Hope in Our Stories {Guest Post by Joan Gallagher}

by Friday, December 2, 2016

hope markers by Joan Gallagher

Melissa sat with downcast eyes as she stirred her coffee. Her beautiful brown hair hung loosely as if she hadn’t the inclination to do much with it that day. She considered herself blessed with a good marriage and beautiful family. Her life was full of activity as she ran from one event after another with her children and enjoyed a busy church life. I admired the Christian “Super Woman” I saw sitting before me. So why so downcast?

Her next words would be the catalyst to light a passion in my heart to know and share what God says about who we are:

“I am thankful to be a mom and a wife, it’s the place God called me to be at this time. But my kids will be out of the house soon so what then? I’m an ordinary mom with no special talents. I didn’t go to college so I’m not sure if I would be able to even get a job. And honestly, if people really knew my past…” her voice trailed off.

Unknowingly, Melissa had let the false words that she had an inconsequential life infiltrate her heart. At best she was a good mom and wife, and at her worst, well she had dark secrets that kept her paralyzed in fear of someone finding out.

I did my best that day to encourage her about how much she means to God and how loved she is by many. She feigned a smile as we parted that day. When I walked away I felt grieved for her, and disappointed in myself that I couldn’t better support her. As I prayed for her, God reminded me that Melissa was not the only woman I knew with a similar story: feelings of being inconsequential in a success driven world with too much “ugly” in her past to truly be used by God. I finally was able to admit that’s me too. Sure, I worked in positions of leadership and had success in several different vocations but I felt ill-equipped and, well, like a charlatan – if people really knew me, they would turn away.

This confession was the inspiration for my book Hope-Markers and stirred a passion for women to see themselves as God sees them:

Sunset Woman

I was on a quest to know God’s true purpose for us and what I found rocked my world. The strange part, at this point I had been a believer for several decades and even mentored others in their walk with God. But He showed me that I had not truly embraced this truth for myself and it was time. Why? Because He loves me and wants me to share this message with others. I went to conferences, I talked with friends, women I had mentored, and those who had mentored me and found this feeling of being inconsequential, (and there are endless reasons why women feel this way) was deeply hidden in many women’s hearts and they were too fearful to tell anyone.

Hope-Markers is the culmination of all that God has taught me over the last few years. I’m still walking the journey with Him, and that’s okay. He loves me and my story matters to Him, and so does yours.

What are Hope-Markers? They are people and events that have an impact in our lives. They either inspire us to be all that God has called us to be or they serve as warnings to what God doesn’t want for his beloved daughters. One of the greatest gifts God gives us is each other. He desires to have us journey with each other in expectation of all He has for us.

Below are a few quotes that give you an idea of all you will find in Hope-Markers. My prayer is that it will help you embrace your story to live out the celebrated life God has for you so you can then be a part of the journey of another fellow journey-woman. The book includes a study guide so grab a few friends, some good coffee and dig in. The book will be available on Amazon on December 1. Please visit my website: www.joangallagher.net I would love to know your story, I know it is beautiful.

hopemarkers

joangallaghernowo.com

What I’ve Read Lately – Summer 2016

by Friday, September 16, 2016

This summer I have read a lot of books, and listened to some. Here is a quick update on what I’ve been reading and a few thoughts about each title.

orphan train

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline on Amazon

In June, I read Orphan Train for one of our book club reads. I really enjoyed it, and loved the fact that a couple of people in our book club either knew of someone that had been on an orphan train, or a family member had been on one. It was such an interesting discussion time. I really liked the story of Molly and Vivian coming together, and the similarities in each of their stories. Great book!  5 Blooms Review | juliekmccomas.com

the lunar chronicles  Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer on Amazon

Here’s another book club read.  Our book club Read, Eat & Be Yappy, read this whole series. Or some of us did. I think there was a little miscommunication, or just some really anxious readers in our little book club. One month we decided to check the book based on a fairy tale off of our list, and we decided to read Cinder. Here’s the thing, we knew it was a series, but we didn’t know that you wouldn’t know what happened to Cinder and Kai unless you read the whole stinkin’ series. Yep, you read that right! You have to read four books to find out the ending of the story.  The next month we decided that we were going to read the next two books, Scarlet and Cress. And finally the following month we would read the last book in the series, Winter. Well, I missed the memo where everyone was reading all three of the books that next month, and I just read three of them. One day I will read Winter, but probably not anytime soon. I did like the books, not as much as some of the other club members, but I did enjoy them. The first book bleeds into the second, the second bleeds into the third, the third bleeds into the fourth and finally all the stories are tied up into a neat little bow. Or so I gathered in our discussion.

3 blooms review | juliekmccomas.com

I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith on Amazon

Okay, so I kinda sorta love a podcast called Sorta Awesome, and Sorta Awesome has a Sorta Awesome group on Facebook that has Sorta Awesome subgroups (for lack of a better word), and in the Sorta Awesome subgroup SortaLiterary we have started a Sorta Literary Traveling Book Club. (Yes, I wrote the name of the podcast five times on purpose! They say if you say something five times then you will remember it. There you go, you are welcome.) The first book I received was I Capture the Castle, and it was quite a bit different than the books I normally choose for myself. It was an easy read. It was basically written as a journal, and we were invited to read this girl’s private thoughts. I enjoyed it, but it isn’t one that I will rave about.

3 blooms review | juliekmccomas.com

The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware on Amazon

This past weekend my husband had a business trip in Austin, Texas and I was able to tag along. We typically drive to these meetings if it is twelve hours away or less, so we drove. Our oldest granddaughter had asked for this book, and we had given it to her. I read the synopsis to him and we agreed that it sounded pretty good. I also wanted to “read” it before our granddaughter did to see if it was appropriate for a teenager. It has a lot of f-bombs, but other than that, there is nothing in it that they wouldn’t see on television. (I for one can’t believe what they will show on tv these days. I’m either old or old-fashioned.) We downloaded it from Audible, and y’all, it was so slow! I kept hoping it would get better because I just knew we would be looking for a new book soon if it didn’t. We took a break from it at chapter 5, and then tried it again later. Finally, in chapter 7 things began to pick up. Finally! So glad we gave it another try. We were guessing until the very end. One of us would stop the book to say what they thought was happening, or whodunit, and then two chapters later the other one would do the same thing. This happened over and over. I highly recommend this book, but it only gets four blooms because it was so slow in the beginning.

4 Blooms Review | juliekmccomas.com

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This basically means that it is a short cut for you to go directly to an item on Amazon.  It doesn’t cost you a thing, and it helps me earn a few pennies (literally, just a few) if you use these links. I repeat, it doesn’t cost you a thing. Happy Clicking!

Celebrating Five Years Cancer Free

by Thursday, September 15, 2016

Celebrating five years cancer free this year, and I hope you will celebrate with me!

Alex McComas | juliekmccomas.com

On June 23, 2011, I was sitting in the chemo chair for the first time. Fast Forward five years. On June 23, 2016, I was sitting next to a pretty special pup on the porch enjoying the summer morning.

Flyin' High | juliekmccomas.com

This year was going to be all about celebration!

I’ve been told that the five-year cancer-free mark is a pretty big deal among us survivors, so I wanted to celebrate in a big way. I wanted to do the Susan G. Komen 3-Day! Are you familiar with it?  Long story of my “celebration” short. Raised $2300.00, flew to Detroit, walked the walk, slept in a tent on a concrete floor, lost two toenails, made several new friends, and hobbled home.

If you google the 3-Day walk it will probably say something nice about how all the nice people raise all this money that goes toward research to find a cure for breast cancer. (If you have something bad to say about SGK and how they spend the money, yada yada, then just know that my comment section is not the place for it. Thank you very much.) I, on the other hand, will tell you that the 3-Day is a bunch of crazy people walking for 3 days (60 miles) wearing lots of pink, crazy bras and tutus to raise money for research. I will also tell you that I have marked it off my non-existent bucket list, and I will not be doing that again.

One and done.

I was blessed and honored to have my friend Margaret go with me. We had a lot of fun, but I think we will both stick to donating from here on out. I love you, Margaret!

Julie & Margaret 2016 | juliekmccomas.com

In all honesty, this was quite an adventure! I loved almost every minute of it! I am so thankful to each and everyone of you that donated/supported this wild hair idea of mine to fly to Detroit so I could walk 60 miles in a sea of pink. So I could help raise awareness and funds for the possibility to find a cure.

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth (Book Review)

by Saturday, September 3, 2016
Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth
Guinnevere Shuster
Pets & Animal Care, Cats, Dogs & Animals
Andrew McMeel Publishing
May 3, 2016
Hardcover
128

Book Description:

Man's best friend! What better way to showcase adoptable dogs than by letting their true personalities shine in a photo booth! In the tradition of the best-selling dog photography book, Underwater Dogs, Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth wins the heart of all dog lovers.

Often seen as sad, rejected, and behind cold metal bars, it's no wonder people would avoid images of shelter dogs awaiting forever homes. From talented photographer (and now public figure and adoption champion) Guinnivere Shuster comes Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth, a guaranteed-to-make-you-smile photo book featuring shelter dogs in a brand-new light. Get ready to see the cutest canine portraits you’ve ever seen! Guinnevere’s fantastic photos went viral  and have been featured on websites, in magazines, and on television programs all over the world: Good Morning America, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, Time, The Daily Mail . . . even celebrities have gotten in on the action: Amy Poehler, Cesar Millan, and Zooey Deschanel have made statements and posts declaring their love of Guinnevere’s work. After the adorable and up-for-adoption photos of these furry friends were seen and enjoyed by millions, adoption rates at Utah's Humane Society skyrocketed.

The book features 100 dog photo booth style photographs, each accompanied by a short story about the dog's personality, how the dog ended up in the shelter, and the adoption date. A follow-up will conclude the book, with photos of some of them with their new families.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will benefit the Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

My Review:

BUY THIS BOOK!

This book is super-duper cute! I know that when I first saw the title of this book I thought of the ASPCA commercials on television. Seriously, some of those are the most depressing commercials...the photos and the songs they pair them with...oh my!

Back to this book.

Have you ever tried to take a photo of your dogs? I feel like these are the types of photos I end up with myself. The dogs personalities really shine through the photos.

If you are a dog lover, or just want a little pick me up kind of picture book then this is for you. You will not be able to help but smile. You might even laugh at some of the cuties. I plan on getting this one for a few of my peeps for Christmas.

When you BUY THIS BOOK you not only get a great book that never gets old (you can read it over and over), but you also contribute to great organizations, Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

Redemption Road by John Hart (Review)

by Saturday, September 3, 2016
Redemption Road: A Novel
John Hart
Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
Thomas Dunne Books
May 3, 2016
Hardcover
432

Book Description:

Imagine:

A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

This is a town on the brink.

This is Redemption Road.

My Review:

First of all, I have to say that I am super bummed! I wrote a pretty killer review for this book and when I went to save it *poof* it was gone! Bum-mer! So, here we go again!

This has been the best book I have read this year! Just sayin', so I will try my best not to spoil it for anyone.

Redemption Road is full of tension, twists, secrets and is so realistic! Seriously, this could be a Criminal Minds or Dateline episode.

John Hart is known for his great writing, and this novel doesn't disappoint in that arena. He was able to pack so much into this story and keep me guessing the whole time. I am one of those readers that likes to figure out "whodunit" before the main character in the book has it figured out. Not this time. I was wrong, and I was wrong more than once. I'm telling ya, there are twists galore!! And I loved it!

If you like a good crime thriller, as much as I do, then you will not be able to put this book down. I'm not saying I carried it to the bathroom with me more than once, but I might have.

I really hope someone reads this so we can chat about it.

Buy, borrow or steal this book! (Okay, don't steal it. But honestly, it's that good!)

Redemption Road on Amazon