Saturday, October 23, 2010

book review number 3 , topic: appreciation

Its been awhile since Ive blogged. Many of you know Ive been going at it solo these past few weeks and though its gone well I have found myself without my mojo. There is only one thing missing so i must assume that I receive alot of my mojo from my hubby. I'm finding new ways to appreciate him everyday.

Speaking of appreciation, im full of it these days. I appreciate my Kindle. I have no time to read, I mean this literally. I might totally 20min of silence to myself per day tops.....but i do have to nurse my baby and with my light Kindle I have developed a one handed reading/nursing technique that allows me to enjoy books again for the first time in years.
Ive read quite a few since April (when i received the Kindle) but only 4 so far are deserving of a review. Most were ok but even when they are great only a small portion of them made me feel the need to share. I had to share this one not because it was the best book ever but because it taught me so much. Some I wanted to learn, some notsomuch but all was needed.  the book was Even Silence Has an End

I first heard of the book on the Today show. The author seemed shy, she didn't say much or smile, i found it odd that her publisher would even put her on the show when she didn't really seem to want to be there. I knew she was held hostage in Columbia and I had heard a little on this subject in the past, but to be honest I've never given it much though. Certainly this interview didn't provoke me to give it any more.

A week or so later I found myself searching the Kindle store for my next book. I ran across it, I read a little more. It was set in the jungle, described a woman overcoming a tremendous amount, and thanking God. i figured i would check it out. Kindle books are much cheaper :)

The author is a woman named Ingrid Betancourt. She was a presidential candidate when she was kidnapped by the Colombian guerrilla group FARC. At this point the judgemental side of me took over. She was no ordinary woman, she put her life in danger on purpose with an agenda and it was a risk she was willing to take. She even signed some papers acknowledging that. ......Then I remembered that should the same happen to my husband, he has acknowledged those same risks by choosing a career in the military. That wouldn't make his life any less precious and his story any less deserving of compassion so I dropped it. I had to squash that down and think of her as a 40something mother of two with no jungle life experience and no military training.

Of course she despised her captors as would anyone (no Stockholm syndrome in this story) but what i found odd was the self-righteous attitude. She seemed to feel "above" the fellow prisoners and considered all this beneath her . An American ex-Marine who was one of her co-captives was quoted as saying that some of the FARC treated him better than she did :( You assume when you read a non-fictional book about kidnapping, that you will be rooting for the prisoner. While throughout the book I hoped for her escape, I simultaneously loathed her attitude. I was disgusted at her criticisms of other captives. One might assume that while held prisoner in the jungle we will have bad days and you might not always be at your best but trust me, i would not right a book portraying myself as a saint and namecalling and disrespecting others. She was hardest on Clara, a woman who went in to the jungle supporting Ingrid as her running mate. She was devoted to Ingrid and her ideas for Colombia's future, she was kidnapped and tortured with Ingrid and yet Ingrid criticised her mental instability calling her crazy, moody, etc. My heart hurt because I knew that as I am reading this book so is Clara. More than just characters in Ingrid's book , these are real people with real feelings who were innocent. They didnt ask to be a part of her story, and yet they became the subject of her harsh judgement and were presented to the world as naked on the worst day of their lives, in their worst mental states. I definitely appreciate Ingrid for writing the story but i thought she could have left out all the hurtful info of the other prisoners and still told it well. Perhaps focused more on herself.

Now there is what i hated about this story....but there was much that I loved. Before i read this I was ignorant to the plight of the many hundreds of hostages held in the jungles of Columbia to this day. I learned of the FARC a non-government guerrilla group controlling areas of Columbia and funding itself through illegal drug trade and the economic gains from hostage families. I was disgusted, saddened, and truly nauseous. Ingrid's story is bad enough. Hunger, torture, isolation, you name it. She slept in pouring rain, was bitten by more insects than i can imagine. She suffered diseases, was denied any medical treatment, malnourished, beaten. She describes all of this with amazing detail and survives many unsuccessful yet courageous escape attempts but what broke my heart the most was learning afterwards that there are hundreds of regular people just like you and me suffering this fate even now. Its the type of thing you want to assume someone has fixed by now, someone must have made this stop, but it hasn't. Ingrid was held from 2002-2008, this is not a problem of the past.

in addition to what I learned about hostages, I learned a few jungle survival skills :) now that is fun. As an army wife my husband has spent countless hours playing games of "courtney , what would you do" in which he places me imaginably in random settings, removes my comforts and resources and "teaches me a lesson" on various things i can do and use to survive. Ingrid taught me quite a few as well. i learned that i should grind and eat bones of animals i obtain in the wild for calcium. I learned I can eat salt water fish raw no problem but fresh water fish should be cooked. I learned many uses for black plastic sheets and that in a time of desperation an infant can be given black coffee in their bottle to survive ( i know, im still trying to wrap my head around this one but they did it, everyday, and the kid is alive and healthy).

I truly enjoyed this book so much so that I have done alot  more research on many of the hostages, guerrilla leaders and current status on the issue. Many of the FARC leaders who tortured Ingrid are now deceased and FARC numbers are reportedly decreasing unfortunately they are still taking hostages as a form of income . Im interested in reading the account of the same imprisonment by her companion Clara whom Ingrid demeans throughout her story. Clara has since been reunited with her jungle born son and has written a memoir of captivity as well .

while researching the author and her many fellow prisoners I discovered that i wasn't the only person who wasn't thrilled with Ingrid's description of other captives etc. In fact there was a full on boycott of the book . Also a boycott of her subsequent Colombian mini-series.

The real truth is that no matter how any of the hostages acted before, during, or after incarceration they are all worthy of our compassion as humans. After reading this book I truly appreciate freedom. Not just in the "American" description but simple freedom. I choose what to eat, where to use the bathroom and can do both whenever I want. I ask no one for permission to read and can walk around as little or as much as I like. It saddens me that others cannot say the same. But what can we do a million miles away with little resources to help them ....we can pray, prayer works! God listens and answers prayers and performs miracles daily, these men, women , and children suffering under the FARC are worth a moment of your time ...

and i cannot end this review without a plug for babywearing. there is a point where clara gives birth a jungle style homebirth and ingrid makes a pouch and yes even in the jungle under harsh conditions, babywearing proves convenient and beats out the stroller :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

day 16 the love dare

The last challenge from day 15 was to do something to honor your spouse. I tried to do a few things. I fervently attempted to help him pack for a trip. Im not talking a suitcase or two but a green duffel the size of a couch and a hard box the size of a small fridge. All the goodies had to be labelled and listed and I helped every way i could with a smile :) even helping with lifting mr.giantfridgebox into the beast. I wasn't all that much help but I'm still working on it trying to make it a smooth process. I have not mentioned once how irritating it is that a giant green monster has thrown up all over my living room lol.

I also tried to be a better listener too :)

Day 16

Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers  3 John 2

You cannot change your spouse. A simple statement, and even though most of us know this to be true, occasionally even without intention, we try. For a long time i really wanted a churchgoing hubby. One who would pray with me , do bible study with me and even occasionally miss a Sunday morning football game. No amount of nagging could have produced this , if anything it had the opposite effect. At some point i started leading by example and simply praying to see these changes. I could have never done anything to make this happen but God could and all the sudden I looked around at my husband who had been teaching Sunday school for 3 years, praying, studying , growing, DVRing football games and remembered those prays from years ago. I remembered how I thought they would never ever come true and I realized that God can do anything and only he can change anyone....after all, He is the potter and we are just the clay :)

"A farmer cannot make a seed grow. He cannot argue, manipulate, or demand it to bear fruit. But he can plant it, give it water,soil, nutrients , protection and turn it over to God"

Get the weeds out of your marriage. Selfishness, Bitterness, Anger, Resentment.....Nurture the soil of your spouses heart with kind words and actions. With prayer and praise :)

"Have you ever wondered why God would give you endless insight into all your spouses faults? Do you really think it is for endless nagging? No, its for effective kneeling. No one knows better how to pray for your mate than you do"

Its time to turn our complaints into prayers. You don't have to be a churchgoer or even a believer simply take a quiet moment to pray silently instead of letting your spouse know what flaw you are currently aware of. Prayer doesn't have to be done for hours, or at bedtime, it can be just a second any time of day. Prayer works, give it a shot!

Today's dare

Begin praying for your spouse's heart. Pray for 3 specific areas where you desire God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

we are not weeners, or weaners, but sometimes wieners

When I was a child I love love loved Halloween. I couldn't wait for it, i loved the costumes, the festive 80s sweaters, school parties, and of course the candy! It was really one of my favorite times of year. This might sound funny coming from a mom who has decided not to celebrate Halloween at all, but it is true. It was not an easy choice for me to give up. I decided to put my story into words.......

as a little girl I did a brief stint in a private Christian school (ECS in Memphis Tn). I was only there a few years but those years had a big impact in my life and one of those was Halloween. It was my first encounter with non-celebrators lol. I remember asking my mom why they had a "Harvest Festival" since nobody i knew was harvesting anything but candy corn. I had a few friends there who didn't participate in Halloween. This wasn't a big deal to me, I didn't know why you would pass up free candy but looking back I realize it left me with the knowledge that there are perfectly  nice normal people out there who arent weeners and that is ok.

Fast forward to adulthood. I'm living in Alaska and have made some wonderful friends. One of them is an awesome sister in Christ who is not a weener. She has for great children who really could care less. I totally thought they were missing out. They shared with me some fall traditions they had (cooking soup in a pumpkin, how fun!) and none of them seemed to mind the lack of participation in the cultural norm of Halloween. So later that evening with our husbands deployed, me and my dear friend costume, and bundle our 6 children and I (she was hugely pregnant and stayed in to cook dinner for us) proceed to take them trick or treating in 2ft of snow. We are freezing, we are miserable, there is no fun, only frozen toes.....and I wonder, perhaps if Cathy had the right idea. hmmm

The next year my husband and I decide to just do the church activities instead of a normal Halloween. The kids are happy all was pretty well.....except it was always in my head that we were in fact still celebrating Halloween. There were still scary costumes and everything that went with Halloween, it just happened at church. We explored the history of the holidays (there are multiple histories some good, some bad) and we began to feel convicted that it was not for us, or rather, God did not want us involved. I expected this to really upset the kids, but it didn't. they didn't really seem to care. If you have ever taken candy from a kid you can see that this MUST have been a God thing cause kids don't give up candy without Divine intervention. No Halloween= no problem :)

The next year the Lord blessed us with a pregnancy following a loss. We prayed that this baby would be special, be a child of God, be healthy and serve the Lord. The day I learned I was pregnant I also calculated my due date would be Oct 31. I  knew very well that babies are rarely born on their due date, but something in me wanted this one to be. I had never given birth on my due date. I had never made it that far along yet somehow I knew this baby was coming on Halloween. I really really wanted him to!!! I did every labor trick in the book but ultimately I know that babies come when they are meant to. I wanted him to be born on Halloween because I had this awesome idea that instead of celebrating Halloween or (like the last few years) planning to be out of the house and avoiding it, we would celebrate the birth of a blessing every year. I decided we would have Pike's birthday on Oct 31 and we would use that day to be thankful for our precious 5th born. Well God took me up on that one and Pike was born at 10pm that very night!

That was eleven months ago! wow, it seems like yesterday. Now that the birthday is fast approaching I am plagued with doubt. If I have his party on Halloween will anyone come? will anyone care or will they all be too busy with costumes and candy? it would be so easy to plan it for another day, he wouldn't know and people do that all the time.

After a few days of prayerful thought I remembered asking God to deliver Pike on this special day. I recalled the promise I made to celebrate this gift every year on this day. Do do something better than avoid Halloween, to use this day to bring glory to the Lord..........and so I write it and commit myself to it. Maybe nobody will come , perhaps it will be just us celebrating, but God will know I followed through and I will every year. So if you are not a weener and you are looking for something fun to do just let me know! We will be partying it up for Pike on Halloween his birthday! and we would love for everyone to join us :)

not a weener= don't celebrate Halloween
not a weaner= breastfeed till baby says no thanks
but yes we do enjoy the occasional hot dog and we will play with a dachsund when we see one :)

briargate fun :)

So we had an ipod emergency, which led us to a Briargate Saturday of fun. We intended to pop into the apple store and be in and out fast. Of course that couldnt happen! The kids spotted a giant netflix and had to check it out. While dad was inquiring about an Ipod repair, the kids were inquiring about giant dvd players. Thankfully the apple guys are so fun and totally humored them and even let us take a pic with the giant netflix envelope :) We were going to leave but the kids spotted this fun guy in front of the Halloween store.

The kids were loving the music and having too much fun so we decided to walk the promenade :) The plan was to visit both fountains and then head home.....well we passed Banana, they were having sales even Dave Ramsey himself couldnt pass up, the kids were being great (yes we shopped Banana with 5 kids in tow) the employees were helpful and friendly. We left with great deals for mom and dad (ask about the military discount the first weekend of the month!) nothing in the store broken, and only minimal fingerprints on the jewelry case.

Did you know that all the black benches at Briargate are actually "dancing benches" and each one had to be danced on!

We visited both fountains and quickly realized it is totally fall in Co! We thought about going home but we were just having too much fun! so we headed to Starbucks for some hot chocolate! everybody else did to, the place was packed. Fortunately the people of Colorado Springs are of a most friendly sort and the kids were patient. We had a small spill which a stranger helped out with (thank you :) and we were all warmed up and back on our journey.

We checked out the giant chess game, did a little more dancing, browsed the Brighton store and picked up the good as new Ipod! it was a pretty fun day for doing nothing. Luv me sum Briargate :)