Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Post-Op Update from January 26, 2014

I finally had the time to write my two-month post-op post . . . you can read it here, in case you're interested.  I realize three months plus a week have really gone by since my surgery, but I've had quite a few visitors checking out my blog due to their interest in a "personal experience" story about the Sistrunk Procedure.  I'm glad that others are benefitting from my posts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Quadruplet Surprise

I think this story is pretty amazing.  I just had to share it on here . . .
From: News Limited Network        1 day ago February 18, 2014 1:23AM
Expecting triplets, Kimberly Fugate surprised
to deliver a rare set of quads          
      





Baby bonus ... Kimberly Fugate was surprised to deliver a fourth identical baby girl.
Baby bonus ... Kimberly Fugate was surprised to deliver a fourth identical baby girl.          

A MOTHER who thought she was having triplets got the surprise of a lifetime when doctors discovered a rare fourth baby during delivery.
“There are more feet,” a physician told Kimberly Fugate after she had delivered the first three.
The four babies, all girls, were born at the University of Mississippi Medical Center on Saturday, just shy of 13 weeks premature.
The Clarion Ledger reports that the fourth baby had somehow managed to hide during the numerous ultrasounds Ms Fugate, 42, underwent during her pregnancy.

Fugate four ... baby Kelsey was hidden by sisters Kenleigh, Kristen and Kayleigh. 
Fugate four ... baby Kelsey was hidden by sisters Kenleigh, Kristen and Kayleigh.

Ms Fugate told the newspaper her husband, Craig, only learned of the last-minute addition when he visited her in the recovery room, where she held up her arm adorned with four plastic identification bracelets and told him to count.
Dr James Bofill, UMMC’s director of maternal-foetal medicine, said discovering a fourth baby during the delivery was a first in his 27-year career.
“I was very embarrassed, obviously,” he said. “The news was sent to me by one of my fellows. I thought she was kidding.”

Count ‘em ... Craig Fugate only learned of the fourth baby when he saw an extra identific    
Count ‘em ... Craig Fugate only learned of the fourth baby when he saw an extra identification tag on his wife’s wrist.    

Dr Bofill said the odds of spontaneous quadruplets were 1 in 729,000. But in Ms Fugates’ case, the odds were even smaller because their girls split from a single egg, meaning the siblings are identical.
“Those odds are incalculable,” he said.
The Fugate four — Kenleigh, Kristen, Kaleigh and the bonus, Kelsey — will join big sister Katelyn, who is 10.

’This. Is. It’ ... a happy Kimberly Fugate says she’s now done having babies.
This. Is. It’ ... a happy Kimberly Fugate says she’s now done having babies.    

Asked by the Ledger if she plans on having more children, Ms Fugate was resolute.
“This. Is. It,” the smiling mum said.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Go Away Sickness!

I had such big plans for this past weekend . . . and into this week as well.  However, my husband and I are both suffering from a nasty flu-cold-yuckiness bug, and it just doesn't want to seem to leave our household.  Wayne had to forfeit a downhill ski day with the boys on Saturday, and has spent almost the entire weekend in bed.  None of us were in church yesterday due to how we've been feeling.  I have the next week off from work, but I'm not sure how many of my goals will be accomplished between now and next weekend due to how I'm feeling.  I really dislike being sick.  :(

Sunday, February 16, 2014

10 Truths About a Woman's Worth (written by a man)

Follow the link below to read Jarrid Wilson's thoughts on 10 Truths About A Woman's Worth.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Real World



Harry Hook / Stone / Getty Images


One of my nieces recently posted the link below on her Facebook page.  I'm so glad she did.  It's definitely worth checking out . . . it made me so happy.  After you look at the 44 photos, you'll understand what I mean when I say that I connected many women I know personally to the women portrayed in these photos.  This is what being a beautiful woman is like in the real world.  Click on the link below to view.


http://www.buzzfeed.com/ashleyperez/stock-photos-that-hope-to-change-the-way-we-look-at-women?utm_term=P3Q9L289OGhxeWpiazBqYg%3D%3D&fb_ref=P3Q9L289OGhxeWpiazBqYg%3D%3D#P3Q9L289OGhxeWpiazBqYg==

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Schmalentine's

I love the concept of the day.  Showing love extravagantly.  Showing the ones you love how much they mean to you and how much you care about them.  But I sort of think this is something that should happen on a regular basis, not just one day a year.

I think the day has been made into something that perhaps, it was not originally intended to be.  I think that consumerism is fueling Valentine's Day, as well as expectations placed on couples, which might not even be realistic.

I used to be an all-out "Valentiner" . . . before I was married.  I would loathe the fact that I was single, longing for what I thought would be such a perfect day, if only I were in love.  Or if someone else were in love with me.

Those days are long gone.  When you've been with your spouse for 17 years, you know that there is an ebb and flow that exists within the marital relationship, and sometimes February 14th is a "bad marriage day".  What do you do with that?

Well, first of all, I bathe my marriage in prayer.  I ask that God works in my heart first, and that the Holy Spirit will convict my husband of what he needs to change, not what I hope will change.  Secondly, I face the day with no expectations.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and let me tell you, many a Valentine's Days have passed where my feelings towards my husband were more hateful than loving, because I had placed this ideal "Valentine's Day" expectation on the table, and in all reality, it wasn't necessary for my husband to act on that ideal just to prove that he loves me.   Everyone has a different way of expressing love, and that's fine.  Actually, as time goes on, I think it is safe to say, and okay to say, that our "romancing" has become more purposefully comfortable in recent years than it has been for the purpose of alluring my spouse in the more traditional sense of the word "romancing".  I'm not sure how my readers will take that, but for us, it's okay.  I am okay with the fact that I am more comfortable in my marriage with Wayne now--more than I was yesterday, or the day we married, or two months ago.  I think that's growth.

Don't get me wrong.  I still enjoy dating.  As far as I'm concerned, dates are necessary for us.  Dates are a time for us to reconnect without the distractions of our responsibilities at home, our children, our jobs, our friends, etc.  It's time for us to just be us.  While these dates are not always traditional in the sense of a date, there are many days that I am just as happy to have a stay-at-home-date than I am to have a dress-up-and-go-out-date.  Truly, it's more about making a connection than it is about where the date takes place.

Outside of marriage, I think there is also a place to show love to others on a daily basis.  There are hurting people all around us, and I think that any time we show an expression of love to another human being, because of the fact that God loves us and we love God, a greater purpose is accomplished.  I love the lyrics in the Newsboys song, "That's How You Change the World" . . .


All my life I had big dreams . . . to do big things and make a change
And all the while, I just passed by . . . the simple needs right here next to me

'Cause there's a breaking heart . . .That's fallin' apart
And tear filled eyes lookin' back at me . . . God, won't you help me to see

It's the prayer in an empty room . . . little things we do when nobody's around
A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt . . . it's the smallest spark that can light the dark


That's how you change the world . . .

A million little drops of rain . . . can be enough to cause a tidal wave
A flood of Your love . . . that no one can contain

'Cause there's an empty soul . . .that wants to be known
Around me now, that I can lead to You . . . revealing love that won't refuse

It's the kind words . . . A simple smile . . . More than showin' up . . . Going the extra mile
It's giving everything . . . When you've got nothin' left . . .
Sharin' a little hope . . .With a single breath

That's how you change the world


So, wherever this Valentine's Day is going to find you, remember this:  Love God, Love Others.  And Change Your World!


Follow the link to hear the song . . .













Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

He is With Us

This is one of my favourite songs right now . . . I really want this band's complete album someday . . . Love and the Outcome . . . "He is With Us".



Monday, February 10, 2014

Revive, Empower and Champion




For more thoughts from Ann Voskamp on this, follow this link to her post entitled, "Why You Really Matter:  An Anthem for Women" . . . http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/02/why-you-really-matter-an-anthem-for-women/

Her post (like so many others), brought me to tears.

(I also think it's really cool that she used the term "Champion" in the post . . . further to my post a couple of weeks back about my son's Youth Pastor Intern encouraging the youth group to "champion" others.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison~

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God's word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity."
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together~

Friday, February 7, 2014

Light and Rainbows

photo compliments of sharenator.com

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don't know it, all of that doesn't even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It's not like you have forever, so don't waste any of your seconds, don't throw even one of your moments away.”
C. JoyBell C.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Supernova


“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before!”
~C. JoyBell C.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Look Instead For What God Can Do

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a blind man from birth.  His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned:  this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?"

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.  When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

John 9:1-5 (The Message)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beauty in Marriage

    
     Our church is currently doing a sermon series on marriage, and it's just what my husband and I need right now in order to re-charge our marriage batteries.  This year we will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary, and in some ways the time has gone by quickly, and in other ways, it has dragged.  I am sure many married people feel that way . . . the better years have zoomed by and the challenging years have progressed at a turtle's pace.  Whatever the case, I'm so glad to be "parked" on this theme for a while at church, and so far the sermons have been excellent.
     Without either one of us verbalizing our intentions at the turn of the New Year, we both had made a personal commitment to do a better job at being a husband/wife to our spouse in 2014.  This was before we knew that our church was going to engage us each Sunday for the next two months on the very thing we both wanted to grow in and get better at.
     I allowed a couple of weeks to pass before I actually confronted my husband about some of the changes I was seeing in him with regards to our marriage.  Perhaps "confronted" is the wrong word to use, because that word usually implies something negative is needing to be dealt with.  On the contrary, I believe the Holy Spirit was working in both Wayne and I, pointing out areas that needed some changes to how we were living out our marriage.  Although the changes were/are likely subtle to the outsider, my boys even noticed a different "tone" in the house, so maybe the changes weren't so subtle after all.  We're still working on things, and there's lots to be done; but it's progress, and we'll both take it.
     When you live with someone, they see the truest you that no other human being will ever know---the good, the bad and the ugly.  That's a hard pill to swallow if you enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, and a hope to change the other person into somebody they couldn't possibly become.  For the record, I did not enter my marriage in that way entirely, but until you are actually married, you don't really know what you've gotten yourself into.  You have to trust that you've made the right decision and move forward, whether or not the expectations are fulfilled, and whether or not your spouse does in fact, change. 
     In all reality, my husband and I have changed.  We've changed together.  When life has thrown challenges our way, we've changed.  When life has given us responsibilities and experiences that we would've rather avoided, we've changed.  When prosperity and joy have existed for periods of time within our marriage, we've changed.   But we haven't changed as two separate parts--we've changed as one couple, even though we are two different people, experiencing the same thing at the same time . . . our reaction and response will be different, but the experiences will still change us.  What happens to my husband will ultimately have an affect on me, and vice-versa.  But I believe that staying strong, being grounded in our faith and supporting each other through the changes is what has kept us together.  That, and the grace of God.  Actually, it is only the grace of God has kept us together.
     Our marriage has gone through many seasons, as any marriage will.  I know there were skeptics out there about us, naysayers who claimed we would never make it, and our marriage wouldn't last.  And in some ways we have failed because of how our family fell apart when my stepson had to be removed from our home by Social Services.  I have spent nine years grieving the fact that, while our marriage has managed to stay together, and admittedly, only by a thread at times, we were not able to keep our family unit whole.  This is one part of our story that is scary, and ugly, and messy.  I'm not proud of it, and there are still days that it is all surreal to me.  However, in the midst of those very trying years, we've been able to re-establish a foundation to build on so that we can implement restoration for our family unit.  It isn't going to look like it used to, but I believe that God can take (and is taking) ruin, and attempting to build something beautiful.  Our story isn't over yet, and it won't be until we pass on from this life into eternity.** 
     A few months ago I watched the movie, Eat Pray Love, which is based on a book by Elizabeth Gilbert.  In the movie, there is a quote that struck a chord in me, and it is this:  "Ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation."  I think these words resonated with me so deeply because I have felt like much of my married life, and more specifically in the role of being a stepmother, has been spent in a state of ruin.  It hasn't always been fun and there is still rubble that I trip and stumble on because of the ruin.  But I believe it is this ruin that has been an integral part in creating me into who I am today.  It's like the refiners fire that burns away the impurities so that the true beauty of the precious metal can be revealed.  The ruin truly has been leading me to transformation.  I'm not fully transformed . . . I won't be until my physical body dies . . . but there is something comforting in knowing that the ruin has a purpose, and it is as I find this purpose, that God will keep transforming me into who He intended me to be.
Some times it’s hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season’s coming
And I will spring up in….in this faithfulness.

CHORUS:
With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I’m small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling.

Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/for-your-splendor-lyrics-christy-nockels.html#47vOL44retp8Ecvi.99


"Sometimes it's hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season's coming
And I will spring up in... in this faithfulness.

With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I'm small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling."

~lyrics from "For Your Splendor" by Christy Nockels~


**(I have only touched on the story about my stepson, and if you know us personally or have been following my blog for several years, you'll know what I'm referring to; it is too long of a story to get into now, but if you want to learn more about that part of my life, leave me a comment and I might share more in a personal message).
Some times it’s hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season’s coming
And I will spring up in….in this faithfulness.

CHORUS:
With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I’m small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling.

Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/for-your-splendor-lyrics-christy-nockels.html#47vOL44retp8Ecvi.99
Some times it’s hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season’s coming
And I will spring up in….in this faithfulness.

CHORUS:
With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I’m small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling.

Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/for-your-splendor-lyrics-christy-nockels.html#47vOL44retp8Ecvi.99

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Linking to "The New Church Lady"

I'm going to link you to a blog post that was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook today . . . I think the words of this woman speak volumes . . . check it out for yourself here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Champion"-ing

     Last night I was sharing with my boys, some of the experiences I've been having with people lately.  I told them about how I've been trying to look past my first-impressions and potential judgement, choosing to focus on the beauty that I see in people . . . new people I meet, as well as people that I've had a struggle with in the past.
     There is one person in particular, who has been mutually
"ugly" (for lack of a better term, and honestly, that is how I viewed her) to our entire family.  Although we rarely, if ever, see this person, she is someone that, whether intentionally or not, caused much grief and sorrow for us when we first moved into the community that we currently live in.  I recently met someone who reminds me of this "ugly" person, but I'm finding the new person to be quite beautiful. 
     This made me begin to question whether or not I could actually see any beauty in the "ugly" person, and yes, I can.  There is something attractive about her personality, and while I fought against seeing it in the past, I now see it.  I haven't actually encountered her for at least two years.  However, up until this week, I would've probably winced upon hearing her name in conversation, or if I saw her somewhere out in the world, I likely would have left the scene so that I didn't have to acknowledge her.  I know this all sounds awful, but I think most people have someone in their lives that rub them the wrong way, so maybe you can relate, even just a little bit.  In the past, while I was watching everyone else around me answering to her beck-and-call, almost worshipping the ground she and her family walked on, it didn't sit well with me.  I couldn't stand it, actually.  This week I've realized that I have been envious of her place in the community.  I have fought hard to even been noticed here, and it has been difficult to witness someone else make it look so easy to fit in and be liked.  She didn't welcome me into her fold when we first arrived here, and I think that quickly burned out my self-confidence as I attempted to build friendships with other women in the community.  Not to mention, she made it known to others that she didn't really care for me or my boys, and I always felt like her opinion of us affected our chances of actually fitting in with anyone else.
     I don't know if and when I'll see her again, but I really feel like I've come to a place where I can accept the good . . . the beauty . . . in this person.  While she and I may never become best friends, I can at least say with good conscience that I have resolved my feelings of dislike in my heart towards her, and I will face her confidently the next time I see her.
     Sharing this story with my boys brought out some really good dialogue regarding people that they have struggled to see the "beauty" in as well.  Mitchell shared about how their youth intern pastor recently had a talk with them about "Champion-ing" people.  I thought that was a good way to put it, especially for a male teenager to understand.  Mitchell views this "champion-ing" the same way as I view "inner beauty".  Whatever term works . . . we'll be using those terms inter-changeably in our home from now on.
     "Champion-ing", by Mitchell's definition, is looking for the good in people and focussing on those qualities, rather than dwelling on their short-comings.  The youth pastor encouraged the kids to "Champion" people they already know, as well as people they'll meet in the future.  I like this concept and I think it fits perfectly with what I'm trying to do in my own life.  I love how the Holy Spirit brought the conversation about, and how my own children are pursuing this adventure as well, in their own teenage-boy way. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Burn Brightly


     In an attempt to "see" the inner beauty of others, I'm enjoying my encounters with people more and more.  I've always enjoyed people, but I'm finding this new focus in my own life translating into how I perceive others, throwing away first-impressions as soon as I possibly can.
     For example, tonight one of my boys participated in a Flag Party Ceremony for the singing of O Canada at a WHL hockey game; I found myself very intrigued by the other moms, and even a great-grandmother, who had brought their kids/great-grand kids to the hockey arena to participate in the Flag Party.  Surface-opinions quickly diminished as I got to see a tiny bit of the beautiful heart of these women, and the sacrifices that they, in particular, made this evening, so that the Cadet they brought would be on time and in best form for their duties, supporting them in the process.
     I know my encounter with all of these women was brief in light of eternity, but I am grateful for what God revealed to me about each one of them in less than an hour's time.  Now that some ice has been broken with these women, I hope to engage in more conversation with them at future Cadet-related events.
     There is beauty all around us . . . in every person we meet.  I encourage you to find beauty in others and to allow your own inner-beauty to burn brightly.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HOPE

hope-painting
Hope Painting

I love to feel hopeful.  Hope gives meaning to the mysteries of life.  Hope defines my relationship with God, because with God, all things are possible, and without Him, all things seem hopeless--the hopeless situation . . . the hopeless relationship . . . the hopeless world we live in . . . hopelessness can be re-defined by a HOPE that only God can provide through his son, Jesus Christ.  My hope is an eternal hope, for which I am grateful.

Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The following is a commentary to accompany the above painting, which I found at:  http://www.daydaypaint.com/blog/tag/famous-portrait-paintings

This painting is named Hope. Hope is one of the most mysterious and arresting paintings from any age – a blindfolded woman astride a globe, plucking at a remaining single string, when all the others have snapped – an image once seen, never forgotten. Whilst its composition is simple and iconic, its atmosphere is heavy with emotive meaning. It was reputedly painted at a moment of anguish, when the daughter of G. F. Watts’s adopted daughter Blanche died.
This mood is not entirely absent in the painting and G. K. Chesterton wrote that the first thought on anyone seeing it is that it should be called Despair. But the title given it by the artist suggests something quite different; it suggests optimism. It is, in fact, Hope in Despair. An evocation of the human condition; the ability of people, at their lowest point to sense and feel a strand, a single string of hope that keeps them going, when all around is failing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

C.S. Lewis Quote . . .



“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.

“At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

~C.S. Lewis~

Sunday, January 26, 2014

POST-OP Two-Month Update

So here's an update on my surgery--two months after it has taken place.

Overall, I would say that I am physically healing quite well.  My incision is smoother than it was a month ago, and the line is diminishing little by little.  If I don't keep the scar plus the area surrounding the scar super-moisturized (either with Vitamin E cream or Aloe-Vera gel), at all times, it gets very dry, wrinkly and pink in colour.  However, I see it each time I look in the mirror, and I suppose I always will.  But I have chosen to use the scar to be a reminder to me about God's faithfulness and healing in my life, in more ways than just the surgery itself.  The scar reminds me that my outer appearance doesn't matter--it truly is what's inside that counts.  I guess that's why my husband repeatedly tells me (by repeatedly, I mean, every time I bring up the scar), that he doesn't notice my scar.  Until I remind him of it.  But yet, he tells me I'm beautiful--he doesn't see the scar because he knows that I am more than a permanently-damaged physical body--he sees beyond that and I do not take that for granted.  I appreciate his ability to see past the physical and love me for all parts--the good and even the not-so-good.  And I'm not talking the physical not-so-good . . . I mean the inner ugliness that he is able to overlook despite my shortcomings. 

Since I last wrote I've had to make a decision that was a difficult one for me, and that is a decision surrounding my voice.  Prior to the surgery, I was an active participant in our church's worship teams, and I sang on a monthly basis.  However, since the surgery, I've tried that once, and it did not go well.  I can still sing (although, I don't think my voice sounds as good as it used to--not that I ever thought I had a great voice . . . it's just not good at all now.)  I have lost the ability to endure a 45 minute practice, followed by two church services of singing the same songs again, which makes a total of singing 18 "songs" on the Sundays that I'm on a worship team.  On the Sunday that I did attempt to sing, by the time the pre-service practice was over, my voice was toast. 

I remember back to when I found out that I needed surgery . . . I shared my fears with my husband about my voice potentially changing as a result of what was about to happen to my body . . . of course it would've been ridiculous for me to avoid the surgery in order to save my voice; however, I'm sad about this turn of events and I hope that one day my voice will return to it's "regular-strength" self.  Thankfully, I am still able to sing as a participant during our Sunday-morning worship time--I just can't do it three times in one morning.


Aside from my destroyed singing voice, the only other significant things that I'm experiencing, which I have my surgery to thank for, is super-dry hair, and super-itchy skin at the incision site.  My hairdresser informed me that anaesthetic can do strange things to hair--even two months later.  I keep moisturizing and conditioning my hair, but to me it always looks like a dried-up bird's nest due to split ends.  And I think my incision-site is itchy because I'm healing from the inside-out.  As per my surgeon, it is going to take about a year for my body to completely heal.  I just need to be patient.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beautiful Things






This is one of my all-time favourite songs . . . Beautiful Things, by Michael Gungor

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Parable of the Stones

The following is a copy of my post from January 14, 2013.  The books I speak of below have been on my mind a lot again lately, and I am pleased to say that thanks to a very kind and thoughtful blogging friend, I now own both books.  You can imagine my surprise when I was gifted with these books in the mail last spring . . . thanks again, Michelle!  It is kind of a neat story of how she was led by the Holy Spirit to search for, purchase, and send me the books mentioned below, from thousands of miles away.  She blessed me in such a special way by providing me with these books, which I thought were impossible to obtain by my own methods.

So, here is the original post:

Many years ago (in the summer of 1995 to be exact), while I was working at a Bible Camp in northern Manitoba, I came across the story below in a kid's storybook, written by Max Lucado.  The book was called, Tell Me the Secrets, and the camp director's daughter and I used to spend hours reading this book together.  My favourite story from the book was called, The Parable of the Stones, which follows below.  Just a bit of a side-note . . . at camp there was a companion book to Tell Me the Secrets, called Tell Me the Story, which was also excellent.  Unfortunately, it appears that these books are no longer in print, and if I ever want to get my hands on them, I'll have to pay triple what they were originally sold for.  I would really like these books for my coffee table . . .
 
Front CoverProduct Details
 
 
The Parable of the Stones
Max Lucado
 
I must warn you, reader; before you begin. These words are ancient jewels mined from the quarry of my life. Read them only if you dare treasure them. For it would be better to never know, than to know and not obey.

The hand which writes them is now old, wrinkled from the sun and labour. But the mind which guides them is wise -

Wise from years
Wise from failures
Wise from heartache.

I am Asmara, merchant of fine stones.

I am a seller of stones. I travel from city to city. I buy jewels from the diggers in one land and sell them to the buyers in another. I have walked days through desert heat. I have dined with kings. I have drunk with paupers. My hands have held the finest rubies and stroked the deepest furs. But I would trade it all for the one jewel I never knew.

I have never known true love.

I have known embraces. I have seen beauty. But I have never known love.

If only I’d learned to recognize love as I have learned to recognize stones.

My father taught me about stones. He was a jewel cutter. He would seat me at a table before a dozen emeralds. “One is true”, he would tell me. “The others are false. Find the true jewel.”

I would ponder – studying one after the other. Finally I would choose. I was always wrong.

“The secret”, he would say, “is not on the surface of the stone; it is inside the stone. A true jewel has a glow. Deep within the gem there is a flame. The surface can always be polished, but with time the sparkle fades. However, the stone that shines from within will never fade.”

With the years, my eyes learned to spot true stones. I am never fooled. The stones I purchase are authentic. The gems I sell are true. I have learned to see the light within.

If only I’d learned the same about love.

But I’ve been foolish dear reader, and I’ve been fooled.

I’ve spent my life in places I shouldn’t have been, looking for someone with sparkling eyes, beautiful hair, a dazzling smile and fancy clothes. I’ve searched for a woman with outer beauty, but no true value. And now I am left with emptiness.

Once I almost found her. Many years ago in Madrid, I met the daughter of a farmer. Her ways were simple. Her love was pure. Her eyes were honest. But her looks were plain. She would have loved me. She would have held me through every season. Within her was a glow of devotion the like of which I’d never seen since.

But I continued looking for someone whose beauty would outshine the rest.

How many times since have I longed for that farm girl’s kind heart, her sweet smile, her faithfulness? If only I’d known that true beauty is found inside, not outside. If only I’d known, how many tears would I have saved?

I’d trade in a moment a thousand rare gems for the true heart of one who would have loved me.

Dear reader, heed my warning. Look closely at the stones before you open your purse. True love glows from within and grows stronger with the passage of time.

Heed my caution. Look for the purest gem. Look deep within the heart to find the greatest beauty of all. And when you find that gem, hold onto her and never let her go.

For in her you have been granted a treasure worth far more than rubies.

Seek beauty and miss love.

But seek love and find both.



 
"The following is a commentary by Angela Lang, in response to Max Lucado's Parable of the Stones.  You can read more of her thoughts here on her blog.
 
We’re taught to look at the superficial and make decisions based on that. In our hurried world we don’t have the time to look closely. And so we rely on cursory glances and fleeting impressions and we make our decisions. Decide in haste. Repent at leisure.

What have we missed?

Father, teach us to look closely, to see to the heart of things. Show us how to look past the superficial, the pretty exteriors. Give us the wisdom to see circumstances and people as they really are. Don’t let us be deceived by the temporal, transient and inconstant. Help us to make decisions that are right for us, decisions that are guided by You.

We pray that we our hearts learn to be grateful for what we do have instead of constantly seeking for something better, faster, shinier, prettier. We pray that our people begin to see the inner glow in our nation and the potential which lies within her.

Let us not be foolish following after things You have not set aside for us, and wasting our time, our lives, on something of no value.

Reveal our blessings to us and let us treasure what You have already blessed us with.

In Jesus’ name, Amen."


“Do not let your beauty be
That outward adorning of arranging the hair,
Of wearing gold,
Or putting on fine apparel;

But let it be the hidden person of the heart,
With the incorruptible ornament
Of a gentle and quiet spirit,
Which is very precious
In the sight of God.”

1 Peter 3:3,4

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beauty for Ashes

   
 " . . . he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
~Isaiah 61:3~

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

In His Time

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Scars Are Beautiful

Photo credit:  Faithlife Women


I was listening to some Paul Brandt music today and was moved by the lyrics of his song, Scars Are Beautiful.  I had actually completely forgotten about this song until today.  I looked for a You-Tube video to accompany the words, but nothing was available.  I wish you could hear Paul Brandt sing the words, but for now you'll have to enjoy the lyrics as they are.

Scars are Beautiful
~Paul Brandt~

I've got this little scar that left it's mark
Down underneath my chin
From when I fell off my bike back when
I was just a kid

And oh, the pain and how I cried
And I still remember how it bled
I know I won't forget that time and what my daddy said

Don't cry, it'll get better
In time you'll soon forget it
You'll be fine right now it hurts some
But the healing hasn't happened yet
The pain won't always be there
And someday after the fall, your scrapes and scratches will remind you
Of the hurt you left behind you and you'll see
That scars are beautiful

Each scar is living proof and they tell the truth
About places that you've been
They're all roadmaps to life's lessons made
By sacrifice and sin
And you can let them bring you down
Or you can hold your head up high
Don't let the chance you took to fall
Keep you from the chance you take to try


Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014