Thursday, November 20, 2014

Look Up!

 As I have walked this road this year of health struggles and pain, I have come to realize that without God, there is no going forward. God gives hope where there is none. When I have no one on this earth to put my faith in, God is the One who is faithful. He holds my entire life in His hands and I can trust him and have faith in Him that He knows what He's doing when no one else does.

It's been a hard journey, not only for me, but for my family. In the blink of an eye, something can happen than can change the course of your life and you are helpless to do anything but go forward and pray each day that you will make it through.

Thankfully, I have had no new infections for which I am so very grateful. Unfortunately, the wounds are not healing properly and they are a concern to my doctor. He at first talked about another surgery at which time my heart dropped to my toes. I have had four surgeries this year and another one seems so daunting. I personally think the reason I'm not healing well is because my body is worn out but I digress. He brought another doctor in as well as his PA and they thought stem cells might work. So, now I wait to see if my insurance will approve this and, if they do, they will place stem cells in the wounds to give them a boost. Oh, how I pray that I'm allowed to get this procedure and that it works! If it doesn't then I will have to have another surgery.

I try to live as normally as I can. I plan out my days and, more times than not, I don't accomplish but a 10th or less of those plans. I'm still house bound so these are things I want to accomplish at home. I celebrate even the little accomplishments because they are huge for me. Putting a meal in the crock pot, dusting, or decorating are reasons to feel good. I was looking at it before as all the things I couldn't do, but that will bring me down lower than I can handle, so I focus on what I can do.

There are people that sustain me. My husband, who is my rock when I can't do anything but cry. He waits on me - not because I ask - but he does it out of love. Ice water, a grilled cheese sandwich, carrying my books from room to room, making sure the pillows are perfect under my legs when I get into bed; these are the things that remind me of how Jesus washed the Disciples feet. My youngest son who drives me two hours away to my doctor appointment despite being tired and in pain himself. My oldest son who comes over and takes on some of the household duties on his days off because I'm unable to. My sweet friend who writes me a Scripture and devotion every morning in a text so that I wake up to God's Word and a reminder that I am loved by her. My sister who emails me with encouragement and prayers, calls me to check on me, and prays continually for my healing; she has known me all my life and loves me in a way no one else can and she sustains me. These are the people who reach out to me, love me even on the hard days, and keep me moving forward. God has blessed me with a loving core group to get me through the hardness of this journey.

I do not forget you, my dear friends. So many of you email me to check on me, leave comments of encouragement and to tell me that you're praying for me. These are lifelines and I am so grateful. You are also the hands and feet of Jesus to me even though I have never met most of you in person.

The key is not to look down at what I can't do, what is left undone, but to focus on the accomplishments and to look up to the One who holds the whole situation - and me - in His mighty and loving hands.

God bless you - Julie

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review - The Christmas Cat

ABOUT THE BOOK:

After years abroad, Garrison Brown returns home to Vancouver to build a new life. When his beloved grandmother passes away a few weeks before Christmas, Garrison goes to her house to sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While Garrison hopes to dispense with the task quickly, his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left Garrison with some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends--plus a sizeable monetary gift for the new owners. Garrison's job is to match the cats with the right owners without disclosing the surprise gift. Along the way, he may just meet someone who can make him stay.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books, including the Dating Games series, the Life at Kingston High series, Double Take, A Simple Song, and My Amish Boyfriend. She has received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

MY REVIEW:

The Christmas Cat is the perfect book for this time of year (well, actually, I would read it at any time of the year) as Christmas approaches. It's a very sweet, yet good story that will have you turning the pages to see what happens next.

Garrison is in Seattle trying to find a job after being Uganda to dig wells for fresh water. While there, he contracts malaria and is still trying to recover from this when he gets word that his beloved Grandmother has died. He returns to his childhood home in Vancouver to wrap things up for his grandmother and deal with the cats she has left behind.

It's not as easy as it sounds, though, because his grandmother left behind very specific instructions of how the cats are to be placed. Lots of hoops for someone to jump through in order to own a cat and Garrison is realizing it may not be as easy as he thought. Part of the problem is that Garrison is allergic to the cats he now finds himself living with until he finds them new homes.

Such a cute story with a romantic storyline on the side. I was rooting for the cats and for Garrison to find happiness and love. I liked how we follow along with Garrison as he learns new things about himself, his grandmother and the cats. I really loved this story and it's exactly what a Christmas book should be! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Baker Publishing Group


Blessings - Julie

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Counting Our Blessings - Link Up!


Choosing to be joyful in hard times can be difficult. It really is a choice. I don't want to make it sound like I'm just a ball of joy every day. I'm not. I have really cranky days because I'm so tired of all I'm going through. Or I'm really tired. Or I'm in a lot of pain - or all three! However, I'm so thankful I have Jesus because He gives me the ability to be joyful most of the time. That's why I love to count my blessings - one by one.

93. Every year I tell myself that I'm going to get my very favorite fragrance at Bath & Body Works and every year, I miss out! I'm either too early or too late to find it. What am I talking about? Twisted Peppermint, of course!

I did get some last year because my very best friend got me some - bless her heart! On our way home from my doctor's appointment, my son went into Bath & Body Works and found me a treasure trove of this wonderful stuff. He came out with two bags! I'm so thrilled! I wear this fragrance all year long, when I have it. My sister is the one who first got me some and I've been hooked ever since. One time she was wearing it in the bookstore and some lady told her that she smelled so good - "Like how the angels must smell!" LOL Anything good enough for angels is good enough for me and I have to agree with that lady - it's wonderful. What a blessing to have my favorite fragrance!!

94.  I've gotten three knee shots in my knee and it's been such a relief. I was having so much pain in my left knee that I could barely walk. I'm still having pain, but it's lessened and I'm so thankful. I'm also thankful for my amazing pain doctor who is so caring and kind. He's a blessing to me, for sure!

95.  Okay - you're probably going to either laugh at this or think I'm a total weirdo, but I'm so happy that every weekday I get to watch "Emergency" and "CHiPs"! LOL


I just love these shows because they have great story lines and are totally free from sexual innuendo and extreme violence. They both also have their humorous moments and I just love that I get a little chuckle every afternoon. It's such a blessing to have the classic TV shows!

96.  Mitzi continues to bless me in so many ways! She is so smart! She's learned to sit on command and even dances for her treats. She is such a little snuggle girl and just loves me with no questions asked. I can't imagine my life without her as she brings me such joy! Here are some recent close-up pictures of her. She needs a haircut really bad so don't judge her by her sad hair-do! She'll be getting a bath and a trim here in a couple days when I get some energy to do so. What a wonderful girl and blessing she is!


Please share your own link up and count your blessings, too! I would really appreciate you sharing my button on your blog (look at the top for the page with my buttons) when you share. I pray your week is full of many blessings!!


Blessings - Julie

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review - Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary is the most comprehensive and up-to-date Bible dictionary available. With a fresh new look and updated photographs, this new and enhanced edition is a wealth of basic study information with more than 7,000 entries plus more than 500 full-color photographs, maps, and pronunciation guides.
Features include:
  • Cross-references to major translations
  • More than 7,000 up-to-date entries
  • More than 500 full-color photographs and maps
  • Enlarged type size for easier reading
  • Visual Survey of the Bible from The Open Bible
ABOUT THE EDITORS AND CONTRIBUTORS:

Ronald F. Youngblood is Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew Emeritus, Bethel Seminary San Diego.
F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) was Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester in England.
R.K. Harrison (1920-1993) was Professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.

MY REVIEW:

This is the absolute best Bible Dictionary I've ever seen. Anything you want to know, you're sure to find it in this amazing volume!

I really like the pictures and illustrations throughout. It makes it so much easier and enjoyable to understand what you're reading. Things I didn't really understand before, I really understand now because of this wonderful dictionary!

It also has cross-references so you can dig deeper and really get a clear understanding of a word. I thought the section on Occupations was exceptional! It went into every conceivable occupation in the Biblical times. It is so interesting!

Anything you'd like to know, anything you'd like to understand, you'll find in this Bible Dictionary. It's been so great as I do my Bible studies or have my quiet time to look up something I'm not sure about or have no understanding of. It makes my reading of the Bible so much more enjoyable and interesting because I understand what I'm reading.

I highly recommend this Bible Dictionary. It's amazing and packed with information! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by BookLook Bloggers Program

 

Blessings - Julie

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review - Where Treetops Glisten

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.
MY REVIEW:

This is a wonderful book, especially to read for the Christmas season! Three short stories that will have you laughing out loud or wiping away a tear. 


This book is set during the 1940's, during World War II, and follows the Turner siblings. It starts out with Abigail who has lost her boyfriend in the war and decides not to get involved with anyone romantically again. She is busy with college, her job at the candy store, and taking care of little ones a couple days a week. Her friends try to set her up with different boys, but she just isn't interested. Then she meets a man that seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders and she is drawn into his life. It's a sweet story that has a twist of suspense to it as Abigail and her lawyer father try and help this man.

The next story features Abigail's brother, Pete. He's a fighter pilot in the war and is exhausted from fighting the war when he returns home for a visit. He's walking downtown when he comes upon a little girl all by herself. This begins a new relationship with the little girl's mother who lost her husband in the war. There is a lot of healing for both of them ahead.

The third story is about Abigail's sister, Meredith, or Merry as her family calls her. She is a nurse on the front lines of the war, far from home and nursing a broken heart. The man she loved left her when the war started because he was German and returned to his homeland. As she cares for the wounded and dying men, she gets a surprise.

I loved this book. I really liked how the faith of all the characters sustained them during such a difficult time in their lives. Living through the war, whether on our own soil or in a foreign country, was difficult but I like how the authors show how they were sustained by their faith. I really liked the Grandmother in this story, too. She was wise and gave the book a little humor with her wit. This is a definite must-read for this Christmas season (or anytime) as it will touch your heart in many ways. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

You can read more reviews of this book HERE

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group


Blessings - Julie