Friday, October 30, 2009

Bookshelf Review

I'm really into books these days. I guess I was quite the reader when I was a kid, and that love is resurfacing again. Let's hope the love for books comes back and the shy, scared-of-people thing stays away for good.

Anyway, here are some books I've finished recently and my two cents:

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
This is an older book from the early 1960s, but one that I'd always wanted to read. My interest was first sparked by Boy Meets World where they took the idea of the book and turned it into a 30 min. episode. I've been especially intrigued as we've considered interracial adoption as an option for us in the future. I enjoyed this book, and the perspective it gave for what race relations were like before the Civil Rights Movement. It was eye opening to read what it was like 50 years ago and see how far we've come as an American people, yet convicting at the same time that there is still work to be done, and wounds to heal. The book has a very To Kill A Mockingbird feel to it which is to truly know and understand someone, put yourself in their shoes. I'd recommend the book for someone interested in cultural issues, and especially anyone wondering why having Obama in office is such a big deal.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Oh man. So I've seen this 400-paged book floating around several of my girlfriend's bookshelves for many years and finally had the opportunity to go through it with my friend Ashley. I am not typically a fiction reader, but I had to give this highly esteemed and popular book a shot. And I was so glad I did. This book tells the story of Michael Hosea and his new bride Angel, a prostitute he was led to marry upon seeing her walk down the street. The story parallels the Bible book Hosea, as well as the heart of Jesus toward us. I can't rave enough about this book. I didn't expect a long, fiction piece to give me new insights into how much Christ loves us and the role of husbands and wives. Definitely a must-read for any married lady out there, anyone struggling with their past sins, or anyone who's struggled with unforgiveness. I guarantee that it's good.

An UnHealthy Truth by Robin O'Brien
I will keep this short because this book, and the things I've taken away, deserves it's own post. But wow - what an eye opener. O'Brien has been called the Erin Brocovich of the food industry and thank goodness she's out there. A mom who got passionate about what's in our food after her youngest kid flared up with a major food allergy, she dives into what's really in our food and ends up uncovering corruption, greed and other misleading practices by many of our food producers, corporations and government agencies. This book has been a fantastic step toward eating a healthier diet in our household. We've finally cut out the majority of our junk food and made a big step in eating healthier. I'd recommend this book to ANY PARENT of young kiddos, and anyone who just can't seem to eat healthy, although you know you should. This was the final nail in our household's coffin that got us to really start watching what we eat (well, at least most days.) It even sparked our interst in local food and helped us uncover this awesome, local grocery delivery company.

So that's it for me! I've got new books in queue, and reviews to shortly after!

Anyone else have some good reads they've stumbled across lately? Let's hear 'em!

Friday, October 16, 2009

One of those Weeks

Ahh... well, it's been one of those weeks.

One of those weeks where I thought life would be slower, but it just seemed to speed up.

A week that I tried my best to have the clarity and joy outweigh the sadness and grief that come with working in ministry.

A week where although I HATE encores, I found myself inwardly chanting "ONE MORE SONG" with the rest of the crowd at my favorite band's concert.

A week where I felt the enemy sitting on my shoulder, yet the presence of a bigger and more powerful God kicking him off, over and over.

A week where I expected to drop by, and instead was invited in.

A week of new revelations and new food. (I'm trying to eat more organic.)

A week where I've had a glimpse at how great Heaven is really going to be.

A week where the thought of living there forever doesn't sound so bad after all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Muleskinner Article

This Muleskinner article

is one of my favorites ever written even.

Thank you to my alma mater

for making me feel so loved.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Yearly Pink Soapbox

Most of you've heard this rant before. But this year's outrageous display of pink EVERYTHING has fueled the fire. It seems even more hyped this year. And it's just Oct. 4th.

I'm not a cancer hater. Obviously, one is closer to my heart than the others. But I genuinely want the world to be rid of them all. I will state for the record, I support breast cancer awareness. I've got family and now two fellow '09 Colondar gals who've fought it. But I support it just as much as I support lung cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, etc. Anyone have an idea what month brain cancer awareness is? Know what color represents lung? Understand the severity of pancreatic? Realize it's just as important for MEN AND WOMEN to get frequent colonoscopies, especially after age 50, as it is for women to get mammograms? Shocker!

Maybe I wouldn't be so turned off by the ridiculous pink ribbons on every product lining super market stores if I didn't have a marketing communication background. I hardly believe it's a coincidence that the target audience of most of those well-loved store brands are moms who manage the household and do the grocery shopping. How convenient, slap a pink ribbon on your product and give a few pennies to breast cancer research and you've got a loyal customer to your brand and more money in your pocket. As much as I'd love to believe it - I don't think the pink's there for the cancer stuff as much as it is the brand loyalty of the female customers. If that was the case, there would be blue stars all down the toilet paper aisle come March. But butts aren't as fun nor pleasant to hype up than boobs, let's face it.

My point is this: if you're going to support a cause, support it through genuineness. Don't have strings attached. Don't stand behind the cancer cause to really make money or fluff up your brand. Don't go get drunk with a team of people at a cancer crawl and feel better about it because you did it for "a great cause." People are dying from this disease, it's pretty serious. I urge companies and individuals to remember this as we use the "cause" to further our own agendas or pleasures. It can be seen as a slap in the face to many of the 10 million diagnosed each year.

You want to help promote cancer awareness? Get screened and tell somebody. Figure out your family history. Meet people who have been through it, and help them find ways to tell their story. Raise money for cancer societies. Wear the t-shirts, the bands, etc. But don't think slapping a ribbon on something you're trying to sell is going to cut it. Us survivors see right through it. And we're not BUYING it.

Want more insight from another cancer survivor? Read fellow '08 Colondar model Becca's blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My 31 Days of Fame

I remember the day I stood in the McMasters garage-turned-studio at Lake George, preparing myself to open the next chapter of my cancer survival. For some girls, lifting up their shirts to expose their stomachs is no big deal. Heck, some girls show it all to get cheap plastic beads at Marti Gras. But for me, revealing my stomach was a big deal. I'd always been so modest, and I was unveiling to the world the most vunerable and wounded part of me.

I curled up the end of my tank top to reveal the seven-inch vertical scar remaining after several surgeries to fight off colon cancer. As the cameras flashed, a range of emotions rushed in. I felt pride in making it through the battle, but pain for having gone through it. Memories of the wounds, the bad days, and the days where I wasn't sure I could keep going flooded in. It was uncomfortable for me to lift up my shirt to expose my scar, but I knew I had to. This journey and my story had now become part of something bigger.

I stood in that garage and gave it everything I had to show hope. My prayer was that by revealing my wounds, I could offer hope that there is healing, strength that we can get through, and encouragement to anyone else going through a painful situation in life.

My cancer journey has continued since I stood in the garage-turned-studio that day. I've got a lovely colon cancer tattoo now, in addition to four new scars and a thicker, pinker incision line fresh from this past summer. I've now been diagnosed with colon cancer twice, and my world shaken once again. Things can change a lot for a cancer survivor in 12 months.

While my story's changed, the journey and the scar remain the same. And my message of hope and faith hasn't wavered. This life isn't fair and it doesn't always make sense. I don't have all of the answers of why this happened, and I never will. But I know that God does, and that it genuintely hurts Him just as much as it hurts me. He's a relational guy, and is yearning for us to lean on Him through the hard times rather than blame Him.

So today, it's my month. And my message hasn't changed. For the next 31 days, I'll proudly stand in the kichens and offices around the country, broadcasting a message of hope through cancer, and faith in God. And I still have faith today that one day, this will all make perfect sense. Even the part where I had to bare my belly for a calendar.

Check it out ... Miss October 2009