke to her and she sounded off.  The physical therapist suspects that Mom had a stroke.  We were so worried about getting her sugars low and her infection under control that we didn't think of anything else.  I suspected prior to seeing her, but once I saw her, everything else flew out the window and my sole focus became Mom. 

Today more than ever I feel helpless at being so far away.  I can't be there to help her, to see her and to encourage her.  Even now that Aunt Nina was able to help her move to a nicer place that is more gears towards short-term rehabilitation.  Today, it feels as if moving so far away was a huge mistake (it wasn't really, logically I know this, but my heart isn't feeling it today).  Just an aside, this is why we shouldn't trust the heart.  Chris and I made the right decision, God definitely opened the door for us to come here because it all fell perfectly into place. My heart though, wishes I were closer to Mom. 

In all of this though, I am so proud of my sister, Meg.  We talked when I knew I was going to move, I would have the same talk occasionally with her after we moved.  I can't be there, it's up to you to be there if something happens.  Our brother, Matt just isn't capable of doing this, so it's Meg and me who have been more likely to look after Mom.  By the time I called her, she was walking into the hospital, she lives three hours away.  This means as soon as Bud called, she packed up her car, grabbed her keys and got in the car to drive to Mom right away.  She kept me in the loop as much as possible and Aunt Nina was there listening and asking great questions.  I am so insanely proud of her, ten years ago, I don't know that this would have been the case, but she has grown so much since then and it shows.

So this is where we stand, Mom is struggling with her health and I am struggling with being unable to be there. So I take a deep breath and pray and trust that God is in control. 

Have a good week.
In Christ,
Maureen