Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1000 Gifts Devotional

One Thousand Gifts DevotionalI read Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts, when it first came out and the main premise, being thankful for all things, even the hard gifts, really did change my life. I am very thankful to have learned the truth of this, which came at what I hoped was the end of some really hard years. It prepared me in a way for what was coming, an even harder year, held me tight in His care even when I couldn’t feel it, when all I could do is believe it, and kept me, by the grace of God, from simply turning away, giving up.

I really do not care for Ann’s style of writing. But, I respect her gift of writing, and I am certain for every person like me, there are two or three who love her style. For this reason though I was hesitant to get this devotional when I already have the One Thousand Gifts book. But I am so glad I did. I have been reading one every weekday for several weeks now, and it has been something I look forward to each day. Some touch me deeply, some not so much, but don’t hesitate if you think it might be redundant just because you’ve read 1000 Gifts.

Did you have a chance to read this post on her blog yesterday? I felt like this, not so long ago, so it really touched something inside of me. Not just what God can do, but that He does it, shows us how much He loves us in the midst of those moments of heartache, seasons of pain, leaving hope in its wake. Just a beautiful thing to read.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Red-Letter Day

Today was truly a red-letter day for me. Jack is on vacation this week so I was not particularly happy with myself when I realized some time back I had scheduled my yearly checkup this same week. Even less happy when I realized I also had an eye appointment the same day. So. Big day. And for someone like me, big days are mentally exhausting. Especially when you expect the year has taken a horrible toll on your health and you wonder what you’ll hear. And when, over the months I’ve struggled to maintain or re-establish normal routines, like taking a multi or my eye drops. I would remember my morning ones most of the time, but frequently forget my nighttime ones, and the last thing I wanted was to jeopardize the stability I finally achieved in maintaining my glaucoma.

The day started at eight in the morning, giving me little time to fret. Things like that matter to someone who has social anxieties. I have spent many moments in the last months thanking God for this gift of my husband, realizing anew what a perfect fit he is for me, taking up where I fail, doing so much for me, which translates into huge blessings each day. It was so wonderful for me to have him home, that he was glad to take me to these appointments.

My doctor is thorough, very open to natural and alternative health methods, and very personable. I also love her nurse who I see first, and both are so easy to talk to. The appointment went very well, very quickly—others, because they are very intensive due to how thorough she is, I have walked out of feeling utterly spent. The one concern I had was to her not suspicious at all, and she was pleased with all my lab readings except for one, which concerned her. It was either lab error, a deficiency, or something rare and terrible. She sent me for more labs as I left.

One appointment down, one to go. The eye appointment went extremely well with my lowest ocular pressures yet since finding out I have glaucoma, punctuated in the middle, while I waited for my eyes to dilate, by a really sweet chat with a lady in the waiting room. It was like this day was just charmed. When I told my eye doctor that I had been forgetting to take my nighttime drops, he said that particular one can be taken at any time of the day. So now, I can just take both drops in the morning and be done with it. For someone who has taken morning and nighttime drops for many years, this is just a treat!

There was only one nagging thought as the day aged, the one lab reading that seemed concerning. But, I just had to pause in the wonder of the moment when my doctor emailed me late in the afternoon already with the news that labs indicated it was just a deficiency I can begin to manage. Needless to say, it was a day to be treasured.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Currently Reading–Shattered Dreams

Shattered DreamsI’ve started a new book that my sister sent to me, one I had begun reading last spring, but it just got crowded out by so many other things I had to, or needed to, or wanted to read. Mostly I think, what I read in just the introduction, impacted me so much it was as if I had read the whole book and the crux of what he wrote (below) has sustained me through these difficult months. In a nutshell, it was this: “He uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God.”

In the midst of everything, this was like a balm to my soul….

“There’s never a moment in all our lives, from the day we trusted Christ till the day we see Him, when God is not longing to bless us. At every moment, in every circumstance, God is doing us good. He never stops. It gives Him too much pleasure. God is not waiting to bless us after our troubles end. He is blessing us right now, in and through those troubles. At this exact moment, He is giving us what He thinks is good.” (Crabb, Larry (2012-06-13). Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy (p. 1).)

The horribleness we have experienced this past year, for me, has been a bitter cherry on top of a long string of very difficult years. Because the enormity of it dwarfed the reality, which has culminated over time, that the hopes and dreams you have for your kids or yourselves after they are grown, is never going to be what you thought or what it looks like when you look at other couples, other families, it has forced me to find a way to make peace with what is. So, that is why reading this suddenly made such perfect sense, a blessing in itself:

God wants to bless us. That’s the first idea. Because He can’t resist giving us the highest good, He’s determined to give us an encounter with Himself. It’s the greatest blessing He can think of. It’s the highest dream the self-aware human soul envisions. But we’re not self-aware. We’re out of touch with the central longing of our hearts. An encounter with Him is what we want, but we don’t know it . That’s the second idea. Let me develop it a little further. We dream lower dreams and think there are none higher. We dream of good marriages, talented kids, enough health and money to enjoy life, rewarding work , and an opportunity to make a difference in the world. All good things. Of course we want them. But we think they’re the best things.” (Crabb, Larry (2012-06-13). Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy (p. 3).)

“The greatest blessing is no longer the blessing of a good life. It never was. It is now the blessing of an encounter with God. It always has been. But now, in the new way, the greatest dream is available. But we don’t view things that way. So God goes to work to help us see more clearly. One way He works is to allow our lower dreams to shatter. He lets us hurt and doesn’t make it better. We suffer and He stands by and does nothing to help, at least nothing that we’re aware we want Him to do. In fact, what He’s doing while we suffer is leading us into the depths of our being, into the center of our soul where we feel our strongest passions. It’s there that we discover our desire for God. We begin to feel a desire to know Him that not only survives all our pain, but actually thrives in it until that desire becomes more intense than our desire for all the good things we still want. Through the pain of shattered lower dreams, we wake up to the realization that we want an encounter with God more than we want the blessings of life. And that begins a revolution in our lives.

The suffering caused by shattered dreams must not be thought of as something to relieve if we can or endure if we must. It’s an opportunity to be embraced, a chance to discover our desire for the highest blessing God wants to give us, an encounter with Himself.” (Crabb, Larry (2012-06-13). Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Path to Joy (pp. 3-4).)

So, that just really affected me because in the place where I was when I first read this, crushed with the overwhelming-ness of everything that was happening, it brought me real joy and hope. And going forward now, even though things will likely never be the way we thought they would when Jack and I started out, it makes me look at my dreams, everything I was looking forward to, differently. I can let them go now, or embrace them as they are, not as I thought they would be or look like.

I have no idea what the rest of the book will be like, but the introduction alone found me right where I was at and left me determined to hold onto the truth of it and remind myself on the hard days where I want my focus to be. If you are interested, you could read the introduction on Amazon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The King’s Scrolls Cover Reveal + Giveaway

This is always fun for me and it’s hard to believe it’s that time again, to share with you the cover of my daughter’s newest book, The King’s Scrolls, second in the Ilyon Chronicles series. I love what she has done with these covers and can’t wait for each one to be revealed. Being the mother of an author has its perks, and I sure loved this book. So, I’ll whet your appetite with the beautiful cover, a bit about the book and its author, a peek inside with an excerpt, and a fun giveaway in honor of the event!

The King's Scrolls

About the Book

Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?


goodreads

 

About the Author

JayeAuthorPhotoJaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

 


Giveaway

To celebrate her revealing of the cover, Jaye is giving away one of her handcrafted quill pen necklaces (like the one below) and a $5 Amazon gift card! Enter for a chance to win using the form below! U.S. entries only please.

QuillNecklace

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

StarAnd now, here is a peek at the story.

Excerpt

The other younger crete took a swig of his coffee and set his eyes past her. Kyrin peeked over her shoulder at Kaden who, of course, was staring at the dragon. The female creature stared back in mutual interest.

“Go ahead,” the crete said suddenly. “You can touch her. She loves attention, and she’ll only attack if I tell her to.” A sly glint sparkled in his spring-green eyes.

Besides Jace, Kyrin had never seen anyone with such bright and colorful eyes as these cretes.

Kaden looked at him, his brows rising. “You can do that?”

The crete nodded. “Dragons are highly intelligent. You can teach them almost any command. Storm here is young, but she learns fast.”

Kyrin smiled at the delight in her brother’s eyes as he stepped closer to the dragon and ran his hand over her bluish-gray neck scales. A grin split his face.

“She’s so smooth. Kyrin, come and feel it.”

Kyrin stepped to his side and laid her hand on the dragon. The scales were indeed very smooth, reminding her of the polished marble stair-railings in Auréa Palace, but they weren’t cold. Warmth radiated through them. The dragon, still watching them, let out a little rumble, almost like a giant cat’s purr.

“I told you she liked attention,” the crete said, grinning.

Kyrin chuckled and glanced at Jace to see if he wanted to touch the dragon, but he made no move to come closer. This certainly had more to do with the crete than the dragon. He was very fond of any type of animal. She faced the crete again.

“So they can breathe fire?”

“For short bursts, but that’s usually all it takes to deter any threat.”

“That’s incredible,” Kaden breathed.

While he continued admiring Storm, Kyrin observed the dragon’s rider. He appeared to be in his early to mid-twenties—about ten years younger than Captain Darq—though his exact age was impossible to guess. Cretes were said to mature faster than humans, so he could be anywhere from seventeen to twenty-five. He too wore a sleeveless jerkin. Brown tattoos, a little darker than his skin, marked both shoulders. Darq and the other cretes had them as well, but Kyrin hadn’t taken a good look at them until now. This man’s were a complicated pattern of spirals and dots, but the shape of a fox stood out in the center of his right shoulder.

Though she tried to be discreet, he must have caught her studying him and suddenly extended his hand to her. “I’m Talas, by the way. Talas Folkan of the Fox Clan.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ResistanceThe King's Scrolls

Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles Book 1)
The King’s Scrolls (Ilyon Chronicles Book 2) will be coming in early 2015!

Monday, November 3, 2014

In Need of an Inspiring Adventure?

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Close your eyes, Ela of Parne. Close your eyes and you will see.

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn't understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She's undignified, bad tempered, and only seventeen--not to mention that no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as the elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite's prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Istgard has turned their back on me. See the evil they do.

Yet after experiencing His presence, she can't imagine living without Him. Determined to follow the Infinite's voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite's word to a nation torn apart by war. Here she meets Kien, a young Traceland ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela must surrender to her destiny...and determine how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

Will you accept the branch and speak my will? Will you be my prophet?

I have another post I’m planning to write, but I just finished the last book in R. J. Larson’s Books of the Infinite series. Molly read them a long time ago and I was just really intrigued by what she told me. Though fantasy, and not a genre I usually choose to read, they have a strong Old Testament feel. I love the Old Testament, so this really appealed to me. In the first book, a young woman, Ela, accepts the Infinite’s request to become his prophet, even though she knows she will die young because the prophets of her country never live long enough to have gray hair. The Infinite makes Himself known to her in so real a way, all throughout the book, on nearly every page, it just stirs your heart to know our Infinite so well. To know the depth of His love, to serve Him as Ela served her Lord. To seek Him to the exclusion of all else, to put Him first, and to have our hearts broken by the things that break His… I want that.

It was such a fascinating story, so well-told with such rich characters. Even the huge horses, the destroyers, are characters. I just loved that part. Best of all, the story continues through all three books. I am expecting you will just completely love Kien Lantec, the young man Ela meets. He is the judge in the second book, and R.J. Larson has created a perfectly larger-than-life character for the young king in the third book. There are marches through countries, imprisonments, plagues, kidnappings, fascinating parallels with O.T. stories, wars, deaths, but also wonderfully light-hearted camaraderie and delightful dialog between characters and their families.

If you’re in the mood for or in need of an adventure to take you away every now and then, one that will stir your soul, read the Books of the Infinite. So glad I finally did!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

OCD Awareness Week


51SP49ETNKLI wonder if, when you read this post, most of you will find yourselves not identifying with the subject matter, or if some of you will know all too well. I didn't realize it was International OCD Awareness Week. Knowing it so intimately, I should have been aware, but I've been too mired in living the day-to-day of OCD.

About a decade ago when my kids were pre- and young teens, we went through a horrendous time when my youngest son, who has Asperger's, went through extreme anxiety. It was just so hard, so horrible. We didn't understand, but also at the time he had started taking Singulair for allergies and the more I read, the more we believed the things he was experiencing, the anxiety, the very dark thoughts, might have been caused or exacerbated by the Singulair. Now, looking back? Who knows? It probably didn't help. It was a particularly grueling time that went on for many many months, I really don't even remember how long. When it finally ended, for the most part, you just don't want to look back. You're just so thankful. Some of you might remember when I abruptly stopped making Christian graphics and pulled way back online. This was the reason. It was vitally important I be completely present, here.

We have lived with vestiges of that time, ever since, but never to that extent. Until last spring. After a horrible winter, it suddenly started again, but this time, so much worse. I just can't even describe. And don't really care to. What we had been going through with Molly, particularly last November, seemed so nightmarish. But this was so much worse, it was hard to believe. At the height of this, my son was diagnosed with OCD, which explained everything, and on one plane it was a relief, to understand. But the relief was very brief. It was very hard and very horrible for weeks afterward, and during and since that time, our life has been turned upside down. It is so far from normal I have found it unrecognizable at times. Sometimes I think the worst part is being encouraged only to find hopes dashed, over and over again. It is just very grueling.

So. There is much more I could say, but it still feels so private. So hard. So painful. So daily. So often, hourly.

But, because I was unaware, and because so many are suffering, I just wanted to post during this week of awareness. My son suffers the less overt manifestations of OCD. Most everything happens in his head, his thoughts. Whereas the public face of OCD, on television and in the media, fixates on hand washing, avoidance of germs, verbal counting, rituals, visible things like that, many suffer in ways that are not visible. Or in ways that are so debilitating, so life altering, they would prefer OCD not be trivialized. How often do you see graphics on Pinterest or hear someone joke about being a "little OCD?" Only those who know OCD, who live it, know how inaccurate that really is. But that is a whole other conversation.

It is just mind-boggling to me, in this day and age, when we can find out anything on the internet, research anything we might need to know, I had never come across this particular and very difficult aspect of OCD. I had no idea that OCD stretches way beyond our usual perception of what it is. For instance, that many suffer harmful thought obsessions, worrying incessantly that they might harm or kill their loved ones. A simple post such as this one written by Steven J. Seay, Ph.D. about Harm Obsessions & Violent Obsessions, as evidenced in the quote below, would sure have explained a lot.

“This is the daily reality for many adults, teens, and children who experience harm obsessions, also known as violent obsessions, a type of OCD symptom that involves unwanted, repetitive violent thoughts, impulses, or images. Harm obsessions are typically shocking, distressing, and disturbing, and they may occur thousands of times every day. They often involve themes of violence, death, murder, self-harm, and suicide.”

Had we understood this long ago, our situation here might have evolved differently. Relief, if even in some small measure, might have occurred sooner. So, I’m writing about this so that you or someone you know will have information they might desperately need. Mostly, I think we know the things we need to know, but it is just a fact we don’t know some things because they do not touch our lives. Until they do. I now know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and names of anti-depressants, which was not something I ever expected to need to know. I also am finding out how scary it can be when your insurance is falling apart and things that are supposed to be covered aren’t being paid and each doctor’s visit is the cost equivalent of a really nice electronic device.

So I hope this bit of what I’ve written can be of help to someone who feels like we do or doesn’t understand what is happening to them or their child or teen or a relative. The book I linked to at the beginning of this post was recommended to me in the beginning by the first doctor we spoke with. Though Sam is not a child, it hardly matters. It was a good place to start in a world where we felt like we were at someone else’s mercy. You visit someone who can help you, for two hours or twenty minutes. You live all the rest of the time on your own. So a book like this helps, to give a sense of being able to have some control over something that makes you feel out of control. I found the content incredible, one of the best books I have ever read. It talks about OCD being a family disorder, how parents feel hopeless and helpless, how siblings suffer. It’s very hard. Very isolating. Seemingly endless. Like nothing, nothing will ever be the same again.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Blog Redo

For some time now I have been wanting to redo my blog. Something a little softer, less splashy, a little more simple. I seem to be in a different phase of life now and kind of wanted my blog to reflect that. Plus, I really needed a creative outlet right now, and I always loved blog design. This might not be quite what I envisioned, but it’s what I ended up with, and I like it.

Thanks so much for your encouraging comments. I appreciate each one. I’d like soon to write a kind of update post, just how the kids are doing, how they’ve come out on health concerns I have blogged about in the past, etc. and what has been happening in the last few months.

MEmugUntil then. Red heart

Oh, by the way. Anyone up for the new beach-themed Mary Engelbreit mugs? I think I know what I’ll be asking for my birthday next month.Smile