Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category




They say talk is cheap.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Talk can move mountains.

Talk can inspire.

Talk can motivate.

Talk can calm.


Log Rhythms: The Winner!

As of last Wednesday at Solitude

You are invited! On Saturday, June 4th, 2016 we will have a log-raising event at our lakeside lot in eastern Texas. If you are interested in watching the logs go up, please go here to let me know of your interest and I’ll email you details.

In the last Log Rhythms post I wrote about our process to determine who would supply the logs for our lakeside cabin. I named the “finalists” by letters in an effort to “be kind” to suppliers who didn’t meet our requirements and needs.

After visiting all of the mills for these 7 suppliers, we came down to two choices: Supplier E and Supplier F. Here were the basic differences between the two:

Supplier E was significantly cheaper and specialized in square cut logs (which is what we hoped to use.) They build traditionally, meaning that one has to give serious thought to where pipes and wiring needs to go so that the logs are drilled accurately for these necessary items.


Log Rhythms: Selecting a Log Home Supplier…

Two weeks ago I recounted our educational journey about selecting logs for our log home at the Reserve in Montalba, TX. In case you hadn’t already deduced this, we elected to go with northern white cedar logs for the main construction. Northern white cedar is incredibly stable, is naturally bug resistant and tends not to twist over time. We will use some other woods for particular uses inside, but northern white cedar will be trucked to Montalba in June.

How did we learn all of this about logs? We met with several log home suppliers. From attending a couple of log home events, we learned that it’s important to select a supplier that is financially sound. With the recent recession many suppliers went bankrupt. Also, a supplier should be easy to work with–if people don’t return your calls or emails, obviously, there are going to be problems down the road as construction begins.


Log Rhythms: All I Ever Wanted to Know About Logs…and Then Some

Square-logged cabin

Square-logged cabin

I’ve been asked by several folks to post about how one approaches designing and building a log cabin in the 21st century. Today I will begin to outline the steps my hubby and I took to get to where we are today: ready for construction.

I have a sneaky suspicion he and I were exceptionally particular about this process compared to most and that may be why people are asking us to write about it. They’d either like the information because a log cabin has been a dream for them, too or because it seems so wild that we would embark on this journey at this point in U.S. history and in our lives.

Because it turned into a lengthy process, I’m going to outline the first steps we took and then post in May about the rest of that process. Here are the Lessons Learned from the “early going” and what we’d recommend to others:


Log Rhythms: The Reserve…

Sunset on Serenity

Sunset on Serenity

I was not looking forward to a trip to East Texas in October 2014.

My brother’s best friend wanted to dedicate a park he had created on some property he was developing and he invited my other brother and my family to be at the dedication. I was not looking forward to it for several reasons:

  1. I was just getting to the point where I wasn’t sobbing incessantly about losing my brother.
  2. The event would be attended by people I had never met except for my brother’s best friend, my other brother and my hubby. I’m an introvert in such situations by nature and awkward when I try to fake being an extrovert. Add grief to the equation and I’m doubly awkward.
  3. My allergies often send me to the ER for anaphylaxis. These are costly and threaten my very existence. I wouldn’t be where I already knew the doctors and hospitals if that happened…not bueno for me, since my health adventures defy typical medical scenarios.
  4. The Reserve (the development where the park was being dedicated) was full of lakes and a wide variety of trees, bushes, etc. Translation? It could be my allergy tomb! Mold is often around bodies of water; I’m allergic to all kinds of dust, grasses, weeds, and tree pollens.


Word of the Day: Flashback…

These roses are the same as those sent by the hubby yesterday!

These roses are the same as those sent by the hubby yesterday!

Yesterday was a somewhat monumental day for me…for several reasons.

Compassion Counseling Center had all 4 counseling rooms going at the same time…a first for the Center since it opened on January 15th. This week we are seeing 7 new clients…another first. And two of our three counselors-in-training are pretty much getting the hours we want them to have each week so that they can complete their practicums on time. The other counselor-in-training is closing in on that mark quickly and the large reason for not being there already is simply a matter of scheduling, not a lack of people requesting our assistance! I’ll take these kinds of birthday gifts any year. They are directly sent from Heaven.

But, I realized it was significant for a whole host of other reasons. As Facebook did what Facebook does best–alerting my family and friends that it was a special day for me and that awesome group of people took the time to extend birthday wishes, I couldn’t help but flashback to previous birthdays that involved them.


Word of the Day: Red

open hands

Beginning when I was 39 years old and had a 4 year old, 9 year old and 13 year old, I had two back-to-back heart attacks even though I was perfectly healthy. When this occurred in 1999, WebMD didn’t even list my heart condition as a possibility for such human beings. Fortunately, that has changed.

But, there is still much to be done for Prinzmetal Angina, which affects 139,000 Americans. Prinzmetal (named after the researcher who discovered the phenomenon) has a 50% death rate and when diagnosed (only by the divine intervention of God), I was told I could have a heart attack every 10 to 15 years from that point forward. We still don’t know much about why my coronary arteries like to spasm out of the blue and cause blood clots and their resulting heart attacks.

I seem to like to have my heart attacks in pairs and I hate being late, so a little over 14 years later, I had heart attacks # 3 and # 4.


Things I Hope to Be Thankful For in 2015…



I, like many of you, have engaged in expressing my thankfulness for various aspects of my life. While I will probably do the same this Thanksgiving as my family gathers around that all-important turkey, I do find myself wishing I could be thankful for other things in the coming year. Some are simply sarcastic; some are serious. What would you add to this list?

1. That Congress and the White House remind themselves that they are paid, elected servants of the people of this country and will actually work together to accomplish some good things for Americans who want nothing more than to be self-sufficient.

2. That Ebola will be eradicated around the world.

3. That those protesting the unfair treatment of various races and nationalities will remember the concept of peaceful protest constructed by Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

4. That all countries will respect other countries’ borders and only enter and exit them legally.

5. That more and more of us will be prompted to eradicate the hunger and thirst of the thousands of people who die in Africa, every single day, as a result of extreme poverty and a lack of knowledge and supplies to take care of this on their own.

6. That my kids’ stuff will actually leave home with them.

7. That more people emulate Jesus‘ actions. I don’t care if you’re Christian or not; believe in Him or not. The Man set a wonderful example of how we should treat each other.

8. That I will run my first official race this year. If you’re expecting me to do the Ironman Triathlon this year, your expectations are going to be thrown to the ground and stomped on unceremoniously. Can we call the snail pace I run on my treadmill running???

9. That I will stay out of hospitals. It’s not that I’m adverse to visiting them; it’s when I take up residency there that I wish for a trip to Tahiti. I am getting way too familiar with hospital cafeteria menus and when to arrive in hospital parking lots to get the spot closest to the entrance.

10. That hurting people near us will come to Compassion Counseling Center for help.

11. That people/organizations will donate to Compassion Counseling Center so that we can produce simple brochures, business cards and flyers to let people know we are here to help. So far, that has not happened.Better yet, that people and organizations in our communities will spread the word about Compassion without us having to spending a dime for such materials.

12. That 2015 will bring great joy for my family and friends. Many of my friends have children getting married and having babies in 2015. What a wonderful way to continue the world.

13. That MaryAnn will get back to actually writing her book. Note to self: Locate rough draft.

14. That those who are sad, for whatever reason, will know that people care about them.

15. That I have the ability to give myself my own allergy shots and can travel with my hubby.

16. That the Texas Rangers will be injury-free. If this happens, get smelling salts for the DSL, his wife and half of Texas.

17. That the Backpack Buddies program in our community will be fully funded so that we can feed all food-insecure children in our community. A quarter a day keeps the “hungries” away.

18. That celebrities and professional athletes will take responsibility for their irresponsible and dangerous behavior. I’m severely tired of them hiding bad behavior and making excuses for it. Send that memo to politicians, too.

19. That I will learn patience. Yesterday.

20. That the last year of Women of Faith conferences will lead to bigger and better things and that God will select the people who will accompany me to this last conference in October 2015.

21. That our own little community and one even smaller community to the southwest of us will both win state championships in football. Both teams are stellar examples of what teenagers can accomplish when people believe in them. Pride about that successful school team often translates into success in the classroom and in other extracurricular pursuits.

22. That my children will be successful at their pursuits and be happy and healthy. They deserve such success. I am so proud to say that I miraculously got to be their mother or play at least a small role in their lives (Yes, my dear DSL, that includes you.)

23. That my hubby will continue to enjoy success in his career and be healthy. Why? Because he’s supporting all of the crazy causes and interests of his silly wife at the moment.

24. That my Thanksgiving dinners (Yes, plural) will be calorie-free. (A girl can hope.)

25. That chocolate will be calorie-free. (I’m sensing a theme here.)

26. That I will become a better Bible Study leader. (Given the little project described in # 11, this may take a miracle along the lines of the parting of the Red Sea.)

27. That our marriage makes it to anniversary # 33 and that we make it to “double-nickels” this year. Gray hairs, wrinkles, reading glasses, stubborn cellulite and arthritis are a victory dance. Given the arthritis, probably a slow victory dance.

28. That God will bless our church. Our church pretty much accepts people as they are and has a huge heart. They deserve to have a financially struggle-free year.

29. That I read my Bible every day, regardless of my ever-changing health, my sometimes-lousy attitude, and overly-long to do list.

30. That you and yours will also have much to be thankful for this year and the next. Your loyalty to this blog does not go unnoticed or unappreciated at this end. You are my energy, my enthusiasm and my inspiration when I write.

What do you hope to be thankful for in 2015? Comment below!

Friday’s Post: My Favorite Things Returns!

You Might Also Like: Lessons Learned from Starting a Nonprofit Counseling Center and Lessons I Probably Shouldn’t Have Learned at Women of Faith


Healing Hazel Amber Necklaces: A Product Review…

The Amber Necklace I Received from Healing Hazel

New bloggers, like myself, endeavor to get their blogs noticed by reputable entities, such as publishers. However, since there are only so many publishers out there and so many bloggers, it’s difficult for a new blogger to gain the attention of a publisher, particularly if their blog has only a few email subscribers, Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers. Thus, many new bloggers hope and pray for some “sign from the Heavens”  that their writing is worthy of attention. That first sign often comes in a request for a product review.

Several weeks ago that “sign from the Heavens” finally came for MIP. I was contacted by Sophie Langlois at Healing Hazel, to review one of Healing Hazel’s amber necklaces. I am honored and humbled to do that for them. I received a very attractive all-amber necklace the next week in the mail. I have been wearing the necklace daily for approximately a week now.


We’re Still Losing This War…


Warning: War & Peace was shorter.

If you’re hoping for a book review or book announcement or something humorous from me today, you came to the wrong blog. Sorry! But, as I said on Wednesday, I’m still in my grief fog. Thus, I’d like to do something productive with it, so here goes:

The reality is that even though many, many types of cancer are now virtually curable, there are some other forms of cancer that still are, basically, a death sentence for its victims upon diagnosis. Yes, a death sentence.

Now, I want to be absolutely emphatic about a few things before I launch into specifics:

1. ANY battle with cancer requires tremendous courage on the part of the patient, curable or not. Even for these cancers, our treatments for them are still barbaric, if you ask me. We either chop off a part of your body, nuke it, or poison it. In many cases the treatment plan includes all three. NBC News just did a report last night on how chemo may not be a wise treatment for many breast cancer patients because of its long-term psychological, physical and economic ramifications. Thank goodness–for breast cancer patients, there ARE other alternatives, in many cases.

2. I am not bringing this to your attention because of what happened to my brother. I’m bringing it to your attention so that you can make better decisions about how you participate in the solution to these deadly cancers. In fact, esophageal cancer has a better rate of survival than several others. If you ask me, the ones more deadly than esophageal cancer need to be addressed first.

3. Don’t assume that you can target your donations to a cancer research or fundraising organization for the most deadly cancers. I checked on this for the most known cancer organization in the U.S.—you can’t.

Now, with that being said, here’s what I know and have learned:

1. Cancer is about to become an epidemic in this country in a few short years. When I would tell people about my brother, most people’s responses were: “Geez. Everyone I know seems to have cancer.” And they are right to feel that way. If it hasn’t touched your immediate family yet, consider yourself one of the fortunate few.

2. We still know very little about what agents in our universe cause cancer. Even if we do know, we seldom alert the public about it enough for anyone to change their lifestyle to limit their risk. For instance, did you know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for esophageal cancer? My brother quit drinking cold turkey the day he learned that. Too bad he didn’t learn it sooner.

3. Deadly cancers are deadly cancers because there is far less money donated to these cancers than others.  The reason why that’s so is because we, as a society, decided that these more curable cancers, at one time, were so deadly and killed so many people that we had to attack them with a vengeance. I agree with that philosophy and I am thankful that I’ve been able to enjoy the presence of so many of my family and friends because of that philosophy.

4. When less money is donated to a particular type of cancer, that means fewer scientists want to research ways to treat it. This isn’t mean or greedy on their parts–they need to pay the bills, too! If you’re being paid through a research grant, you have to research whatever the grant wants you to research!

5. When fewer scientists work on a particular type of cancer, there are fewer odds they will find innovative ways to fight it. Let’s be honest–the more brainiacs we have working on a kind of cancer, the greater the odds something brilliant will happen to find a great treatment.

6. When there are fewer ways to fight it and diagnose it early, then the chance of you dying upon diagnosis is much, much higher. Why? Stage IV cancers are much more complicated to fight. This is, largely, what happened to my brother. In esophageal cancer there isn’t even a Stage IV because you’re dead before it’s diagnosed!

7.  Even if diagnosed early, fewer treatment methods mean fewer chances for remission. Even if you go into remission, the chances are far greater it will return for deadly cancers.

So, which cancer is the most deadly? Here’s the top 5 and their mortality rates:

1. Pancreatic cancer – 94%.

2. Liver cancer – 83.9%.

3. Lung cancer – 83.4% and it still claims the most lives every year.

4. My infamous buddy–esophageal cancer – 82.7%.

5. Stomach cancer – 72.3%.

Notice anything about the top 5? 4 have to do with digestion. Think about that for a moment. If you get cancer in your digestive tract, isn’t that going to lessen your chances for survival? Uh. Yeah. Because you can’t get proper nutrition while you’re enduring this barbaric way we currently treat cancer! And that’s exactly when your body needs the most nutritional help!

My brother’s tumor was located at the junction where his esophagus meets his stomach. The tumor so blocked the stomach that he couldn’t even swallow his own saliva. And if chemo made him nauseous, things didn’t go the other way, either. Gross, but true.

Now, let’s look at the highest funded cancers for research per the National Cancer Institute:

1. Breast Cancer.

2. Lung cancer.

3. Prostate cancer.

4. Colo-rectal cancer.

5. Leukemia.

What does that mean for our Top 5 Deadliest Cancers? They are not as likely to find cures as quickly. Now, since lung cancer takes the most victims, I am very, very thankful it’s # 2 on the funded list. And I’ll agree that we need to throw money at leukemia, too. Why? It’s # 8.

Want to know where breast cancer, prostate cancer, colo-rectal cancer and leukemia fall on the deadliest cancer list? Here’s the most curable cancers:

1. Prostate Cancer

2. Thyroid cancer

3. Skin Cancer.

4. Breast Cancer

5. Uterine Cancer.

Want to know where the deadly cancers rank for funding levels? Pancreatic cancer is # 10. Liver cancer is # 12. Esophageal cancer is # 19. Stomach cancer is # 28.

When I was a kid, breast cancer was definitely a death sentence. But because of the Susan G. Komen model, it now has an overall survival rate of 89.2%. Stage 1 breast cancer is at 98%! Here’s even more good news: There are Stage IV survivors who have survived for 2 decades! When I was walking the 3 Day for Susan G. Komen in 2009, they announced that the Komen organization had been responsible for nearly all of the great advances in breast cancer research over the last 30 years. They seem to know who to fund, don’t they? That Komen model works!  My suggestion? We need to replicate it for those deadly cancers. And fast…before that cancer epidemic.

And, I think we need to be smart about taking care of our bodies and knowing what cancers are in our family history. And we should “choose wisely” when sending in our cancer donations.

When I realized that you couldn’t target donations to a well-known general cancer organization and realized that my brother was going to die, I decided to look for an organization that targeted funding towards esophageal cancer for those who wanted to send a donation in his memory. I found one that’s working on genomic testing for esophageal cancer. Genomic testing could lead to earlier diagnosis and thus, better survival rates. This organization is quite young, but it’s very well organized and pretty creative about fund-raising.

If you, like me, wonder how much of your donation goes to actual research, you can check out your favorite cancer organization at Look for cancer charities with a 4-star rating. A 3 star rating is also good. But, if it has less than 3 stars, please consider giving to an organization truly worth your hard-earned money or asking that charity to take the necessary steps to earn a 3 or 4 star rating. Or suggest that they take a page from the Komen model and find ways to get that money where it most needs to go.

Why? You and your family may be the very beneficiaries of that.  And here’s a thought: Most of us can spare a dollar a day without really suffering. If we did that every day for a year, each of us would have  $ 365 that could be spent on cancer research. If just half of the U.S. did that this year, we would raise over $ 58 billion dollars for cancer research. Let that marinate in your vast brain for a while and then go make me proud.

Monday’s Post: The return of WOW!!!!!!! Can I get an Amen?

You might also like: Why I Stopped Writing, Another Kind of WOW, A Real Scare, and Lessons Learned from the 2009 Breast Cancer 3 Day