The Shack: A Review

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Okay so, WOW. I really really loved this book. I’m not a very religious person but this touched my heart for sure.

Here’s a recap on the plot:

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

So I was crying four chapters in. It is incredibly sad and as a parent I couldn’t not get emotional. I have never lost a child, thank goodness, but there were a lot of things in this book that I needed to hear. I think a lot of people could benefit from reading this book, even if you aren’t religious. There are just a lot of good messages and things that could change your perspective. I hope that some of you will read this one because it changed a lot of things for me. I plan to read it again many more times to really let those things sink in, it literally made me feel lighter.

For those of you who are religious there is a big emphasis on the trinity and how they play each part. There is a big focus on having a relationship with God and building a relationship with your fellow man (and woman). As someone who has grown up in the church it was a breath of fresh air to read instead of the judging and angry God I grew up with.

I plan on watching the movie to, I want to see if they’re able to bring to life the beautiful scenes described in the book.

I highly highly highly recommend this one for everyone, especially if you’ve been struggling with stress, anxiety or just feeling lost. There is something for everyone in this book.

Best quotes:

No matter what God’s power may be, the first aspect of God is never that of the absolute Master, the Almighty. It is that of the God who puts himself on our human level and limits himself. –Jacques Ellul, Anarchy and Christianity 

“Mackenzie, I never left him, and I have never left you.”

“…when all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me?”

“Consider our little friend here,” she began, “Most birds were created to fly. Being grounded for them is a limitation within their ability to fly, not the other way around.” She paused to let Mack think about her statement. “You, on the other hand, were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around.”

“You don’t play a game or color a picture with a child to show your superiority. Rather you choose to limit yourself so as to facilitate and honor that relationship.”

“Rights are where survivors go, so that they won’t have to work out relationships.”

“To force my will on you, ” Jesus replied, “is exactly what love does not do.”

“I will travel any road to find you.”

“Just because you believe something firmly doesn’t make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe.”

“Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse.”

“Religion must use law to empower itself and control the people needed in order to survive.”

“Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgement, and they provide the essential framework that promotes performance as the basis for identity and value.”

“Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears.”

What did you think of the book?

Fall Eats: Thanksgiving Edition

Well it has come and gone, the mother of all feasts. Nothing beats Thanksgiving dinner. This year we all chipped in and made a few dishes of our own.

 

I made green bean casserole and cauliflower stuffing.

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Hubby made cranberry sauce from scratch.

We had regular stuffing, lil smokeys, cajun chicken, turkey breast and so many other dishes.

There was broccoli casserole, candied yams and all sorts of desserts. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get pictures of all the food we had. There was so much and I was really really hungry. I literally had nothing to eat all day so when dinner time came around I was ravenous.

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I did manage to get a photo of all the kids in one spot, the little cuties.

I’m so thankful for my family and for Thanksgiving dinner. I love getting together with them even if it is chaotic and loud and a tad crazy. I know this will be one of the things we’ll look back on and smile about because when the kids grow up it probably won’t be as fun and entertaining.

I hope you all had a great feast. Leave pictures of some of your dishes in the comments!

Thankful

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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

You can’t get through November without doing one of these posts, I mean you could if you weren’t grateful I guess.

I have a lot to be thankful for so I thought I’d share.

  1. I am thankful that I have a lot of things that some people don’t. Such as clean, hot running water, electricity, heat, food and clothes. I am thankful that I have a way to clean those clothes and a safe place to have my children sleep. I’m thankful for my cars, they are in good condition and run just fine, even if they aren’t what I want. I’m thankful that even though I am broke 90% of the time I still have everything that I need.
  2. I’m thankful for little pleasures like coffee, sweets, a good book, hobbies, sales and my blog. They make life so much more tolerable.
  3. I’m thankful for knowledge.
  4. I’m thankful for my health.
  5. I’m thankful for quiet moments after my children go to bed or I leave them with a loved one. Breaks from your children are important, even if you miss them the whole time.
  6. I’m thankful that my parents are still living.
  7. I’m thankful for my friends.
  8. I’m thankful for my phone. I can do so many tasks with it and I love being able to get in touch with anyone from anywhere. I don’t know how people lived before cell phones.
  9. I am thankful for parks and libraries and any other free thing I can take my children to.
  10. I’m thankful for pictures. I know in time I will forget the way my babies looked or how they smiled. Pictures capture these moments so I can look back on them and remember.
  11. I’m thankful for music because sometimes you just can’t get through life without it.
  12. I’m thankful for makeup because sometimes I just need a little boost in the confidence area.
  13. I’m thankful for my family. The one I came from and the one I became a part of.
  14. I am thankful for Cillian. He makes me see things in a whole new and pure way. He’s funny, smart and adorable. He’s hard headed and strong willed, hopefully when he becomes an adult that will get him through a lot. He doesn’t know a stranger which warms my heart but terrifies me at the same time. He wants to be friends with everyone he meets and I never want that to change. He is so sweet and gives the best hugs in the world.
  15. I’m thankful for Felix. He has the biggest brown eyes that just melt your heart. He’s cuddly and squishy. He lights up every time he sees me and constantly keeps me on my toes. He’s hard to please but also easy going. He’s curious about everything. He’s a great eater but not such a great sleeper. He’s my little Beezy Louisey.
  16. I’m thankful for my husband. He is so loving and supportive. He makes our relationship so easy. I never have to wonder if he loves me, he shows me every day. He works so hard to take care of me and our children. He makes me so happy and I cannot imagine my life without him. He has brought love into my life that I didn’t know was even possible. He’s my best friend.

I’m also thankful for all of you who read my blog. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this and I am so glad I did. I am so so so grateful that you all take the time to read what I have to say and interact with me. Starting this blog has been one of the best things I could do for myself and I thank all my readers for supporting me and making this possible.

What are you thankful for? I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My Struggle with Codependency

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Photo by Min An from Pexels

The thing about being codependent is you don’t know you are until someone points it out to you.

When I was a kid I was the one who took care of my younger brother and sisters. My mom figured out that by the time I was twelve I could do pretty much all the things she could. I could cook, clean, do the laundry, dress my siblings. So she decided to let me just do all those things. She decided she was ready for a break and made me handle everything. Soon she started just leaving the house all together and left me in charge. I had to make sure my three siblings didn’t kill themselves or burn the house down while also getting the chores done, house cleaned and dinner ready before my dad came home. I was the new nanny.

Since that time I have worried about my siblings as if they were my own children. I watched them do things to themselves and make decisions that weren’t the best and tried to parent them only to get burned in the process. I would worry myself to death over them and try to help them or fix them but only end up with so much stress and anxiety that I would be so mad all the time.

So I started finding friends to worry over. If someone came into my life and was terrible at making life decisions for themselves I would take it upon myself to try and fix it for them. I would take on such high maintenance relationships because that’s all I knew. I always thought I had to be there for people and try to help them get out of their crappy lives.

The thing about being codependent is you stop worrying about your own needs and focus more on other’s problems and try to fix them for them. You feel a responsibility to take care of them and “save them from themselves”. A lot of time this happens because someone you love has become addicted to drugs or has an illness and you feel like you have to make excuses for them because of this. You in a way become an enabler for bad behavior or the continuation of bad decisions that they don’t learn from. You just go behind them and fix it so they never learn anything because they know you’re there to clean up the mess. You keep this up because there’s a feeling of importance in this kind of relationship. It makes you fell better to take care of someone but you don’t realize how taxing it is on you.

It wasn’t until I had kids an started to realize that I couldn’t help anyone anymore. I had a baby and he needed me more than anyone. I started to spend less time with people and they would still try to come to me but I would brush them off or try to avoid them. They would question me and I would feel guilty and it just added to my stress, anxiety and depression. Then I started therapy and realized I suffered from codependency. I was so trained to try to solve everyone else’s problems I wasn’t fixing my own. I was taking all their stress upon myself for no reason. I remember my therapist clearly saying, “You seem to find chaos because you think that’s the only way you can function. You need to step outside of that.”

She handed me a piece of paper that had a list of traits that a person with codependency would have. As I read it I started crying. Most of those things described me. Finally seeing it and confronting it made me realize I need to stop this, I’m doing it to myself. Those people that I try to help cannot be helped because they don’t want to change. They just want someone to always be there to make them feel better about themselves and I couldn’t do it anymore.

Since I have made the conscious decision to remove myself from most people and their problems I’ve noticed a little bit of hate. There are a couple reasons for this.

The main reason I stopped trying to help or fix other people is because I am a mother. I have two little people who rely on me completely. They actually need me. I have to focus the majority of my energy on them and their needs and though it’s rewarding, it’s exhausting. I also have a husband who needs my attention, not in the way my children do but I value my marriage and my relationship with him. He’s very important to me, as he should be. After giving them all my attention, energy and love I do not have anything left to give. This is why my friends seem to be disappointed in me. Not all of my friends feel this way, I know some of them understand because they have kids and spouses so they understand. There are some though that have gotten fed up with me because I don’t seem to make an effort anymore. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t want them in my life I just cannot take on their issues on top of my own. Before I had kids I could help anyone and everyone. Now I can’t and I know that sucks but it is what it is. For my own mental health I just can’t hold that many friendships.

Another reason is I have been more upfront and honest with new friends about why I can’t be that person that they can cling to. I know, it’s awful but I don’t want people to get their hopes up. I just don’t have the emotional energy anymore. It makes me feel like a bad person, the guilt is the hardest thing to get rid of but it’s either I’m transparent about how I feel or you get mad at me for being a bad friend.

I try my hardest to be a positive, encouraging and helpful person but when I have too many people dumping on me all the time it makes me feel drained and negative and depressed. All the things that put me right back where I was before I started therapy. Anyone who has gone to therapy knows how much work it is, don’t make me undo it all.

There is help, if you feel like you might be suffering from codependency I urge you to see a therapist and get yourself some help. It has made my life so much easier, even if I have less friends for it. Your quality of life is more important than having a bunch of people put all their stress and anxiety on you. You can’t help anyone if you don’t help yourself first.

Fall Eats: Pho Hieu

This fall eats is brought to you by Pho Hieu. We had been wanting try this place for a while and we are so glad we did! It was so good and pho is the perfect fall food.

It was in a little shopping center and it was pretty hopping for a Saturday night. They had mellow instrumental music that got Marc and I arguing and googling which song was what. The lights were dim and it was pretty chill in there.

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We ordered  Vietnamese spring rolls that came with an awesome peanut sauce, it was seriously the best thing. We also ordered the spicy tempura sushi roll. It was delicious.

Hubby order the P2 on the menu. It had steak and rice noodles. He added bean sprouts, jalapenos and lime to it. He loved it.

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I got the M4. It had crab, shrimp and egg noodles. I’m not sure what else was all in it but the broth alone was magical.

I couldn’t finish all of mine and I got a small. We left feeling so full and happy. The prices were great, we liked that everything was around the same price and not expensive at all. Sometimes we go to a restaurant and think, “we could probably learn to make that and save some money.” With this place it’s so affordable we could eat here all the time and not spend anymore than we would buying groceries. We took the rest home for lunch for the next day but it has become a new favorite. We will definitely be going back. See you next Friday with another Fall Eats!

5 Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

For me fall is cool weather, comfy clothes, pretty colors and FOOD. I love food, it doesn’t always love me but I’m not going to give up on our relationship.

As a mom I love finding quick and delicious recipes, when you have boy children you have to feed them fast. These are some that I found over the years that are easy to make and are super tasty. No they are not the healthiest of options but when you’re broke you gotta take what you can get.

1. Spaghetti

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Oh yes, that old staple. Every one’s mama has made spaghetti at least 20 times in their life. It’s just so easy and literally only takes 20 minutes to make. Here’s how I do it:

  • 1 lb ground beef (or ground sausage)
  • 1 package spaghetti noodles (or noonuls, as Cillian calls them)
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce of your choice. (I prefer Prego.)
  • (optional: onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. This is to season the meat.)

I put a pot on to boil for the noodles and once it’s boiling I break the noodles in half and put all of it in the pot, stirring occasionally until they’re done to liking.

While the noodles boil I put the meat in a skillet to brown, adding seasonings to make it flavorful. Season to your liking, I don’t measure. Drain the fat. Return the meat to the stove.

Once meat is browned I add some sauce, stirring to warm it up.

Once noodles are done I drain the water and add the rest of the sauce to it. Then add meat to the noodles, top it with some grated parmesan and you have a delicious dinner for 4.

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2. Enchilada Casserole

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This is so good you will eat the whole pan. It’s even better the next day. I got this recipe from my cousin quite a few years ago, she didn’t steer me wrong. Thanks Clara. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken (I like the one with herbs)
  • 1 can ranch style beans
  • shredded cheese
  • flour tortillas
  • (Optional: onion powder, salt and pepper to season meat.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While that heats up brown the meat in a skillet adding onion powder, salt and pepper to season the meat. Drain the fat.

Take a baking pan, not a sheet, and put in browned meat. Add the soups, beans and a bit of cheese, mix well. Top with torn bits of tortilla and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. It’s too simple.

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3. Chicken Alfredo

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This is one of my favorite meals to make because it is so dang delicious. I used to buy alfredo sauce in a jar but ever since I learned how easy it is to make your own sauce (and how much better it tastes) I will never buy it in a jar again. This is what you need:

For sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Also:

  • However much broccoli you want or none.
  • 2 packages grilled chicken (Walmart)
  • 1 package linguine or fettuccine noodles (I like linguine)

Put a pot on to boil, once boiling break noodles in half and add whole package to pot. Stir occasionally. Add salt to keep noodles from sticking.

While that’s going add your butter and garlic to a skillet, cook down then add broccoli. Once broccoli has cooked down some add the heavy cream, let it bubble for at least 10 minutes.

Add chicken to a separate skillet and cook as directed. It should only take about 6-8 minutes to get hot.

Add parmesan cheese to heavy cream, simmer for 5 more minutes stirring occasionally.

Drain noodles, add sauce and meat. Mix well and you’re done!

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4. Salmon Croquettes

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We just call them salmon patties but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. My mom used to make these all the time when I was a kid. My husband likes to eat them with mustard. My dad used to eat them with syrup. To each his own I guess, I like them just they way they are.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of salmon
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 package of saltine crackers
  • 1 package of Kraft mac’n cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425, chop up broccoli. Lay broccoli on baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Put it in the oven for 15 minutes.

Open and drain water from salmon. Empty salmon into a medium sized mixing bowl. (Optional: remove the bones.)

Crush crackers and add to salmon with the egg. Mix well with your hands. Take half a handful of mixture and make patties.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. You want just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Brown both sides of the patty for 5 minutes on each side.

While all that is going, cook mac’n cheese according to directions on the box.

You’re done! So easy.

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5. Chili

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This is the easiest one of them all. It’s a one pot meal!

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 packet chili seasoning
  • 1 can of ranch style beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

Brown the meat in a tall sauce pan. Drain the fat.

Return meat to pan, add beans, tomatoes (do not drain) and seasoning. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and you’re done.

Top with shredded cheese if you like, some people like to add ketchup to theirs. You could also eat it with Fritos or my preferred way: with saltine crackers.

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There you have it! Which one of these have you had/made yourself? Do you plan to try any of these? Let me know!

Authors I Think You Should Check Out

I love reading about other people’s favorite authors. I’m always looking for that next amazing book and author who can provide that for me. I know that everyone has different tastes and preferences but when I read about how a certain story by a particular author changed someone’s perspective or made them feel all the feels or just thoroughly entertained them I gotta check them out.

Here are some authors I have really come to love. I know you’ve heard of a few of them, some you might not have. Maybe you’ll find someone on this list that you find interesting.

1. Robert Cormier

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Robert Cormier has been one of my favorite authors since I read my very first book by him back when I was a teenager. My first Cormier book was The Rag and Bone Shop, which happened to be the last book he wrote before he died in 2000. It was published after he died. I had never read a book like that and I was blown away by it. Since then I’ve read The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, Tenderness, Fade, Tunes For Bears to Dance To, In the Middle of the Night and my favorite: We All Fall Down. Robert Cormier tends to focus his stories on the darker side of humanity. His stories often involve pain, betrayal and evil that we can’t avoid in real life. His books are honest and force us to face the things that we would like to pretend don’t exist. I could say so many more amazing things about this man but you should see it for yourself.

2. Gillian Flynn

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If you’ve never heard of this woman you must be living under a rock. She is becoming very popular very quickly. I have read all her books and I’m so mad there aren’t more. The first book I read by her was Gone Girl. People had been raving about the movie, which I still have not seen, so I finally just bought the book and read it. I think I read it in like four days, I could not put it down. So naturally I had to read her other books. Sharp Objects in my opinion is her best one. Her work is also dark but it’s also creepy. She doesn’t shy away from what’s real and her female characters, while crazy, are totally relatable.

3. Stephen King

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Are you starting to see a pattern here? I really like dark and creepy stories. I don’t feel like I have to say much about this man, everyone knows who he is and what he’s done. He’s just a master story teller. I believe the very first story I ever read by him was The Man in the Black Suit. It actually gave me the creeps. No other story had done that. So of course I had to delve deeper. Since then I’ve read The Green Mile, Pet Semetary, The Gunslinger and my favorite so far: The Shining. The Shining is one of the few books that actually gave me nightmares, or a nightmare I should say. The Green Mile is a little different from his usual horror repertoire. It is seriously just a really great story. If you’re not into horror you should at least read that one.

4. J.K. Rowling

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Again, another author I don’t have to say much about. Her books have become worldwide successes and the fandom is real. Harry Potter was such a huge part of my childhood and teenage years I have a Deathly Hallows tattoo to commemorate it. She’s a great author and a great person. She has her own charity called Lumos, and donates to many others. I have not read any of her more adult novels but of course I plan to.

5. Libba Bray

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Libba Bray wrote my second favorite series, after Harry Potter of course, called the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. She’s also written a series called  The Diviners Series that is just as good if not better in its own right. She is just wonderful. I get so lost in her books and this year was the first year since 2005 that I did not read the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. I usually read it at least once a year. I love her feminist female protagonists and the creepy crawly things they have to defeat.

6. Lois Lowry

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When I first read The Giver I was blown away. It was my very first dystopian and I was glad that Lois Lowry was the one to introduce me to the genre. She’s so gentle in her writing and I have not stopped thinking about the books I’ve read by her.

Honorable Mentions:

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Charles Frazier:

I’ve only read one book by him so far but it is my favorite book of all time. Cold Mountain is honestly the most beautiful and perfect book I have ever read in my life. I am working on reading the rest of his books so we’ll see if he makes up in the list. I have a feeling he will.

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Khaled Hosseini:

Again, I have only read one book by this author but it is my second favorite book of all time. His ability to tell a story is amazing, I was enthralled the whole time I read The Kite Runner. I will definitely be checking out more of his books.

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Cassandra Clare:

I had to mention Clare because I have read every book she has come out with so far. She only has one story though and it’s spread out over three series and a few collections of short stories within the universe she writes about. I can’t explain the pull she has but I can’t not read her stuff. Maybe one day she’ll come out with something that has nothing to do with Shadowhunters and we’ll find out what else she can do.

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Ann Aguirre:

I wanted to mention this lady because she wrote a series I just loved. It’s called The Razorland Trilogy and it was the first books I had ever read about zombies. I wasn’t much of a zombie fan until I read her books. I had actually had a similar idea for a zombie story but then I discovered her books and gave up on it. Haha. She did it so much better than I could have. I highly recommend that you all check it out.

Who are your favorite authors? Have you read any books by the ones I mentioned?