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Martin Luther and What he means to me

Photo from thinglink.com

Happy Reformation Day! October 31st is the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation. The reason why this is a big deal is because on this day a German monk by the name of Martin Luther walked up to the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. He nailed his 95 Theses to that door and sparked a reformation that is felt 500 years later. I grew up learning about Martin Luther. I am a proud Luther and my theme song is A Mighty Fortress is Our God! The Lutherans out there will get that. I wasn’t until a few years ago that I really began to study who Martin Luther is. Any journey of faith has a struggle. Martin Luther was no different. This struggle I believe lead him to stand up and say wait there is something wrong within the church. I admire him for that. I too struggled with my faith. I was always questioning (which is a good when going through the journey of faith). I believe what is a core of Lutheran faith: we are saved from our sins by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, and the basis of scripture alone.

What Martin Luther means to me? He is someone to be admire for not only what he achieved but also for his faults. He was human after all. We all have our faults but what we do with them is the question. He wasn’t perfect but God didn’t make us to be perfect. If He did life would be boring. Martin Luther was always searching for the truth. When he saw that there was corruption going on in the church he stood up and said wait this is wrong. Money does not by our way into heaven and The Word deserves to be able to reach to the masses not dictated to by some priest who can interrupt in his own way. That’s the nice thing about the Bible. We all can read the same verse and all can get a different meaning from it.

To me Luther and being Lutheran is to always look for the truth. When Martin Luther was facing being named a heretic at The Diet of Worms he would not back down. He gave one of my favorite quotes of his: “Unless I am convinced by proofs from scriptures or plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” I don’t know what I would have done in his shoes, but that took a lot of guts. He was facing excommunication and the threat of death, but he didn’t care because he had truth and faith on his side. Another good quote that shows his sense of humor (I love a good sense of humor): “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant that tree.” That is a good motto to live life by. That even if it would end tomorrow still go out today and live. I can sit here all day and write about Luther but I won’t. I am going to end this blog with another quote from Martin Luther, “The whole being of any Christian is faith and love. Faith brings the person to God, love brings the person to people.

Photo from Immanuelchicago.org

Depression Sucks!!

Depression sucks! Ive been depressed lately. I recently closed a chapter in my life (can’t have anymore children). I don’t regret doing it, but at the same time I’m sad about. I found myself crying over every little thing. I even found myself crying over a pumpkin cartoon. When I get depressed I find myself listening to a lot of Linkin Park. I grew up listening to them. Depression and suicide is getting a lot attention since the death of Chester Bennington. The day he died, I was shocked and sadden. I unfortunately understand the pain his family and friends are going through because I too lost a loved one to suicide. It was the summer before my senior year in high school. I was home alone and went outside to get the mail. Well there was only one piece and it was from the high school. Well I opened up and there were the words I thought I would never see: we are saddened in our community by the death of William (going to leave out his last name). I called his house I don’t know how many times that day (what I didn’t know at the time was his funeral was happening.) and no one answered. I finally called a friend and they confirmed that he had killed himself. I asked why no one called me. No one could answer me that.

My friend suffered from bullying and mental illness and that is what drove him to that dark place. A dark place I know all too well. Rewind to the summer of 1997. I lost 2 of my heroes in a month time span: my grammie and Princess Diana. I was really close to my grammie. We had so many plans for when I got older. She unfortunately got lung cancer and couldn’t beat that monster. Cancer really sucks! Then a month later Princess Diana was killed. I had follow her (thanks to my mom and grammie) for as long as I can remember. The 2 deaths really hit me hard. I slipped into a depression. October that year it came to ahead. I was at my best friend’s house with my brother. We were playing a game of hide n seek (if I remember correctly). I was standing in the kitchen and grab a knife and cut my wrist. I didn’t cut deep enough that I could hide it. The next day in school I couldn’t hide the depression anymore. The teacher after class asked me are you ok. I answered no and told her what happened. Well that set off of a chain of events that saved my life. I went into therapy and learned how to cope and live with my grief.

The one thing that hasn’t left me though is knowing the pain I caused my family and friends. I turned that into a positive because I turned into the friend that people come to when they need to talk. Fast forward to the year my friend died. A few months before he did we had a conversation about what had happened in school. He said he was going to kill himself to prove a point. Well I said to him what point. If you fail you have to wake up every day knowing you caused your family and friends pain because we want you to live. He hung up on me and I went in get him help mode. Thankfully that part of the story had a happy ending because he didn’t follow through and was getting help. But here is the thing about mental illness it has a way of hiding and then hitting you at anytime. A few months later he was dead.

The thing with suicide is it leaves so many unanswered questions. I can only guess why he did it. I still to this day get those moments of that dark place but I know what to do. I talk it through. One thing that really helps me is music. As I said earlier I’ve been listening to a lot of Linkin Park lately. What I love about their music is that it is relatable. When I feel depressed I turn them on and it fits how I feel. Depression is something that is not visible on the outside. The thing is a person can look so happy on the outside, but on the inside is screaming. The one thing I’ve gotten good at is to mask when I’m in pain. I only show it in private. Talking or as I like to call it venting can help a long way, so the next time a friend or family say they want to talk listen because it goes a long way. And if you find yourself feeling depressed and getting into that dark place where you feel like no one cares, you feel like you are better off dead, just remember there is someone who always care. Just pick up the phone and call if it is a medical professional (especially if you feel really depressed and suicidal), family or a friend.

Gettysburg

Happy Halloween Weekend everyone! Sorry it’s been awhile since my last blog. Was recovering from surgery. Today’s blog I want to talk about one of my favorite places to spend some time at: Gettysburg, PA. I love history and the first time I went here on a field trip in 9th grade I fell in love.

As most know Gettysburg is on the history map due to the 3 bloody days in July in 1863. At this point the Civil War has been ragging on for a few years now. General Robert Lee in 1863 wanted to bring the fight into the north. Contrary to popular belief the south did not come into Gettysburg due to shoes but because it was close to Washington D.C. if they could win the battle in Gettysburg and make their way to the D.C. they could win the war. Well as we know that did not happen. The north after regrouping on the first day regrouped and won the battle. Not with a big cost on both sides. Gettysburg is considered the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. The lose of life was huge. As you walk into the Gettysburg National Veterans Cemetery, one can’t help by pause and ponder.

When I visit Gettysburg, the battlefield is one of my favorite places to visit and walk around. There are many places I can list to visit on the field that are amazing:

Devil’s Den: the boulders and where they are placed just amazed me. I can see why it was part of what they are called the slaughter pen. One of the most infamous photos was taken here with a dead rebel sharpshooter. Unfortunately many years later it was founded out the picture was staged.

Little & Big Round Top: these two places are not far from each other. Little Round Top has a beautiful view down to Devil’s Den. Big Round Top is where the north was able to reclaim the high ground and the turning point of the war in my opinion. The 20th Maine was stationed there. The commanding officer was Joshua Chamberlin. During the course of the fighting they ran out of ammunition. Joshua order bayonets. This charge won them the day. To walk in the area where they fought is both humbling and sad at the same time. Sad to think how scared they must have been. Humbling because they were fighting to persevere the United States. The area is nothing but woods. I could only imagine what it must have been like on July 2, 1863.

Pickett’s Charge: this charge happened on the last day. It was Lee’s last attempt to win. I commend him for the try. The military to this day studies this battle. When you walk this field a range of emotions run through you. It must have been scary very scary to walking straight into A hail of bullets and cannon balls.

The view at Gettysburg is absolutely beautiful! No matter the season or weather it is beautiful and peaceful. I know that might sound weird due to what happened there but there is something peaceful about that town. I can’t put my finger on it. There is more to Gettysburg then just the battlefield. They have great restaurants like the The Blue & Grey Pub, winery’s, and some beautiful shops. I highly recommend taking a tour of the battlefield with a licensed battlefield guide. You can either do the tour on horseback, bicycle, Segway, private tour in your car, or bus. Always make your first stop at the Gettysburg Museum and Visitors Center. The Gettysburg Cyclorama is a gorgeous painting. It is a 3D painting of all 3 days of the battle. I also recommend before you walk into the building stopping off and saying hi to President Lincoln. They have a statue of Lincoln sitting on a bench that you can take pictures at. Actually Lincoln is everywhere in Gettysburg due to one of the most famous addresses in American history. Those words that he spoke in November 1863 still hold true to this day.

My dream is to one day to move to Gettysburg and become a licensed battlefield guide. I believe history needs to be shared throughout the generations so we don’t forget what those who gave the ultimate sacrifice may never be forgotten. So if it’s your first time or your hundredth time visiting take some time and stop and think about what happened in 1863. Thank you to all those that sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we have in this country! You will never be forgotten.

Solider’s National Cemetery

Devil’s Den

Devil’s Den looking up at Little Round Top

President Lincoln and I at the Visitors Center

Photos I took from the last time I was there in the summer of 2017.

Hobbies

I thought today I would write about hobbies. We all have at least one. Hobbies are usually our way of escaping the every day life. It helps us relax. There are many different hobbies ranging from sports to something as simple as reading. For me, I have a few hobbies. I will list them and explain why I love doing them.

1. Baking

This one will be obvious to my family and friends. I’ve been baking since high school. I went to VoTech for pastry arts. I inherited my grammie’s talent. I love to bake everything from apple pie to cookies. I wanted to become a pastry chef with my own bakery and tv show on the Food Network. As the saying goes: man plans God laughs. Life happened and now baking is a hobby for me. Which I don’t mind!

2. Reading

There is nothing like a nice rainy day, a cup of tea and a good book. Reading can be for leisure or an assignment. Who doesn’t remember the dreaded book reports in school or essays on a book?! I’m the book worm of the family. Before I had my son I could usually read a book in 1-7 days. My go to books are history, biographies, autobiographies, Harry Potter series, Charles Dickson, William Shakespeare, and any book by John Grisham. Right now I’m reading a book on the day 1 of the battle of Gettysburg. I’m reading that both for leisure and also study. There is nothing like losing yourself in a good book transporting you to another world. Sometimes it is better then watching the movie.

3. Scrapbooking

Talk about a creative hobby. I am currently working on my 7th book. Actually it is 6 & 7. It is of my son. Each year I add a page or so (expect when he was born through first bday that was a whole book) & I will do this until his 18th birthday when I will give the books (because by then they will be books) over to him. Scrapbooking is a lot of work and expensive but the love that I’m pouring into it, I hope my son will feel the day I hand them over to him. Scrapbooking can be used as a good gift for any occasion.

I do have a few more hobbies but those are the 3 I do the most. What is everyone’s favorite hobbies to do and why? And is there a hobby you wish you could devote more time to but for some reason or other you don’t? For me it’s baking. Well until we meet again may we all have a little bit of hope.

Top 10 Favorite Movies

Today I figured I would make it a light blog post. Movies: when you are having a bad day for even a good one there is nothing like sitting down and getting lost in the world of movies. This list is my top 10. I could add more but for the sake of time I just picked 10. I’m going to start at the bottom with 10 and go from there until I get 1. So sit back and enjoy and maybe your favorite movie is on this list.

10:

My Best Friend’s Wedding

I love Julia Roberts! Anything she is in to me is gold, but the reason why I picked this one. Other then Pretty Woman this movie is classic Julia. She has a good range from comedy to drama. And come on Cameron Diaz in this movie is hilarious. My favorite scene is when they are all in the restaurant and they bust out in the song Say a Little Pray.

9:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I love the Harry Potter series, both the movies and the books. The reason I picked this one is because Dobby makes his appearance. He is my favorite character and yes I cried when he was killed I’m Deathly Hallows. This movie also gives more to Harry’s background before the present day and the conflict he feels. Can you imagine what it must have been like to come face to face with the person who betrayed your parents to whose name that shall not be mentioned.

8:

Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh’s version)

I love William Shakespeare! This is my favorite of his plays. Out of all the versions that are out there this is my favorite for many reasons. It sticks word for word to the play, Kenneth Branagh not only is the lead but directs and Robin Williams is in. Even though his role was small Robin just lights up the screen. Plus a lot of the actors in this version have been in other Shakespeare’s plays or actually on the theater stage in Hamlet.

7:

Loving You

I’m a massive Elvis Presley fan (that’s a blog for another day). This movie mirrored his own life. He played the shy country boy who is thrusted into fame really well. It’s the first color movie he was in. The song selection is good. At the end of the movie 2 special people in Elvis’ life make an appearance. Can you guess who? Hint can be found in the picture.

6:

Luther

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation just a few weeks away. I had to put this movie on my list. I enjoy period pieces plus biographical pieces. They could not pick a better actor then Joesph Fiennes to play Martin Luther. He really showed the inner turmoil that Luther was going through when he was struggling to find his faith and coming against the Catholic Church. If you watch any movie on Martin Luther let it be this one.

5:

The Queen

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II need I say more. She was amazing in this role. Everyone can remember where they heard that Princess Diana had died. I sure can remember. They really showed well how the Royal Family and Tony Blair handled that infamous week in 1997. And again come on it’s Helen Mirren as the Queen!

4:

Jailhouse Rock

Look who showed up again! Told you I was a fan. This by far is my favorite out of all of the movies he made. He shows his true acting abilities and he plays a jerk quite well. Best line in the movie: how dare you think such cheap tactics would work on me! Those on tactics honey. That’s just the beast in me.

3:

Pocahontas

My all time favorite Disney movie. Even though the stretched what actually happened in 1607, this movie is just great. I fell in love with history because of this movie.

2:

Lincoln

If you haven’t noticed I love history. Well Lincoln is one of my favorite all time favorite Presidents. Daniel Day Lewis is just perfect in this movie and with Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln you just can’t get any better. I saw this movie in the theater and this was the only time when a movie ended I heard applause. You really want a good period piece of not only Lincoln but the civil war, don’t turn too far but to this movie.

Now for number one! Drumroll please……..

1:

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Clark Griswald at his finest! I watch this movie all year round. It is also a Christmas Eve tradition in my household. I’ve seen this movie so many times I can recite the lines as they are being spoken or even before. My favorite scene is when Clark gets what he thought was his bonus check but turns out to be a jelly of the month club enrollment. When he loses it just classic.

Well that is my list. Did your’s make the list? What is your favorite to turn on after a hard day? Until we meet again here is to a little bit of hope.

My Fibro Story

With the recent news of Lady GaGa announcing she has Fibromyalgia, I like to devote today’s blog to sharing my story. There isn’t much of a lot light shined on fibromalygia. The reasoning is probably it effects women more then men. I started showing signs of it when I was 17. In the fall of 2001, out of nowhere my knees just started to hurt. Went to my family doctor and he said it was growing pains. Even then I had indication he was wrong. Now the thing with fibromalygia is it can lay dormant for years until some factor happens to bring it to the surface. For me was the death of a dear friend. The summer of 2001, he killed himself. I was devastated. As many people know or whoever experienced a loved one who committed suicide knows the many unanswered questions it leaves behind. To this day, it still gets to me. But back to fibro, fast forward to when I was 24. By now the pain had spread to my whole body, I was experiencing fatigue even after I would sleep the whole night, at times it felt like there was a fog in my head, and I started having stomach issues.

I started with my family doctor and went from there. For a year I can’t tell you how many tests and doctors I saw. Meanwhile I was working as secretary at my church. My boss’s wife has fibromyalgia too. The one day we were chatting and she asked me to explain what was happening to me. Her response was you have what I have. I went home that day and did some research and yes it fit me to a t. Well the day after my 25th birthday, I had an appointment with my family doctor. He comes walking in saying the last doctor was happy with the results. I said well I am not. I said I have fibromyalgia and here is why:

1. There is no direct test that can be run to diagnose this illness.

2. I have a lot of the symptoms that classifies a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

What did my doctor say? Well he said I was right that I had fibromyalgia. I wanted to scream at that point because it came down to diagnosing myself. I had many doctors tell me I’m crazy and it’s all in my head, which a lot of fibro patients say happens to them. Fibromyalgia is called an invisible illness because on the outside we look fine but on the inside well that’s a whole other story. Imagine watching up in the morning and feel like you got no sleep for months. Imagine waking up and your body is covered in black and blues from head to toe covered in barb wire and you are on fire.

The greatest medicine a fibromyalgia patient can take is a wonderful support group. I’m lucky to have that. I’m going to give them a huge shout out!

1. My husband: even though it can be frustrating times (believe me we had our fair shares of fights on this) he has been there through it it all and tries his best to take the pains away. Most marriages with only one spouse who has a chronic illness it usually ends. Thankfully we do not fit in that catergory! Thank you Dave for all you do! Love you! ❤️❤️❤️

2. My family: who also has been there since the beginning and has been a huge help when I’m having a bad days. Their love and support has helped me through some dark times. And for that I can’t say thank you enough!

3. My friends: who also support me and try to understand on what is happening to me. I am thankful for having such a great group of friends who don’t get mad when I have to cancel at last minute. I say to them thank you! Thank you for understanding and making yourself aware of what fibromyalgia is.

Last but not least:

The friends I made who also have fibromyalgia. On our bad days and good days we turn to each other for what I like to call our venting the pain talks. We are fibromyalgia warriors!!

To anyone out there who has a family member or a friend who is going through a chronic illness ie fibromyalgia, lupus, ms, etc. please be there for them. We have a hard time asking for help because we want to feel normal, but if it looks like we are struggling please help. The best thing you can do is listen and research. Knowledge is power. Hopefully one day there will be a cure, but until then may we all have a little bit of hope.

Photo credit: Pinterest

My First Blog

Let me begin this blogging experience as an introduction. Hi my name is Hope! I was born on November 24th, 1983. I was born 3 months early on Thanksgiving Day. I only weighed 2 pounds but dropped to a pound. Christmas Day I died but was brought back to life. I meet 20 years later the NICU nurse that cared for me the 3 months that I was in the hospital. She told me I am not suppose to be here on earth for the technology they had back then. Hence the name Hope. I’ve been trying to live up to that ever since. I was a quiet and shy kid. Not very talented. In high school I went to Vo-Tech for pastry arts. That is where I found my talent. I was going to become a pastry chef but life happened. Two major events in my life changed the course of my path: I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (I could write a whole blog on that) and saw the movie the Passion if the Christ. This lead me on the path on becoming a minister. During that path I got married and entered the career of church secretary.

My husband and I settled into married life as I pursued my calling on becoming a minister. In 2013 we founded out we were blessed with the greatest miracle of all named Joshua Aaron. I was told I couldn’t get pregnant well when humans plan God laughs. I true heartily believe that. During the course of our marriage, we have fallen in love with Gettysburg (another blog). As I said humans plan and God laughs. After the birth of my son, God seemed to be calling me in another direction. Calling me towards Gettysburg. I love history and my friends and family can attest to that. The more I go Gettysburg the more God’s plan showed itself.

I am now currently studying to become a licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg. I am excited for this journey and I can’t wait for the day that I can share my love of Gettysburg with others. Well I am going to sign off until another day. Hope everyone enjoyed my first blog. I look forward to writing more on a wide range of topics. Until then..Here is to everyone having a little bit of hope in their lives.