Friday, February 24, 2017

Flashback Friday: Witnessing a Miracle

            **It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for Flashback Friday. Participants repost an old post that needed more attention, that you're very proud of, that you think is still relevant, etc. It was hosted by Michael G D'Agostino, but he has opted out. You can still find a list of previous and current participants on his blog. It has now been two years since the accident I mentioned in this post and Victoria's progress continues to astound me.**
Witnessing a Miracle (previously posted February 25, 2016)

“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.

Friday, February 10, 2017

If You Give a Page a Picture

            I really don’t know where the time goes. I feel as though I lose track of it so easily. I wanted to be more proactive with my blog posts this year, but I did not have a solid plan in place so it has fallen by the wayside yet again. I think of the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I mean to make amends to this, so I have spent the majority of my blogging absence analyzing my goals, schedule, and time usage. I even bought a Life Planner, which has encouraged a lot of journal writing. Elsewhere in writing, I started a couple short stories. My main problem is that I have a lot of starts and few finishes.

One reason for these infrequent finishes (and loss of time) is that I tend to make things too difficult for myself. I spend too much time on tasks that should be simple. For example, a few weeks ago, I wanted to start putting up a weekly quote on my Facebook page and I found one I liked. I was about to schedule it to be posted on a Monday, but then I thought it needed a picture. So, I searched through some internet memes and couldn’t quite find the right picture and quote combination. I have been wanting to start using more of my own photography and less from the internet, so I decided I’d put the quote on my own picture, and I opened up the rarely used GIMP program that my brother downloaded on my computer. GIMP has so many functions, too many, and I don’t understand most of it (it’s one of those programs that you need to watch video tutorials in order for it to be beneficial). After changing the font size ten times and endlessly shifting the position of my quote, I saw a shadow in my picture and thought, “I could probably edit that out.” After multiple attempts at finding a function that removes shadows, I gave up and my Facebook page still lacks this new update. I don’t even want to know how long this useless process took me, and in order to gain closure on it, I am sharing that photo (with unwanted car shadow) today.
The font still looks too small...
Sadly, this example is how many blog posts, writings, and other projects go for me. My life plays out like a never-ending If You Give a Mouse a Cookie story. I need to add this to the goal list in my planner: Simplify things! I think I will start that weekly quote on Facebook and I'll use a less-complex program, or just share the quote and photo separately. Watch for it on my page, Monday!
Anyone else guilty of overthinking/overdoing simple things?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: Reading as a Writer

            Time for another posting with the Insecure Writer’s 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 IWSG poses a question for us to answer in our monthly posts. Here is the question for February:
How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
            Even though time has escaped me more often than not in the last few years, I will always love reading. I was the 10-year-old who huddled up next to a night light, past my bedtime, in order to read “just one more chapter”. Since then, I could not tell you how many times I’ve used that same line in the middle of the night. When I find a good book, I like to escape in the simple pleasure of reading. I could almost turn this question around to ask: How has reading shaped my experience as a writer? Reading is part of my motivation because I would love to be able to write one of those books people can escape into. My insecurity also stems from that, because I feel incapable of writing such a book. One thing that I will say in answer to this month’s question is that I sometimes use reading as a tool. I went through a dry spell with reading for a couple years; I just could not find a book worth diving into. As I got more involved with blogging and writing fiction, I got back into reading again. Reading a variety of authors and genres is an excellent form of research. It is helpful to see how others write and the techniques they use. Recently, I have also found a new addiction in audiobooks. Listening to a book allows you to enter a story through a different sense and it is a convenient way to “read” while driving, which is sometimes the only time I get to myself. I was stuck on descriptive details when I was writing my fantasy story until I listened to The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks for a few minutes. Of course, I still enjoy the moments of quiet when I can just sit and read, and if writing inspiration comes, I welcome it gladly!
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