One Proposal for An Improved Marriage
by Lori Lipsky
For the first time in our marriage, we decided to read a book at the same time so we could discuss it together. Credit for the idea goes to my husband, but I was excited about the plan and in total agreement with our book choice.
My husband had once asked a well-read acquaintance we both respect to recommend several books that had been most influential in his life. One of the authors this man mentioned was Dostoevsky. We decided to choose Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I’m a bit ashamed to admit what happened next.
I could make excuses, but the quick truth is my husband read the book right away and then patiently waited for years for me to complete it. I started in several times but got bogged down in the early pages by the long Russian names. Prior to this I had read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and some Chekhov stories so I’m not sure why I struggled. I guess I allowed myself to be distracted by life and by other books, and I put off the Dostoevsky. As I look back, I regret not making The Brothers Karamazov more of a priority. I eventually purchased an audio copy of the book and completed the novel.
After I finished listening to the book, we shared our impressions with one another. Remarkably, my husband remembered details of the book quite well. Since then, we’ve read or listened to dozens of books and discussed them. We have different tastes, but our interests intersect with authors like David McCullough, Louise Penny, and David Baldacci. When it’s time to order another Audible book, we’ll sometimes collaborate to choose a selection we agree on so we can both listen on our own, but then have the book in our shared reading history.
Our book talk is informal and brief, but it’s a treat to talk books with my husband. We’ve found discussing books often sparks interesting conversation. Good books teach me more about who I am, but each new book we share helps me learn more about my spouse, too. We’re learning together as a couple. We discuss dreams and ideas. Books get us talking, and in marriage, communication is a good thing.
About the Author:
Lori Lipsky is a writer and teacher. Her poetry and short fiction pieces have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin with her husband, where she teaches piano at a private music school. You can find her at lorilipsky.com and on Twitter @LoriSLipsky
Cancer: A Word that Strikes Terror
by Joanie Shawhan
Are there certain words that trigger pressure in your chest or tightness in your throat?
For me, that word is cancer.
I am an ovarian cancer survivor.
During the summer of 2006, Every time I had another bout of nausea, I brushed thoughts of ovarian cancer from my mind. Surely these spells were too infrequent to be cancer.
But in September, I rolled over in bed and felt a grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen. I closed my eyes and dismissed the whispers of ovarian cancer.
Several weeks later, I almost shot off the table when my physical therapist palpated my spine to isolate the location of my back pain. It’s not in my back, it’s jabbing through my abdomen!
My gynecologist suspected a uterine fibroid and ordered an ultrasound. Even in the dark room, I saw the ultrasound tech lock her eyes on mine. Something is seriously wrong.
Gripping the ultrasound report in her hand, my doctor said, “You have ovarian cancer, the size of a cantaloupe.” She rattled off all that needed done—scheduling tests and surgery. I barely heard her words. Was she talking to me?
When I walked into the hospital on surgery day, I exchanged my scrubs and nurse shoes for tieback gowns and skid-free slipper socks. The surgeon removed a volleyball-size tumor—ovarian cancer.
Today, I am cancer-free. During my treatment, I lost myself to ovarian cancer, but in losing myself, I found a new purpose and calling. Today I have an encouragement ministry to women undergoing chemotherapy. I advocate for and educate women and healthcare professionals regarding ovarian cancer. I write articles so that other women won’t put off getting checked out if they have any signs or symptoms, like I did.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all female cancers. The symptoms women experience prior to diagnosis may be vague or similar to other diseases. This causes some doctors to rule out other causes before they discover ovarian cancer, which is why it is often not diagnosed until later stages.
Contact your doctor if the following symptoms of ovarian cancer persist:
· Gastrointestinal symptoms:
Bloating, indigestion, nausea, feeling full or loss of appetite
· Pelvic or low back pressure or pain
· Urinating more frequently
· Changes in bowel patterns
· Tired or low energy
Ovarian cancer used to be called the silent killer, but survival rates are high if discovered in the early stages. Learn from my story. Will you listen for the whispers of ovarian cancer?
About the Author:
Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy. Her publishing credits include Coping with Cancer magazine and God Still Meets Needs. She speaks to medical practitioners in the Survivors Teaching Students program. Check out her blog at www.joanieshawhan.com.
Where Does that Grin Come From?
by Kathy Carlton Willis
I’m often asked, “How can you keep grinning despite the challenges in your life? It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the God in whom I put my trust. Knowing “He’s got this” helps me carry on (in hope) rather than to carry on (complain)!
Grinning instead of grimacing comes from the discipline of thinking on glorious victorious thoughts outside the current stinky situation.
First I get my imaginary lariat out and wrangle those negative thoughts that attempt to defeat me.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)
Once I evict those destructive thoughts, I fill the void with healthful and helpful thoughts. Thoughts that line up with the mind of Christ.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. …Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8b-9 NLT)
If I practice this passage in Philippians, it might look something like this. I’m going to fix my thoughts on what is:
- True: I remember the extreme way God answered my prayer to provide for our family.
- Honorable: I’m blown away by the way that writer stays humble when others try to put her on a pedestal.
- Right: I respect the decision this politician made to choose an unpopular but godly path.
- Pure: How precious the gift of life is when I see photos of the much prayed for Lyla.
- Lovely: How beautiful are the wildflowers dressing up that field.
- Admirable: I see integrity in the choice Russ made to not malign a wrongdoer.
- Excellent: I respect how she endures through her weight-training routine.
- Worthy of praise: God’s faithfulness is something I can count on.
Are you having a hard time grinning this week? What will your fix list look like?
About the Author:
God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a popular speaker and writer’s coach. Read her book, Grin with Grace, or find more information at: http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.
Road Trip of Delusion by Jean Ann Williams
Thanks, Jean Ann for providing this character interview with Kari Rose Holt.
I have Kari Rose Holt from Pismo Beach, California, here at the Shasta City hospital. Single-handedly, Kari drove her granny’s 1960 Cadillac through a blizzard of the century.
How are you today, Kari?
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you find yourself caught in this blizzard?
Well, uh, it’s a really long story, but, my great-granny decided to take a 500-mile trip to see her son, my papa, Joel. At three in the ridiculous morning, as my sister, Leah, has said. I think I was so sleepy, I couldn’t think straight and decided she couldn’t leave my sisters and me. After a while, I realized my mistake because our parents would be furious.
When did you realize this?
Only a few miles down the road, especially when my two sisters began complaining about the trip.
As the eldest sister, did you feel a responsibility to have your grandmother turn back for home?
I did. But, Granny was determined and even had a crying fit, and so we kept going. By the time the Cadillac broke down on the freeway, I was biting my fingernails. Also, I realized then the trip was about over because of the car.
This did not stop the trip, though, did it?
No, it didn’t. It seemed nothing could stop the trip. When the auto shop replaced the part needed, I made plans for Papa to meet us partway.
By then, something happened and you took charge. Would you tell us about this?
Well, yeah, I had to drive the Caddy because Granny had fallen and could no longer drive. I planned to go as far as the next motel, but the storm had hit and a blizzard was coming.
So you drove in a snow storm, correct?
Yes, and I didn’t have my license. It was Leah who pushed me to drive, because we were at a rest stop and we needed to get to a motel.
Did you feel it was wrong to drive without a license?
Oh, yeah! But, the weather scared me more. A lady we met back at the auto shop told us she feared it would be a blizzard like the one this area had back in 1860. I believed her, and so this pressured me to make my decision.
Tell us about when the blizzard hit. Where were you?
Oh, it was scary. I was driving really slowly as the traffic finally moved on the freeway. Snow was so thick it was hard to see even with the windshield wipers. This snowplow pulled off the freeway as it was plowing the snow. I quick followed it to an off ramp. We ended at the top of the hill at a vacant lodge. We were stranded there for three days, but safe from the weather.
What helped you the most with all the decisions you had to make?
Really? Just simple prayer?
Yeah. I even remembered a scripture while the Caddy tires skidded up the hill toward the lodge. I just knew God could help us.
And did God help you?
Yes. He helped me to make hard decisions. He sent the plow guy, Derrick, to help us get to the lodge. He gave me courage to do hard things like climb a roof. I feel braver now. He helped to save Leah from freezing and from me suffocating in a pile of snow. And, he heard our prayers for Granny here in the hospital. She’s going to be okay.
Because of the changes in you, do you still regret taking the trip?
Yep. Mom was really mad at me, but I think she’s starting to forgive me for my decision to go with Granny.
Kari, thank you for answering my questions, and I’m glad you and your family are safe. Watch this interview on tonight’s local weather news.
I’m going to be on TV? I wonder if Harry will see me.
Kari bowed her head and grinned.
Bio: Author Jean Ann Williams, the eldest in a large family, enjoys digging into her fascinating childhood to create stories for children. Having written over three hundred articles for children and adults, Road Trip of Delusion is her second book for ages twelve to ninety-nine. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She writes regularly at Putting on the New blog, Book Fun magazine, and her own Real Stories for Real Girls website. Jean Ann and her husband live on one acre in Southern Oregon where they raise a garden, goats, and chickens. Her favorite hobbies are hiking through the woods, practicing archery, and her favorite game is Scrabble.
Road Trip Trailer: https://youtu.be/jYXeRQfqnvc
Book Fun Author Page: http://www.bookfun.org/group/jean-williams-author
From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray Elliott
Forty years ago, at the age of sixteen my life changed and I found myself in the ashes of pity. My life took a dark turn when my father passed away several months before I turned sixteen. My mother decided she did not want to live in our home state any longer and moved me across the country. This is where my life took a wrong turn.
Except from the book:
The year was 1977, the month and date: November 4th, I was sixteen; technically a teenager, but still a child. I was taken for my abortion. I have tried to block out the memories, but I cannot forget the cold metal table where I had lain or the baby being sucked from my womb through a vacuum tube. My eyes fixated on the fluid and blood sucked into the glass canister. All I could see were the demons that had taken over my life instead of the love I deserved. The painful, horrific memories are forever seared in my mind, thoughts, and soul.
It was in my pain and grief through post-abortion recovery, I started writing about my journeys and how God led me through the ashes into beauty. The end result of my grief was hope and healing. It is hope and healing that I want to give to other women who are experiencing pain and grief.
From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose brings emotionally charred women out of the pits of fire, through the ashes into the beauty of purpose. With the direction of God, hurting women weather through the painful journeys, become women of spiritual beauty, find God’s purpose, and learn to live again.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7 NIV
Christian author and speaker Debra Gray Elliott began writing at the age of fifteen after the death of her father. She began writing poetry as a way to cope with her grief. At the age of sixteen, Debra once again experienced grief when she was forced to have an abortion. It was in this grief that she found herself in the ashes of pity. Forty years later, Debra found her beauty of purpose.
From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose is Debra’s first non-fiction Christian self-help, inspirational book to help women through the ashes of pity into the beauty of purpose after having an abortion.
Debra is currently working on a devotional for grieving parents. The loss of her daughter four years ago, has led Debra to want to help other grieving parents through their grief into hope.
She resides in Alabama with her husband and family.