Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sue Hooley's 2015 Daily Planner

Time goes so fast. I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that it's fall. 

A new year will be here before we know it. 
Are you ready?

I'm not yet, but I will be soon, thanks to the help of 
Sue Hooley's 2015 Daily Planner.

Sue, the creator of this beautiful and easy-to-use planner, is a wife and mother of six. Her experience with motherhood and homemaking is vast and she understands what moms like us look for in a daily planner, space. 

The 2014 Daily Planner featured a glossy cover with an image of a wooden box filled with flowers and a pretty font quoting Proverbs 16:3. A black plastic coil was used for spiral binding. Pages were purple. The planner contained sections for the Year, Month, Week, Tasks, Projects, Info and shopping. Each section began with a reflective quote on subjects like attitude, contentment, and happiness. 

Here's a page from my 2014 planner. . .
It's not too marked up yet, but it's also not November yet. Give me time. 
This page was in the Month section which contains the months at a glance. 
It's my favorite section and the one I use the most. 

Now, though I have been blessed to use the 2014 Daily Planner, it's actually the 2015 Daily Planner that I can't wait to tell you about. 

The 2015 Daily Planner is very similar in look, and almost the same except for a few minor changes:

  1. The 2015 cover  features a beautiful photo of an old wooden garden table invaded by Black-eyed Susan overgrowth. I love the green and yellow in the cover. 
  2. Exodus 33:14 is quoted just under the title.  
  3. Inside, you'll find all your favorite sections from 2014, but the color scheme has switched to olive green and yellow. These colors appeal more to me so I like the change. 
  4. The pages for notes have an image imposed on them which make them a bit fancier in my opinion. They also span the full width of the page which gives even more space for us note takers. 
  5. At the start of each section, you'll find quotes about promises. I like that there is a consistent theme throughout the entire planner. 
  6. Scriptures are quoted in the Week section, just like in the 2014 version. In the 2015 Daily Planner, scriptures are quoted from various books throughout the Bible, not just from Proverbs as in the 2014 edition.
  7. Next year's Daily Planner uses a different font and I'm okay with that. The new font is less formal which makes me feel a bit more comfortable about scrawling my plans throughout.

Prepare for 2015 by ordering your Daily Planner today!

List Price: $13.99 with free shipping on three or more
Format: 6x9 Spiral bound 

Once more, the features include: 
  • Two-page Weekly layout with menu planning and to-do list
  • Two-page Month layout
  • Year Calendars with place for notations
  • Perforated Shopping Lists
  • Tasks Lists and Projects & Events Sections
  • Information Section

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated for it. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am a part of The CWA Review Crew.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

He Rejoices Over Me by Nicholas J. Skula Jr.

He Rejoices Over Me is a heart-felt book written to commemorate the life of Crystal Marie Skula and point to the source of her hope, Jesus Christ. 

The story is written by Nicholas Skula Jr. as he remembers his thirteen year old daughter who lost her battle with brain cancer.

From the start of the book, readers fall in love with Crystal Skula, a spunky little girl built by the hand of God and packed full of courage.

Whether facing an opponent in her martial arts class or the adversary  himself as she faced the threat of death, Crystal's faith could not be shaken. 

He Rejoices Over Me could be a strength zapping, heart wrenching, grab the kleenex kind of story. Though I freely admit to crying at parts, the overall story of Crystal's life, her family and her faith are not devoid of hope. 

You'll find God all over Crystal's story and it's the family's hope that others in their shoes would be encouraged to face their grief with, and not apart from, God's amazing comfort. 

Every chapter reflects something that mattered to Crystal, life lessons they uncovered as a family and things that linger in a father's memory after he's laid his baby girl to rest.

I appreciated the gentle and natural tone in Nicholas' writing. Though wracked with loss, the family made a beautiful and sincere decision to honor Crystal's memory and they have certainly done that within the pages of this book. 

Pick it up. Grab a kleenex, but cry for joy. Crystal's story doesn't end here and someday, we believers will get to meet this little firecracker of faith.   

Purchase your copy of He Rejoices Over Me directly from the author or through Amazon.

Pieces of Me: Life of A Recovering Dysfunctional by Diana Lynn

Diana Lynn is like so many of us. She made a few choices that didn't go the way she planned and filled a suitcase full of regrets. Yet in spite of her choices, God still reached out and provided a way to learn and grow. He taught her the hard way and brought her to maturity. Diana's transparency is a beautiful testimony to God's work in her life. She is a recovering dysfunctional and we can be too.

Pieces of me is a 114 page book full of personal stories and raw honesty. The author shares significant events that shaped her.

Dysfunctional sounds like a strong word, but Diana explains through her first memory how she came to feel this way. 

She writes: A tragic thing happens to a little girl when her father leaves. She's left with the unspoken message: "You're not worth it."

She shares her story with great honesty, explaining how she came to God. Stories also express her struggle through feelings of shame as a divorced, single Mom; the emotional toll of losing her own mother, battling a need for love and finding it in the wrong places, and making powerful changes that are anything but easy and so much more than rewarding. 

In reading this book only one of Diana’s many stories concerned me. One of the stories in Pieces of Me describes how she, as a new believer facing the loss of her Mom, makes a decision to consult a psychic. This is not a decision I would personally ever support. I believe the Bible is very clear about psychics. 

However, I have lost loved ones and felt the pang of wanting and needing their imput on my life. Because I've lost crucial people myself, I understand what would drive someone to seek a psychic in times of loss. I hate that a Christian woman wasn't active in her life at the time, providing needed comfort and pointing her to God for healing. 

Rather than reading this story with a disapproving air of pride, I hope believers will see it as a cautionary tale showing the importance of supporting the brokenhearted through their grief so they are not enticed by the strategies of the enemy. I would still recommend the book for this reason. 

How do we fix our flaws as a church? How we reach out to new believers in meaningful ways? How can we mentor them if we don't examine the experiences of a new believer? Diana shares something valuable,  a glimpse into a life in process. Read Pieces of Me and recognize the changes that can occur in a life surrendered to God.

You can purchase Pieces of Me on Amazon.

Listen here to a radio interview with Diana Lynn on My Journey of Faith.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mind the Gap!

I was 16 when I traveled to England on a youth missions trip. They have an audio message that plays in the London Underground warning passengers of the gap between the train door and the platform. The recording says "Mind the gap". If you don't mind the gap you could be in serious physical danger.

Today I am thinking of Ezekiel 22:30 when God could find no one who would stand in the gap for a nation desperately in need of a wake up call.

While the subway warning would urge us to mind the gap by getting out of the way, we should be pulled by a spiritual call to mind the gap which is very opposite.

This spiritual call urges us to get in the way! Block the attacks of the enemy. Stand firm and don't budge. When the enemy throws a train at you and it's so close you can see your guts on the track don't budge. The life of another is on the line. Mind the gap.

When your leadership is floundering- Mind the gap!
When your marriage is on the rocks- Mind the gap!
When your children are forsaking the faith you raised them in- Mind the gap!
When illness steals your energy- Mind the gap!
When fear crouches at the door- Mind the gap!

Will you stand in the gap? Are you committed enough to put yourself in danger for the safety of another?

Will you lay down your life (your agenda, your finances, your very existence) for a friend? It's something to think about.

Abba, Father, I will stand and intercede on behalf of the unsteady, broken, spiritually blind, weak and terrified. Help me to stand for the things I cannot see in this world, in this country, in this city, and in my home. I will (by faith) call those things as if they were. Help me to stand in this gap of danger for my loved ones, friends and those who I have never met but hold a special place in your heart. 

I ask for wisdom for our leaders. Prepare them for what you are doing. Make them strong in the right ways that they would bend their knees to you and protect those they serve. Help them to never bow to the schemes of distraction. 

I ask for protection on the family unit. That the leaders in the home would be united with one purpose and one heart. 

I pray for the children to be inspired and their faith to be awakened. Make them confident in what they have been taught, a generation that cannot be deterred. 

I pray for health, both physical and spiritual. Heal our nation inside and out. Pour your spirit out like a salve to repair the illness and teach us to be strong. 

Shoo away fear, sweep it from our porch. Let your peace rest in its place. Equip your people with soldier's hearts that we would mind the gap and stand in for the sake of those too weak or foolish to call on you. 

I pray that we would hold nothing back which could save one. Make us bold. Help us to love deeply, beyond our needs, ambitions. Make us in tune with others. Expose their needs so that we can fill the void with faith. See us. When you look for a people willing to stand. Find us. Hold back your anger. Pour out your grace. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Day To Forget

I should be working. I should be doing any number of tasks that flood my everyday, cuddling my children, running my company, making dinner. I should be, but I'm not. Instead, I have spent most of today paralyzed with fear and boiling with anger.

My day didn't begin this way. I had a migraine and had to cancel Caibry's therapy appointment because he had a bad cough all night. I had some errands to do still, but only a couple and all very close to home.

I ran to my doctor's first and dropped off a request order for a tens unit that my physical therapist needs him to sign.

Then we hit the library and picked up my daughter's next assigned book for school, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.

Then we hit the post office. I had a letter waiting. I ran in and grabbed it and this is when my day stopped being pleasant.

Let's flash back. Spin with me. Whooosh.

We're now in late August. My son's new psychiatrist changed his medications. He was miserable. He was screaming and crying, completely not himself at all. He was panicking and couldn't breath. I paged the doctor in off hours. She said to cut the pill in half. I tried.  Day two on this medicine was terrible. I called and left a message. No response. I sent an email with a video of my son having horrible fits, threatening himself and others. I needed help. No response. 6 days later they finally call and tell me to take him off the medicines. By then I'd already reached out to his primary doctor and sought advice there. Her first direction was to stop that medicine. They also wanted to schedule an "emergency appointment". By then he was under control, safe and regulated.  They scheduled it for Sept.4th and I explained that that day was not good for me because I homeschool and could not get a babysitter. The receptionist said "no problem bring them, it's an emergency appointment so he needs to be here".  For some reason, her tone or something, I heard it like a threat.

We all arrive Sept. 4th. We wait in the waiting room an hour and 15 minutes past the appointment time.  We read through two Highlight magazines from cover to cover and we had resorted to playing a game called "rock". I say "rock" and they curl up in a ball. Then I say "shape of . . .worm" and they wiggle around like worms then back to rock again and so on.

The office manager comes out. She stares at them like they are infected with some lethal poison or something and says "What are you doing?" I'm sitting there thinking really? you're asking me about a game? try getting the doctor to do her job but instead I answer calmly "waiting on the doctor."  She says "but what are they doing?" I say "we're waiting on the doctor" but I'm thinking really lady, is it so hard to comprehend? The appointment was 75 minutes ago. Again she says "What are they doing?" I give up and sweetly explain the game and show her how my children pretend to be roadkill armadillos on command (it really is kind of adorable). She looks at us with disgust (c'mon lady they are kids!) and says "Okay I asked wrong, Why are they here?" I answer, "We are here for my son's appointment". She says. "Well what are you going to do with them? They can't go back it's against policy"

"What policy?"

"The one you signed"

"I've never signed a policy saying my children can't come here and the receptionist said it was okay because of the situation. This is an emergency appointment (now I'm throwing their words back at them)."

"Well they can't go back there. It's only your son's appointment. Are you homeschoolers?" She talks really slow like I can't understand English and must not understand that she is in effect kicking us out.  Okay, so I admit, I hadn't actually gone that far ahead in my mind and put that reality to work yet. I was still stuck on the "Are you homeschoolers" line.

She shakes her head, hands on hips and suggests disapprovingly that my oldest daughter could watch them in the lobby. I won't agree because, in Oklahoma, it is actually illegal for an 11 year old to be responsible for another child. She suggests the receptionist (that'd be the person who couldn't even do her job and return my call for 6 day, no thanks). This woman will not budge. She's aggressively standing over us with her hands on her hips. Finally I stand and tell the kids to get their stuff. I shuffle them out saying "I'm done. I'll find another doctor."

I step outside make sure everyone is accounted for stuff in tow and I think for a minute, actually consider and make the choice to slam the door. Their picture window doesn't even budge though I actually will it to shatter into a billion pieces. I'm angry but I'm under control. I head straight for the primary doctor and tell them everything. She's horrified that I was treated this way and can't apologize enough, even though I was the foolish one who hand picked the psychiatrist for her Christian practice.

His doctor is great. She gets us through and he has a new psychiatrist and counselor by the next day.

Somehow I knew it wasn't over.

Whirl with me we're going back to today.

I'm holding a certified letter in my hands. Something that will be on my child's medical record forever and you know what it says? It says the psychiatrist I fired over a month ago is accusing me of making verbal and physical threats against staff or physicians. It says there is a signed copy of the almighty policy attached but nothing is attached. There aren't even holes from a stapler or the crinkle from a paperclip.

She implies that I am a threat and yet she let me walk out with four children that day. She makes insinuations in the letter that I'm unstable and may be a danger to myself or others, but she let me walk out. If I'm so unbalanced why didn't they call for help?

Because I'm not unbalanced. I'm attentive. They knew I had accurate and detailed records of every call they ignored, videos of my child battling for help while the doctor was unavailable. They knew they were wrong.

September 4th I was angry. I was frustrated. I was emotional but I was also under control. I chose to slam a door. I felt the pressure I applied and even felt dissatisfied with myself for tempering my one obvious act of annoyance by not slamming it very hard.

It came down to the reality that I'm vulnerable. I'm a homeschooler. I have no letters behind my name, no college degree, no value to this woman. I'm something to be squashed.

I felt September 4th that they would try something. Everyone I told looked at me like I was paranoid. I hold a letter in my hand now and I still don't think it's over. They aren't done and I don't understand why. I can't understand anyone's motive to destroy someone or to slander them leaving them helpless.

This is why I asked for prayer today.

No one is dying, but I'm shaking inside. No one has touched me but I'm bruised and hurting. I'm literally dumbfounded.

There is one thing I'm sure of though. God hears and answers prayer.

All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 
Though you search for your enemies,you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you. ~ Isaiah 41:11-13