Monday, February 13, 2017

Storms They Have Been Through #MyPostMonday + The Week's Best Original Content

I occasionally do accompaniment work on the organ or piano. This past Saturday I played organ for a funeral. It was for some friends of ours, whose mom had passed away. I had never met their mother, but by the end of the funeral I felt that I knew her personally. 

I had heard a few things here and there just because of our associations with our friends. Before the funeral I had heard in passing that their mother, Jackie, wasn't in good health, that sometimes she wasn't the most pleasant person to be around, that sometimes she upset her children, that her husband had it rough because she was hard to manage with her poor health. That was about it.

Then Jackie died rather unexpectedly after some surgery. During the service I learned a little bit more about her life. Apparently she had been healthy until the last 20 years of her life, when she was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. For one reason or another, this disease really did a number on her. She was constantly in pain, and her extremities started to slowly die. Her feet especially gave her lots of trouble and she ended up losing one of her big toes. Because of that, she wasn't very mobile and spent a lot of time indoors or bedridden. 

But what I learned as well is that Jackie was passionate about her hobby of making dolls--and these dolls were so cute! (They were displayed at the funeral) Every one of them was individually made and had so much character. If she had been healthier, she could have had quite a business, either on Etsy, partnering up with retail chains, or something of that nature. She had given many of her friends the dolls and so there were many memories told about them. 

Jackie also loved her family very much, as was revealed. She would defend her only son with vigor, as he remembered, even when he may have not totally deserved it. But she was also very vigilant about making sure her children were honorable and learned lessons. As her daughter recalled, once the kids were out in the local horse park and had started a small fire, which was prohibited. She somehow saw the smoke and went out to investigate. When she saw that the incident involved her children and their friends, she came out to the park and after a severe reprimand, took them all to the fire department so they could learn the full impact of starting a fire in a field, next to a forest.

Her husband told of the time they went up to the State Park in the mountains where he had proposed to her. She had been totally taken by surprise. She had a best friend who she had known for years. At the funeral this friend learned why Jackie always loved to go up to the State Park on outings with her. It was the place where she had been proposed to! She had never suspected until then that was why Jackie always wanted to go there any chance she could. She was a closet romantic and loved her husband dearly.
We also found out that she loved beauty around her, tried to keep her home beautiful, loved spiritual things, and loved Jesus Christ and taught her children to do the same. Her youngest daughter talked about her last association with her the week that she died. She was in bed and her daughter was leaving. Jackie insisted on getting out of bed and walking her to the door when she left. She slowly and painstakingly walked each step with her, told her she loved her and that she was going to try and walk more and more. Unfortunately, that was the last time her daughter ever saw her alive.

I'm sure there were a lot of people who didn't know her before she got ill, before she suffered with all her health problems. To others, she may have seemed "out of it", "lethargic", "bedridden", "grouchy", "temperamental", or even "lazy".  But when you put together the whole of her life, and understood just what she had gone through and who she was before her illness, you start to realize that she was a beautiful and strong individual, who endured many years of pain, probably just to be with those she loved a little longer.

It makes sense to withhold judgement just a little longer than usual next time we are tempted to make a swift character assessment, because everyone has a story and just because we may see one part of that story, doesn't mean we can interpret the whole of it! 


Monday, February 6, 2017

Right In Front Of Your Eyes #MyPostMonday + The Week's Best Original Content

 Do you ever do the coulda' woulda' shoulda' game? Not a smart idea to do for very long. But sometimes I do occasionally indulge in a bit of 'What if' reminiscing. 

For instance I wish that I had treated my two grandmas so much better. Not that I treated them badly at all, but I wish I had written them more letters, and shown them more consideration and honor. They were such wonderful women, whom I loved dearly. If I had known that they wouldn't be with me forever here on this earth, I might have gleaned more of their wisdom, spent more time sitting at their knees, and taken their words more to heart than I did. 

If I had known that my boys would have turned out to be such amazing young men, and that I really had such a limited time to be with them, as it turned out, would I have spent so much time trying to improve them, mold them into what I thought they should be, disciplining them, and most regretfully, raising my voice at them? Honestly, I would have spent much more time just laughing with them, and admiring their individual characteristics and God-given traits. I am lucky that now I can still spend time with them on occasion and I can do better by them than I did my own grandmas because I know that I won't always have those moments to enjoy. 

And of course there is my own husband. Wow, we've been through a lot of ups and downs. With my own baggage from a previous marriage, along with his own previous marriage, and our own individual childhood upbringings that occasionally don't mesh, especially when it comes to dealing with kids and our family. But I do love him after all of it, and there is still a long way to go. In him is the ticket to every bit of happiness that I'd ever want. He's kind to me, kind to my aging father, and kind to my boys. He brings me nice gifts (my love language), thinks I'm pretty, and compliments me enough to make me blush. And there are more and more times of just peaceful contentment between us! What's not to look forward to and appreciate now? 

I think that I've learned enough from the past to know that the very best things in life have been right in front of me all along. I just needed to see it!
Image - Jami Bollshweiler Photography

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I Changed My Philosophy About Being In The Sun!

Whew, we got through January and I've changed my philosophy about being out in the sun. I guess I got a little paranoid for awhile, with all of the warnings, articles, and hype about the dangers of getting too much sun. Skin cancer and wrinkles are not my favorites. I have been known to avoid being in the sun, going outside only in the early mornings or evenings. I kind of hate sunscreen because it is so greasy and shiny-looking. My husband is always telling me to blend in a bit of errant sunscreen here or there on my face when I have it on and we're out. I felt that rather than slather on the sunscreen I would try to avoid going outside in the middle of the day. Then I read something that gave me pause.
If I am to understand it right, the sun is responsible for the health of your heart. It is what changes the water you drink into a more energizing substance that can then help the blood flow upwards into the extremities of the circulatory system. It's not the heart alone that keeps the blood rushing through your body. It's also solar energy! If you keep yourself isolated inside, you won't get the life enriching benefit of that special function. Not to mention, the assimilation and production of Vitamin D, which is also a vital nutrient found to be very depleted during the snowy winters of most of the Western and Eastern States, barring just a few lucky states such as Florida, California and Arizona.

I received product for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own!
Also, being in the sun alleviates Seasonal Affective Disorder, can help prevent the onset of diabetes, helps prevent MS, helps you lose weight because the higher levels of sun- induced serotonin decreases the appetite, boosts the immune system, helps skin conditions, and gives you more energy! 

But the main reason I've changed my philosophy about being out in the sun? Winter. Yes, just winter. It has kicked my butt, these last 2 months. December and January have done it. It has been so snowy and cold. Give me the sun already! So, while I am still cautious about over-exposing myself to damaging ultra-violet and gamma red rays, I am determined to be out more often in the sun by wearing good sunglasses, sensible sunscreen, and limiting my time spans in direct sunlight.

Del Sol is here to motivate us to be in the sun! Their amazing color changing clothing and accessories are the perfect incentive! The clothing is great indoors, but when those same threads go outdoors, they burst with color! What a great Valentine Gift to give to anyone who is tired of winter and ready for spring! It's perfect! Here I am in a Del Sol Star Wars shirt from last summer. Notice how I am shading my face from the sun! Ha Ha!
Check out their Valentine's Day Items and Marvel Items! They also have amazing color-changing sunglasses, nail polish and now gel appliques! You'll love it all!!!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Perspective Gained From Others' Quest For Freedom + #MyPostMonday The Week's Best Original Content

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This past weekend I read an amazing book called The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story by Hyeonseo Lee. It was fascinating and I couldn't put it down!   We can learn a lot from North Korean defectors. From childhood they are lied to, made to believe they have no choice, are made to be afraid, to not ask questions, told to betray their neighbors and friends, and watch public executions for things like complaining about rations, not dressing like the rest of the citizenry, or consuming foreign literature, entertainment, and music. They are taught that the Kim regime is all-knowing and beneficent. Religion and free-thinking are absolutely not allowed.
Some of them are actually brave enough use logic and reason to form different opinions than what they are indoctrinated with, and dare to think there is something else out there. Most of these "truth-seekers" go through extreme risk and hardship in order to defect to neighboring countries like South Korea, China, Taiwan, Laos, etc. If they do succeed, they find such a stark contrast, compared to the fictitious things that were fed to them. They realize that their country is 3rd world compared to the neighboring countries and that their supposedly mighty military power is weak at best. They certainly didn't conquer South Korea or China, as they were told. Nor are the Americans and other Westerners savages that kill children in the streets.
When many of the defectors first come into their host countries after many hardships, their problems aren't over. They have adjustment problems. They are usually very suspicious, vindictive, ready to fight and rat out their fellow citizens. They are hesitant to help another human being. It's what the regime has turned them into! It takes patience and a period of tutelage to help the new immigrants to adjust. Thus, the journey to one's freedom is more than mere distance!
Image - kw Wood

Monday, January 16, 2017

Creating Peace and Serenity + #MyPostMonday The Week's Best Original Content

There is nothing as peaceful to me as quiet snow falling around a tiny little cabin, warmed by a fire, with a cup of something hot to sip on. I'm sure it stems from the vacations my family took when I was small. We stayed in a tiny cabin for a few weeks every summer in Montana, and it was magical for me! To languish as long as possible in those moments is truly something to hold onto. Especially when there is so much to get stressed over, just thinking about it. 

I mean, seriously, how can Barnum & Bailey be closing forever? There goes a 146 year old piece of Americana! And all jest aside--the America I have known for all my life, is it really that bad? Because it is disappearing like a really bad game of Jenga, one piece at a time. Before long, children will think of the America I have known and loved as some kind of ancient history! And I'm not talking about the land-line dial-tone phones, the t.v.'s you had to stand up and walk over to change the channel, the strict dress standards at the school, or the excitement of watching the local parade. I'm talking about the respect that neighbors had for one another, the friendliness of people to each other, the slower pace of life, the overall lack of worry about locking the front door, the patriotism that citizens felt for the flag. 

And while I am concerned for the future of the country, and definitely other things that are more parts of my personal life, I love those peaceful moments when I don't have to think about anything but how much I'm enjoying the moment.  
I hope that we can all take a few moments and go to that peaceful place that gives us serenity more often, where worry isn't a part of the equation. Yes, it's appropriate to voice concerns, to take part in the change that is wanted/needed. But worrying about it is not really going to change anything.

Image - Jerol Garner

Friday, January 6, 2017

Sweepstakes Fanatics $100 PayPal #Giveaway

I'm participating in a New Year's Multi-Blog Giveaway that is sure to help you ring in 2017 with good cheer and anticipation! Check it out! Also, check out all my other giveaways under 'Current Giveaways' on the right side bar!

2017 Happy New Year

As we rang in 2017 many of us made resolutions that focused on 
new beginnings, health, and family. I know many overspent this holiday and your resolutions are about on saving money, getting out of debt, etc. I was lucky enough to win or receive for evaluation many of the gifts I gave this year. 
Many ask how I got started. Well, I stumbled upon blogging several years ago while entering a contest. There was an entry to post about the giveaway. From that entry, PaulaMS' Giveaways, Reviews, & Freebies was born. However, as my blog grew my love for entering did not diminish. I enter at least fifty things a week and have a few sites bookmarked that I visit several times a week to find giveaways to enter and Sweepstakes Fanatics is one of my favorites to visit. They're fanatics for Sweepstakes, Contests, and Giveaways just like me! One thing I really love about this site is that I often find something to enter that I haven't seen anywhere else. If you're all about winning sweepstakes, contests, or giveaways in the US or Canada, then this well-organized site is a must visit.

Sweepstakes Fanatics

What could be better than finding great prizes to win? The chance to win some cold hard cash! To help you do that, Sweepstakes Fanatics has offered one lucky reader the opportunity to start off 2017 with some extra cash in their pocket! That's right you could win $100 in PayPal Cash!
Sweepstakes Fanatics $100 PayPal Giveaway Ends 2/5 Worldwide

Welcome To The

Sweepstakes Fanatics
$100 PayPal 


Dates: January 6, 2016 at 12:01 am EST through February 5, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST

Prize: ONE lucky reader will win $100 in PayPal Cash

Sponsored By: Sweepstakes Fanatics

Hosted By: PaulaMS' Giveaways, Reviews, & Freebies

Co-Hosted By: 
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 Michigan Saving and More, Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains, Jenn's Blah Blah Blog, Deliciously Savvy, and IMHO Views, Reviews, and Giveaways 

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This giveaway is valid where allowed by law and open to anyone who can legally open up a PayPal account. No purchase required to enter or win. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received. Winning entry will be verified.

It's Giveaway Time!
Disclaimer: PaulaMS' Giveaways, Reviews, and Freebies nor any blog promoting this giveaway, is not responsible for the awarding of the prize. Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment. Any Questions about this giveaway? Email Paula At paula_stewart (at) ymail (dot) com.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
 PaulaMS has been compensated for organizing this giveaway. Regardless, she only recommends products or services that she uses personally and believes will add value to readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Beautiful Bamboo Giveaway - $100 eGift Code to Cariloha!

Cariloha is synonymous with tropical vibes. That's because their stores sell bamboo products exclusively! They have 50 stores in 14 countries, most of which are tropical vacation spots! Their products are soft, sustainable, wearable, and irresistible!

Welcome to the 'Beautiful Bamboo Giveaway' brought to you by Cariloha and A GAL NEEDS...