You Can’t Rejoice in That!

mg1Y7TAYou know recently, I went through a long, difficult cancer journey. Nearly a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. This resulted in multiple surgeries over a very short few weeks, hospitalization, radiation, chemotherapy and re-learning basic skills like eating and talking. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I stepped out every single day in faith and honestly, I still am.

A few weeks ago, something absolutely crazy happened to me. I was walking into a store with my teenage daughter when my jeans slid down over my hips at an alarming rate. Now thankfully I was wearing a long shirt and had fast enough reactions to halt what could have been a really embarrassing situation, but it did result in me finally realizing that I probably need to buy new clothes.  I’d been putting it off because I didn’t want to spend money on clothes when I’m still losing weight. My daughter elbowed me and said, “Mom, it’s probably okay to get a new pair of pants now.” So I did. And I was over the moon delighted to buy slacks that were TEN sizes smaller than what I wore a year ago. TEN! That’s huge.

You see, a year ago, when I was diagnosed, I had an unhealthy attitude about food. I ate often and I did not eat healthy portions or healthy recipes. I excused everything with some reason it was okay. I had a bad day or I had some great news and wanted to celebrate. I did not eat well. As a result, I was obese. I admit that fully. I know now and I knew then that I was overweight. I hated pictures of myself and I often hid from the mirror. I didn’t want to see my overweight body.

So then I got cancer. And I lost weight. It’s going to happen when you’re unable to eat for six months. It’s also a natural side effect of radiation, chemo, and sickness. I lost a lot of weight. Nearly 80 pounds at this point. And I would be lying if I said I weren’t happy about that. Was the method a good one? No. I’m not advocating that anyone use cancer as a weight loss method. That’s silly. It was a miserable terrible journey and I was horribly sick for a lot of it.

However, relearning how to eat has also reset my bars. I look at food differently. Drastically differently. Right now it’s not a pleasure to eat as much as it is exercise. I have to analyze every portion and see if it’s something I even CAN eat. Many foods are still off of my menu because of pain, difficulty in eating or unhealthy side effects. Then I need to figure out my energy level and how to approach it so I don’t tire my jaw, tongue and neck out too much. I’m not complaining by any stretch! A few months ago, tasting food wasn’t even an option for me. So every bite is a blessing and I rejoice in it. It’s still not a healthy attitude toward food. I’m obsessed on the other side of things with all of my analysis and weighing what I can and cannot eat. However, I know that this is just the swing of the pendulum and I’m praying that I can come to a healthy middle ground soon – where food isn’t exercise but it’s not my constant indulgence either. Something in the middle would be fabulous.

That weight loss….it’s bothering some people that I delighted in buying clothes 10 sizes smaller. Like, it’s really bothering them. Enough that I got several messages, texts, and emails admonishing me to NOT be happy about an unhealthy weight loss. I was told that it’s wrong to rejoice in something that was so unhealthy! After all, it’s not a good way for anyone to lose weight, so I shouldn’t promote it as such. (Seriously – if anyone is out there and wants to ‘catch’ cancer in order to lose weight, I’d like to suggest that therapy would be something they strongly consider.)  The whole attitude and response stunned me. I mean, I’m not saying anyone should go and get cancer in order to lose weight. And I’m not saying that being sick, unhealthy, or not eating is a good choice either. But I am saying that when each and every day – sometimes each hour or moment – is a monumental struggle to do simple things like breathe without throwing up or sit up without losing consciousness, then fitting into slacks you haven’t worn in over a decade is a victory.  And it’s one that I’m going to rejoice in.

I don’t, in any way, believe that God allowed me to have cancer to lose weight. I believe that through my cancer journey, one (just one!) of the lessons I learned was my unhealthy relationship with food. And that has changed. I rejoice in that and at this point, I’m not going to apologize for it.  I admit that I’m not thankful for cancer. I wish I wouldn’t have needed to go through that. But I will be thankful for the lessons I’ve learned and I will work each day to apply them to my life in the right way.

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Review: Who Buries the Dead by C.S. Harris

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Who Buries the Dead: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: NAL Hardcover
Date : March 3, 2015

One might think that Sebastian St. Cyr would stop placing himself in the center of danger now that he’s married and has a child. After all, that normally settles people down into a more quiet and sedate sort of life. Especially when there’s a title and London society to consider. This isn’t quite the case for our hero though. Unable to allow himself to rest when there’s a murderer on the loose, Sebastian’s determination is underscored by the brutality of these particular crimes. After all, this isn’t just a mugging gone wrong or a simple stabbing. The poor victim, Stanley Preston (a wealthy plantation owner that’s working his way up in society) has been beheaded in a most gruesome way. And the murder seems to be connected to his own collection of…well…human heads.

As the first time I’ve picked up a Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve never considered myself much of a mystery reader, but in recent years I’ve developed a fondness for J. D. Robb’s In Death series and I’ve always loved historical fiction, so I thought this might be a good fit. I am very happy to report that it most definitely was a good fit.

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Television Review: Agent Carter

agentcarter-agent-carter-9-reasons-why-it-s-crucial-to-the-marvel-cinematic-universeI rarely review television shows. I’m not sure why this is. I review films and books and products but television isn’t usually something about which I offer commentary. Perhaps it’s because there are so many outlets covering television that it feels like an already saturated medium. There are so many more experienced and profound people than myself offering opinions. Who wants to read mine? However, I’m breaking that pattern to talk about the ABC television show, Agent Carter.

Confession: I’m a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) geek. Note, this doesn’t mean I’m a comic book or graphic novel geek. Far from it. I have my own expert named Shell that I pepper constantly with questions when it comes to that side of things. The films and TV shows encompass my knowledge. I know for many this may completely void any opinions I have. That’s fine. The numbers of Marvel’s fanbase show that I’m not a minority on that. Marvel has introduced an entire new audience (that’s still growing I might add) to comic heroes and stories. And they’ve done it well.

I have, for most of my life, completely eschewed comic book films and television shows.  I just wasn’t a fan. (The only exception to this was Lois and Clark. I loved that show.) Enter Captain America: The First Avenger. Here I found a story grounded in reality (WWII) that had fantasy enough to stretch the imagination (super soldier program) and a hero that understood evil and didn’t embrace some ‘dark side’  or dark tactics in order to save the world. This was a hero that I could introduce my kids to without reservation. Captain America was seriously one of the good guys. I could and did get behind that.

So if you understand Cap’s story through the MCU, you also know Peggy Carter. Peggy is a key player in Cap’s world and in his life. She’s also one of my favorite characters. Without her encouragement and support, I don’t think Cap would be exactly who he is. She helped him break out of that dancing monkey routine and challenged him to more. To me, it feels like Peggy makes the people around her strive to be better and achieve more. So when ABC announced a show centered around Peggy, I admit that I approached it with some level of trepidation. Were they going to mess it up by bringing her to television? Would they shortchange her character in order to fit her in a shorter format? I knew Peggy could be the central character and hold a show, but did the writers? Producers? Would the network require a different Peggy to fit their ideals? Obviously I had a lot of questions and really, the track record on network shows I love isn’t that fabulous. So I tentatively stepped up to watch this show. And, with more than a little fear, I allowed my kids to watch with me.  That took a big step too because if their hearts were broken or the shine was taken off of one of their beloved characters, I would need to be the person to pick up the pieces. But I took the chance. And I am so glad that I did.

Agent Carter, a short form series with only eight episodes, excelled far beyond my expectations. In fact, it blew my hopes out of the water in the best way possible as well. Whereas most television shows struggle to find their footing, voice and personality in their freshman year (see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – big fan now but I had to choose to stick with it in the beginning), Agent Carter fit into the puzzle like a missing piece that had been lost and was now found. Each episode felt big and beautifully cinematic. The historical aspect of the show was well done and vivid, bringing to life a time that we don’t often see in entertainment. There are many shows and films about WWII, but not as many for what happens after.

With many shows and films, I’ll find myself asking where the creators want to take us. Did they really mean to do that? Often, the missteps in voice or tone take me out of the story enough to begin analyzing things from a writer’s perspective. This makes it not entertainment for me as I begin to see catalysts, storylines, climax, and characterization from an educational perspective. Agent Carter, for me, didn’t suffer that. I was able to stay ‘in’ the story. So much so that each week felt like I was sitting down to a new film – not a new episode of a television show. When each episode ended, I was ready for the next one to begin. I didn’t find myself rolling my eyes or cringing. I was fully engaged each and every week. Even cameos by beloved characters were handled with grace and style. New characters (Jarvis, Sousa, Thompson) were crafted with care and deliberation. Choices were made that planted seeds into the larger Marvel Universe. This series was expertly handled with a deft hand to even the most minor of details.

Rather than feeling like this was something a group of writers sat down to create, this show fit so well into the MCU that it felt like Peggy’s story had actually happened and we only just now had found the ‘lost tapes’ that allowed us to see those missing years.

I thoroughly enjoyed all eight episodes of this show and I cannot wait to own them myself so that we can watch Peggy’s story chronologically from Captain America: The First Avenger through Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Yes, we’re those sort of geeks in my house and we’re all quite happy that ABC chose to pick up this series. So ABC, may we have some more please?

Fifty Shades of Grey: Some Points to Ponder

1390662975_50-shades-of-grey-official-movie-poster_1So unless you’re living under a rock, you know that the new film, Fifty Shades of Grey, releases this week. Today actually. Timed for a Valentine’s Day extravaganza, the marketing behind this film has been pushing the erotic romance in this story hard.  The problem is that it’s not an erotic romance. And before anyone assumes that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I haven’t seen the movie,  I read this story when it was free online. When it talked about Edward and Bella. Not Christian and Ana. Did I finish? Nope. I’ll be honest. But I did get through enough of it to know what happens in all three books. And I got through enough of it to be able to discuss it intellectually. I never imagined that would be something I’d share publicly. But then again, I never imagined that I’d be seeing it literally everywhere and that I would need to explain to my kids what it is either.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Fifty Shades or it’s teenage version, Twilight. You can see previous posts here and here on Fifty Shades. Here and here on Twilight.  Why Twilight?  Well, the  first thing you need to know about Fifty Shades of Grey is that it started out as Twilight fanfic. Some people may not be bothered by this. Others find it extremely off-putting. Some I’ve spoken to haven’t even believed that it came from Twilight.  They thought I was making it up. You only have to do a little research to discover this. It’s not been hidden. E.L. James has been very honest about it. Now I was not a fan of the Twilight series. I’ve made that plain. However, to me, if you know the origins of Fifty Shades, it helps make plain what the goal or the message was intended to be. This was something E.L. James wrote because she was so enamored with the Twilight series, she wanted to make her own version.  She wanted to create her own fantasy world based on the Twilight series. The problem is that she placed it in a very real world where real people do exist.  In reality, when you look at it, Edward Cullen and Christian Grey are not the type of men you should fantasize about.

You see, Edward and Christian Grey aren’t that different. They are both controlling, wealthy, handsome men so completely wrapped up in that control that they will stop at nothing to ‘completely dominate’ the woman they supposedly love. Think about it. Edward chased Bella down multiple times, demanded that she stop being friends with people, ordered her to obey him (for her own protection of course) and lavished gifts and affection on her whenever she began to not like the boundaries he laid out for her. He was also messed up, believed he couldn’t be loved, and Bella ‘saved’ him from never knowing love. Fast forward to the ‘adult’ version of this story and we’ve just added sex to the mix. That’s it. Take all of the sentences above and substitute Christian and Ana and you’ll see what I mean. In my previous posts about Twilight, you’ll also see a dangerous trend where Bella is continually required to give up herself, her family – and even her life, in order to ‘love’ Edward. This is controlling. Abusive. But it’s so much more subtle than what you see in Fifty Shades that it’s often missed.

Now at this point, if you’re a fan of either series, I know you’re shaking your head at me. I’ve heard all the answers to my objections before. For right now, let’s put Twilight aside and just look at Fifty Shades. I’ve heard arguments like: “You’re just a prude. You don’t get it. It’s deeper than sex. They’re in a consenting relationship as adults.” Okay. I’ll see those arguments. And I’ll raise you a level of abuse that is cleverly disguised among the pages of sex and pornography in this series. This blog post (by someone I don’t know and have never met – I found the link while reading a review of the film) clearly outlines, in detail, the abusive moments in the story. Not the film – she uses the book as her source material. That’s important to note because many are excusing the movie away by saying that the book outlines more that makes it not so scary. Please be aware that the author of that blog post is not a Christian so the language and situations described are not ‘safe.’ Then again, nothing about this book or this film is safe, so hopefully that’s understood. Her observations are not from a Biblical perspective in any way. They’re just from a ‘real world’ view.

I’ve also heard the arguments about this being a story for adults so what’s the harm in an adult series designed for adult women? I mean it was obviously written for someone other than the teenage crowd and it’s been marketed toward women. That makes it okay right? I mean it’s not going to teens or tweens. Here’s the problem with that perspective. It was based on Twilight. I mentioned above that no one has ever tried to hide that fact. It’s been made very plain by all involved. They hoped to get the Twilight audience. All those “Twi-Moms” who fell in love with the Twilight series. But here’s the pinch– Twilight was marketed directly to tweens and teens. Some may call that a flimsy argument, but a little research shows that when the books came out, the majority of people talking about it were young adults and teens. The tweets, Facebook posts, and social media weren’t driven by these Twi-moms. They were young girls who, not knowing where to go for their “Twilight Fix,” turned to this series almost like it was some sort of weird sequel to Edward and Bella’s story.  We all know it wasn’t and that it was never intended that way. But what’s the real message when you market subversively to the Twilight crowd and then cry publicly it’s really an adult book that isn’t meant for teens.  Lest you think I’m grasping at straws on this teenage/young adult argument, please see this blog post where I discuss something my tween daughter and I experienced first-hand. This isn’t fiction. I saw this happen. That’s when I began to realize how pervasive this series was going to be in popular culture.

I’ve had Christian women tell me that it helped their marriage. It increased their desire for their husband. It brought ‘spark’ back into their marriage. Isn’t that a good thing? But I have to ask some questions here. Does this story honor God and His view of marriage? Does Christian treat Ana like Christ loves the church? Oh no – it’s not intended to be a Christian story. I know that. So we can’t expect Christian and Ana to have a Christ-like relationship. But if you are a Christian, YOUR love story should be that way. And if you’re saying that this book helped you, then how does that apply to your real life love story? Are you picturing your husband when you’re getting aroused reading about Christian and Ana? Or are you picturing Christian Grey? If you’re truly looking for an exceptional view of marriage, I’d strongly encourage you to check out The Song.

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This story is powerful, amazing, beautiful, and it’s a beautiful representation of a Biblical marriage in difficult times. 

But back to Fifty Shades. I can’t answer those questions for you. I think most people who are reading this are already firmly for or against Fifty Shades. The line’s been drawn here and it seems that there’s very little grey in this – it’s either black or white. You’re either for or against it and I have no delusions that I will change anyone’s mind or suddenly snap a lightbulb over someone’s head about it. However, I can always hope that something I’ve said here sparks a discussion or debate that might make some changes  in someone’s life.

These stories aren’t the light hearted sexual romp that marketing would have us believe. They don’t free women. They don’t encourage healthy relationships. To underscore this, I’ll leave you with one last link. This woman went to the Fifty Shades premiere fully intending to share a funny, lighthearted review of the film for its campy sexual fun. The way she left was completely unexpected.

With that sort of response to this film, I must ask: Do you really believe this is a story that needs to be promoted as healthy, sexual fun?

Review: Beneath the Forsaken City by C.E. Laureano

20338654Beneath the Forsaken City by C.E. Laureano
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher: NavPress
Date: January 16, 2015

War is rumbling on the horizon. It threatens to choke the very existence of the entire kingdom. Conor and Aine are doing what they can to enjoy their time together before everything breaks. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly as much time as they imagined, since they are separated by a terrible storm. No, for someone who is a shipper (enjoys relationships) like me, I’ll tell you that this is not pretty.

For Eoghan, the young man destined to be the leader of the Firein, things are no less difficult. He’s got to return to his beloved city even though he was disobedient when he left. He’s headed back to consequences, punishment, and an unknown future, but still he goes.

It’s hard for me to give a good summary of the book without revealing twists, turns, and secrets throughout. I mean this book is packed with the unexpected, but in the best way possible. When I was reading the first book, (Oath of the Brotherhood) I remember being highly impressed with the universe that she created. This time around, she’s added more details, woven richer backstories, and given everything a more vibrant tone and texture. The plot moves along quickly and honestly, there were moments that I yelled out loud at this book, stunned that the author ‘went there.’ A couple of times, I was absolutely blown away by the surprising direction taken.  Completely unexpected, but in the best way possible.

Sometimes when you’re reading a book, it inspires you to think that you could write something similar. Ideas come and you’re inspired. But sometimes, when you’re reading, the work is so beautiful and brilliant, that you know there’s no way you could even put a toe in the same pool as the author. That’s what you feel as you read these books. Laureano’s exceptional style and storytelling take you to a new world completely and fully. I was so immersed in this story that I had a hard time coming out of it to do other things! It reads like a film unfolding in your mind. Images, places, characters – they all truly come to life as you read. This series is not your typical fantasy. It belongs on a shelf with the greats.

For those who enjoy rich fantasy and adventure, this book is definitely for you.

Review: A Brush with Love: A January Wedding Story by Rachel Hauck

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A Brush With Love: A January Wedding Story by Rachel Hauck
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: December 2014

Ginger Winters understands how to make people beautiful. It’s her gift and she’s turned it into a fabulous career. At one point she even worked with one of the top selling country music artists in the world. Now she’s gone back to her small hometown to start her own salon. But all is not perfect in Ginger’s world. When she was a child, she was horribly burned in a fire and the scars torment her daily. Magazines have claimed her to be the ‘ugliest’ stylist to the stars and she feels like people are constantly staring at her. She knows that she’s not beautiful.

So when Tom Wells Jr (the boy who broke her heart in high school) returns to town, things get even more stressful. Ginger isn’t able to shove everything aside and try to remain in the shadows anymore. Tom won’t let her.

Filled with beautiful weddings, drama and just the right amount of personal angst, A Brush with Love is a little like a chocolate chip cookie. It’s not too rich or too heavy, but it’s enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. This novella was a fast read that was satisfying and fun. I wasn’t quite ready for the story to end when it did. I wanted to move on and see more of what happens next!

Rachel Hauck gets another happy nod from me for this wonderful romantic adventure!

Review copy provided by the publisher. Thanks!

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Review: How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

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How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: February 2015

American heiress Corina Del Rey is struggling. Since her twin brother’s death, she’s barely been able to hold anything together. Her parents have distanced themselves from anything resembling life and even her job is just…well…just. She technically doesn’t even need to work since she’s the heir to a huge fortune, but she needs something to fill the hours of her day. She has to figure out how to stop thinking about her brother Carlos and obsessing over his death.

As if her world isn’t messed up enough, she is about to find out that she’s still married to that guy who dumped her five years ago. The same one that she hasn’t seen, connected with or contacted in five years. Oh and did I mention he’s a prince too? Not sarcastic. The guy’s really a prince. A gorgeous, rugby playing prince.

Prince Stephen of Brighton isn’t too happy with the state of his life either. His injured ankle is keeping him away from Rugby (he’s a professional player) and he’s wracked with guilt about his life. You see he knows how Corina’s brother died. He was there. But he can’t tell anyone. Especially not Corina. She’ll hate him forever if she knows.

 

When his brother shows up with a marriage certificate, the little, weak thread of control that he felt he’d had withers and fades away. He’s got to track down Corina, tell her that he never dissolved her marriage, and try to get her to sign an annulment.

As with the other books in the series (Once Upon a Prince and Princess Ever After) Rachel Hauck has created beautiful characters that we enjoy following. Though the situation with Corina is darker than those in the previous books, (the loss of her brother is front and center throughout) I feel this only adds to the richness of the story. Stephen’s struggle with guilt and hiding in his job is something that any of us can relate to and understand. Corina working with her parents after the death of their son is especially heartbreaking. There were moments that I was not happy with how things were turning out. At one point, I yelled at the book. I don’t do that very often, but I was highly invested in this story!

I loved how Rachel had the story come together. I even wondered if, for the first time, she might not have things work out perfectly. I won’t share how it ended – I don’t want to spoil anyone! I’ll just say that this journey felt different than her other books, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. I loved every minute and am happy to say that Rachel has kept up the high standards I’ve come to expect from her writing.

If you love romance, don’t miss this series!

Rated PG-13: With this being just a bit darker, I’d say it skews to older tweens and teens.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Thanks!

Book Review: Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb

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Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: Feb 10, 2015

Eve Dallas could really use a vacation and she knows it. The recent murder investigation wrapping during Christmas proved that to her. So she’s promised Roarke that she will take a vacation with him. She just needs to get through the rest of the year without a murder. That doesn’t prove as easy as she’d hoped. And unfortunately, this isn’t a murder that she can pass off to someone else. You see the killer left her a note at the scene. Whoever committed this crime has done it FOR Eve. An offering of sorts. And she has no intention of letting that go.

Though Eve takes it all in stride, she soon realizes that this case doesn’t just put her in jeopardy. The people she loves are in danger. And it’s a shock to Eve to realize just how many people she has let in to her life.  Now she’s on more than a mission. This will end and Eve will be the person to end it.

For Eve Dallas’ 40th outing (yes, that’s four-zero), J.D. Robb has created a story that does more than just introduce a murder to solve. Woven throughout the bodies, the evidence, and the investigation, we find out how far Eve has come through the course of not just her career, but her life. In recent outings, we’ve seen more of what Eve’s past has been like. But now, as she peels back the layers of this case, Eve (and we along with her) begins to realize how much her life has changed. Though she’s always pictured herself as a loner, with each new clue that unfolds in this mystery, she realizes that she does have a family. And she realizes how important they are to her as well. Even the staunch, stuffy Somerset holds some stunning revelations for her.

Have you ever heard how hard it is to write books in a series and keep them all interesting and well written? When you read Robb’s In Death series, she makes it look so easy. It feels like Dallas and Roarke have infinite adventures waiting for us and when I finish each one, it makes me look forward to the next.

If you have enjoyed any of the previous books in Robb’s In Death series, you’ll like this one. And if you’ve never read a Robb book, but you like mysteries or thrillers, give this series a try. It may become one of your favorites.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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I’m Back! No, really!

640px-Wreck-it-ralph-official-banner-13setembro2012-02Wow. Hey. It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I know I’ve been horribly remiss in keeping people up on my progress, but to be fair, I hadn’t expected the cancer treatments to have such an effect on my body. I thought (silly me!) that when I finished radiation and chemo, that I’d be able to rest, relax, and be back to normal within a week or two. Not even close.

So where am I in treatment now? What am I eating? How am I doing overall? What’s next? I get these questions every day and I’ll do my best to answer them all here without boring you all completely!

Right now, I’m not having any treatments. I had a scan in October that showed all clear for everything, so the multiple surgeries, chemo and radiation have worked exactly as they were supposed to. Doctors have given me the all clear to go back to work (within reason) and I no longer have a feeding tube or a breathing tube. I’m no longer part cyborg!

With regard to my eating, it’s up and down. Since I don’t have the feeding tube, all of my nutrition is coming by mouth, but it’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, normal eating yet. Most of my intake is from nutrition shakes and meal replacements. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that my mouth is still healing from radiation. At the end of my treatments, I had third degree burns on almost every surface of the inside of my mouth. Sores, blisters…you name it. I couldn’t even drink water because it hurt! Now that’s healing and I’m thankfully somewhere between a first and second degree burn inside my mouth. This means that it’s extremely sensitive and there are a lot of foods that trigger pain.  Tomatoes, garlic, anything citrus – those are absolute no-nos. They make my mouth feel as if I’ve been sucking on freshly picked ghost peppers. Doesn’t work. Some things have surprised me. Peanut butter burns. I have no idea why. Some soups do. Others don’t. And carrot cake bothered me the other night. So it’s all a matter of trial and error these days to see what works and what doesn’t.

The other part of my eating is affected by my taste buds. They were burned during the radiation and a lot of things don’t taste the way they used to. I’ll have cravings for something and when I get it, it tastes terrible. Things usually taste like I’m eating a teaspoon of salt, or of sugar or sometimes, wet cardboard. It’s not really pleasant. Doctors say this isn’t unusual and that it should heal. It just might take some time. Thankfully, I’m already beginning to see some improvement.

My jaw doesn’t open well. I’ve got to do exercises to get my mouth to open. I never ever imagined in my lifetime that I’d have trouble with opening my mouth! (Go ahead. All the standard jokes apply.) But I’ve got to stretch my jaw daily to get it to work. It’s crazy!

I’m back to homeschooling the kids. It’s important to me to get them back on course because we were so messed up for a while with surgeries and treatments. The kids are doing well and being back into a routine has helped all of us.

I’m also back to work. I’m judiciously choosing where to spend my time, but I’ve written several screenplays (one during radiation and chemo!) and a stage play during this time. I have several television pitches that I’m working on, some great marketing clients, and I’m picking up book and product reviewing again too.

So that’s the latest on everything that’s happening with me. I’ll try to do my best to keep this updated more often now that I have a little more energy. I appreciate the continued prayers. The journey to complete healing is still a long one and each prayer, note, and card is a treasured gift in my life. God is faithfully answering our prayers and He gets the glory for all the miracles in my recovery. J

Thanks for sticking with me – it’s nice to be back!

Book Review: It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst

The little seed does not want anything to change in his life. It’s warm, comfy, and cozy in the farmer’s shed and that’s the way seed likes it. Even though the little seed sees the Farmer come in often and take out other seeds, he does not want his life to change.

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The little fox is very similar. He loves to run and play in the sun. His little den is fabulous and it’s his favorite place to snuggle down for a good night’s sleep. That’s until one night when a terrible storm strikes and his den fills with water. Poor little fox has no place to go. In the pouring rain, the little fox runs and searches until he finds a warm, dry place. The Farmer’s shed.

The little seed is not pleased at all with this course of events. He does not want anything in his life to change. But soon, good things begin to happen.

It would be easy for me to give away the entire plot of this book since it only takes a few minutes to read, but the impact it leaves behind is so much bigger than a simple story. Having just recently finished up chemo, radiation, and a radical surgery to fight cancer, my world has a great amount of upheaval and change. When I received this book in the mail, I  laughed at first and then I was flushed with warm fuzzies. It was just what I needed. I don’t like change. None of us do. But this book and it’s simple message brought home the reality that we need to trust God. He has the best plan in place. That’s something all of us know and we may remember, but it’s so hard to put into play.

This book was beautiful, sensitive, heartwarming and powerful. When I got to the end I was so impressed with both author and illustrator. As the story unfolded, the pictures were gorgeous and amazing.  They added another dimension to the wonderful story TerKeurst had put together.

This book, like The Giving Tree and Oh The Places You’ll Go! has no age limit. It can be a gift for anyone going through a difficult struggle or time. I’ll be giving a copy to a friend who just received a cancer diagnosis. Don’t miss this book – it’s sure to be a classic that will stick around for a very long time.

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