Saturday, April 18, 2015

Longing.

Blaise Pascal once said "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."

As hokey as it may sound, I am finding that more and more true lately.

Don't get me wrong.  I've always known I need Jesus.  I've never given in to the idea that anything else in life -- money, jobs, relationships, etc -- can fill that thirst.  At least not intellectually anyway.  I can recognize the need for Christ and my deficiency without His presence daily in my mind. I can see how only He can fill the gaps & satisfy my soul.  But having been adrift without a steady church home for the last 3/4 of a year, I see it more & more every day.

Don't be mistaken.  I am not saying that finding a church would fill the God-sized hole in my heart.  I am not mixing up the two.  Church does not equal God. Going to a place where I hang out with people who believe similarly to myself, being taught, singing songs....that is not the same thing as my personal relationship with God.  It does not equate to personal study of Scripture or daily prayer or filling my mind with music that uplifts me and points me toward Him.

But it sure does help.

Long ago, a wise friend told me "We are not meant to live a Lone Ranger life as Christians." meaning that we are not meant to do things alone.  We need community.  We need relationships.  We need counsel and accountability.  While I am totally an introvert, I can't agree more that we DO need Godly people in our lives.  We need people who love us and care about us in the good stuff and the hard, yucky parts of life.  We need to belong and feel like we're a part of something.

But lately, I am not feeling like I'm a part of much.  I have felt a big, gaping, painful hole where I feel lost and tossed by the wind.  And I suppose on some level I've recognized that and have begun filling that part of me with other stuff.  With events.  With people.  With social issues, social media, books, movies, TV shows.  I see people living their lives with all this "stuff" crammed into their lives all the time and they seem happy enough.  Some are Christians, some are not.  But I'm realizing more and more that I simply can't live this way.  And it's my own fault that I've packed my heart full of other stuff.  This is not who I am.  I miss being in Bible study and having talks with friends about faith and how it impacts daily life.  I miss ministry and serving.  I miss feeling like I am surrounded by family every Sunday while I close my eyes & feel the presence of the Holy Spirit envelop me.  I miss worship on such a deep level I can't even put it into words.  I am aching for His closeness every day. And while the lack of a church home has certainly impacted all of this, my own depravity and tendency to wander has not helped my case.

I was listening to Hillsong today on youtube (THIS video to be specific) and I was overcome with His presence in my bedroom while I was folding laundry.  Click the link...read the lyrics in the video's description.  Desperate for you...drench my soul....I hunger and thirst....Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within...Like a mighty storm, stir my soul.  Oh sweet Jesus, I needed these words today.  I need them every day.

Oh Father, help me to see when I am filling up this God-sized hole with anything else.  Help me to seek your face more fervently.  Help me to fill my free time with worship and praise and gratitude.  Help me focus.  Help me search for YOU in every minute.  Let my life bring you glory and honor.  I love you.

Church hunting

I grew up in church.  Every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, every Wednesday night.  I married a man who went to another denomination but he was just as actively involved.  Our kids have been raised going to church every week, too.  My relationship with Christ is very important to me.  I thrive in good worship, good teaching, sweet friendships and opportunities to serve in ministry.

Eight months ago our family began searching for a new church home.  We hated to leave our old church, but our season there had come to an end.

We first visited a Methodist church that was great but it was the very first place we visited, so we hated to make a snap decision based on one visit.  Our son wasn't 'sold' on it either, so we just kept moving on.

Then we visited a very packed large Baptist church.  It was too big, too crowded....and my husband wasn't sold on the atmosphere of it.  So we kept looking.

We visited a charismatic non-denominational church that was a nice size, but that was about the only good thing we could say for it.  No one was rude or mean or anything...it was just way too much...everything...for us.

We visited a lovely, sweet little congregation at a community church (non-denominational) which endeared themselves to us really quickly, but after 2-3 weeks of visits, we knew it wasn't a good fit for us long-term.  There were maybe 10 kids total (birth through 18) and the vast majority of the 65 people who were there were over 60.  It just didn't seem like the right place for a family who has kids that need a youth group.

We visited a local Church of Christ that didn't suit us as well.  We're not really connected to the traditions involved at a Church of Christ, so it really wasn't a good fit for us.  But I must say, there were a thousand super-sweet white haired men & ladies who were very friendly.  I think we talked to each one of them individually for 15 minutes before we left the building at 3:00 PM.  The service was over at 11.  (big grin--just kidding!)

We visited a non-denominational church about 15 minutes from home for several months and fell in love.  We thought we'd finally found our home, but then discovered that our daughter, who very much needs relationships & activity & the social side of a youth group was not really getting that at this church.  The only youth involvement she had was on Sunday morning (because the Wed night group freaked her out & was not a good fit for her) and it just wasn't cutting it.  Our son refused to go to any of the youth stuff because there were no boys his age & it felt very uncomfortable to him.  So after about four months of feeling 'at home' in every other way, we left with our tails between our legs.  We had already fallen in love with the pastor, the worship time, the small-town country feel....but it just wasn't the right place.  {I'm positive that if we didn't have kids that we needed to find a place for, Larry & I would've joined & stayed forever.}

After leaving, we went back to the Methodist church we had visited first just to have a place to go for a couple weeks while we decided what to do next.  I am thankful for so many connections around town so it is simple to slip in the doors of so many churches & sit in on a service.  We live in a the smallest big town I know of.  Lots of connections at dozens of churches, so there are plenty of places we could visit.  Samuel's feelings had not changed about this church, so we knew we weren't staying but it was a good place to fill the gap for a couple weeks.

We visited a satellite campus of a very large Baptist church next.  It was very, well...Baptist.  Don't worry.  It's okay.  I can say that.  I grew up in a southern Baptist church.  It didn't fit us at all.  Between the attack-greeters with stick on name tags at the door when  you walk in and the off-beat hokey music and the simulcast preaching from the bigger campus in town....it just didn't feel right.

We then visited a local Assembly of God church for 2 or 3 weeks & while I loved it, I think that's mostly because I know almost the entire church already and it just felt very comfortable for me.  My son, however, said he couldn't put into words exactly how he felt....just that this was not a place he'd ever get comfortable.  He has since given us a list of things he wants to see in a church & pretty much none of those things are fulfilled at this AG church, so we're journeying on.

Tomorrow morning, we're visiting another Baptist church.  I've watched some of their services online.  It looks good & I think it might be a good fit.  We have a number of friends who go there.  But I'm long past being able to predict what the rest of the family will think.  I'm just crossing my fingers & praying.

Honestly, as long as they teach the four basic beliefs of Christianity, I don't care what the sign out front says.  Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentacostal Holy Ghost-filled, Conservative Lutheran, non-denominational, Assembly of God, Church of Christ.........whatever.  I'll sign up & get my free toaster with any church if we can just find a place to get involved that everyone is happy.  {By the way, those 4 things are the virgin birth, Christ's atoning death, the resurrection & the 2nd coming.  Everything else is just fluff.}

I'm tired. 
I'm ready to be done hunting. 
I'm ready to settle in, get connected, get involved in serving & ministering. 
I'm weary of the search. 
I miss those close relationships & connection. 
I miss having a church to call my own. 
None of us are made for this lone ranger Christian thing. 
I need community & fellowship & accountability & solid teaching on a regular basis.


Pray for us?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

As least I'm not as bad as.....

Recently I found myself looking at a woman I know, thinking about how heavy she has gotten.  Chubby thighs, a round behind, flabby arms, a big belly.  All I could see when I looked at her was her size.  I know.  SO rude.  Especially since I am clearly no skinny Barbie doll, I have NO room to talk.  But that's what I was doing.  I kept thinking "...at least I'm not as big as HER."  {As if that somehow gives me permission to eat another cupcake.}

And then it happened.  I saw a picture of myself.  She was in the background.  And we looked to be about the same size.

Ouch.

This morning I was thinking about that on my drive to work and something hit me.  How often do we look at someone else's sin and think "Well at least I don't do XYZ like that person."  We think that our sins are not 'as bad' as those of others, but really, a sin is a sin is a sin.  Every one of them creates a disconnect between us and God.  Every sin breaks His heart.  When God looks at our lives & sees our sins, He sees the ugliness and pain.  When he looks at our picture, He sees that other person in the background.  And our sins look the same size.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Product Review: Plexus Slim Drink

 


I have hesitated to post anything about this product for fear of upsetting people or hurting feelings.  That is not my intent.  I hate to cause conflict.  I don't like to argue.  So if this post makes you feel that way, I apologize in advance.

I also hesitate to post anything because I dread the comments I will get from those hardcore Plexus ambassadors and users who will want to know details of my life so that they can advise me on how I should try it again and do this or that differently.

I truly believe that Plexus Slim is a gem of a product for some people.  After all, if you do a google search of product reviews and before/after pictures of users, you will find TONS of positive images and reviews.  But when I first began hearing about it, I searched the internet for both positive and negative reviews.  I could only seem to find positive reviews.  And it seems like EVERY one of them was written or filmed (some were videos) by someone who sells the product.  Maybe they tried it, fell in love and decided to sell it and then wanted to tell about it!  And that's great.  I admire their ambition and I'm glad it worked so well for them.  But I didn't have those results.  I wanted to post my review here for those who might be searching or a Plexus Slim drink review before they start the product.  I wanted them to be able to find one by someone who does NOT sell the product and who isn't 100% satisfied with the results.  (Sorry, Plexus friends!)


So let me back up and start from the beginning.  Over a year ago, my sweet friend Jessica started posting to facebook about this wonderful new health drink she was using.  She got a sample from someone and used it and fell in love.  It has changed her world so much.  It helped her lose weight, sleep better and have more energy.  She said that she actually felt better/different on the VERY FIRST DAY that she drank it.  She ended up signing up to sell it that first day because she was so impressed (and she wanted the discount--and income!--signing up to sell would provide.)  For nearly a year I saw her posts about Plexus a couple times a week on Facebook.  I read testimonials over and over that she shared.  I really liked what I was hearing/reading, but I couldn't afford the products.  Their Slim drink (pictured at the very top of this post) is their big seller but they have a lot of other products as well.  Just the drink alone costs about $80 per month.  With very tight finances, we just could not spare $80 a month.  I talked to her several times over the year, checking back to see if the price had dropped.  Each time I left the conversation saying "Maybe one day I'll be able to afford it and I'll try it."  She was never pushy or insistent like other people who have sold me other things in the past.  No guilt or shaming me into buying it by saying things like "Well, yes, it's pricey but you just can't put a price on good health."  {Eye roll.}  Trust me.  Yes, you can.  If you can't afford to buy a gallon of milk, you can't afford to pay $80 a month for a weight loss product so guilting me about it is just going to make me mad!  But I digress....

 
Last summer, Larry's blood pressure and cholesterol levels were through the roof.  After losing his dad in late May, his health really took a hit and I was terrified that he'd have a stroke or a heart attack one day and leave me a widow.  Due to his dad's loss, we inherited a little money that we used to pay off a few things, so it freed up a little money in the budget.  So I called Jessica and said "ORDER IT!"  I wanted Larry to start using it immediately.
Upon doing some research, I found that Plexus was originally created to help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.  And it worked!  But the test subjects saw improvements in other health issues too -- blood pressure, cholesterol levels and more.  So they tested it on non-diabetic patients and those people saw improvements in their health as well.  And across the board, all of them lost weight and inches.  So all of that sounded wonderful!

After watching Larry drink it and drop a few pounds and inches right off the bat, I decided to bite the bullet and buy it for myself as well.  After all, we can't have daddy going and getting all skinny on us and leaving mama behind, right?  That's where this review begins.

On September 8, 2014, I began drinking Plexus Slim every day.  I drank it first thing in the morning before breakfast.  I made sure to drink tons of water the rest of the day.  (The "rules" say you should try to drink about half your body weight in ounces of water each day.  That wasn't too hard.  I was already drinking nothing but water, so I just upped my intake a tad.)  In the first 2 weeks, I lost about 5-6 pounds and lost several inches, all right around my waist and hips. (where every woman wants to lose!)  I was pumped!

 
But then I stalled.  Actually, I gained back a couple pounds.  I had not missed a day of my drink.  I hadn't cut back on water.  I was still eating well and doing all the same things I was those first couple weeks.  Jessica reminded me that daily fluctuations in weight are normal and maybe I'd see more loss in the coming weeks.  I tried to determine if maybe I'd gained a little because it was "that time" (sorry to any guys reading this!) but alas, it wasn't.  My weight yo-yoed for weeks.  Up and down, up and down by 2-4 pounds.  But having those inches gone was enough to keep going.  Jessica shared some testimonial where a lady had only lost 1-2 pounds but over a few months' time, she dropped several clothing sizes.  That sounded good.  I joked, however, that if I only lost inches but never lost weight it would be hard to explain being a 400 pound size 2.  LOL!  {Note: I do not weigh 400 lbs, but some days I sure feel like I do!}


As the months went by, I grew frustrated that my weight loss/inch loss remained stalled right where they had been since 2-3 weeks in.  I began asking questions of Jessica and everyone else that I came in contact with who had any connection to Plexus.  I have several friends who sell it, a few who use it.  I googled videos of people who had good results and I tracked some of those people down via their blogs or on facebook.  They all sort of shrugged their shoulders and said they didn't know why it wasn't working.  Most of them suggested I add more products to what I was already doing.  (In other words, spend more money on Plexus products.)  Some suggested that maybe I had a "candida overgrowth".  I googled that and found that in the list of like 500 symptoms, I only had maybe 2 of them.  Since that didn't seem to be the obvious reason why Plexus wasn't really working for me, I started zoning out when people mentioned that.  Honestly, I couldn't bring myself to shell out MORE money for more products that might or might not do me any good.  Because with each one, everyone said to give it several months at least before I determined that it was or was not working.  Seriously folks, I'm already spending $80/mo EACH on both my husband and I to get this one product.  No thanks.  Some suggested a "cleanse" product.  For a girl who already deals with (ahem...) IBS/potty issues, that sounds kind of horrifying.  No thanks.  Others suggested the "accelerator" product.  It's their 'diet pill' sort of thing that revs up your metabolism (heart rate?) and is supposed to make the drink work faster/better.  Again, that one scares me a little.  No thanks.  I felt like the drink would either work or it didn't.  And for me, it didn't appear to be working, but I kept hoping it would.


By about 3 or 4 months in, Larry quit bothering to drink his Plexus each morning.  He wasn't seeing results either.  I canceled his shipments and kept crossing my fingers hoping "This will be the month it works!" for myself.  After all, every time I talked to one of my Plexus friends, they kept telling me the same thing "Everyone's body works differently.  For some people, it takes a little longer.  Keep going!"


At about the 5 month mark, Jessica asked me to recount my health issues to her to see if she'd missed something.  I told her the only one I have.  IBS.  She suggested that I try JUST the probiotic Plexus makes.  It's called ProBio5.  She said for some people, it's a gut health thing.  And if they can get their gut healthier, then the Plexus Slim drink "kicks in" and starts helping more.  Since I already take a probiotic, I figured switching to a different brand/type wouldn't hurt.  I bought it and gave it a shot.  It ended up working very well!  I could definitely tell a difference with it and on days when I forget to take it, I can TELL!  I've been taking it since the first week of January.    This is it, below.  {If you want more info about that, comment or email me.  I'd be glad to share more about it, but that's a whole other story.}


This month, March 2015, marks my 7th month of drinking a daily Plexus Slim.  I have called Jessica and asked her to cancel any further shipments of the drink for me.  It just doesn't work for me.  And obviously after this long, it's not a matter of not giving it enough time.  Folks, that means that in the past 7 months, I have spent $532 on a drink that has not worked for me.  (That's not even counting the first several months that I was spending double each month to buy for both Larry and me!)  I have given it a longgggg try and it just didn't help me like I hoped.  I plan to continue taking the ProBio5 because it's been wonderful, but as soon as I use up the remaining package of Plexus Slim, I will no longer use it.  (By that time, it will have been over 8 months since I started it....I still have almost a full month's worth on my kitchen counter!)  And no, I don't want to just throw it away.  After spending all that money on it, I will drink it.  If for no other reason than to help me drink more water each day!

In conclusion, my results with Plexus include a loss of less than 10 lbs in the first couple weeks and a handful of inches, also in the first few weeks.  I will admit, the inches have remained gone, but nothing else has changed.  I don't sleep any betterI don't FEEL any different at allI don't have any more energy than before.  Seriously, nothing changed after the first couple weeks.

I hate to be negative because that's just not my personality, but at least for me, Plexus was not the "magic pill" I had hoped for.  We all keep hoping to find such a thing, but obviously there is no such thing.  We all know what must be done to lose weight and I will have to enlist the ol' notebook and pen and just do it!  The only thing that has ever been a successful weight loss tool for me is keeping a food journal.  Writing out EVERY bite I eat all day & tracking calories is the easiest way for me to lose weight.  Eating better, moving more...if only there were a magic pill.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 2015 Year of Dates: Bookstore Treasure Hunt

Tonight we began a new year of dates.  If you're not familiar with what this is, a few years ago I heard of the idea from a friend & jumped on board. Apparently it's a thing.  I had no idea but if you google "year of dates" there are a zillion ideas out there.  Anyway, so about what it is.  At Christmas, I give Larry 12 pre-planned dates, one for each month of the coming year.  Without a plan in mind, we tend to TALK about going on date nights a lot, but never get around to it.  Or the date nights end up being the exact same thing over and over.  So when I heard of this Year of Dates thing, I loved the idea of coming up with 12 really fun, creative dates that we'd both enjoy!  So tonight begins the 3rd year.  You can scroll to the bottom of the page & click in the labels section on "A Year of Dates" or "Year of Dates 2014" to see what we've done in the past.  On with our date!

First of all, I had to turn THIS....


...into something date-able.  It was tough work, folks.  I mean, really...that's a scary sight.  Fortunately I'm an Avon lady so I have tons of products to employ and I believe in the curling iron.  See?


Whew.  All done.  I took this pre-date selfie & sent it to Larry's phone.  He was sitting in the living room waiting while I got ready.  I sent it with the message "Hey cutie.  Want to take me out?  I'm ready!"  {To be totally honest, I had to take a pic alone because I wasn't 100% sure if I could convince him to take a date night pic with me, so I wanted some documentation that I got dressed up!  But more on the date night picture later.}


The plan for tonight:


We went to Barnes & Noble tonight at 6:30.  We each set a timer on our phones and split up to see who could find the most weird books by 7:00.  It didn't take long to find some crazy ones.

Here are a glimpse of the treasures we found.


After all, if you're having some trouble, the best way to fix it is to never actually talk about it.


I'm really not sure what the 5 very good reasons are to punch a dolphin in the mouth, but I glanced through the book & enjoyed several of the ironic or sarcastic cartoons.


Clearly, Alan Alda's dog died & he had it stuffed and he wants to advise against that.  I wonder why.  Did it scare the neighbor kids?  Did it fall off the mantle & break something?  Weird.


This was in the cooking section of the store.  Maybe a guide for all the newlyweds & young singles out there?


Like that will ever actually happen!  There's just no way to make sense of people!


Beyond the word "adulting", which I didn't even know was a verb, I love that it says you can become an adult in only 468 steps.  Is that all?  Just 468?  I mean, if it had been 469 it would've been too many!


Clearly, there is a problem if you are dressing your child in this way.


I'm sure there are major theological issues with this book, but the title struck me as pretty funny.  Please don't hate me if the picture & title are horribly offensive to you.  And if you do, don't scroll down.  The book titles get worse.    Well...not this next one, but after that.


I didn't realize there was a book for this.  I guess someone needs it, but of all the "for dummies" books out there on big topics like accounting, passing your SAT, potty training (YES, that is a big topic for parents of toddlers!)....I just didn't know there was one for raising chickens.

And then we reached the umm....not as nice, but still very funny books.  Mind you, Larry and I both have a pretty warped, silly sense of humor.  While neither of us TALK LIKE THIS in real life, we both found great humor in these titles.  If you offend easily, just scroll to the bottom & read the part right above the final picture.  If you think you can handle it, scroll on.


Seriously...what ARE they thinking?  The women of the world will never 'get' them!


Well...somebody's got to marry them I guess.


Someone wrote a book about this?  Who reads this stuff?


All these women telling about the life of a woman...and they are deemed to be the B word for doing so?  That's so weird.


This was in the cooking section.  But it's about doing a cleanse I think?  But she's talking about beauty secrets.  I'm really not sure where nuts fit into all that.

And finally...a book that many a person should read.


I love how Dick & Jane are high-fiving on the cover.  Sorry, folks...bad humor cracks me up.

I won't get into which book won, but I will say that we ate dinner at Jason's deli.  Their California turkey club is to die for!  But Larry's asiago roast beef sandwich was nasty.  Apparently it had horseradish on it & he hates horseradish.  He took it back & swapped it for something & the guy at the counter told him that the roast sandwich is actually their most returned sandwich.  So there ya go, a little heads-up on the yuck factor of that sandwich.

Now...about that date night picture.  I always try to convince Larry to take a picture with me and he does all he can to refuse.  If I guilt him enough, he'll usually go along with it, but he isn't thrilled about it.   Tonight on the way home, I reminded him that we hadn't taken our date night pic yet, so we had to take one when we got home.  He whined and said no.  I reminded him that one day when we were dead, the kids would need pictures for our funeral services and they wouldn't have any if he didn't take a picture.  He told me not to be so morbid.  So I tried again.  I told him that one day when we're in the nursing home & the kids are having to come change our diapers, they'd want to have pictures to put up on the walls to remind us of our younger days when we were so in love and doing fun things together.  And I told him if he never took pictures with me, the kids would go through the pictures and say "Wow.  Mom went out a lot.  This time in 2014, she went to the book store and took a bunch of pictures of funny books.  I wonder where dad was."  Eventually he agreed to take a picture with me.  ha ha!  YAY!  It's a little blurry, but it's a picture.  And I'll take it.  I even edited and added a sepia filter so the kids could hang up one for us at Shaky Acres that looks a little fancier.  Ha!




Thursday, January 22, 2015

You Can Never Go Home



There is an old saying that states “You can never go home.” The meaning behind that phrase is that, no matter how much you try, going back to whatever felt like ‘home’ in your past is never be the same. Similar to the phrase “You can never step in the same river twice”, with time comes change. Going ‘back home’ may bring mourning and sadness because things are always different after a passage of time.

This past weekend, I made a trip back ‘home’. I was raised at a Baptist church just north of town. My husband jokes that I cut my teeth on the pews there. As a child, we were there every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday night and usually many days in between for various programs and events. All of my childhood friends were members there. To this day, I still have a T-shirt that I sleep in that I got on a summer mission trip when I was in the youth group. (Yes, it’s old and worn and it is sort of amazing that I can still wear it!) I grew up there. All of my faith-based foundations happened there. Regardless of the number of years since I married and moved away, it will always be home. 

On Sunday, my niece was baptized at that church and I went to be a part of her special day.
Upon pulling into the parking lot and situating my family in a visitor’s parking spot, my husband laughed and said “I don’t know if we can park here. After all, your name is carved in the back of at least a few of those pews.” He was right. It felt less like visiting and more like going to a family reunion. Even after twenty years of living elsewhere or attending church in another building, there were familiar faces that greeted me and asked where I had been. It was as if I had just been out sick a week or two and they were concerned about my well-being. 

It was such a sweet experience to sit through the service and look around. My childhood best friend's parents still sit in the same seats. The baptistery where my niece was submerged is the same one I was baptized in. I noticed the perch where I once sat to play the part of Josephus in a childhood choir program. My high school algebra teacher still sang and played piano. My all-time favorite childhood Sunday school teacher was there to hug my neck. A good friend's husband still mans the sound booth. The youth group still sat just to the right of the pulpit near the front. It was a sweet treat to share an hour with so many voices and memories from my past.

But like the saying goes, you can never go home. There were a lot of things that were different as well. The choir loft is gone. The organist I grew up with wasn't there. The crowd was a little smaller. It wasn’t exactly the same church it once was, but that’s how it goes. Time marches on. People change. Churches do, too. It was not a bad difference, but it wasn’t exactly the church of my youth.

 However, as we sang a song that said “Our God saves.” I glanced down the pew and saw my still-wet niece raising her voice while holding hands with her sister. Indeed, it is a different church now but the same message still echoes through the rafters.

Maybe you can’t ever go home, but sometimes it’s worth a trip just to see what home looks like now. Have you been home lately? Maybe it’s time for a trip.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech


In mid-May 2013, a friend "liked" a video on Facebook that I clicked to see what it was about.  The video was 20-ish minutes long, but I got so sucked into it that I lost track of time.  The video was from the Youtube Channel called Soul Pancake.  The video was titled "My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech".  You can watch it HERE.  I promise you won't regret spending the 20 minutes it takes to fall absolutely in love with this endearing family, their ambitious and generous, tender-hearted son Zach and all his friends.

When Zach was 14, he complained of a pain in his hip to his mom.  Like most mothers of teen boys, she tucked it away in her mind but sort of felt like it would get better or go away on its own.  When his hip was still bothering him a couple weeks later, they went to the doctor to check it out.  It was bone cancer.  Osteosarcoma.  Soon after they found it in his lungs as well.  Off and on for 3 years, he fought recurrences of the cancer, but by the time he was a senior in high school, the family knew his cancer was terminal and they were looking at a number of months rather than years.

Zach's mother wrote this book shortly after Zach's death in May 2013.  He died just days after I watched his Last Days video.  Apparently I was not the only one who watched that video.  You see, Zach was a musician and a year or more before his death he wrote a song called Clouds that eventually hit #1 on the Billboard list as well as iTunes.  It was his personal 'good-bye' to his family, his girlfriend, his friends.  That song sort of made him a superstar.  He & his life-long friend wrote a number of other songs that they recorded as well, but Clouds was the biggie.

Mrs. Sobiech's writing is phenomenal.  Through watching the video (and the one year later follow-up video that is also on youtube now) and reading this book, I feel like I lived next door to the family and walked their cancer journey with them.  In a lot of ways, I wish I had lived next door.  This sweet family exemplify what it means to face a cancer battle with faith and hope, and then to face death and heartache with profound dignity & trust in God.

I highly recommend the book!  Very sweet.  Brutally honest.  Tender.  So good!