Wisdom (and Hope) from the Word Wednesday

When I’m having a particularly bad day or when I just need a small spark of hope, I turn to the book of Psalms in the Bible. If you read any of the Psalms you will see a pattern with each one (loss of hope, turn to God, hope restored), BUT my favorite part is seeing the Psalms as a WHOLE.

I’ve use this technique for awhile now and I thought it could perhaps help some of you, my readers, too in your search for hope, joy, love and inspiration. In the past, I’ve haphazardly scoured the Psalms looking for bits of hope that sustained me through my days. For this post, I read each Psalm and picked out the bits and pieces that spoke to me the most – and I hope will speak to you. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a bit, but I pray that this list will help you when you might be feeling low or when it just seems like no one understands. Feel free to print this out – all or a portion, share with friends and comment below with some of your own favorite passages.

This is what I see when I read the Psalms and what I recite to myself when I’m feeling low and need to know that I am not alone.

The Lord:

  • watches over me (Psalm 1)
  • is my Father (Psalm 2)
  • is my shield (Psalm 3 & 7)
  • fills my heart with greater joy and helps me to sleep in peace (Psalm 4)
  • hears my voice (Psalm 5)
  • accepts my prayers (Psalm 6)
  • crowns me with glory and honor (Psalm 8)
  • is my refuge and stronghold (Psalm 9 & 42)
  • has made my lot secure and will not abandon me (Psalm 16)
  • is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…my shield, the horn of my salvation and my stronghold and my Savior (Psalm 18)
  • answers me in my distress (Psalm 20)
  • rejoices in my strength (Psalm 21)
  • is my shepherd… prepares a table for me and anoints my head with oil (Psalm 23 & 45)
  • is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27)
  • is my rock…hears my cries for mercy…and is my strength and shield (Psalm 28 & 115)
  • blesses me with peace (Psalm 29)
  • turns my wailing into dancing and clothes me in joy (Psalm 30)
  • is my rock and fortress (Psalm 31, 46, 59, 62) (Do you see a theme?)
  • is our help and shield (Psalm 33 & 91)
  • is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34)
  • hears my cry and lifts me out of the pit, sets my feet on the rock and gives me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40)
  • delivers me in times of trouble, protects me, sustains me on my sickbed and restores me from my bed of illness (Psalm 41)
  • is my help and the one who sustains me (Psalm 54 & 55)
  • has kept my feet from stumbling (Psalm 56)
  • does not reject my prayers (Psalm 66)
  • is a God who saves (Psalm 68)
  • hears the needy (Psalm 69)
  • holds me by my right hand, guides me with His counsel and is the strength of my heart (Psalm 73)
  • is a sun and a shield and bestows honor and favor (Psalm 84)
  • is my dwelling place (Psalm 90)
  • supports me, consoles me and brings me joy (Psalm 94)
  • his love endures forever (Psalm 100, 107, 118, 136, 138)
  • is near to all who call on Him, upholds all who fall, is faithful to His promises, is loving towards all He has made, and watches over all who love Him…upholds the cause of the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, gives sight to the blind, sustains the fatherless and the widow, frustrates the way of the wicked and reigns forever… heals the brokenhearted, calls each of the stars by name, sustains the humble, supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow, delights in those who fear Him… (Psalm 145, 146 & 147)

So, you see, I am hopeful because the Lord does and is all these things. Again, I pray you will take Him into your heart today and believe all these things for you as well. He is offering it all to you – won’t you accept today?

“May my meditation be pleasing to Him…” (Psalm 105) and “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150)

Amen.

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That’s What She Said: Yes!

I came across this link up party for bloggers through the SITSgirls and it really sparked my interest. Their platform is “That’s What She Said” – they post a quote and the blogger shares a post. This was the quote last week (I know – I’m a bit late, but I just stumbled upon it.)

Say-YES-Youll-Figure-IT-Out-Afterwards

Link Up Party!

First of all: I love Tina Fey. She is someone, a woman, who hustled to get where she is today. She started off as a writer on Saturday Night Live, moved up to a regular player on the show and went on to make movies and write books… she is now a powerhouse player in her own right. All because – according to this quote – she said Yes.

Now, I admit saying “yes” all the time can lead to trouble. I often say “yes” too often and my schedule suddenly becomes packed with loads of things to do for other people. I don’t find time for my own stuff because I’m too busy saying “yes.”

But what I think Tina is saying here is that when it comes to our own journey and what we want to accomplish for ourselves – we need to say yes – and figure it out later.

Last September, I was in a job I absolutely hated. I yearned to be my own boss, set my own hours, write to my heart’s content and help others to find their writing voice. I worried about these desires for a long time. I plotted, planned, and figured how my future would go – or how I THOUGHT it would go – if I quit my job. I didn’t have a lot of clients at the time, nor was I raking in any kind of dough with my writing, but I felt like it was the right decision for me. Every single scenario I ran I thought “I can’t do this” and yet, I still really felt it was the right thing to do. I knew the time to act was now – I’d have to figure it out along the way.

So I said “Yes” to myself.

I had to start all over in my “job” thinking: how I structured my day, what I deemed important enough to add to my to-do lists and what to say “no” to. (REALLY hard when people think you just sit at home and do “nothing” all day.)

I’ve been figuring it out. Just like Tina says. It’s day by day sometimes. Some things have gotten easier. Some have not. I’m still figuring it out.

But I’m glad I said “Yes” and I would never change that for the world.

To see more of how I’m figuring it out check out my Twitter Page and my Pinterest Boards!

To check out more “That’s What She Said” posts go to: Mrs. AOK‘s page

 

 

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Thoughts on becoming a germaphobe

Yesterday my father and I went to the viewing and funeral of an old family friend. My mother was upset because she could not go along as this friend had been dearly beloved to her over the years. But with my mother’s recent illness, her doctor has encouraged her to not leave the house due to the plethora of germs floating around every corner.

Another friend of mine has a small child that has leukemia. He recently became quite ill from what they thought was the flu and his mother (and other visitors – although I doubt he had any due to this) had to actually BATHE and change clothes if she left his hospital room and wanted to re-enter. The restriction has been decreased now to just gown, gloves and mask, but still countless others that I know of are still getting sick daily. Symptoms and wracking coughs hanging on for MONTHS. Otherwise extremely healthy individuals saying things like, “I thought I was going to die,” and “I prayed for God to take me,” and “It just kept coming.”

The implications of this kind of thing has set my father and I in a tizzy.

Did you know that if you have a low immune person in your life (someone who is prone to disease/colds/etc.) that you could transfer something to them by your clothes? Or even your hair? Washing your hands is not good enough. It’s EVERYWHERE.

For example: It is my theory that I may have actually given my mother the flu even though I never got it myself. (A theory that has, when I think about it too much, caused me great distress.) You see – John had the flu. I hugged him before I left the house that fateful Christmas morning. Even though I washed my hands frequently and kept my distance from my parents as best I could that day – before I left my mother and father that same day… I hugged them too. The flu virus was probably transferred, unbeknownst to me, by my clothes, or hair.

My mother almost died from this flu that I so unwittingly probably gave to her. (Insert wave of nausea and massive amounts of guilt here.)

With this knowledge now it makes it very difficult to go about my normal day. My mother has complained that I don’t visit enough. But, you see, I’m terrified to give her something else.

What evil virus does my coat carry today?

What rapidly spreading and vicious strain of the flu did my clothes happen to have come in contact with?

So when my father and I went to this funeral yesterday it was with extreme trepidation. We both lamented to each other on the way that we were worried about possibly bringing back something to Mom. Although Mom conscientiously stayed home to avoid contact with an infected person – we were still at risk. And still at risk for bringing something to her.

We avoided contact with most people – only hugging the bereaved husband. My father shook a couple of hands. We both used the bathroom three times in the short span of two hours. I’m pretty sure to wash our hands. At least, that’s why I went.

We kept apart from others – sitting by ourselves in a pew, eating by ourselves afterwards at a large table with no other people. We looked like lepers. Or, at the very least, severely introverted lepers. (Some people eyed us up pretty hardily. I’m pretty sure they think we didn’t even know the deceased and came just for the sermon and the food.)

When we got back home, Dad walked straight back to his bedroom and changed clothes, barely acknowledging his wife. And washed his hands. Again. I washed my hands(again) and tried my best not to get too close to Mom.

This whole thing has taken my germaphobia to a whole new level. I want to put myself in a bubble. Or put her in a bubble. (But she already feels like she is in a bubble because she can’t leave the house.)

At the funeral, a woman in front of us kept coughing. She was having a coughing fit to be exact. Her friend handed her some lozenges. I calculated how far her cough could be spreading and considered if I was safe because I was behind her. Instead of being considerate of her well-being, I secretly loathed her for coming out into public with the obvious bubonic plague that she carried. I wanted to scream, “STOP IT! AND GO HOME!”

Instead, I shoved my hands under my legs and then wondered how many diseased people had touched my pew. This was getting ridiculous. This was an epidemic. On TOP of the epidemic.

Summer could only come too soon.

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Dealing with the cold

I snuggle down deeper into the covers. I know what is out there and I don’t want to face it. Another round of snow hit us last night and arctic temperatures have been predicted for the day. Why would I dare to venture out of bed? It would seem like insanity to do so really. A day of gloomy weather, wrapped up for the fifth day in a row on my couch, struggling for warmth. Even the dog has suddenly become a lap dog for warmth and he has about three pounds of fur to keep him warm.

I pull the covers closer, trying to block out the sunlight streaming past my dark window shades.

Wait. Sunlight? Are the meteorologists wrong? Perhaps it didn’t snow after all. Maybe Spring has finally made its arrival!

I peek out of the covers with one eye. Then my nose. Still feels awfully cold.

“Morning love. I’m going to shovel,” my husband wraps his warm arms around me in a comforting hug before reluctantly venturing out of the bed to do his manly duties.

So it did snow.

I burrow deep into my cozy flannel sheets, determined to wait out this day in their fuzzy embrace.

But, wait. It’s Sunday. Church time.

I sigh and throw back the covers. Bad idea. A wave of cold air hits my body and I involuntarily shudder, but swing my legs over the edge of the bed anyway. My toasty tootsies hit the ice-cold floor and curl up into little balls. I rush to the bathroom and start a hot shower.

Thoroughly warmed by my skin-melting bath, I emerge a refreshed woman. Ready to take on the Snow Miser once again. I will not let this winter drag me down, I will fight against the seasonal affective disorder and praise my Lord with all my might! Singing in the choir will warm my lungs and the pastor’s sermon will warm my soul. I head downstairs for breakfast.

“Church is cancelled due to the cold,” my husband tells me.

Dejected, I sit on the couch with my pup snuggled against my torso, shivering. When he finally jumps down, my legs feel the sting of cold once again and I longingly look at his furry body now curled up in his own bed. I want to climb in there with him.

Sighing, I change into a warmer sweatshirt and decide to face the day anyway.

How many days until Summer?

 

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Valentine’s Day Reflections

Over the past 8+ years I’ve been asked a number of times how John and I met. I even wrote a story about it for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I always love to retell the story because it’s such a completely unbelievable one really:

We lived in two different states.

We were from two different worlds.

Our meeting was completely “chance”

He never envisioned living where I live – which is his father’s home town.

And I tell this tale often, with various details and with a smile on my face. Because I know the real reason how we met.

But, you see, my answer to “How did you two meet?” shouldn’t be this long drawn out detail of the timeline of events, but the answer should be:

GOD.

You see, I don’t believe in coincidence.

I had a part-time job at a library and I started to get discontented with it. No reasons really. But when I quit I realized I still needed a second job, so I got one at a local retail place. That’s where I met John’s aunt. (I also met my best friend – so providence was two fold, but that’s a different story for another time!) Adding to this – she and I didn’t work in the same department of this store. We spoke infrequently, but just enough for me to pour my heart out to her and she to me. Very few people heard what she heard. My mother wasn’t privy to the pain I spoke with her about.

Coincidence? I think not.

John was in a relationship that was okay, but not his ideal. He put up with things he shouldn’t have and finally realized it wasn’t working out. He became discontented. He has told me he probably would have married her, but something just didn’t “connect.”

When we met we just hit it off right away. Like we’d been friends for years.

suejohn

Our first dance together. We are so in love in this pic. And still today.

 

Then, after we had fallen in love, we both tried to find jobs in each other’s cities.

He found his first. He sold his town-home right before the market collapse (coincidence? I think not) and moved here. We bought a house, remodeled it, he bought me a NICE ring set, and paid for most of the wedding with the sale of his town-home.

Coincidence? I think not.

 

After I met John I went back through some journals and found a note I had written: “I want a man who treats me as his equal, someone smart and funny, and someone who will love me for me.” John was all those things and more and I couldn’t believe how accurate he fit the description.

John said when he came to see me (as a couple) for the first time he felt in his heart I was the one he was going to marry. He knew from DAY ONE.

me_john

One of my favorite photos. I love kissing him.

 

 

I could point out dozens of things that tell me this was all God’s providence. It was because of Him that we met. Because of Him that we’re where we are today. Because of Him that I’ve found not only a great husband, but also a wonderful friend in this man.

20140927_121649

How cute is this guy?

So when people ask me next time, “How did you meet?” I’m going to say “GOD.”

Because truly I cannot see how something so blessed and so completely beyond wonderful could be from anywhere else.

Happy Valentine’s Day and God Bless. May you find God’s providence for you today and may you remember again why you fell in love with your significant other.

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Things to do this weekend

Three big things are occurring at the end of this week:

  1. Friday the 13th
  2. Valentine’s Day
  3. The release of “Fifty Shades of Grey” the movie

Let’s take a moment to discuss each.

Friday the 13th is a mostly Western superstition according to Wikipedia. There is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century, and the superstition only gained widespread distribution in the 20th century. Here are some reasons why it’s considered unlucky now (quoted from Wikipedia):

  • In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock day, the twelve deities of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, twelve signs of the Zodiac, the 12 years of the Chinese Buddhist cycle, etc. In contrast the number thirteen is considered irregular, transgressing this completeness.

….Okay. I get the number twelve significance, but what makes thirteen BAD? I was born on the thirteenth… does that make me “incomplete”?

friday13b

  • There is a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table results in the death of one of the diners.

– This is because there were actually 13 people seated at the Last Supper – the thirteenth being Judas. Again… I see the significance, but feel a little slighted being someone born on the 13th. Let’s give this a rest people – it’s just a day.

The Last Supper - 13 superstition

Count them – 13

Valentine’s Day: So… When I was single I hated this day and reasoned that it was just a way for greeting card companies, restaurants, florists and chocolatiers to make a buck. And, after being married, it still is those things. This year it’s on a Saturday so those folks all stand to make major moohla on this day, but I don’t mind it so much anymore. You see for the first several years of our “together-life,” my husband and I didn’t celebrate this day. He lived far away for awhile and it wasn’t feasible and then he had a job that kept him working late on this date. I sometimes would receive flowers and little trinkets, but we never got to spend the ACTUAL day together. Now it’s different. He doesn’t have that job anymore, so last year, for the first time ever in 8 years, we went out to dinner on Valentine’s day. And I saw the appeal – other couples in love sharing a meal around us, no children to break into the splendor, people just exuding LOVE… it was nice.

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How often do we go out to run errands, sometimes with children along, and before we know it – the day is over. Did we kiss each other? Hold hands? Give a heartfelt hug? I’m not saying this is the ONLY day we should do these things, but it does help us crazy, got-to-get-everything-done type people, stop for a minute and say, “Hey, I love you!”

Fifty Shades of Grey: There is part of me that doesn’t even want to give this piece of trash a moment in the sun on my blog. It’s received enough hype and enough press. But here’s the thing: I have God Daughters. And I don’t want them to EVER think this type of relationship as portrayed in this book/movie is acceptable. No woman should ever feel like an abusive, sadistic relationship is healthy.

This (courtesy Flickr)

This is what love looks like (courtesy Flickr)

(I wanted to put a picture of what love is not, but was so disturbed by the images I found that I did not. Google “abusive”, “bondage”, “bad relationship”… you’ll see.)

This is a direct quote from a description of the book: The unworldly (I guess indicating that only uneducated women are stupid enough to fall for this crap?) Ana realizes she wants this man, and Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. 

On the author’s page it says this: Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control.

Huh? On his own terms? Need to control? Uh, no. That is not a healthy relationship folks. Because why else would he want an “unwordly” woman? He wants to control her – and an unworldly woman is easier to control I guess. That’s an ABUSIVE relationship folks. And as a society we should not be promoting this book or movie. Why on God’s green earth would I promote this book knowing my god daughter’s may one day say “Oh, Aunt Sue says that’s okay. So just because my boyfriend is beating me is not bad. It’s just his need for control.” Or worse yet “I’m not very worldly… maybe this is what real love is like in the ‘big city’.”

*shiver*

And to go even further – Wikipedia states this: Critical reception of the book, however, has been mixed, with the quality of its prose generally seen as poor.

Why on earth would I, as a writer and editor, even promote a poorly written book???

I’ve not read it. I won’t read it. So some may say I cannot judge it. And they may be right. But given what I do know about this sick excuse for literature I will say “Don’t read it” to my girls. And I urge you to do the same.

Please read my friend’s letter to her daughter concerning this issue here for more reasons to not promote this work.

And instead of seeing the abusive, misogynist, rape celebration that is 50 Shades of Grey please donate the cost of a movie admission ticket to RAINN.org (or any other organization that combats male pattern violence/violence against women). (Thanks Jessica Rose for this idea.)

So there you have it. You make the choice this weekend: 1) Be afraid to go out, 2) Be in a respectful and loving relationship, or 3) go see a movie promoting abuse and fear, the opposite of love.

Feel free to discuss – trollers, spammers and foul language will not be tolerated. Your views are always welcome – within reason (translation: my god daughters may read this some day so be nice!)

 

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Monday Morning Book Reviews

Struggling for a topic for this Monday blog I decided to do a few book reviews for some various novels I’ve recently completed. (Please note: I am not getting paid by any of the authors nor do I have an financial investment in these pieces. In most cases I stumbled upon them and just had something to say – good or bad.) Here are four I read recently that span a few different genres. As you can see – I don’t really have one specific type of book that I like to read – all good writing is worth reading!

I’m currently reading In Between (A Katie Parker Production) by Jenny B. Jones. This is a Young Adult (or YA) and I’m really starting to get into this genre. They are usually lighthearted, fun and easy to read. This one is no exception. And it’s currently (as of Sunday, February 8th, 2015) FREE for Kindle! I’m breezing right through this book, but it isn’t boring. The characters are well written and not stereo-typed – which I appreciate and the writing is stellar – which I also appreciate. I see by her Amazon page that she has other novels… I’m going to look into that.

A Head Full of Knives by Luke Smitherd… okay. I didn’t get this one. It’s pretty messed up. Just when you think you know where this one is going – it goes another way. There were a lot of deep, weird ideas going on in this work. I tried my best to keep up with it, but I struggled. I did finish it, but it was kind of like the last Matrix  movie… I have no idea what happened or what it was about.

The Fruitcake Bride by Susan Lower. DISCLAIMER: Susan is my friend. She’s in my writer’s group and I helped edit and critique this book. BUT It’s still a damn good book and I highly recommend you read it for the low price of 99 cents because, to be honest, she’s got more books lined up (like her new one Forgotten Reins, which comes out soon) and you should get on this bandwagon now while her prices are so low. This is a short, Christmas novella and any romantic will love it.

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This deal ends today!

 

I recently finished Without a Trace: The Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble – what a good book! Normally I can kind of guess who the murderer is in a lot of these books – they follow a formula after all and there is a lot of foreshadowing, etc., etc., but I was really into this book. I’m anxious to read more from this author and with these characters. I was in tears by the end – the author really paints a nice word picture and makes the reader care a lot about the small town folk in her book.

So there you have it – four books for a variety of reading tastes for you to check out. If you have read one of these, or another good book, lately please let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for more awesome reads!

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