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Looking Back

The Lifegiving Home

I received a review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. This post may contain affiliate links.

The Lifegiving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson

My injury, D’s surgery, Munchkin starting college, and D continuing with his college work makes for a pretty crazy environment around here. Our regular routine was thrown out the window as we tried to find a new normal. It really highlighted the importance of creating a safe haven at home. We needed one place that we could relax and breath – a place where we could be ourselves and find comfort.

During this season, some things around the home have been pushed to the side while other activities have taken on a greater importance. Even with all of the shuffling of priorities, we’ve worked hard to create a stable environment where we could renew our minds, bodies, and spirits.

The Lifegiving Home is all about creating a culture of home that nurtures your family and anyone who walks through the door. It was a wonderful read as it confirmed my desire for my own home while giving me ideas where I could improve my own ideals. It reinforced the idea that home is where the heart is.

I did not sit down and read this book from cover to cover. Instead, I read a little here and there. I jotted down notes, thoughts, and ideas. I took the book with me to my husband’s doctor’s appointments and to his office when he needed to attend a meeting at work. In fact, one day, as I sat at his office desk, I started copying down some of the things in the book on post-it notes as encouragement to him.

Heroism is simply faithfulness, a moment-by-moment choice to do what is right…. It is forged and known in such choices, whether in a blazing moment of courage or in countless small moments of luminous, ordinary life.

One unique aspect of this book is that it’s written from both the mother’s point-of-view and the daughter’s point-of-view. Sally shares through the eyes of a mother and all that entails while Sarah provides details through the eyes of a child and now adult. Each monthly chapter is written from one viewpoint about a particular time of year.

The month of March, written by Sarah, particularly stood out to me as it began with the story of how her mother, Sally, responded to her father leaving for a trip. Her mother was tired and the prospect of needing to take care of the kids by herself was, no doubt, a daunting task, but instead of being ho-hum about it, she cheerfully set about turning a sad occasion into a fun event including an indoor picnic and movie night. She encouraged Sarah by telling her it would be a good week, and they set about making preparations for their fun night. Many years later, Sarah vividly remembered this day.

We’ve had quite a few farewells over the years, so I understand how difficult, yet important it can be to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. I hope and pray that I am able to conduct myself in a manner that my own daughter will be able to look back one day and say that I made a positive impression on her by the way that I handled myself in tough situations.

I appreciated that Sarah and Sally didn’t gloss over the hard times but they also didn’t dwell on them. They acknowledged that hard times and difficult seasons. They flat out said that life wasn’t perfect and neither was their family. Even with the family spats and difficulties, they were still able to have a home culture that welcomed family, friends, and even strangers into their home.

The Livegiving Home isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach to creating a welcoming home. Sally and Sarah invite you into their own lives and share their ideas while acknowledging each home is different. Within that home, there will be different seasons. People change. Life throws curve balls that can challenge even the strongest family. There are peaks and valleys. The important thing is creating a foundation and building on it. Grace and forgiveness can go a long way when you have a strong home that is built on the right foundation.

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1

My hope and prayer is that I build my family, my house on a firm foundation. I want to be an excellent example to my daughter so that she, in turn, will know how to create her own culture of belonging wherever she goes.

Additional Resources:

The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-month Guided Journey

The Lifegiving Home Resources


Fitness Friday: Keep on Walking

Daily walks with my husband are great

When we went to D’s post-op appointment, the surgeon, when he learned of our daily walks, said that walking was perfect. It’s good for the body and good for marriages. I thought it was interesting that he would say that, but I also totally agreed with him.

D and I have continued with our almost daily walks this week. I learned today that he has different plans for the walk based on how we’re doing that day. He’s been gradually increasing the distance that we cover as well as varying the terrain. It’s been good for my ankle recovery as I try to get back in shape and strengthen my ankle. It’s also good for him as he tries to remain somewhat active and get out of the house during his recovery process. (He’s rather limited in his activities right now.)

It’s also been really good for us as it’s given us time to talk. Life has been pretty crazy with him working on his degree while working, my ankle injury, and Munchkin starting college. It had limited our time to really spend quality time together. While his shoulder surgery is a bummer, it has also meant that we’ve had some quality time together. We’ve been able to talk about the here and now in addition to making plans for the future. We’re embracing this time that we have right now and allowing it to nurture our relationship as our bodies heal for injury/surgery.

I am, once again, reminded that while taking care of ourselves physically is important, it is also important to take care of ourselves mentally. We need to be mindful that our fitness routine involves nurturing our hearts, minds, and souls – not just our bodies. We need to remember to carefully tend to the relationships in our lives. Fitness encompasses so much more than just physical exercise.

This week, as D starts to slowly integrate back into his regular work schedule, I plan on continuing to treasure the time that we have together. We’ll take our walks as much as possible. We’ll embrace the moment and focus on the positive.

Fitness Friday: Crutches No More

Our daily walk as a couple for rehab.

Shortly before Christmas, I finally was able to say goodbye to my crutches. I was thrilled to be able to walk again unassisted even if I still wasn’t able to walk properly and without pain. I could, once again, move around freely and carry things around. I could even vacuum in a regular manner. Life became a little easier.

I had made it my goal to be completely off crutches before Christmas, and thankfully, I met the goal. Since I knew that D would be having surgery shortly after the new year, I needed to be back to doing pretty much everything if at all possible. (There are still some things that I struggle with, but I’m slowly getting back to normal.)

D and I are now taking walks almost every day. It’s good for my rehab, and it’s also good for D to get out and about after his surgery. We’re fortunate in that the weather has been rather beautiful as of late. I’m loving being able to spend some extra time with D as we walk and talk. One-on-one talking time is always a good thing in my mind.

It’s interesting learning how to walk all over again. I still have an annoying limp which comes from having been on crutches for so long. My ankle and leg muscles are weak, so I’m working on building them back up. My achilles tendon is super tight was makes certain movements difficult. Daily stretching is critical to achieve better movement in my ankle.

I’m normally rather flexible, but my muscles are way too tight these days. I’m spending a lot of time stretching these days as I try to get back my normal flexibility.

D and I are encouraging each other as we work on our rehab together.

Shoulder Surgery

Hubby recovering from shoulder surgery

One week ago, I took D over to the military hospital to check in for his shoulder surgery. After filling out the paperwork, we were walked up the stairs to the waiting room. A little while later, he was called back to get prepared for the surgery. Once he was settled in and had lots of tubes and what not hooked up, I was called back. (I was told that I couldn’t be around when they did the initial prep.) Of course things didn’t start out very well when they put the IV in the wrong hand, so they had to redo it.

After a very long delay, we were told that the OR was ready, so I needed to leave the room as they didn’t want me passing out when they did the nerve block. (Let’s put aside the fact that I’ve been around a lot worse. lol!)

I was escorted out of the area and headed out to get some lunch as it was well after lunch time at this point. Little did I know that I shouldn’t have left the building – at all. I went to the exchange and grabbed something to eat and headed back to the hospital to sit in the waiting room. Only, when I got buzzed into the waiting room area, I was escorted into a room where my husband was laying around waiting for me to get back. (I had his clothes since he was supposed to be heading into surgery.)

I found out that after doing the nerve block, they realized that the equipment wasn’t working in the OR. The back-up equipment wasn’t sterile, and the machine that they use to sterilize equipment was down. So, now, poor D has a nerve block on his shoulder which means no feeling in his arm, and the surgery has to be rescheduled. We went home with me in a less than charitable mood to say the least.

As the nerve block completely settled in, D started to experience some difficulty breathing. He wasn’t able to use his arm at all. Needless to say, it was a very long and frustrating night. Later the following day, after the feeling in D’s arm had finally returned, he received a call letting him know that the surgery had been rescheduled for Wednesday. They assured us that the equipment was all in working order.

Mid-morning on Wednesday, we head back over to the hospital. His paperwork is not in order, so they have to get all new paperwork when he checks in. As we’re being escorted to the waiting area, we learn that we should never have been taken up the stairs on Monday. Policy stated that we were supposed to be taken up in the elevator because they don’t know what medical conditions the patient may have.

We didn’t have to wait very long in the waiting room this time around. They took D back and got him into his lovely gown, and then I was called back to sit with him. Due to the complications from the nerve block, D chose not to do the nerve block this time. I was also there when they hooked him up to all of the equipment this time. I watched as one person blew out the vein has he tried to put in the IV, so someone else had to come along and do the IV.

After some time passed, they rolled D back to the pre-op room. This time, I decided not to go anywhere just in case. I heard many apologies that day as several individuals (including the surgeon and head OR nurse) felt rather bad about the whole fiasco on Monday. After the surgeon closed D up, he came out and informed me that D’s shoulder was worse than expected. He said it was trashed and very angry. He went over all the pictures and the procedures that he did. Honestly, I really liked the surgeon and the head OR nurse as they were on top of things and pretty horrified by the less than professional nature of how things had gone down previously.

Once D was in recovery, I was escorted back to see him. He was in pain, out of it, and rather ill. I was pretty surprised that they immediately gave him water rather than ice chips. Needless to say, as soon as he took a sip of water, he got sick. I was a little taken aback at how quickly they released him from the hospital. He was so out of it and sick. He wasn’t even at a point where he could make sense of the questions they were asking him. Every time he moved, he got sick. It was not a fun trip home – at all. I felt so bad as there was nothing I could do to make things better for him.

The arrival home was not a fun event as he was so ill and out of it. The pain was not under control – especially since he kept getting sick which meant he wasn’t able to keep pain meds down. Once he finally got comfortable, he was able to relax and fall asleep. Sleep was ultimately what allowed him to start to feel a little better. Of course, I had to wake him up every four hours to give him meds, so it was a long night.

We’ve finally settled into a regular routine which still includes a regular med, exercise, and icing routine. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but we’re optimistic about what the future holds. It’s doubtful that he’ll get back to 100%, but we’ll both be happy if he has a functional shoulder again.

Looking Back at 2015

It’s hard to believe that we’re already in 2016. Yes, I typed it wrong and had to change the date as I’m still not used to typing 2016. **grin** It seems like we were just starting 2015 yesterday. 2015 was a crazy year for us, so I thought it would be fun to look back at pull out a picture from each month. It’s good to remember even as we look ahead a what 2016 may hold in store for us.

January – New Year Begins with Snow

It's Snowing

Because we live in an area where snow is not a regular occurrence, we can happily welcome an unexpected storm that dumps way more snow than projected. We were all rather excited even if it did create a few issues as we weren’t prepared for that much wet snow and single digit temps.

February – Making Lots of Gluten Free Granola

Gluten Free Coconut Granola

If you’ve ever priced gluten free granola at the store, you know it can get pretty pricey which is a problem if you have someone in your family who really likes granola. When you have several people who like granola, you end up using granola as a garnish rather than as the main breakfast dish because it’s just too expensive. One of those store-bought bags of granola usually equals roughly 4 bowls of cereal – maybe.

March – Bouldering Scratch ‘n Sniff

Hiking with Crash Pad

D has been rock climbing pretty much since we first moved to this duty station. He has really enjoyed this new, challenging form of exercise. For Christmas, I gave him a crash pad that is used for bouldering. Today, we were able to head out to the park for him to try it out for the first time.

Note: Little did we know that a couple of months later D would injure his shoulder which limited his climbing. When he injured his other shoulder not too long after that, it stopped his climbing all together and set in motion the series of events that would eventually lead to him needing surgery.

April – Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen

Somewhere along the way my baby grew up. It’s hard to believe that she’s now sixteen. Once she gets her hours in with her driving permit, she’ll be getting her license. She’s no longer a little girl, but she’ll always be my baby.

May – High School Graduation

Our 2015 High School Graduate

It’s hard to believe that a little over a week has passed since Munchkin graduated from high school. While our homeschool journey has come to an end, learning will never end. We’re already preparing for college and other learning endeavors.

June – Creation Rim Tour at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Rim Tour

To celebrate Munchkin’s graduation, we headed over to the Grand Canyon to take a rim tour with Canyon Ministries. Our day started rather early as we needed to meet our guide – Guy – in Williams by 07:00. We all piled into the tour vehicle, and Guy began to tell us a little about Canyon Ministries and what we’d be doing that day.

July – Fitness Friday: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Fitness Friday - when injury interrupts your regularly scheduled fitness routine

I let hubby know what has happened, and I then I wait until he can get home from work to take me to the ER. A trip to the ER and some x-rays show that it’s not broken. It’s a really bad sprain, so I have a sprained toe on my left foot and a sprained ankle on my right. The put a splint on it and give me crutches and pain meds. I’m off my foot for a minimum of a week, and I’m not allowed to drive. Because of the sprained toe, moving on the crutches is very painful, so I’m pretty much not moving around for now.

Note: Little did I know when I wrote this that I would be on crutches for nearly 6 months and still unable to walk regularly when the new year rolled around. **sigh**

August – A New Chapter: Our College Girl

Munchkin's book from her first semester of college.

I can’t believe our baby girl is now a college student. Yes, she’s currently attending school locally, but it’s still a huge change for us.

She’s working on some “basic” classes for her future geology major with biology minor. Her first semester of college includes Chemistry, Trigonometry, College Composition, and Physics. It’s certainly not an easy first semester, but she’s motivated to do well as she knows it will help her with her future plans. It’s not a load that I would have wanted to take right away. 😉

September – College Road Trip

College road trip with Daddy

Daddy had to head to the East Coast for some school related stuff, so Munchkin went along with him. While there, they headed over to tour the campus of Cedarville.

October – Our New Licensed Driver

Munchkin has her temporary driver's license.

Munchkin’s road to getting a license has been a long one mainly because she really didn’t have an interest in driving. Since she attends college classes every day and there have been a couple of instances where I couldn’t get over to pick her up right away due to some complications with other events, she slowly began to see the importance of being able to drive. With that realization and the expiration of her learner’s permit looming, she really applied herself to getting comfortable with driving.

November – RZR: Making Improvements

Testing out the new RZR Doors

Since we live in the desert, Munchkin is able to drive the RZR to and from college classes as long as the weather cooperates. The ability to stay on dirt the whole way to the college makes this possible. It’s definitely a plus of desert life since Munchkin’s truck isn’t up and running yet. I’m sure we’ll eventually see that happen. For now, we’ve been making a few improvements on the RZR to make it a little nicer for the commute.

December – The Search for Christmas Snow

Making a quick stop at the Big Bear Discovery Center

While we don’t normally live in areas that get much (if any) snow, we all still enjoy it. We love milder winter weather, but we do miss the fun that comes with snow now and again. Munchkin especially wanted snow for Christmas this year, so we decided to head out on a little exploration adventure in search of snow.