Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review: Evening Prayers

photo courtesy of amazon.com
Evening Prayers For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt is a wonderful, richly Scripture-saturated book of prayers for every day of the year.  The book is divided into months and days, and each day begins with a Scripture passage.

This is the kind of book you could use for your own personal devotions just as it is, or you could use the Scripture passage and prayer as kind of a springboard for your own more in-depth study of the verses and topic.

It could also be used for a family devotional, say, after supper.  The passages are short enough to keep everyone's interest, but in depth enough to spark real conversation.  The fact that the author lived from 1842-1919 does not make this a stuffy, old-fashioned book.  The language is plain and succinct, and there are no "thees or thous" to confuse younger readers (not that there is anything wrong with that language...this author just does not write that way).

Evening Prayers really could be a contemporary book; you wouldn't know it wasn't written last year, let alone last century. I highly recommend this book.

You can purchase this book on amazon by clicking HERE
Both Kindle and Hardback versions are available.

You can purchase this book from Barnes and Noble by clicking HERE

Disclaimer:  I was given this book in return for a fair and unbias (not necessarily positive) review. All opinions are my own.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Vacation That Wasn't

Vacation.  That all too often elusive dream.  Finally, we were going to make that dream a reality.  It has been 3 years since our last family vacation, and I was MORE than ready for time away from my house and animals.

Now before I start my most recent vacation saga, let me just tell you that we don't have the best history as far as family vacations go.  Our very first family vacation, when Jacob was 3 1/2 years old, was to Florida.  The first week of our vacation in Florida, they had the coldest weather in the books.  It was colder where we were (on some days) than it was back in Michigan.  We had towed our fishing boat all the way down to Florida, and were staying at a fishing resort.... Along with the price of an apartment-like dwelling was a slip for our boat. 

For the second week of our vacation Doug we had booked a motel online.  It was voted "cleanest hotel on St. Pete Beach."  In retrospect, I think the only people who took that survey were either homeless or from third world countries.  It was nasty.  I mean N-A-S-T-Y.  We're talking schmutz-on-the-inside-of-the-earpiece-of-the-phone nasty. Jacob got horribly ill.  You can read about that by clicking .HERE

If you want a funny-but-insane story about this trip, click HERE. 
You can read how I felt about being home from that horror by clicking HERE.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago.  I had been packing for a MONTH.  Literally. We were going on a fantastic vacation on which I was going to see four wonderful ladies: My lovely MG friend Nancy whom I have never met; my long-time friend from college, Diana (and her SIX children!); another college friend Tracy (yup, the same one from the first trip); and I was going to meet my friend and life-coach Kristen!!  I was beyond excited to see/meet these amazing women.

Two days before we are supposed to leave (Tuesday), I'm in bed with a fever. Flat out sick. I couldn't believe it. I prayed and prayed and asked everyone I could think of to pray that I would make a miraculous recovery.  Then I started coughing up blood and figured I had pneumonia.  Again.  So I called my pulmonologist to see if I should start taking antibiotics.  Yup.  Lovely.  So even if/when we went on vacation I would be taking those. Ugh.

Wednesday I was still in bed.  Doug called me from work; the power steering had gone out on the van and he didn't know if it was a quick fix or not.  I was starting to think we weren't meant to go on vacation.  At the same time, we were experiencing a horrible winter storm.  Doug found the problem on the van, and called around to find parts. They had to be ordered.  I felt my long-coveted vacation slipping away...

Because of the horrible weather, the parts truck at the van dealership didn't make it in on Thursday.  The truck which SHOULD have the parts on it would arrive Friday at 4:00. They were open for a few hours Saturday morning and Doug went and got them, and fixed the van. I however, still wasn't feeling well enough to travel.  At this point, it seemed like Florida was totally not going to happen.  I was devastated. We had so many plans...Legoland with Kristen and her family.  Grilling out at Kristen's house.  Spending an evening at Tracy's house.  Spending Friday with both Kristen AND Tracy (who have known each other forever).

By now we were just hoping and praying I would be okay to make it to the rental house (we had already booked and paid for) in North Carolina.  I had to tell everyone that I was planning to meet that it wasn't going to happen. All I could think was why, why, why??  Why wasn't God fixing this situation?  Why were my plans ruined? Even though I was beyond disappointed, Doug and I both felt that God was protecting us from something.

On Wednesday, my mom called. She told me to turn on the weather.  I was like, Mom....  On the Weather Channel they were showing a map of southern Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and even Alabama.  The worst ice storm in history was traveling the very. same. exact. route. that we would have been driving.  People were stuck in their vehicles on the freeway for HOURS.

Doug and I looked at each other and I almost sank to my knees.  With my medical issues, the trach, all my medications (not to mention the need to go potty quite frequently), I couldn't even fathom being stuck in that mess.  Or worse, get into a terrible wreck!  I thanked the Lord right then and there.

The following Monday I felt ready to travel.  We DID get to have lunch with my girl Joanna... Oh, was that the BEST lunch of my life. Her whole family came and we sat for about 2 1/2 hours and gabbed.

We had decided to head for Tennessee for a couple of days, and stayed in Pigeon Forge. Then on to our rental in North Carolina.  I will continue telling my vacation tale in further posts (probably in excruciating detail)...

But for now, I leave you with this:  Sometimes, when you feel completely abandoned by God, He is just protecting or preparing you for something else.  I don't believe in coincidence.  The combination of my fever, the power steering AND the amount of snow falling ensured that we would not be on the roads in one of the worst storms in the country. I didn't feel loved or protected when I was lying sick in bed crying over my lost vacation... But I sure did when I saw the weather map and heard the horror stories of people getting trapped, going off the road, and worse.

So next time something "bad" happens, try to be patient.  You never know what might be just around the corner that will explain everything.