I Blog For Books

02 December 2014

Oh, Elizabeth

Honey. Granny. Mama. Ma. Mom. Elizabeth. Liz. Jorlyn. Mama went by many names, but she was never Betty or Beth. Granddaddy always called her Elizabeth. Her siblings usually called her Jorlyn. Coworkers called her Elizabeth or Liz. Her 15 favorite people, however, called her Mama, Ma, Honey and Granny. She was stubborn, outspoken, opinionated, and one of the most loving people I have ever known. The three of us were lucky enough to call her mama.

She was born just off Highway 2 in northern Jackson County, Florida, near Malone. The fourth child (second girl) of eight children born to Woodrow and Joyce Hall, Elizabeth Jorlyn Hall attended Central School, then Malone High School. Graduating in 1958, she headed to Virginia to stay with her oldest sister Jessie Fay for a while. At Fort Belvoir, Virginia, she met a young soldier from Ohio named Paul Abel. They married in January of 1960 and had three children - Paul, Jr., Denise, and Cheryl. Mama and Daddy moved around some, settling in Houston County in 1970 on what is now known as Plantation Drive.

Life happens and Elizabeth later married Red Davis, in November 1978. Paul, Jr., and Cindy were married in January 1980. In October, Christopher Paul was born and mama became Granny! Denise had Victoria (Nikki) in March 1986, and mama became Honey. Cheryl gave birth to Elizabeth Ann in January 1987 making mama Granny again. Creighton Michael was born in November 1988, Gideon Troy was born in October 1989. Danielle Elaine was born in September 1992, Ethan Wayne was born in November 1993. The caboose was Cassidy Taryn in May 1998.

Generations continue, with Samantha Mackenzie in January 2007, Catharyn Faith in February 2010, Jonathan David in February 2012, and Alyson Harper in November 2012. Mama's fifth great-grandchild is due January 2015.

Today, December 2, 2014, we let mama go. She is free, whole, and healthy. We love you and miss you!! We will see you again soon ... 

Elizabeth Jorlyn Davis - August 3, 1940 - December 2, 2014

We love you forever!

21 October 2014

We Choose to Laugh

Dr. Barry Reisberg developed a staging system framework for Alzheimer's Disease. There are seven stages, although the first three to four stages may be undetected by not only those closest to the patient, but also to the medical professionals who provide their care. Stage 1 presents as no cognitive impairment, no memory issues. I don't understand how this is stage 1; why is there even a stage 1? Stages 2 and 3 seem remarkably similar, although stage 3 is still innocuous enough that some cannot detect the early symptoms of the disease, instead choosing to write them off as part of the normal aging process (alz.org, 2014). Stage 4 is where we found ourselves in January 2013. At this point, mama was still living alone, driving herself, and taking care of every aspect of her life ... or so we thought. Seemingly out of the blue, we receive a phone call telling us that mama had gotten lost on the way to Uncle Robert's house (a fact she vehemently denied) - before sunrise. The three of us come home, trying to find out what is going on with a round of doctor's appointments and testing. A geriatric neuropsychiatrist tells us she can no longer drive, and does not need to have any appliances that do not have an automatic shutoff. The Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE) is quite the eye-opener.

This leads to a few months of staying with both myself and Cheryl, and we soon realized that mama could no longer safely live alone. Once the decision was made, we placed her in the Memory Care Unit. At that time, she was teetering between stages 4 and 5 - still fairly lucid for long periods of time, she knew us and our children, knew her siblings and nieces and nephews. Paul, Cheryl, and I decided that we would laugh as often and as much as we could, for we knew the tears would come.

Alzheimer's, like many other diseases, seems to have a mind of its own. While it is 'staged,' some sufferers do not go through all the stages. Each person's journey down this heartbreaking path is unique. Because I am a compulsive reader, I pore over available information, hoping against hope that there will be one bright spot in the grim forecast. There isn't.

Today's visit was not a good one. Although mama eventually called me by name, I am not certain that she knew who I was. I asked her if Paul had come to see her and she immediately responded "no" even though he was just there yesterday. I asked her if Michelle had come to see her and she said "yes, the other day, and Paul came the other day." We give each other progress reports after every visit, good or bad. And we recall good memories, and we laugh.

I started taking pictures as much as I could, of mama and of us, and of us with mama. I take pictures with the grandchildren, and with the great-grandchildren. Earlier this summer, Danielle and I were taking Samantha and Jonathan to see mama. We reminded Sam (she's 7) that Honey's brain was sick, and that Honey might not remember her name. Samantha's response? "That's okay, I'll tell it to her." We laughed.

Today, I cried. She sat in the chair in the dining area, feet swollen and bare, vacant stare looking through me. I said "Hey, mama" and she responded "Hey, mama." No recognition crossed her face. I sat beside her and took her hand. She told me she was okay. She took my hand in both of hers, turned it palm up, and traced every finger on my left hand with her forefinger. Did she do this when I was a baby? I did with my own children - and my grandchildren. And I cried. Not the big ugly nose running red faced cry (that came later), just silent, painful tears.

I'm sorry, mama. I don't think you noticed, and I hope you didn't. When I left you, you were dozing off in your chair, insisting that you were not ready to go to bed. I gave you a hug and told you I loved you, but you were drifting in and out at that point. The tears are not over, but I remember mama calmly walking in the house where an iron skillet was on fire, throwing baking soda on the pan, grabbing a pot holder and walking back out the door with the skillet. When the fire department got there, we were all sitting outside in the yard.

I remember driving down I-95 on the way home from North Carolina when we approach a state trooper. Mama always did have a lead foot, and she slowed down, sure she was about to get a ticket. When the trooper paid her no mind, she sped up and kept on heading home. And I laugh at the memory.

Find the memories that make you laugh, for tears come in abundance. Look for the laughter. Jesus, I ask that your strength enfold us in the days to come. Help us to find the joy and peace that comes with knowing You are in control.

Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.~Isaiah 49:13 NKJV

alz.org. (2014) "Seven Stages of Alzheimer's." Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_stages_of_alzheimers.asp?type=eNews_thankyou_page

19 July 2014

The God-First Life

Matthew 6:33 tells us "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (NKJV) There are often as many ways to approach a problem as there are problems to approach. In seeking God, which approach is the right one to take? In this book, Stovall Weems reminds us that often, the best way to look at something is to strip away the extraneous and view what matters - in this case, living a life that puts God first. If we follow the instructions given in Matthew 6:33 - it is broken down into its most basic level. Seek first the kingdom of God!

Putting God first in your life does not mean, in my interpretation, to do so when you get around to doing so. If HE is at the front and center, all else will fall into place as it should. Put God first! He will work things out according to His plan. His plan for my life is different from His plan for your life, and that is okay because we are different, even though our ultimate goals may be very similar. Everyone has a different journey, even if their final destinations are the same. When the priority (God First) is established, the way becomes clearer.

Putting God first does not mean that the road will be always smooth, nor does it mean that every answer will immediately become clear. What it does mean is that you are not, nor will you be, alone in your travel. If you put God first, He will be your guide through rough spots, your calm in the storm, and your GPS with correct directions! The most complex can be made simple, by making your number one priority making God first.

A relatively quick read, filled with useful information and no platitudes. Read it. You won't regret it.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.

11 April 2014

The Storm Inside

The way we see ourselves and feel about ourselves is not always what others see in us. In this book, Sheila Walsh doesn't sugar coat feelings. She does not tell you that you should feel a certain way, and she does not tell you that life will be perfect just because you are a child of God. She is well aware that some days, you wonder why you even bothered to get out of bed. In the introduction, Sheila tells a story of a speaking engagement in 2012 that changed the way she thought. 

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name ~ Psalm 86:11 ESV

Focused on this verse, Sheila admitted to her audience "for years, I had hidden behind ministry, praying that the work I did for God would somehow tip the scales in my favor and outweigh the feelings of shame and fear that dragged me down. Honestly, I had no idea that I could live another way - an unburdened way - based on the finished work of Christ and not on anything I did."

Based upon an exercise used in her ministry that day, Sheila discovered that women - regardless of strength of faith - often let their feelings become burdens. The surprising discovery was that the feelings are the same, over and over.

Heartache. Disappointment. Fear. Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Anger. Regret. Abandonment. Shame. Insecurity.

Each chapter of this book deals with a different one of these ten feelings, and Sheila Walsh is indeed a storyteller. I found myself eagerly looking forward to her next story, her next sharing. I did not feel so much as if I were reading a book as if I felt that I was reading a letter from a friend. Explaining instead of chastising, she reminds us that some of these words are horribly misused in everyday conversation. The example she uses in Chapter One is of a football team's loss - often referred to as heartbreaking. Sad? Yes. Disappointing? Yes. Heartbreaking? I don't think so - it is, after all, only a game.

Sheila Walsh does not belittle these feelings like some authors that I have read, instead she empathizes and understands. Then, she turns the focus to the Master Healer. Reminding us that He is greater than ANY problem we might face, she gives us the words of Peter: "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you" ~ 1 Peter 5:7.

I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it for anyone who has ever experienced any of the feelings listed above. Even if you are happy: READ THIS BOOK!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

08 February 2014

God's Word For Our World

I was so excited to see The Modern Life Study Bible as one of the books available for review! I had been searching for a new Bible for a while, and this one struck me as one with a different perspective than I was used to. First and foremost, I am a traditionalist. My first Bible was the King James Version (KJV), and for years, I did not stray far from it. Something about departing from the very formal and structured language felt wrong to me. Over the years, I had picked up and read, or tried to read, some other translations like The Message, and just couldn't do it. It didn't feel right. To my mind, at the time, it seemed almost disrespectful. This wasn't some paperback pulp fiction, this was The Bible! Gradually, I branched out to the New International Version (NIV), became comfortable with its verbiage and rhythm, and have stayed with that translation for more than ten years.

What you can't see from the cover image shown here are the banners at the top and bottom that very plainly state that this Bible is the New King James Version (NKJV).  The NKJV is not a translation that I had read prior to receiving this Bible, so being the book-lover that I am, I dived right in!

The flyleaf introduction gave a hint that this Bible was not going to be just another study version. Calling it an "innovative, informative resource for modern believers" and reminding us that problems have been around as long as humans have been around - and the solution lies within God's word. Each book is prefaced with an introduction, setting the stage for what is to come. Genesis, for example, God creates a good world. Genesis sets the stage for everything that follows by taking us back to the beginning - the very beginning - of everything. As a reader familiar with the Bible, these introductions give me a different perspective. As a reader who may not be familiar with the Bible, these introductions would let me know what was in store!

Like some textbooks I have had, this Bible also has key events for each chapter outlined, focus articles that explain or highlight certain verses and how they relate to us today - such as your workstyle (Titus 2:9-11), and insight articles that give background on everything from brickmaking (Genesis 11:3) to the fall of cedar forests (Zechariah 11:1-3) to being rich in faith (James 2:5-6).

I expected a Bible. What I received was so much more. This Bible will be my companion for years to come, for there is much to learn, to read, to share, and to savor. Truly, a gift, indeed!

"To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven" ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

07 January 2014

Humble Orthodoxy

Blogging for Books sent me an email today, one of many that they have sent in the past months. I am ashamed to say that I read them and move on, for some reason not making the connection that I should. For whatever reason, today's message sent me to the website where I was reminded that I needed to post a review (imagine that), of an unassuming little book that has been sitting on the shelf in my office since last year. I removed the book from the shelf, looked at it, thought "Yes, I read that book. Why didn't I write the review?"

I opened the book, more to refresh myself than anything, before I started writing, and was almost immediately grabbed by a simple statement in the foreword. J.D. Greear writes "A great deal of damage is done by those who hold the truth of Christ with the spirit of Satan." I thought about that statement off and on all day. Pretty humbling, actually.

If I do nothing but sit around and complain, calling attention to the shortcomings of others without making an effort to be of service if I am able - where does the problem lie? I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else that I know. The only perfect person that has ever walked the face of the earth is Jesus. Who am I to judge?

Acknowledgements included, this little book is less than 90 pages. Just a few minutes reading for me. Until, that is, I start reading. Turning the pages for the second time, I read things differently that I did the last time that I read this book. Before chapter one begins, you are referred to 2 Timothy 2:23-25, "Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth." This made me laugh, and I am relatively certain that was not the original intent.  However, when these verses were written, three things did not exist that are an inherent part of today's society:  politics, football, and Facebook.

How can I compare these with those words? Easy. Take the events of the last few months (or years, or however long you choose to go back) into consideration. In most parts of the United States, and especially in the South, something very important happens. You guessed it - football season! Every year, and even more so with the immediacy of social networking, the trash talking commences. I'm guilty of it to some degree, as are most football fans.  What I have come to realize, however, is something that some fans just cannot seem to comprehend - it's just a game. Yes, we want our team to win and we want the other team to lose, we want to be the best! Guess what, folks, it's still just a game. One team wins, and one team loses, and life goes on. Plays are brilliantly executed, plays are messed up. Calls are spot on, and sometimes we wonder if the officiants can see. It's still just a game. Next week, next month, next year ... will it matter who won? You may not remember who caught the winning TD or who made that amazing run, but odds are you will remember the hurtful and hateful comments, the snarky responses and the mean words.

If you think football season is bad, politics is much worse. Heaven forbid someone voice an opinion that another disagrees with - you'd think - well, after reading down a list of comments on a post of that type, and you wonder exactly who is thinking, if anyone.  And no, I don't blame Facebook, or Twitter, or any other form of social media. I don't even blame the mainstream media. Why? Because it boils down to one simple thing. Choice. And that, my friend, is up to you and I.

We have the choice - to speak, or to remain silent. To stand our ground for what we believe, or to remain silent. To argue passionately, or to remain silent. To feed the controversy, to fan the flame, or to turn it off. To change the channel, to avoid the comment - or to avoid the negativity in commenting.

What I think Joshua Harris is telling us in his volume is that believers do not have to remain silent - but neither to we have to be belligerent. The old saying that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar holds more than a shred of truth. Continuing along those lines, however, the simple fact remains that avoiding conflict does not make your conviction stronger. We must remember this - "The message of Christian orthodoxy isn't that I'm right and someone else is wrong. It's that I am wrong and yet God is filled with grace. I am wrong, and yet God has made a way for me to be forgiven and accepted and loved for eternity."

Read this book. Small book, big message. Worth every word.

This book was provided for review at no cost to me by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not required to write a favorable review.