Thursday, February 25, 2016

Witnessing A Miracle

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

Victoria, Sam, Aleigh and Lucas with their parents and grandparents
            This past Sunday, February 21, 2016 marked one year since Victoria Turner, two of her siblings, and her maternal grandparents were in a terrible car accident. Today Victoria, or Tori, as she’s often called, is a living, breathing miracle. I have shared her story before, but I haven’t given an update for a while. So, I thought I would share my own personal reflections of those months last year.
On February 14, 2015, I had the privilege of babysitting my friend’s three precious children while she was with her husband at our church’s sweetheart banquet. I absolutely adore her kids and consider them like family. One week later, late in the evening, those three children were in a terrible car accident with their maternal grandparents. The middle daughter, Aleigh, and grandparents were fine (which was a miracle in and of itself), but the oldest son, Samuel, and youngest daughter, Victoria, were critically injured. Samuel had a fractured ankle and pelvis and Victoria had multiple skull fractures and brain injuries; they didn’t think she was going to make it. When I heard the news the following morning at church I was struck with such a sense of hopelessness and concern. I had just held Tori and read to her the previous week, what was I to do? There wasn’t anything I could do except pray. So that is what I and my church did.     
Samuel was released within a couple weeks, but Victoria took a turn for the worst. She got pneumonia due to her weakened immune system, and had to be put on life support. So, in the weeks following we continued to pray for this precious two-year-old. There were so many ups and downs during those critical weeks when many people, including myself, checked the Facebook page repeatedly throughout the day hoping for good news. Eventually, the miracle we were praying for came and Victoria survived! After months of therapy, a transfer to a hospital closer to home, and slowly being weaned off the oxygen support, Tori was finally able to return home in June. One of many amazing things about all of this is that during her time on life support, the doctors were not able to treat her skull fractures, but when they finally took an x-ray they found that the fractures had healed on their own and no additional surgery was necessary.
This picture was taken the day I went with Victoria, her mom and little brother to her check-up
She is still undergoing speech therapy, but she communicates her needs fairly well with her limited vocabulary. I have had some opportunities to observe her at play, I even got to let her sit in my lap and read to her again, and I think she seems just as bright and eager to learn as ever. I was watching her run and play with another three-year-old at church the other day and every time she laughed or smiled I was reminded of what a miracle and a testimony her young life has already been to so many people.
My church was strengthened in prayer during that time. We came together as one body and the power of prayer was shown in a way that most of us will never forget. And we were not alone. The church has somewhere between 200 and 300 members, but the Pray for Tori and Sam Facebook page has over 9000 likes. It amazes me that so many people beyond our church were willing to pray and show support for Victoria and her family, and all of those lives were impacted by this tragedy. Prayer is powerful, but things may not always turn out the way we want them to. Even if things had gone the other way with Tori, her parents said they would still believe that God works out the good in all things. Of course, it is better to always be in prayer, whether we are in the midst of disaster or delight, but as incomplete works in progress, we probably lapse in our prayer time once in a while, especially if things are going smoothly.  Just remember that God is always just a prayer away and He wants to hear all of your needs, your desires, your worries, your fears, your praise, and your worship.

You can find more information about Victoria's journey on the Pray for Tori and Sam Facebook page, and the pictures I shared in this post are from that page. I have also written these posts about her: Prayer, Encouraging Updates, and Victory in Jesus.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Imbalanced Interview

I was searching the internet for blogging prompts, and I came across this page that I thought was fairly appropriate for my current situation. This Blogher Writing Lab had a theme of balance for the month of January and they had a prompting question for each weekday. I decided instead of using each question as a prompt for an entire post, that I would just give short answers to a select handful of the questions on the imbalances within my life. I also apologize for my absence in commenting during the last week, it was another one of those off-weeks for me, hence the perfection of finding these questions about balance :)

Do you think you have a decent work/life balance?

No, I think if I could work part time, I would achieve a lot more in what I actually want to do, like writing, sewing, and organizing the house. And financially, working part time would still be reasonable for me, if only my manager would agree to it…

What helps you stay focused on work while you're at work or home while you're at home?

Honestly, when I’m at work, I’m usually thinking about being home. But my job is just a job, it is not a career that requires projects or meetings to prepare for. One of the few good things about my job is that I can leave without having to worry about “homework.”

Do you feel you have to be available at all times? How has this affected your down time?

I think I may lean too much in the opposite direction. I feel the need for a lot of down time and turn down invitations more often than not.

Do you set conscious limits with your personal screen time in order to balance the online and offline world?

Oddly enough, I do set conscious limits on my Facebook time, but not really in other areas of the internet, such as blogging (in which I’ve developed a sort of all or nothing habit) or YouTube, Buzzfeed, etc. (where I spend entirely too much unmonitored time).

If time and money wasn't an object, what would be your chosen form of exercise?

I would swim all the time if I had a huge, indoor pool with a diving board and a slide. I would also like to go canoeing or kayaking on a regular basis.

Do you prefer to work out alone or with a friend?

I would definitely prefer to run with a friend, but I don’t mind cardio alone.

How do you balance taking care of your health with all the other stressors of life?

I do not balance out my own health as much as I should. I think about it once in a while when I buy groceries or choose not to eat out. I have been slacking off on running and I should probably consider signing up for a 5k again. When it comes to my spiritual health, I find that starting the day with prayer and Bible study helps me to feel better throughout the day.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Snow, How I Miss It So!

                I know most people would probably disagree with me on this, but I love winter! Of course, I only love it on days I don’t have to go to work or when it snows. I like to be home watching the snow fall as I sip my coffee and stroke my cat and maybe venture outside to walk around and take pictures of the beautiful white blanket covering everything. I think this love stems from the fact that I grew up in the Phoenix area. So, my only childhood experiences with snow were an occasional dusting at my grandma’s house in Globe or a two-hour drive to Flagstaff or Prescott Pines on a couple day trips to "see the snow." Moving to Oklahoma and having snow days and ice storms was a completely new experience for me. I could do without the ice, but it only snowed a small amount one day this winter in my area, and it just hasn’t felt like a proper winter yet. So to help ease my longings, I thought I’s share some pictures from past winters. I have a lot of snow pictures, but not too many that don't require editing, so I've used some of these before. But, I know I haven't shared my picture of Fred the snow-frog until now :)


              I also have a random question which may seem odd for this month, but we'll just say it's for "research purposes": Can you think of a young adult or realistic fiction book that does not include romance as a key plot point among the main characters?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: Excuses, Excuses

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writers Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month. The co-hosts this month are:  Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend.  
            Honestly, I have not really been thinking much about writing a book or even short stories this last month. I know, I know I was so goal-oriented in January’s post, but then I was sick, and then work got really hectic leaving me stressed and entirely too tired. This is becoming my biggest obstacle. I’m a procrastinator by nature, and since there is no deadline for my unwritten book ideas, I continue to put them off. Setting my own deadlines doesn’t really help unless I get other people involved. That’s why I managed to participate in the A to Z Challenge after a long hiatus from blogging and why I continue to post monthly for the Question of the Month and IWSG. I can do those because I’m signed up on a list and other people are expecting my posts. Of course, a book is a lot longer than a blog post and that is where all the excuses start rolling in. My job is an obstacle because it severely drains my mental and creative energy. I don’t search for short story contests with the deadlines I need and I think part of me is afraid to hold myself accountable to someone else for an entire book.
Maybe I am being too hard on myself: I just looked back at last month’s IWSG post, and I did say my first goal was to set more time aside for writing, which I actually have done. I’ve mostly been writing reflections and notes from my daily devotional reading, but any writing is better than no writing. I have also been getting excited about this year’s A to Z Challenge and I have been doing some research for me letters, which I think can also count toward my writing time because it’s a part of the preparation process :) I am taking a “staycation” in a couple weeks, so I hope that can help revive my creative juices and rework my writing goals.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Question of the Month

The Question of the Month is a bloghop that occurs the first Monday of each month and it is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. For February’s question, Michael teamed up with the Lost and Found: Valentine’s Edition bloghop.
When have you lost or found love?
This will be a short one, so I’ll end it with some quotes. Basically, my answer is never. I have never been in love, at least not in a romantic sense. I’ve had some crushes over the years, but I was never in love with any of them, so I can't say I've lost love. The only true love that has found me so far is the love of Jesus Christ, my Savior. Would I like to fall in love some day? Of course! But, for now, I think God is still trying to teach me to find contentment in my singleness.

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