Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Nothing


Five Minute Friday is a special time set aside each week where, as our hostess and inspiration, Lisa-Jo Baker, puts it, "We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt...no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real." 

Today's prompt is nothing. So...here...we...

Go!

We've all heard the saying, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." And Benjamin Franklin was right when he said it. 

Too often we go around doing the same old thing the same old way, thinking that, this time, we will get a different result. When nothing happens, we get frustrated. 

If we want a different result, we're going to have to do something besides what we would do under 'normal' circumstances. And, believe me, no one dislikes change more than I do, but, dog gone it! Sometimes you just have to take a chance, get out of your comfort zone, and do something different...which is exactly what I plan on doing in a lot of areas in the very near future.

If there is an area, or areas, of your life in which you seem to have gone around, and around, in the same ol' circle for far too long, talk to God about it. Let Him know what's in your heart, and ask Him to guide you in making the changes that are needful to get you out of your rut and be successful. Then, make the change, and make it one for the better!

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). 

Stop!

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca

P.S. - I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment before you go! And have a blessed day! <3

Five Minute Friday

One Thousand Gifts - #72 a Minnesota Lake, #73 spiderwort, #74 a smile


Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Book Review (Sort Of) - 'Creek Country' by Terryl W. Elliott

Creek Country by Terryl W. Elliott
"From the Civil War to the turn of the century Indian Territory was a wild, and much of the time, lawless place. Yet, settlers flocked there by the thousands for the highly prized land.

However, to make a home there folks had to contend with the criminal element, which was an almost daily factor of life in the Indian Nations.

This is the story of how a family, and one young boy in particular, coped with life in Creek country."

The story of all that this book entails is quite unique, so I'll start at the beginning. Not at the beginning of the book, but of the beginning of how I became acquainted with the book and all that took place after that.  

Less than a month ago I did a review of Terryl W. Elliott's book The Fifth Funeral. At the end of that review I added a personal note explaining how my daughter, Amanda, had met Mr. Elliott, how she had acquired and read that book to me, etc., etc., etc. After the review posted, I sent the link to Mr. Elliott, so that he could check it out if he was interested. He was and, after reading it, he contacted me and said that, if I liked The Fifth Funeral, I'd probably like another book that he had written called Creek Country.

Mr. Elliott told me to look for it and, if I couldn't find it, to let him know. He said that it was out of print now and hard to find, but that he might be able to dig me up a copy. Look for it I did, but I couldn't find it. I let Mr. Elliott know and, dig me up a copy, he did!

As soon as I got the book I totally freaked out. The first chapter is titled The Little House in Grain Valley. "What?" I thought. "Grain Valley, Missouri? No way!" (Grain Valley, Missouri is my home town. I was born and raised there my whole life and lived there til I was well into adulthood.) Yes, way! Grain Valley, Missouri. I was ecstatic! 

As I continued to flip through the book I noticed that there were pictures. I stopped to look at them. The first one was of "the little house in Grain Valley, Missouri (as it currently appears)". Then, a couple of pages over there were pictures of the "Mindenmines Depot, c. 1900" and "Main Street of Mindenmines, c. 1900". WHAT??? (Mindenmines, Missouri is the next town over from where we live in southwest Missouri now. We have a son and daughter-in-law and grandlittles who live there and a son-in-law who pastors a church there.) What in the world? There were a few more pictures that caught my eye...one of the Belford Home in Grain Valley (a house that I recognized...not by name, but by sight...immediately and one of the Old Royal Theater Building...a building that, once again, I didn't recognize by name, but by sight. I had walked past it multiple times as a child. There were other pictures, too, of people and places that I wasn't at all familiar with. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get started and see how Grain Valley tied in with Mindenmines and boy! Did I have a great time doing it! 

It turns out that the story starts and ends in Grain Valley, Missouri, where Mr. Elliott's Great-Uncle Jib (James Irwin Belford) lived at the time he told Mr. Elliott this true story of his life growing up in Indian Territory in the late 1800's..."A True Story Of Outlaws, Mayhem, And Justice." 

"In the early afternoon of July 1, 1896 five young men stood on the trap door of the most infamous gallows in America ready to drop into eternity. The presiding judge of the most famous court in America had sentenced them there. -The five men were collectively known as the Buck gang; the judge was Isaac C. Parker, better known then and now as the "Hanging Judge"; the court was the U.S. Court for the Western District of Arkansas. -Their heads were covered with black hoods while a small crowd gathered inside the gallows enclosure to witness the event. In a matter of minutes the deed was done. It would prove to be the penultimate act in the long saga of the gallows at Fort Smith, Arkansas. -How all this came about is the essence of the story to be related..."

I could hardly put the book down and read bits and pieces every chance I got until I finished it off. It was so good! 

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is found toward the end and doesn't really have to do with any of the "outlaws, mayhem, and justice" parts of the story, but it is something that Uncle Jib said to Mr. Elliott when he was a young boy, and I loved it. He said...

"You're going to meet a lot of people through the years, Silo [Uncle Jib's nickname for the boy Mr. Elliott], and they're going to fall into two very basic groups. There are those whose lives parallel your own, family and friends that you keep over the long haul, or maybe even your whole life. Then there are others, like the Derisaws, who you know only briefly, as they cross your path. I suppose my point here is that both those groups are important in your life....I'll give you an example of what I mean:

"Do you know Mr. Shippy who lives a few blocks over, in that little house behind Main Street? I think a lot of people call him 'Seth the weaver'; he makes those beautiful rugs that most everybody in town has somewhere in their house....As a matter of fact, I  think your folks have a couple in their home....Well anyway, the loom that he uses is kinda' like what I'm talking about. All the long pieces of yarn running side-by-side from the top to the bottom of the loom are called the 'warp' of the weave--they're like the folks you have by your side, accompanying you through life. The cross threads of the weave are called the 'weft'--they're akin to those people whose paths you cross only briefly. It's those cross threads that make the pattern in the rug... that make it different and distinct. The same is true with the endless parade of people you know and meet, who make up the fabric of your life....The warp gives you stability, but the weft gives you uniqueness...Love and cherish those who make up the warp of your life, Silo, but when they cross your path, take time to appreciate and enjoy those who are the weft in your life...those who provide the colorful patterns..."

Isn't that beautiful? Oh! I just loved it! 

And, even though I don't know the author of this book personally, I do consider him one of the weft people that has passed through my life because, through his writing and sharing this book with me, he has definitely added a strand or two of color to the fabric of my life. I really, REALLY enjoyed this book and all the connections to home and, even, here, close to Liberal at Mindenmines. It is truly amazing how it all fit into one neat, little package!

I could go on and on, I'm sure (as I already have), but I will stop here. If you are fortunate enough to find a copy of  Creek Country by Terryl W. Elliott somewhere, I highly suggest that you buy it...especially if you enjoy true stories about colorful, historical, western characters, stories about Indian Territory, or have roots in Grain Valley, Missouri. :)

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca

P.S. - I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment before you go! And have a blessed day! <3

One Thousand Gifts - #68 the greeting of a brand new day, #69 a nightly call to my dad, #70 the sky

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Onions

Photo Credit
Over the holiday weekend we were invited to a barbecue. It was great to get out of town for a day and enjoy extended family.

While there I helped the lady of the house make shish kabobs and these cool little bacon-wrapped onions. At first I wasn't too sure about them, but they ended up being my favorite thing on the menu. They were absolutely delicious, and they were so easy to make!

To start, we cut vidalia onions (you can use any kind of onion) into 3/4" wedges and cut bacon strips in half (each long strip became two short strips).

Then, we wrapped each onion wedge with one short bacon strip, and secured each with a toothpick. We repeated this process until we ran out of bacon and onion wedges. We grilled bacon-wrapped onions on a medium-hot grill until the onions were tender and the bacon was thoroughly cooked.

To me, the combined flavor of the two ingredients didn't taste like bacon OR onion. The tasty, little morsels had a unique flavor all their own. Simple and absolutely delicious! :)

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca <3

One Thousand Gifts - #64 prayer, #65 opportunity, #67 ability

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tightening Up The Belt On Finances And Stepping Out In Faith


"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith 
to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need I can do all things through Christ which strengetheneth me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

While we've never had huge amounts of money to spend, there have been times when, financially, things were easier than they have been at other times. And we've definitely had our times of 'learning' to be content in whatsoever state we've found ourselves...whether they've been found on the side of being abased, or abounding. But, no matter what, with the Lord's help, we've always managed to stay afloat, our bills have always been paid on time, and our needs have always been met...sometimes in the most unusual and unexpected ways...and, for that, we give Him all the glory and praise!

For the past several months we've found ourselves in one of those down times again, and we've been having to make some hard choices. For example, a few months ago we paid off and eliminated another credit card (that one made, I believe, the tenth one to be paid off in full and completely done away with...PRAISE GOD!!!). But, due to a myriad of unexpected things that have come up the early months of this new year, the small emergency fund that we had built up dwindled down to practically nothing in just a few weeks, and we found ourselves putting things on credit again on the few remaining credit cards that we had left (and I'm not talking frivolous things...I'm talking gas, groceries, household items, etc.) and, in no time, we knew we were headed for trouble if we didn't put the brakes on. (And, believe me, we know better than this. We were both raised by parents who didn't believe in credit at all and wouldn't have a credit card in the house. We didn't have any credit cards either until just the past 16 years or so...and, believe me, it's been a nightmare!)

Anyway, we knew we were headed for trouble, so, at the beginning of May we made the decision to cut up our remaining credit cards and throw them away...including our gas card, which was paid off at the time, but kept in case of emergency...and, believe me, it seems that there is always an emergency (and I'm not just saying that...there really have been a lot of emergency situations come up, and, this past few months, with my dad's health and other family illnesses, it has resulted in multiple trips to hospital emergency rooms and doctors' offices...all of which are a minimum of, at least, 20 miles away...and I'm not saying all this to sound whiny...that is NOT my intent at all, and I pray that it's not coming across like that).

So...we cut up the cards at the beginning of the month and, while it hasn't been easy, we've almost made it through our first full month without them. Granted, we are down to the last few dollars left in our emergency fund, but God hasn't left us hanging. He has met our every need and each new morning brings an air of expectancy as we launch further out into the deep, building our faith with every step.

Some of the other things that we've done this month to tighten the ol' financial belt include...

- We've had to tighten up the belt on some things and put the brakes on, completely, concerning others. This includes saying "no" to many of the things (and people) that we, previously, were saying "yes" to before.

- We've really been thinking things out before we go and do. This has included making lists, car-pooling with others, splitting gas, splitting meals, shopping the dollar stores first, making do with what we've got on hand, and deciding to do without in a lot of areas.

- My husband has planted a good-sized vegetable garden this year and we are already eating some of the produce (spinach, radishes, and onions). Most of the other things planted are up, and the tomatoes and peppers have babies hanging on them.

- My daughter discovered a shoe sale at the Pittsburg, Kansas Walmart...some sort of inventory mistake or something...I'm not really sure, but they had TONS of shoes (men's, women's, and children's) for $3.00 a pair. I bought four pair of shoes...two for me (moccasins) and two for my husband (a pair of everyday shoes and a nice pair of dress shoes, which he has desperately needed for several years now). Before being marked down the shoes valued anywhere from $18.87 to $29.97 a pair. I bought over $85.00 worth of brand new shoes for just $12.00.

As, little by little, we gain our footing again, we are praying God's wisdom and direction in getting back on track with getting our emergency fund built back up and paying extra on those last three credit cards, snowballing them, and getting them paid off, making us debt free once and for all. If you have any wisdom, advice, or experiences to share, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to post a comment here, or e-mail me at: proverbs31heart@yahoo.com.

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca  

One Thousand Gifts - #59 my blue "BELIEVE" bracelet from Teresa at Bible study, #62 the teaching of God's Word, #63 fellowship with other Jesus lovers

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Memories

I must admit that my spirits seem much higher today than they did when I first posted the following post three years ago. And, while we have no plans whatsoever for today (as of yet anyway), this Memorial Day weekend has been one of the fullest and best that I can remember. We got to get away for a day of fun, food, and fellowship with extended family on Saturday. Then, Sunday was just spent relaxing with family here in town. I have no idea what we'll end up doing (or not doing) today, but, whatever it is (or isn't) spirits are high and God is good. :) 

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours! And may God richly bless all those who have served our nation and fought to keep it free!

All My Love,
~Rebecca

Written three years ago on Memorial Day 2011...
'Memorial Day Parade'
"The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18).

Growing up Memorial Day was always a special day! When I was real little my mom and dad and I would load up early in the morning and make the round of cemeteries to decorate the graves of loved ones that passed on before us. At that time there were only a few graves to decorate, so the rest of the day would be spent with family. Usually, we would gather together for a day of fun...a game of horseshoes, homemade ice cream, and fun with the cousins as we rolled giggling down the grassy bank at Grandpa and Grandma's house in the country. At the time that bank seemed so huge, but, looking at it as an adult, it was hardly anything.

In later years we continued to do the cemetery rounds, but, due to reasons unknown to me...finances, perhaps, or, maybe, a shift in values...my parents stopped decorating the graves. Oftentimes, after a morning of visiting the cemeteries, we would end up at a place that was historically important, not only to those interested in local Civil War history, but, to us, personally, as a family...the Anderson House in Lexington, Missouri. We had family members that were caretakers there at one time and my grandmother had spent many delightful days there as a child. We would often end up there on family outings and she would share her memories, as well as the secrets of the old house, with me, as together, we would explore its every nook and cranny. You could do that back then, but not now.

As time went on and older generations passed away, our Memorial Day traditions changed and, for the most part, fell away. We stopped doing the cemetery rounds altogether and usually just settled for a cook-out at the folks house. When my mother passed away that pretty much stopped, too. Memorial Day became a day of much-needed rest more than anything else. Last year Memorial Day was spent at the hospital by my uncle's bedside after he suffered a massive heart attack, endured emergency surgery, and, later that afternoon, died. It was not a good holiday weekend!

Fast forward...this morning...

After a particularly trying week and weekend, I woke up this morning in tears. I was feeling dull, depressed, and anxious. I felt physically and spiritually ill. I did not want to face another Memorial Day Monday.

While sitting at my desk later in the morning...pondering my day and the week ahead, my son, who...I still don't know if he realized what he was doing or not...I don't know if he was subconciously drawing on past memories of Memorial Day at his own grandparent's house, or if he was simply trying to brighten my day...but whatever the reason, he came in and asked if we had any hot dogs or hamburgers. I told him that I thought there might be a few turkey burgers left in the freezer, but there weren't any hot dogs...why? He said that he was just wondering...was thinking of maybe grilling something. Next thing I knew the old, familiar smell of good times past...the smokey smell of a charcoal grill...came wafting through the house. With the smell came a flood of happy memories and, before I knew it, my own spirit began to soar as it wafted heavenward...filled with praise to my Saviour...as gratitude flooded my soul! 

At that moment, even though I had, neither time, nor inclination, to prepare anything special for today's holiday, thoughts flooded my mind! I had one more pan of baked beans in the freezer! I had one can of potatoes left! Mix that with a couple green onions from the garden, a little Miracle Whip, mustard, and spices...and viola! Instant potato salad! A quick trip to Casey's for a small bag of chips and a bottle of soda...serve it all up on the traditional Memorial Day paper plate and...how about that? Despite all the hoopla and weariness...we had a little celebration of sorts after all! I thanked my son for getting the ball rolling, and I praised the Lord for picking up my weary soul and ministering to it as only He can!

The only thing missing today was homemade ice cream! Hmmm...I wonder if there's not something creative that I can do about that??? (smile)

Have a Happy and Blessed Memorial Day!

All My Love,
~Rebecca

One Thousand Gifts - #56 Memorial Day Weekend, #60 sweet clover, #61 "I love you"

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Close


Five Minute Friday is a special time set aside each week where, as our hostess and inspiration, Lisa-Jo Baker, puts it, "We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt...no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real." 

Today's prompt is close. So...here...we...

Go!

It happened just yesterday. Before I could close the gate, she slipped her collar and was off like a shot!

Around the corner of the house she went. Then through the back yard...leaping and bounding like she had springs on her feet. Past me she ran with a big, laughing, dog grin on her face...pink tongue wagging all the while.

I called to her. Lickety split...past me she ran again. Back around the house...through the back yard again.

"Oh!" I groaned. I called to her again.

It was our neighbor's dog. The one that I was supposed to be taking care of of. I was afraid that she'd run out into the highway, but she didn't. She just kept making that same loop...around the house, through the backyard, past me, through the neighbor's backyard, then back again. Running for all she was worth...leaping and bounding, enjoying her freedom...seeming to laugh the whole long way and, honestly, I could almost hear her giggling with every panting pass.

What seemed to last an eternity, in reality, couldn't have lasted more than a few short minutes. Without her collar there was no way to catch the little imp. What was I going to do?

Meat! I had meat in a pot cooking on the stove. I ran to the house and got some, quickly cooled it, then, took it out, lured my charge, and, with it, was able to coax her back to the kennel, where, by this time, she was more than ready to get her collar back on, cool off, and rest. This time, I succeeded in getting the gate closed!

Oh! But how happy she had been for those few glorious minutes! What freedom she had experienced! What boundless energy she had exhibited!

Isn't that a bit how we are? Going along...tired of the same, old, mundane routine. Then, all of a sudden something happens to change things up a bit and off we go...spirits soaring! And it doesn't have to be much...just some-out -of-the-ordinary-routine thing and what a lift it can give us!

I'd like to encourage you to do something good for yourself today...something out of the ordinary. Take the children and go for a walk, invite a friend over for a tea, read a chapter or two from that book you've been meaning to get to, plant something green and watch it grow. Whatever you do, do something out of the ordinary and enjoy it! Allow it to lift your spirits and leave your tail wagging! :)


Stop!

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca

Five Minute Friday

One Thousand Gifts - #53 double chocolate, fudge brownies, #54 pink, white, and purple petunias, #55 "Creek Country" by (and from) Terryl W. Elliott

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Movie Review - Mom's Day Out

Mom's Night Out
For Mother's Day our daughter and son-in-law surprised us by taking us out to see the endearing, faith-based, family comedy Mom's Night Out. And I tell you what...I have not laughed that hard since I don't know when. Funny? Yes! But...more than that...ohmygoodness! It is so true to life!

The story focuses on Ally (Sarah Drew) and her stressed out friends...best friend, Izzy (Andrea Logan White), and pastor's wife, Sondra (Patricia Heaton), each of whom is battling their own unique set of circumstances within the home. 

The girls get together in hopes of connecting as adults, and treating themselves to a special evening out, but, instead, the evening is interrupted by a chain of events that totally unravels the girls' nerves. Although the events that transpire are totally unlikely to happen in real life (at least not altogether in a single series in the space of one evening), they are comical (make that hysterical) and perfectly in line with great comedy throughout the ages. 

Mom's Night Out is a fun movie that sprinkles glimmers of spiritual truth throughout and, in the end, leaves you, as a mom, knowing that you are not alone in your struggles and that, no matter how you perceive them, people are just people. For that reason alone, that makes Mom's Night Out one of the best movies ever in this mom's opinion!

And, as funny as it was, the humor really isn't what makes the movie. It's the fact that the story captures the true heart of parenting. Whether small children or teens, at different stages, and in different seasons, we all face our individual battles in parenting. This movie brings the very things that each and every one of us face on a daily basis, in real life, and puts them into perspective.

Oh, I know! I've heard that critics everywhere are bashing Mom's Night Out, but, you know what? They can bash away! I, personally, have lived Ally's stay-at-home, Christian, homeschooling-mommy life, and know countless others who have done (or are doing) the very same thing right now. THIS is the stuff that REAL life is made of, Ladies, and I cannot praise the makers of this film enough for knowing our hearts, taking all this on, and bringing this movie to fruition for our enjoyment. WHAT a breath of fresh air!!!

If you haven't seen Mom's Night Out yet, grab a friend, and/or take the children, and go see it! You will NOT regret it! 

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca


#MomsNightOut, #Christianmovies

One Thousand Gifts - #50 loyalty, #51 the ability to overcome, and #52 togetherness

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Avocado, Bacon, and Eggs

Avocado, Bacon, and Eggs
A friend of mine posted this recipe for Avocado, Bacon, and Eggs on Facebook, and it looked so good that I had to try it. I'm glad I did, too! This recipe is absolutely delicious and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it. More often than not, I will probably make it with egg whites from now on, but it really is delicious. Whoever would have thought that a baked avocado could taste so great? And it's good for you, too!

AVOCADO, BACON, AND EGGS

1 avocado
2 eggs
2 strips of pre-cooked, crumbled bacon (we used turkey bacon and, using scissors, I just cut it into little pieces)

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out enough avocado to make a hole that matches the size of your egg.

Stabilize avocado halves by balancing them upright, and level, on the top of a muffin tin. Crack an egg into each avocado half and top with crumbled bacon. I added a sprinkling of black pepper over ours, but you can season, or not season, as you choose.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.

I suggest going and checking out the original recipe before baking, as the gal who posted it has a few tips on what to do, and not do, to make your first attempt successful (and her pictures are so much prettier than mine). To get there, click HERE.

If you try this, please, leave me a comment telling me what you think of it. Thanks so much!

Have a blessed day!

Love,
~Rebecca

#avocados, #recipes

One Thousand Gifts - #47 Mom's Night Out (the movie), #48 listening to my grandlittles laugh, and #49 my cousin and his crazy stories

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Springtime On TheTall-Grass Prairie

Indian Paintbrush

This past winter seems to have been one of the longest, and, in many respects, the worst that I can remember. Just last week we had a couple of nights when the temperatures dipped down into the 30's for overnight lows (which is not good for those of us who have already planted our gardens), but, with a little extra care we've weathered the storms and, despite winter's best efforts to hang on, spring, in all her glory, has broke forth, and arrived, on the tall-grass prairie of Southwest Missouri.

We first moved to the tall-grass prairie in May of 1996. It was quite different from where we had come from (the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs), but we loved it. We still love it when we're not so tied up with day-to-day living that we forget to take notice of God's beautiful creation all around us.

When we first came to this area we noticed everything. Because everything was so different. The plants, the birds...even some of the animals. Who knew that a two...two and half hour...drive straight south could make such a difference? But it did. As homeschoolers, moving to the tall-grass prairie opened up a whole new world for us to explore, and explore we did...and have...and still do, when given the chance.

In studying over the years, I have come to realize what a unique, and relatively small, area of North America that the tall-grass prairie covers. I have also come to realize that many people will never get the opportunity to visit such a place, let alone, live in one, and I don't ever want to take that for granted. The beauty here is astounding!

Where we live, in Liberal (Barton County), Missouri, we are situated right on the eastern border of the tall-grass prairies that stretch west into Kansas. There the tall-grass prairies gives way to the mixed-grass prairies and, eventually, even further west, the mixed-grass prairie gives way to the short-grass prairies found throughout the Great Plains. Within minutes of our home, traveling east or south, either one, you will find yourself in the Ozark foothills, and, to our north lies the vastness of the Osage Plain.

Much of the tall-grass prairie has been turned into farmland. In our area there are a lot of farmers that specialize in black Angus cattle, and many farm crops are grown (corn, wheat, milo, soybeans, and, just recently, canola), but, thankfully, there are still areas of preserved, virgin, tall-grass prairie left in our state. Prairie State Park, consisting of about 4,000 acres, is Missouri's largest remaining tall-grass prairie landscape, and it is located less than 5 miles from our home.
Black Angus Cattle
A Canola Field
Right now the roadsides, pastures, and prairies are dotted with color as spring wildflowers make their showy appearance at every turn. Indian paintbrush clothed in its fiery reddish-orange graces natural prairie areas, while rose verbenablack-eyed Susans and ox-eyed daisies dance merrily along prairie roadsides.

I saw my first turtle of the season crossing the road a couple of days ago...either a three-toed box turtle or an ornate box turtle (I didn't see it close enough to make a positive identification) and, just yesterday, my first butterfly of the season, a spicebush swallowtail. I also noticed that the scissor-tailed flycatchers are back for the summer. One was sitting atop the power-lines overlooking a gravel road that we were traveling over the weekend.

These are just a few things found on the tall-grass prairie in springtime. I hope to share more with you about life on the tall-grass prairie in the days ahead.

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca

#PSP, #tallgrass, #prairie

One Thousand Gifts - #44  giggles and laughter, #45 unconditional love, and #46  honesty




Monday, May 19, 2014

An Interview With Mesothelioma Survivor Heather Von St. James

Mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers that there is and, upon diagnosis, most people are given little more than a year to live. There is no known cure for mesothelioma and the future continues to look grim as attention to the disease, as well as research funding, continues to decline. 

Since May is National Cancer Awareness Month, I have decided to help my friend, reader, and mesothelioma survivor, Heather Von St. James, fulfill her personal mission to spread awareness of this rare and preventable disease, by sharing her story on this blog. I hope that, as fellow readers of this blog, you will, not only read, Heather's story, but pass it on and share it with others, which will further help Heather in completing her mission. 

At the age of 36, 3 1/2 months after the birth of her first and only child, Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given just 15 months to live. Miraculously, Heather beat the odds and, eight years later, is still here to talk about her experience. 

In an attempt to understand a little bit more about mesothelioma and what Heather has been through, I sent her a few interview questions. Below are the questions I asked and Heather's answers. Following that, highlighted, italicized, and in parenthesis, are any responses I may have had to Heather's interview answers. 

Heather, thank you for being kind enough to do this interview with me. :)

1) Heather, I, personally, had never heard of mesothelioma before you contacted me through my blog and made me aware of it. Can you explain to my readers just what mesothelioma is?

Mesothelioma is cancer of the lining of the organs. The lining is called mesothelium, hence the name mesothelioma. It is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. There are 3 main types. Pleural mesothelioma is the cancer of the lining of the lung, peritoneal is the cancer of the lining of the abdomen and pericardial, which affects the lining of the heart.

(I know from reading Heather's page that it is pleural mesothelioma that she was diagnosed with.)

2) I was born in 1961 and remember asbestos being common in building materials and other products. I remember my mom having an asbestos burner cover, and the house I grew up in was covered in asbestos siding and we had asbestos shingles on our roof. In fact, the house that we live in now is very old, and, in thinking about it, I am 99.9% positive that the shingles that are on our roof right now are asbestos shingles. (Arrghh!) How and when were you exposed to asbestos?

My father worked with it when I was a child. He did demolition and cleanup work and did a bunch of drywall work. Back in the day, drywall mud and spackling had asbestos in it. He would come home from work with his jacket covered in this grayish dust that was literally caked on his coat. I would wear his jacket when I had chores to do outside because I didn't want to get my own dirty, besides wearing my dad's coat was comforting. It felt like wearing a hug. It was most likely the dust from this coat and from his car that I was exposed. 

3) When were you diagnosed with mesothelioma? And what was the prognosis? 

I was diagnosed on November 21, 2005, 1:30 pm. Just 3 1/2 months after my only baby was born. My prognosis was quite grim if I didn't take drastic measures to save my life. 15 months if I did nothing. Not very promising. 

4) What's the story behind your beating the odds? And where do you stand now? Are you cancer-free?

We caught it early, and I had excellent medical care. I saw the worlds leading specialist in the disease, and we threw everything we could at it. Major surgery to remove my left lung, heated chemo during surgery, followed by 4 sessions of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radiation. We left nothing to chance. I just got back from Boston and a check up. I go every 6 months and everything looked great. No evidence of disease. I take that to mean cancer free. :)

(Yeah! I am so glad to hear that you are cancer free! That's awesome! Praise the Lord!)

5. I was reading on your site that asbestos is still the number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States. How can that be? Didn't they ban the use of asbestos in the 1970's? 

They TRIED, but it was overturned. Asbestos is still imported to the tune of 100,000 tons a year and still used in many industrial and commercial settings. Despite the very well known and documented health hazards, it continues to be used. 

(I had no idea! I've believed all these years that asbestos was done away with years ago. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and making us aware of this fact.)

6. What is the main message that you are trying to get across to people in your quest to make them aware of mesothelioma? And what can my readers do to make a difference?

Awareness is the beginning to getting people talking about and taking action on the disease. I want people to know that mesothelioma is a very real and dangerous condition that strikes all ages, and not just people who worked with asbestos. It strikes young and old alike. Until people stand up and start demanding action, asbestos will continue to be used and people will continue to die needlessly. You can call your government officials and urge them to appropriate money for mesothelioma research as well as ban the use of asbestos. 

(You heard it, Readers! Let's help Heather get the word out by calling our government officials and urging them to appropriate money for mesothelioma research, as well as ban the use of asbestos. Let's call today while it's fresh on our minds. To contact your senators and representatives click HERE.)

7. Heather, I would love to share your video on my blog. May I have your permission to do that?

Please do!!! I would be honored if you would!

(Here is that video now...)



For further information on mesothelioma and it's effects, please, visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance by clicking HERE

To learn more about Heather Von St. James and her story, please, visit her blog by clicking HERE

Heather, again, thank you for making me aware of mesothelioma, and for sharing your story with me and my readers. I pray that the Lord continues to bless you with good reports concerning your health, and that your dreams are realized in getting the word out about mesothelioma until a cure is found. My thoughts and prayers will be with you always. 

Until next time...

All My Love,
~Rebecca 

#mesothelioma, #HeatherVonStJames

One Thousand Gifts - #36 - an unexpected supper date with Amanda, #37 - a beautiful hand-made card from someone very special, and #41 blueberry pie warm from the oven

Friday, May 16, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Importunity

Five Minute Friday
Normally, Five Minute Friday goes like this...

Five Minute Friday is a special time set aside each week where, as our hostess and inspiration, Lisa-Jo Baker, puts it, "We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt...no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real." 

But this week, for some reason unknown to me, there is no Five Minute Friday prompt posted, so, I've asked my husband to give me a word to write about. He gave me the word importunity

So...here...we...

Go!

Importunity. The only place that I, personally, have heard this word used, is in the Bible. It comes from one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It is found in Luke 11 where Jesus is teaching on prayer. 

In Verse 1 Jesus' disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray. 

In Verses 2-4 we find Luke's version of The Lord's Prayer

Immediately following, in Verses 5-8, we find Jesus posing a question to His disciples, and sharing a story about a man who goes to his friend's house at midnight and asks him to lend him bread because of unexpected company showing up, and him not having anything to feed him. But the friend says that he is in bed, and his children are with him, and he cannot rise and give to him what he asks. But the man persists, and Jesus says in Verse 8, "I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." 

Immediately following that, in Verse 9, we find the well known, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 

The man that was in bed when his friend came calling at midnight would not get up and give him bread based on the fact that he was his friend, but, he would, indeed, get up and give the man bread because of the urgency and persistence with which the friend made his request. 

Jesus, of course, shares this little vignette about the man and his friend, to show the importance of cultivating a persistent prayer life.

I looked up the word 'importunity' in a KJV Bible dictionary. It means, "With urgent request; with pressing solicitation." Another Bible dictionary, actually, used the word "shamelessness" to define the word. 

Could you imagine shamelessly making an urgent request with pressing solicitation before God in prayer? 

THAT is exactly how Jesus teaches His followers to pray! When was the last time you made your requests known to God with importunity

Don't be afraid to ask, and keep on asking...seek, and keep on seeking, and knock, and keep on knocking, because, if you do, in due time, what you've asked for shall be given, what you've sought for shall be found, and those doors that you've knocked upon shall be opened unto you. Stay after it! 



Stop!


Until Next Time...

~Rebecca

#FMF

One Thousand Gifts - #32 - The Hobbit (Part 2 - The Desolation of Smog - a Mother's Day gift from one of my children), #33 - crochet hooks and yarn, and #34 - "Creek Country" by Terryl W. Elliott

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review - The Virtuous Life Of A Christ-Centered Wife

The Virtuous Life Of A Christ-Centered Wife

The book has 130 pages and is divided into 18 lessons. When it first arrived my plan was to do a chapter a day, making it an 18-day study. But, shortly thereafter, I discovered that Darlene was hosting a twice-weekly study on her website, so I decided to follow along and finish up the study with the group.

I enjoyed the study very much. Each lesson, which is fairly short and easy to read, focuses on a different virtue of Biblical womanhood. Each lesson offers applicable and inspiring ways to grow closer to God and your husband, and each concludes with the S-O-A-P (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) method of study, which encourages you to dig deeper into God's Word and apply what you've learned to your own marriage.

I recommend The Virtuous Life Of A Christ-Centered Wife to wives everywhere who seriously desire, and are willing to pursue, a Christ-centered marriage, and I know that you will enjoy Darlene's honesty and transparency as much as I do.  

"I'd rather be a crown than a trophy wife; 
I'd rather have virtue than vogue."

The Virtuous Life of a Christ-Centered Wife is written in the format of an 18-part study for daily or weekly reflection.

Not only is it a powerful tool for personal growth, it's also an ideal study-guide for small groups!

Each lesson leads you through one virtue at a time, offering you applicable and inspiring ways for a wife to grow closer to God and her husband. The virtues discussed are these:

*Purity
*Self-control
*Love
*Diligence
*Patience
*Kindness
*Humility
*Faith
*Forgiveness
*Joy
*Passion
*Radiance
*Encouragement
*Balance
*Goodness
*Trust
*Courage

Darlene Schacht, is known by her readers as The Time-Warp Wife. She's an Evangelical Christian whose number one priority is to serve Jesus Christ in every area of her life. She and her husband Michael live in Manitoba Canada. Married 25 years, they have four children, a bird and two pugs. She's an award winning and New York Times best-selling author. 

Visit Darlene at: www.timewarpwife.com            

          

#TimeWarpWife

One Thousand Gifts - #29 - the Truth of the Word, #30 - God's promises, and # 31 - the Way of life