Monday, October 20, 2014

My Daughter- #MyFaithHeroine

 This blog post is part of Michelle DeRusha’s #MyFaithHeroine contest, in connection with the release of the book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Find out how to participate here. 

When I think about my faith heroine, only one strong woman comes to mind: my daughter Ashley. Ashley was my baby girl. Ashley was my faith heroine. 

My daughter was twenty-seven when she dies from AIDS related complications, but although she suffered, her faith in the Lord never did. However, my faith did. I could not understand why God was letting my beautiful, always vibrant daughter suffer. I didn't realize He really wasn't, I had lost my hope and my soul had withered.

Throughout her illness, my beautiful daughter never lost her hope and joy. She walked in faith daily. I tried to be strong, but my faith grew weaker with each passing day. My strength was depleted. 

I watched as she continued to struggle and I became bitter. It wasn't fair that the Lord was taking my child I screamed. As I tried to comfort her and make her last days as peaceful as possible, it was her that was actually comforting me and giving me peace.

She was not bitter about dying for she knew she would be in a better place. The last week of her life, I opened my heart and soul to the Lord. I began to understand her life wasn't ending but only beginning,

My daughter faith was so strong it gave me the courage and strength to not be angry with God.

She has been gone for almost two years, but her faith lives in my heart. It keeps me going throughout my struggles and helps me understand God's purpose.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Out of Darkness Into Daylight

I'm no stranger to death, but when my daughter passed away last year with AIDS related complications, death took on a different meaning. My life spiraled out of control. A parent should never have to bury their child and when she died, not only did death enter my world, but devastation and destruction soon followed. I found myself sinking into a quagmire of darkness. A plethora of emotions exploded within my soul. Tiny shards of anger and grief ripped my heart apart.
I tried to protect my baby as all mother's want to do, but the day she turned eighteen she left home. She moved a thousand miles away and began an unsavory lifestyle. My daughter became a prostitute. At that moment, I knew I had lost her. I'd always hoped she would come back home, but she didn't until it was too late.
My daughter went from pillar to post for almost ten years. Her choices affected me to the point I stopped communicating with her. I didn't want to know what she was doing, so I shut her out of my life. My heart turned to stone. I became a monster instead of a mother.
Several years passed without an exchange of words. When I finally received a phone call from her, my world was ripped apart. The day she told me she had HIV, I begged and pleaded for her to come home but she refused. I was supposed to protect her and I failed.
 I laid awake at night, my heart ached to hold my baby girl. I worried about her safety. She was still in another state and I had no way to get to her. Once again she got silent and I didn't hear from her until five months before she died. This time the news was dire. My worst fear had come true. She had AIDS and was dying.
With much pleading I finally convinced her to come back home. When I went to the bus terminal to pick her up, I hardly recognized my baby girl. She was rail-thin and gaunt. I was flabbergasted. She was a walking skeleton. I raced to my daughter and enveloped her in my arms. Tears of disbelief stung my eyes. My baby girl had come home to die.
For a short period of time, I had another chance. I could tell her I was sorry for not being there when she needed me the most. I could spend one last Mother's Day with my baby girl. After Mother's Day she deteriorated fast. I watched her struggle as the life was sucked from her soul.
I counted down 'D' Day. Weeks became days. Days became hours. Hours became minutes and minutes became seconds. My world came to a crashing halt on Memorial Day. It ended when my daughter took her last breath.
Over the next few weeks, I fell into a deep depression. I actually thought about committing suicide. Darkness overtook my soul and wouldn't let go. I shut myself off from my family. I hid inside the darkness of depression. I couldn't find my way out. It wasn't until I received my daughter's ashes that I knew it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself. Over time,I learned to harness my emotions. I couldn't change what happened nor could I hide away in the darkness.
The past year has flown by and I still have dark moments when my daughter's death seems surreal. Her death saddened my heart and made me bitter. There are days when I want to crawl back into the darkness.
My daughter's death gave me a different perspective on who I am now and who I want to become. It has also taught me out of any negative there will always be a positive. Losing my daughter to AIDS has had the most positive impact on my life, changing who I am forever.

I knew if I kept going down the path of destruction, my life would have ceased to exist. I learned to turn my despair into joy and to celebrate in the daylight instead of living in the darkness.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A to Z Challenge: D- Death, Devastation, Denial, Destruction

Today, I continue my personal journey of the A to Z Challenge with the letter D. For me the letter D represents death, devastation, denial, and destruction. Join me as I journey back to the beginning: from a fifteen year old girl where it started with the loss of my father to where it ends; a fifty-three year old mother who lost her child.

Before the Spring of 1976, I was a happy, carefree teenager until death knocked at my door. Soon devastation, denial, and destruction followed me wherever I went. My idyllic encased world was shattered and afterward my life would become a living Hell.

At fifteen, death came into my life with an unyielding force that would shape who I've become today. My father, the only person who loved me unconditionally died. I was devastated by this unwanted event.

My father had been sick for awhile, but I didn't grasp just how ill he was until he lay in the hospital dying. I watched as green poison oozed from his body. I watched my once strong father wither into nothing.

I couldn't cope and was in denial. All I could do was run and hide within myself. A once vibrant teenager became rebellious, out of control, uncaring, and hateful. I became a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

The time after my father's death was difficult, so my mother decided we needed a change. We packed our meager belongings into a beat-up Ford Pinto and traveled 3000 miles across the country into the unknown.

At this junction, I detested my mother. The hatred inside my soul seethed and the ticking time-bomb exploded. During this time, I fell in with the wrong crowd and once again my life would change. Death payed an unexpected visit.

It was late summer of 1977 that I became pregnant. As soon as my mother found out she abandoned me, my boyfriend was on drugs, so I became a ward of the State of Oregon.  I was sixteen, alone and scared. I didn't have any choices. I had no rights. Sadly, I was forced to terminate my pregnancy at nine weeks. My destructive lifestyle had snatched the life from my body. Death and devastation won. Denial quickly set in and as soon as I could, I left the horrible memories behind.

Eventually, I moved on with my life. I got married and had other children. It would be many years before death, devastation, denial, and destruction paid another visit to my happy existence. Twenty years had passed since I lost my father and finally lost my mother.

She and I never mended the rift between us. There was so much denial and destruction that I was actually relieved when she passed away. My mother wasn't an evil person, just a mean drunk which caused me a lot of pain for twenty years. I was devastated of course, but glad death had taken her.

The next 17 years, death stayed away from my life. There were times when destruction and devastation came knocking, but in 2013 death came back. It hit with a vengeance so powerful, I lost control.

I received the devastating news my youngest daughter was dying from AIDS. I went into my denial mode, but it was to no avail. I couldn't stop the inevitable. My youngest child was going to die. In April 2013 she came home to die. It was a painful process to watch my once beautiful child suffer. Before she passed away we had five memory filled weeks together. We had Mother's Day one last time. She died in my arms and waves of devastation and denial washed over me.

During the days that followed her death, I closed myself off from the world. I couldn't cope with or comprehend the reality of her loss. It was too painful to bare. Eventually, I slowly came back to reality. It hasn't been easy. Still, there are times when I want to hide deep inside myself.

For the last thirty-eight years, death, devastation, denial, and destruction have played a major part of who I've become. These tragedy's have actually made me stronger. At last, I finally understand why death took those I loved. It wasn't to punish me, but to help me understand life is filled with death, devastation, denial, and destruction.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blog Tour: The Husband Whisperer

Kevin Hinckley is proud to host a blog tour for his book, The Husband Whisperer from March 10–30.
Horse whisperers know that the best way to communicate in relationships is with a touch of gentleness. In The Husband Whisperer, Kevin Hinckley (MEd, LPC) shows women how to use their divine nature and to listen to the Spirit in order to help bring peace into their marriages.
Meet the Author:
Returning author Kevin Hinckley is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Private Practice. He received his master’s degree in Counseling from Brigham Young University, with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior. He has developed numerous therapeutic programs, including inpatient and day treatment programs for addiction and trauma recovery. He has worked closely with the LDS Addiction Recovery Program and is the author of The Naaman Project, a day treatment program for Pornography Addiction. A former bishop and institute teacher, Kevin has written three books, Promptings or Me,(our book) Parenting the Strong Willed Child and Burying Our Swords (published by Deseret Book). He is a regular presenter at Campus Education Weeks at BYU-Idaho and BYU.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brighton's Mountain Books Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking Review

Disclosure: I received a copy for review purposes. However, all opinions are my own.

Introducing Shaking Behind the Microphone. Fear of Speaking in Public is Equal to Falling Into a Pit Full of Snakes

Three out of four people suffer from brain freeze, a quivering voice, and a racing heart, which are signs of glossophobia. In her anthology, Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking, author Jill Ammon Vanderwood tells her story about going skydiving to overcome her fear of public speaking.

My review:

FDR said it best:  "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" . This famous, often quoted phrase is something I have stuck in the back of my mind everytime I have to do something that includes the unknown. The only thing I fear worse than fear itself is public speaking.  I suffer from glossophobia. I detest public speaking, but now that I'm in college one of my courses involves public speaking. The nerves quicken, the palms begin to sweat, and the throat constricts. What am I suppose to do? 

Is there a solution to glossophobia? YES! Author Jill Ammon Vanderwood has the perfect book for people like me who are afraid of public speaking.

Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking shares her story along with others who feared public speaking. This wonderful book not only gives you insights, but helps you overcome your fears. 

I start my first public speaking class in May and I tell you, I don't think I would have been able to get through it without Jill's book. If you struggle with glossophobia pick up a copy of Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking.

About the Author:

Jill Ammon Vanderwood is the author of six books, including the Mom’s Choice Award winning book 
Drugs Make You Un-Smarter and the Indie Excellence Award winning book What’s It Like, Living Green
Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They Live. She lives with her family in Utah, where she speaks at schools, 
Boys and Girls Clubs, church groups, Girl Scout Troops, Kiwanis Camp, and drug rehabs. Jill teaches 
writers workshops for the League of Utah Writers. She is involved with fundraising events for literacy, The 
Wheelchair Foundation, Soles for Souls and Toys for Tots.

Shaking Behind the Microphone: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
ISBN 978-1490941219
Brighton’s Mountain Books
Printed through Create Space
156 page paperback
Nonfiction Adult Anthology
$12.99 Suggested Retail Price
This book is available through , AmazonKindle, Barnes and and can be ordered through Baker and Taylor or Ingram’s or through your local retailer
To contact the author or to receive a review copy, contact Jill Ammon Vanderwood
Contact Information
Jill Vanderwood
Brighton’s Mountain Books

Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's Your Lucky Day Hop- 3/3 – 3/17

Welcome to the It's Your Lucky Day Giveaway Hop!

Hosted By: MPM Network Bloggers
MPM Blogging Network has joined together to make your day a lucky one! Each participating blog below is hosting their very own unique gift card giveaway. So make sure to stop by them all and enter to win including the Grand Prize: $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway - open worldwide.
The It's Your Lucky Day Hop ends 3/17 at 11:59pm. So don't let your luck slip float away!
Thanks to Jill Vanderwood author of Brighton's Mountain Books Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking one lucky reader will win a $25 B&N gift card. All you have to do is enter on the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review-The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett

Disclosure: "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

We all wish we could have a power-packed half hour! In today's society were everything is rushed, thirty minutes is sometimes hard to find, let alone be filled with power.

In Tommy Barnett's book The Power of a Half Hour, you get that power back. You get that thirty minutes back!

The Power of a Half Hour breaks down a half hour into production steps and keys. Tommy Barnett gives you the power to take back thirty minutes and make it productive.

One of my favorite sections is 'Half-Hour Power Principles'. This all inspiring book will turn thirty minutes into a power punch. After reading The Power of a Half Hour, I no longer take any thirty minutes for granted. I make the most of my half-hours and so should you!

Learn more about The Power of a Half Hour and Tommy Barnett on these sites:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode-Book Review #review

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Description:
In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, you'll find both practical ideas and big-picture perspective that will inspire you to live life on purpose. As a wife, mother of three, and founder of the wildly successful blog, Crystal Paine has walked the road from barely surviving to living with intention. With the warmth and candor of a dear friend, she shares what she's learned along the way, helping you:
  • feel healthier and more energetic by setting priorities and boundaries
  • eliminate stress with savvy management of your time, money, and home
  • get more done by setting realistic goals and embracing discipline
  • rediscover your passions—and the confidence to pursue them
I have to admit, I fell guilty that although I've been blogging for some time and have connections with a lot of great blogger, I'd never heard of Crystal Paine or her website. But, I'm so glad I found her and her book  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life at this junction in my life. 
Crystal is honest and bare-bones, which I needed. I'm always trying to be Super Woman and never can so no. I tend to be a people pleaser and it has become my downfall.

I needed a good swift kick in the rear to get me back on track of my life. I needed Crystal's book!  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life opened the door to a new life. 

The book is filled with great reminders but the keys you need to unlock the door to saying goodbye to survival mode. There are ten chapters, each filled with strategies and ways to stop yourself from self-destruction.  Crystal begins with  a goal and strategy. She includes snippets of her own personal life as well as a place to write down what you need to do. She ends each chapter with a "Get Practical" section.

Reading  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode has changed the way I look at myself and how I realized it's okay to say NO. I don't have to please everyone. I've learned where my priorities lie.

I don't have a favorite chapter, because every one is filled with practical everyday advice you will use over and over again!

You can buy the book at Thomas Nelson for only $22.99. Also, be sure to stop by  and sign up for Crystals Take the FREE 7-Day Challenge and Say Goodbye to Survival Mode today! I signed up and get wonderful advice and challenges in my mailbox.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Six Days by Ken Ham

Disclosure: This book was sent to me free in exchange for my honest review from Master Books and New Leaf Publishing Group.

It’s the book you’ve been waiting for! Six Days by Ken Ham is here..
Today, most Bible colleges, seminaries, K-12 Christian schools, and now even parts of the homeschool movement do not accept the first eleven chapters of Genesis as literal history. They try to fit the supposed billions of years into Genesis, and some teach evolution as fact. Our churches are largely following suit.
  • Discover how many evangelical leaders, willingly or unwittingly, are undermining the authority of God’s Word by compromising the Bible in Genesis
  • Learn how allowing for an old/universe of billions of years unlocks a door of compromise
  • Heed the wake-up call to the Church to return to the authority of God’s Word, beginning in Genesis.
Ken Ham, international speaker and author on biblical authority, examines how compromise starting in Genesis, particularly in regard to the six days of creation and the earth’s age, have filtered down from the Bible colleges and seminaries to pastors—and finally to parents and their children.
This book is published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group. Purchase  your copy here and see what others are saying.
My personal view:
I'm a Christian or I thought I was until I started reading Six Days by Ken Ham. His book hit home and opened my eyes to the "real" truth of today's Christianity. Have you often wondered why so many are leaving the church or why churches are teaching different messages? I know I have! Once you read Six Days you'll have a clear understanding to what is really going on in today's churches.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Living Victoriously In Christ Book Review

Disclosure: the publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book through BookCrash.

Are you looking for a great 30- day devotional to get you through life? I know I was and when I discovered Living Victoriously In Christ Growing in Christ A 30-Day Devotional by Cindy Cross & Lisa Vanderbilt, I couldn't wait to get started. I have a lot of devotionals, but this devotional is different. Every page, every word hit home with me. 

Living Victoriously In Christ gives you a sense of purpose and direction for 30 days. Each chapter is faith-filled with words to stir your spirit and give you hope. Another plus I really love is the questions to ponder section at the end of each chapter. These questions make you ponder your life and give your spiritual direction. Also, you'll find at the end of each chapter God's Word to You and Daily Prayer.

If you only have one 30-day devotional then this is the one you need. Although, I've completed my 30-day devotional journey, I still find myself going back when my spirit is sinking.  This is by far one of the best 30-day devotionals out there!

About the book:
Are you tired of living the status quo life? God’s Word comes alive as you walk through every devotional. These powerfully inspired words will help you to live victoriously and grow closer to God as you transform into a new creation in Christ. This is not a devotional that preaches, but a book that is written from life’s experiences. You will see honesty, real life, and the discovery of how God touches your life to change you into the image of Christ. It is refreshing, realistic and believable.

You can pick up a copy of Living Victoriously in Christ: Growing in Christ for only $10.68.

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