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Now Choose Life

Choose to Live Your Life in Abundance in the after--- after the spouse dies, after the marriage ends, after the kids leave. Join me on my journey of CHOOSING LIFE in my after. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live- Deut 30:19

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April 24, 2019

Peak Of The Week- 4-24-19

It's spring and It's the Peak Of The Week!! 
Here are some things piquing my interest this week!!

This week is the hardest week of the year for me personally!! It marks the worst week of my life. The whole month of April is a hard month leading up to this last week which is painful!! April 26th is my anniversary with my late husband. It would have been 33 years this year!! We were only given 26. April 29 is the anniversary of his passing. I know it's coming. I try to prepare, but I have found that the preparation of facing the day of psyching myself up for it ends up being worse than the actual day. I'll be with my mom and sister this weekend. That's nice and it will just be a good time. We will talk of what was and dream of what is to come just like we always do!!

With that said, I haven't felt at all like writing. I missed my Poetry Tuesday yesterday because I just couldn't find the strength to write and share what I wanted to share- a song. I'll share it at the end of this post!! It's my favorite!!

Chicagoland Independent Bookstore Day 2019 Field Trip-  My daughter lives in Chicago. I want to do this field trip with her sometime. She will love it as much as I do!!

How to Track Down Hard To Find, Out of Print Editions- More books!! My father has a pretty extensive collection of "hard to find" books- mostly about Texas!! I want to remember these websites. I still believe a book is always the best gift to give someone!!! You share so much more than just a story when you share a book. You share an experience, and opinion, a life in most cases!!

20 Home Organization Hacks- This list incredible!! I have big goals for complete organization!! Hopefully, I'll remember these when it comes to these individual jobs.

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Contact Paper Finds- I have been looking for shelf paper for my shelves and drawers!! I found this link on a blog that I follow. There are several cute prints and good prices!!

Why the Mueller Report Has Two Spaces After Every Sentence --Not double spacing after periods was new to me. I learned not to do it when I was asked to submit a post about myself for the Design Mom Blog. We learn that is wasn't a young staffer who typed up these findings. It was someone my age or older!!! Who Knew!!! Technology is the great divide I guess!!!

Judith Viorst has never been happier- I love Judith Viorst!! I shared one of her poems last week for my Poetry Tuesday poem and Instagram and Facebook. I have given her books of poetry on aging as gifts to many friends. I was able to give her Unexpectedly Eighty to my mother for her 80th birthday!
My favorite is How did I get to be forty and other Atrocities.

I just ordered her book, Necessary Losses!!

I'm sharing what I should have shared for Poetry Tuesday yesterday!! Only you die-hard readers who always read my posts will know what it is. This song is my favorite song!! It was the first song sung and my late husband's memorial service. It is what I strive for in my life!!

The words inspire me every time I hear them!! 
"Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering 
Though there's pain in the offering 
Blessed be Your name"

Will I praise Him as much in the bad times as I do in the good? 
I hope you've enjoyed your Peak  Of The Week!!! It's all downhill from here!!!

April 22, 2019

What I Read- The Unwinding Of The Miracle

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The Unwinding Of The Miracle

I follow several celebrity book clubs- Oprah's Book Club, Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine, and my newest, Jenna Bush Hager's Today Show Book Club. I have found wonderful books on each of these book lists.

If you have followed my blog very long, you know that Memoir/Biography is my favorite genre!! I'm am fascinated by peoples' lives and the twists and turns that influence their lives. So when I heard that Jenna's pick for April was a memoir, I had to read it.

Her pick for April is The Unwinding Of The Miracle. This is a beautifully written and brutally honest book about a Vietnamese American woman who although she was legally blind beat the odds and graduated from Harvard Law School, fell in love and started a family only to find out in her late 30's that she had stage 4 colon cancer.

The above explanation explains the title, doesn't it? I was captivated by this book from the prologue where she lets us know that "This story begins at the ending. Which means that if you are here, then I am not."

Julie Yip-Williams recounts her early days in Vietnam. Her grandmother thinks it is best for her to be killed than to face life as a blind girl. Her family flees Vietnam and settles in California. Here her life begins to change, and she chooses to live life to the fullest.

Her life is successful and abundant until she receives her cancer diagnosis. She then begins her honest and heart-wrenching discourse on how she copes with life as a dying young woman.

My biggest take away from her writing was the despair and hopelessness she felt. Although she was raised with a Buddhist background, she has no spiritual faith. As a Christian, it was a hard read at times because my belief system is so different. As a Christian, there is always hope. Maybe not the hope of this life after a while, but the hope of a glorious afterlife!!

At one point she shares, "As I prepared to die and the invisible wall between me and the living grew thicker and taller, I mourned my own impending death in an ever-shrinking bubble of isolation, loneliness, and darkness."

She later does come to terms with her reality and writes, " For me, true inner strength lies in facing death with serenity, in recognizing that death is not the enemy but simply an inevitable part of life."

I can't imagine facing death at a young age knowing I was leaving my husband and children. But, I do hope that HOPE would be part of my journey. The hope that I would see them again, the hope that my prayers would be answered and my children would go on to live happy productive lives. These are just a couple of blessings that come from my faith.

Other thoughts that were meaningful to me:

"I will miss the simple ritual of loading and unloading the dishwasher. I will miss the smooth patina of my cast-iron skillet, brought on by cooking countless meals. I will miss making Costco runs. I will miss watching TV with Josh. I will miss taking my kids to school. will miss this life so very much. They say that youth is wasted on the young. Now, as I approach my final days, I realize that health is wasted on the healthy, and life is wasted on the living. I never understood that until now, as I prepare in earnest to leave this life."

"But then, once my summer of grief was over, my perspective shifted, and a sort of peace came over me. I was sad to be leaving my husband and my daughters, but I felt something else, too: awe at what was happening to my body. I couldn’t watch myself be born, but with eyes open, I could watch myself die. And that is no less a miracle than any other. It is hard to find the beauty in dying, but I’ve learned; I’m learning still."

She comes to the end of her life on her terms:

"I have lived even as I am dying, and therein lies a certain beauty and wonder. As it turned out, I have
spent these years unwinding the miracle that has been my life, but on my terms."

"I will eagerly greet the end of this miracle, and the beginning of another."

I highly recommend reading this book. It is a raw and honest look at the end of a person's life.

It is a story that requires thought and reflection on one's own life.

I would like to think that my story would be written differently. I would hope that my story would end where it began with HOPE. Hope in my God who I believe controls all things. Hope in my choice to believe that I will see my loved ones again someday. Just Hope in general about my life and my journey.

I anxiously await Jenna's report and thoughts on this book!!

Have you read The Unwinding of the Miracle? If so, I'd love to know your thoughts!!

April 15, 2019

Resurrection Eggs and my great reminder from them!!

Since I was working with our children at church this past Sunday, I decided to use Resurrection Eggs to help tell the Easter story.

I didn't know about these special eggs when my kids were little, but I remember watching as our children's minister at my church in Texas used them to help little ones remember the Easter story.

Resurrection Eggs are plastic Easter eggs that have a special object inside that represents an aspect of the Easter story. There are several versions out on the Internet so as you create, you can use different ideas. I decided to use a small cup as one of my objects.

A small cup can certainly represent the drinking of wine at the last supper. But, I wanted the small cup for one of my eggs to represent Jesus praying for God to let this cup pass from him. This is a big concept for kids to grasp, but I think it's like everything else. The more they hear it, the greater their understanding will be.

My issue became--What am I going to use as a cup. Keep in mind, I was thinking about these eggs all last week. I had every one figured out except the cup.

Luke 22:42 was heavy on my mind last week.

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done."

In fact, I couldn't get it off my mind.

Thinking about Jesus facing something that in all his humanity he didn't want, weighed heavily on me. He knew the suffering that was before him. He knew the macabre emotions of taking on the sins of the world. He knew!! Yet, he still maintained his obedience to God that he had lived his entire life here on earth.

It took me back to dealing with something in my life that I didn't want. It took me back to having to come to terms with the death of my husband. I have told many people that coming to terms or accepting something that has happened in our lives that we don't want- that we never would have wanted- is one of the most difficult aspects of life.

I'm not comparing anything I've gone through to anything that Christ did or experienced. What I did this past week was use the only life experience I have had to try and comprehend what He was experiencing when he prayed this prayer THREE times. That's all that we can do in our limited human existence.

So through me thinking about this verse, I realized once again that no matter what I'm feeling, Christ truly does understand because he has experienced something similar. I realized once again, that He truly was completely human-- God in human flesh. And I was reminded once again that he is my ultimate example of how to live my life. The Christian life is about choosing obedience to God's will for our lives. Christ chose obedience every time- even to the point of death.

I'm committed to reading through the Easter story this week. I'd love to hear what you are doing to prepare for Easter Sunday!! What a glorious day it will be!!

Here are some pictures of my Resurrection Eggs and a little information about them.

12 Plastic Easter Eggs Numbered 1-12

Egg 1- Leaves- to represent the palm branches on Palm Sunday
Egg 2- Crackers- to represent the bread eaten at the Last Supper
Egg 3- Small Cup- to represent the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane
Egg 4- silver coins- to represent the 30 pieces of silver Judas received for leading the soldiers to                                           Christ.
Egg 5- rope- to represent Jesus being beaten
Egg 6- rose bush branch shaped like a crown. To represent the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head.

Egg 7- a cross- to represent Jesus being hung on a cross.
Egg 8- nails- to represent the nails driven into Jesus' hands and feet
Egg 9- sponge- to represent Jesus' thirst and the wine vinegar he was given
Egg 10- spices- to represent his body being dead and prepared for burial (I used cloves)
Egg 11- a rock- to represent the stone rolled over the opening of the tomb, and then found moved                                  when the women went to his grave.
Egg 12- empty- to represent the empty tomb.

I was so moved by how well the children did with each of these objects. I had a wide age range, and even the little ones could understand most of what we talked about. It fed my soul to go over this with these children!!

So there you have it. I picked Luke 22:42 as my verse to contemplate this week. It's a powerful verse!!

April 08, 2019

What I Read- the weekend of my son's wedding!!

Our growing family!! 

If you love to read as much as I do, you MIGHT not think this is weird- I have found over the years that whatever book I'm reading on a trip somehow becomes part of the memory of that trip. I like to think that books and words become part of who we are when we read them. So, it seems logical that if I take a book on a trip, it becomes part of that trip.

2008- I saw a book I had never heard of at Borders- The Shack. When I read the cover, I was intrigued so I took it with us on my son's graduation trip to Costa Rica. I fell in love with that book and watched it become a national bestseller and great movie. I have memories of reading that book while laying out by the pool!!

2010- I read a galley copy of Columbine- about the Colorado school shooting. Published 10 years after the tragic event. It became part of my girls trip with my daughter, sister, and friends when we went to NYC the summer after my daughter graduated.

2012- I read Carol Radziwill's account of losing her husband to cancer right after losing her best friend and her husband's cousin JFK Jr in What Remains on a trip to Europe with my kids the summer after my husband passed away. Reading the words from a widow who had suffered a tragic event- several tragic events- gave me the strength to move forward.


So it seems very appropriate that I remember the book I was reading the weekend of my son's wedding. I checked out Promise Me Dad on my overdrive app the week before we left to go back to Texas for my son's wedding. I had been preparing myself emotionally for how I would handle the day of celebration without his dad. I held tight to some advice that a dear friend told me when my son graduated from college.

My late husband passed away about eight months before my son graduated from college. His graduation that December marked our first milestone celebration without his dad. I was talking to my friend, Claire, about facing that celebration and that I didn't know how I was going to sit through it without him. She just told me straight-  "It will be sad that R isn't there to see it. But you will be there to see it. Don't let the sadness overshadow that fact that you are lucky enough to get to be there."

Wow- that is just a sample of some of the great advice that I got from so many after his death. I tried to remember this as the wedding approached, and I made sure that when I danced with my son at the wedding reception, I told him that I didn't take it for granted that I got to be there with him on his special night!!

How lucky am I that I got to dance with my son at his wedding reception!!

Reading Joe Biden's book during this time became part of the memory of the wedding for me. The main theme of the book is Joe Biden fulfilling his son's request to "Promise Me, Dad" that you'll continue to live a life of purpose. He ends the book with this scripture:

                                                                            2 Timothy 4:7
      I have competed well; I have finished the
             I have kept the faith.

Here are just a few quotes that were meaningful to me from his memoir and some pictures from the wedding:

p. 18 "By my estimation, at any moment, one in ten people in our country is suffering some serious degree of torment because of a recent loss."

p.21 Advice from a former governor of New Jersey whose wife had died to Joe Biden after he lost his wife and small daughter in a car wreck:
"He told me to get a calendar, and every night, before I went to bed, put down a number on the day's date. One is as bad as the day you heard the news, he said, and ten is the best day of your life. He told me not to expect any tens, and he said don't spend any time looking at that calendar, but mark it every day. After about six months put in on graph paper and chart it. What he promised me turned out to be true: the down days were still just as bad, but they got farther and farther apart over time"

Some of my great friends. All of these women were great sources of strength to me when I was
raising my kids!!

p. 9 "May 30, 7:51 p.m. It happened, I recorded in my diary. "My God, my boy. My beautiful boy."

P 8 A quote from a letter from Vicki, Teddy Kennedy's widow. She quoted from a letter from Joe Kennedy Sr to a friend about the death of his son:
"'When one of your loved ones goes out of your life, you think what he might have done with a few more years.' Joe Sr. had written to his friend. 'And you wonder what you are going to do with the rest of yours. Then one day, because there is a world to be lived in, you find yourself part of it, trying to accomplish something- something he did not have time enough to do. And perhaps that is the reason for it all. I hope so.' "

The beautiful couple!

I'm glad I took the time to prepare myself for the emotions of the day, and I'm so thankful for that conversation with my friend all those years before because I truly enjoyed my son's wedding!! It was one of the greatest weekends of my life. The closeness of family and friends getting together to show my son so much love and respect was a wonderful time. And I didn't take for granted for one minute that "I'm alive" and that I was lucky enough to be there to experience it!!

How about books become part of your life in a unique way as with me?

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April 05, 2019

Enter Spring- simple ways to add "spring" to your home

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I have just not had the energy to do very much around the house lately!! Even though we still have some snow on the ground, I am ushering in spring inside in hopes that it will follow suit outside!!

I haven't done much, and thought it might be good to share my easy ways of changing a bit of home decor without overdoing it or breaking the bank!!

Here are a few changes I made that have really brightened my house as well as my outlook!!

I love pillows. They are such an easy way to spruce up any area at home. I found these on Amazon recently. They are indoor/outdoor pillows and are just so cute.

Just the right touch for Easter!!

So inexpensive and cute!!

 Check out all the pillows at Amazon!

I love to change up what I put on top of the server that belonged to Dr. T's grandmother.

At Christmas
For Spring
I only made a small change to the dining area.
Old Kitchen Cabinet at Christmas

Kitchen Cabinet for spring.

I just added a few details for spring!!

I change the mantel pretty regularly.



It makes me sad to find bibles at estate sales. I guess that's why I usually buy them when I find them. I like having this little Easter basket sitting on top of this old bible.
If you like what you read/see on my posts, please share with your friends on social media and encourage them to follow me. I'm working on a post on my views on blogging and I'll share some personal friends who blog so you can follow them if you choose!! Thanks for the support!
April 03, 2019

Peak Of The Week! 4-3-19

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We were in Texas for several days a couple of weeks ago for my son's wedding. I am working on a post about the wedding for later!! Springtime is a beautiful time to be in South Texas. I'm sharing a few pictures that I took while there!!

Bluebonnets in the pasture behind the house in Texas.

The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter- I may have shared this one before, but I reread it, and it just speaks to me every time I see it. I'm hoping to remove clutter from every area of my life... physical and emotional!!

I have about 5 books that I'm reading right now on my Amazon Kindle. If you don't have an e-reader yet, I highly recommend researching which one will be best for you!!

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HEB Grocery Store- If you have never been in an HEB, you have missed out! When I go back to Texas, I make sure I go in and stock up on some of my favorite items. I need to find out where the Northern New Mexico HEB is located!!! It would definitely be worth the trip!!

Faithful Counseling- I recently had something pretty outrageous happen in my life. I have been extremely convicted lately on making sure that I TRY to deal with adversity as a Christian and not just as my sinful, earthly self!! I knew I needed help in moving forward with this situation. As happens so many times, the answer came to me exactly when I needed it. While driving back from Texas, I was listening to Jen Hatmaker Podcasts, and one of her ads was for an online counseling group. I checked into it and was led to this Christian counseling online group. It has been extremely helpful for me!!
Click here to be taken to the actual link and discount that Jen shared. From this link, you can decide if you want regular counseling or Christian counseling!!

Just driving into San Antonio. Beautiful field of yellow flowers along the highway!
Whiskey Cake Restaurant-  Since I live in a remote area now, I miss great shopping. But most of all, I miss great restaurants. After spending the day doing some things around the house while we were in Texas, Dr. T and I decided to go to dinner in San Antonio. I'll be honest too-- I wanted to shop at Zara as well!!! I spent more time in Zara than I thought I would so we decided to eat at a restaurant nearby and chose Whiskey Cake. I had eaten there on time before with my son. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a place to eat in the La Cantera area of San Antonio. The ambiance is so much fun, and the food is great!!

I love the individual seating areas set up in this restaurant. Each one is so cozy!!

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