Monday, February 23, 2015

Review:The YOU Plan: A Christian Woman's Guide for a Happy, Healthy Life After Divorce By Connie Wetzell and Michelle Borquez

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Although, I am semi-happily  married for almost 29 years, I was once a divorced woman and wished I have a book like  The YOU Plan.  I chose to review this book not because I am divorced, but to make me stronger and wiser so I do not make the same mistakes. In reading this book, I discovered two things: divorce happens and one cannot play the blame game.

If you are thinking about divorce or are divorced whether 1 day or 1 year, this book will change your life and help YOU understand and navigate through what is happening to YOU.

Connie Wetzell and Michelle Borquez  tell it like it is without sugar coating the realities of divorce because they have been there-done it.

Book Review-Clout by Jenni Catron

Disclosure: BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy.

I have to be honest, my people skills sucked! That is until I read Jenni Catron's book Clout. Clout is a Christian driver book about how to discover and unleash your God-given influence. Catron breaks the book up into two different sections, guiding you through sets of principles.

Clout is one of those self-help books you'll want to read over and over and is at the top of my list for encouragement and discovery of who I really am and how I can obtain God-given influence.

We all have Clout, but how we discover it and how we unleash it, depends on us and you will find the ways in Jenni Catron's book Clout.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lent: 40 Days of Renewal- Day 2: Your Comfort Zone

I think, ‘My bed will comfort me, and sleep will ease my misery,’ Job 7:13 NLT

Yesterday was the first day of Lent and I wasn't sure what I wanted to give up or sacrifice in my life because Jesus sacrificed for my sins, then I ran across a Facebook post with a link to Pastor Phil Ressler's 40 Things to Give up for Lent: The List. The list is nontraditional things to give up during the 40 day period of Lent and number # 2 on the list is Your Comfort Zone.

"Your Comfort Zone – It’s outside our comfort zones where new discoveries are made."

Today is the second day of Lent and I am giving up my comfort zone.  When my daughter passed away almost two years ago, I wrapped myself in a cocoon of comfort. I created a comfort zone and retreated to my bedroom and within myself. I was at a point in my life where nothing could comfort me except the safety of my bedroom. I didn't want to be around people, I only wanted to hide under the covers and never come out.

Most of us are guilty of wrapping ourselves in a cocoon of comfort. Why do we create comfort zones? There is no right or wrong answer, but what we do to break out of our comfort zone determines how we live.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NIV

We all have a comfort zone where we retreat and won't let anyone in. Although my comfort zone is no longer my bedroom, I still have one. It has become a crutch and instead of relying on God to be my staff in difficult times, I wrap myself in a cocoon of comfort inside my office. Instead of breaking away from my comfort zone after my daughter's death, I created another one.

For Lent, I have to give up my comfort zone and discover who I really am. I have to allow peace and joy inside my heart and soul. I cannot stay inside the warmth of my cocoon any longer or I will not grow.

Are you living inside a comfort zone? It is time to step outside and discover a new you. Break out of your cocoon and live.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Video Tribute to My Daughter Ashley Michelle Burdeaux September 11,1985- May 27, 2013

Lent: 40 Days of Renewal- Day 1 Fear of Failure

'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10

For the next 40 days of Lent, I am going to focus on the things in my life that are holding back my joy and peace. Phil Ressler has written 40 Things to Give up for Lent: The List and #1 is Fear of Failure.

"Fear of Failure – You don’t succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fail forward."

In my life this is my worst obstacle. I have always been an overachiever and perfectionist because I fear failure. I tend to worry about what people will think about me or if I am good enough. I need to understand failure is part of life and sometimes it is okay to fail. Fear is an obstacle Satan manifested to keep people from enjoying their lives. Today I am giving up my fear of failure. What is your obstacle?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

Romans 12:2 NIV

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Daughter- #MyFaithHeroine

 This blog post is part of Michelle DeRusha’s #MyFaithHeroine contest, in connection with the release of the book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Find out how to participate here. 

When I think about my faith heroine, only one strong woman comes to mind: my daughter Ashley. Ashley was my baby girl. Ashley was my faith heroine. 

My daughter was twenty-seven when she dies from AIDS related complications, but although she suffered, her faith in the Lord never did. However, my faith did. I could not understand why God was letting my beautiful, always vibrant daughter suffer. I didn't realize He really wasn't, I had lost my hope and my soul had withered.

Throughout her illness, my beautiful daughter never lost her hope and joy. She walked in faith daily. I tried to be strong, but my faith grew weaker with each passing day. My strength was depleted. 

I watched as she continued to struggle and I became bitter. It wasn't fair that the Lord was taking my child I screamed. As I tried to comfort her and make her last days as peaceful as possible, it was her that was actually comforting me and giving me peace.

She was not bitter about dying for she knew she would be in a better place. The last week of her life, I opened my heart and soul to the Lord. I began to understand her life wasn't ending but only beginning,

My daughter faith was so strong it gave me the courage and strength to not be angry with God.

She has been gone for almost two years, but her faith lives in my heart. It keeps me going throughout my struggles and helps me understand God's purpose.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Out of Darkness Into Daylight

I'm no stranger to death, but when my daughter passed away last year with AIDS related complications, death took on a different meaning. My life spiraled out of control. A parent should never have to bury their child and when she died, not only did death enter my world, but devastation and destruction soon followed. I found myself sinking into a quagmire of darkness. A plethora of emotions exploded within my soul. Tiny shards of anger and grief ripped my heart apart.
I tried to protect my baby as all mother's want to do, but the day she turned eighteen she left home. She moved a thousand miles away and began an unsavory lifestyle. My daughter became a prostitute. At that moment, I knew I had lost her. I'd always hoped she would come back home, but she didn't until it was too late.
My daughter went from pillar to post for almost ten years. Her choices affected me to the point I stopped communicating with her. I didn't want to know what she was doing, so I shut her out of my life. My heart turned to stone. I became a monster instead of a mother.
Several years passed without an exchange of words. When I finally received a phone call from her, my world was ripped apart. The day she told me she had HIV, I begged and pleaded for her to come home but she refused. I was supposed to protect her and I failed.
 I laid awake at night, my heart ached to hold my baby girl. I worried about her safety. She was still in another state and I had no way to get to her. Once again she got silent and I didn't hear from her until five months before she died. This time the news was dire. My worst fear had come true. She had AIDS and was dying.
With much pleading I finally convinced her to come back home. When I went to the bus terminal to pick her up, I hardly recognized my baby girl. She was rail-thin and gaunt. I was flabbergasted. She was a walking skeleton. I raced to my daughter and enveloped her in my arms. Tears of disbelief stung my eyes. My baby girl had come home to die.
For a short period of time, I had another chance. I could tell her I was sorry for not being there when she needed me the most. I could spend one last Mother's Day with my baby girl. After Mother's Day she deteriorated fast. I watched her struggle as the life was sucked from her soul.
I counted down 'D' Day. Weeks became days. Days became hours. Hours became minutes and minutes became seconds. My world came to a crashing halt on Memorial Day. It ended when my daughter took her last breath.
Over the next few weeks, I fell into a deep depression. I actually thought about committing suicide. Darkness overtook my soul and wouldn't let go. I shut myself off from my family. I hid inside the darkness of depression. I couldn't find my way out. It wasn't until I received my daughter's ashes that I knew it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself. Over time,I learned to harness my emotions. I couldn't change what happened nor could I hide away in the darkness.
The past year has flown by and I still have dark moments when my daughter's death seems surreal. Her death saddened my heart and made me bitter. There are days when I want to crawl back into the darkness.
My daughter's death gave me a different perspective on who I am now and who I want to become. It has also taught me out of any negative there will always be a positive. Losing my daughter to AIDS has had the most positive impact on my life, changing who I am forever.

I knew if I kept going down the path of destruction, my life would have ceased to exist. I learned to turn my despair into joy and to celebrate in the daylight instead of living in the darkness.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A to Z Challenge: D- Death, Devastation, Denial, Destruction

Today, I continue my personal journey of the A to Z Challenge with the letter D. For me the letter D represents death, devastation, denial, and destruction. Join me as I journey back to the beginning: from a fifteen year old girl where it started with the loss of my father to where it ends; a fifty-three year old mother who lost her child.

Before the Spring of 1976, I was a happy, carefree teenager until death knocked at my door. Soon devastation, denial, and destruction followed me wherever I went. My idyllic encased world was shattered and afterward my life would become a living Hell.

At fifteen, death came into my life with an unyielding force that would shape who I've become today. My father, the only person who loved me unconditionally died. I was devastated by this unwanted event.

My father had been sick for awhile, but I didn't grasp just how ill he was until he lay in the hospital dying. I watched as green poison oozed from his body. I watched my once strong father wither into nothing.

I couldn't cope and was in denial. All I could do was run and hide within myself. A once vibrant teenager became rebellious, out of control, uncaring, and hateful. I became a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

The time after my father's death was difficult, so my mother decided we needed a change. We packed our meager belongings into a beat-up Ford Pinto and traveled 3000 miles across the country into the unknown.

At this junction, I detested my mother. The hatred inside my soul seethed and the ticking time-bomb exploded. During this time, I fell in with the wrong crowd and once again my life would change. Death payed an unexpected visit.

It was late summer of 1977 that I became pregnant. As soon as my mother found out she abandoned me, my boyfriend was on drugs, so I became a ward of the State of Oregon.  I was sixteen, alone and scared. I didn't have any choices. I had no rights. Sadly, I was forced to terminate my pregnancy at nine weeks. My destructive lifestyle had snatched the life from my body. Death and devastation won. Denial quickly set in and as soon as I could, I left the horrible memories behind.

Eventually, I moved on with my life. I got married and had other children. It would be many years before death, devastation, denial, and destruction paid another visit to my happy existence. Twenty years had passed since I lost my father and finally lost my mother.

She and I never mended the rift between us. There was so much denial and destruction that I was actually relieved when she passed away. My mother wasn't an evil person, just a mean drunk which caused me a lot of pain for twenty years. I was devastated of course, but glad death had taken her.

The next 17 years, death stayed away from my life. There were times when destruction and devastation came knocking, but in 2013 death came back. It hit with a vengeance so powerful, I lost control.

I received the devastating news my youngest daughter was dying from AIDS. I went into my denial mode, but it was to no avail. I couldn't stop the inevitable. My youngest child was going to die. In April 2013 she came home to die. It was a painful process to watch my once beautiful child suffer. Before she passed away we had five memory filled weeks together. We had Mother's Day one last time. She died in my arms and waves of devastation and denial washed over me.

During the days that followed her death, I closed myself off from the world. I couldn't cope with or comprehend the reality of her loss. It was too painful to bare. Eventually, I slowly came back to reality. It hasn't been easy. Still, there are times when I want to hide deep inside myself.

For the last thirty-eight years, death, devastation, denial, and destruction have played a major part of who I've become. These tragedy's have actually made me stronger. At last, I finally understand why death took those I loved. It wasn't to punish me, but to help me understand life is filled with death, devastation, denial, and destruction.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blog Tour: The Husband Whisperer

Kevin Hinckley is proud to host a blog tour for his book, The Husband Whisperer from March 10–30.
Horse whisperers know that the best way to communicate in relationships is with a touch of gentleness. In The Husband Whisperer, Kevin Hinckley (MEd, LPC) shows women how to use their divine nature and to listen to the Spirit in order to help bring peace into their marriages.
Meet the Author:
Returning author Kevin Hinckley is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Private Practice. He received his master’s degree in Counseling from Brigham Young University, with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior. He has developed numerous therapeutic programs, including inpatient and day treatment programs for addiction and trauma recovery. He has worked closely with the LDS Addiction Recovery Program and is the author of The Naaman Project, a day treatment program for Pornography Addiction. A former bishop and institute teacher, Kevin has written three books, Promptings or Me,(our book) Parenting the Strong Willed Child and Burying Our Swords (published by Deseret Book). He is a regular presenter at Campus Education Weeks at BYU-Idaho and BYU.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brighton's Mountain Books Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking Review

Disclosure: I received a copy for review purposes. However, all opinions are my own.

Introducing Shaking Behind the Microphone. Fear of Speaking in Public is Equal to Falling Into a Pit Full of Snakes

Three out of four people suffer from brain freeze, a quivering voice, and a racing heart, which are signs of glossophobia. In her anthology, Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking, author Jill Ammon Vanderwood tells her story about going skydiving to overcome her fear of public speaking.

My review:

FDR said it best:  "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" . This famous, often quoted phrase is something I have stuck in the back of my mind everytime I have to do something that includes the unknown. The only thing I fear worse than fear itself is public speaking.  I suffer from glossophobia. I detest public speaking, but now that I'm in college one of my courses involves public speaking. The nerves quicken, the palms begin to sweat, and the throat constricts. What am I suppose to do? 

Is there a solution to glossophobia? YES! Author Jill Ammon Vanderwood has the perfect book for people like me who are afraid of public speaking.

Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking shares her story along with others who feared public speaking. This wonderful book not only gives you insights, but helps you overcome your fears. 

I start my first public speaking class in May and I tell you, I don't think I would have been able to get through it without Jill's book. If you struggle with glossophobia pick up a copy of Shaking Behind the Microphone, Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking.

About the Author:

Jill Ammon Vanderwood is the author of six books, including the Mom’s Choice Award winning book 
Drugs Make You Un-Smarter and the Indie Excellence Award winning book What’s It Like, Living Green
Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They Live. She lives with her family in Utah, where she speaks at schools, 
Boys and Girls Clubs, church groups, Girl Scout Troops, Kiwanis Camp, and drug rehabs. Jill teaches 
writers workshops for the League of Utah Writers. She is involved with fundraising events for literacy, The 
Wheelchair Foundation, Soles for Souls and Toys for Tots.

Shaking Behind the Microphone: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
ISBN 978-1490941219
Brighton’s Mountain Books
Printed through Create Space
156 page paperback
Nonfiction Adult Anthology
$12.99 Suggested Retail Price
This book is available through , AmazonKindle, Barnes and and can be ordered through Baker and Taylor or Ingram’s or through your local retailer
To contact the author or to receive a review copy, contact Jill Ammon Vanderwood
Contact Information
Jill Vanderwood
Brighton’s Mountain Books