Water for Elephants Book Review

I just finished the book “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen. I decided to read the book after watching the movie. Having been in an abusive marriage, the movie really struck a chord I forgot about. That helpless chord. That frightened chord.

I wanted to read the book to work through some of those emotions on my own time. In that aspect, I was incredibly disappointed. There was not nearly as much abuse in the book as was displayed in the movie. The abuse that did occur was very vague in the book.

I was also disappointed by the amount of sex that is described in the book. The book could have done without all the graphic sexual depictions. It was in these depictions that I found myself rapidly turning the pages to get to the end of it.

The rest of the story is very heartwarming. It is the story of the son of a Polish immigrant who attends Cornell university to be a veterinarian like his father. Through a series of tragic events the main character finds himself on a circus train. The story continues describing his various adventures working for the circus. The story flashes back and forth from the main character being in a nursing home and back to his days in the circus.

The plot is easy to follow and the book was easy to read. It was especially enlightening to see the world in the 1930’s with the great depression. It was also very sad to see the animal abuse that circus animals endured.

I recommend this book for light reading for a mature reading audience. This may not be a book to let your younger children read.



At the pool today I noticed a little boy. He was only about four or five. His mom kept chasing after him. He kept running away. At one point, he was down at the deep end standing between the ladder handles staring into the deep water. He was completely still watching the water, as though it were calling out to him.

His mom finally noticed where he was and called him back. He was mad and started to run away from her. She told him to go sit in time out. He sat there awhile watching that deep end the whole time. Before long, he was up walking towards the deep end again as though he were in a trance.

I watched as he dipped his toe in. He stopped and looked around to see if anyone would yell at him. No one did. Then his foot went in. Then the next foot. I kept my eye on him. He grabbed both sides of the ladder and began to  lower himself slowly into the water. With each rung he would pause to see if anyone was going to say anything to him..  I kept watching him (prepared to jump in) as his face contorted in horror at the discovery that there were only two rungs and now he was stuck. He couldn’t get his feet high enough to reach the lowest rung and he couldn’t let go of the ladder or he would drown! With his head above the water, holding tightly to that ladder he started screaming for help.

His mom finally looked up and ran over to him. She assured him that he was okay and held her hand out.  He was terrified to let go of the ladder. She assured him that she wouldn’t let him drown, he didn’t want to let go of that ladder. She told him again that she would never let anything hurt him but he held tight. Finally she explained that he had to let go of the ladder for her to get him to safety. He tentatively reached out in faith and she grabbed his hand then the rest of his body and brought him to safety out of the water.

I realized that what played out before me is a great analogy of our Spiritual Life. God chases after us and we have fun getting right within reach only to run away again. Sin is so beautiful, so alluring. We see others having so much fun and managing so well while they are so deep in sin. God calls out to us and tries to protect us from sin, but we remain curious about it.

Sometimes we may try it just a little tiny bit and wait to see if there is any consequences to our actions. When we think no one notices we sink deeper and deeper into that sin. Enjoying it, thinking we can handle and manage it.

Sin is so deceptive and before we realize it, we are in deeper than we can handle. It seems as though there is no way out. It is in these times that we cry out for help. When God comes to save us, we cling tight to the sin to keep our heads above the water. It is at this point we have a choice to make. We can continue holding on to the sin for dear life, or we can reach out to God in faith believing that he will save us.

What are you going to do? Hang on tight to the sin in your life, or reach out in faith and be saved?

The mother/daughter relationship – Teenage Years

Our relationship is very complicated

Life is speeding at us both at a pretty fast rate.

I am fighting to hold onto the time we have left together

You’re fighting for your freedom

I sit in the living room and watch shows that you might watch with me.

You spend the evenings in your bedroom wrapped up in your own adventures

I think giving you my wisdom is a gift so you don’t make my mistakes.

You dismiss everything I say because you never asked for my advice

When your heart gets broken I hope you will come to me.

When your heart gets broken you run to your friends.

I want my compliments to validate you

You seek validation from others- my opinion no longer matters.

I’ve known who you are your whole life

You’re trying to figure out who exactly who you are.

I am sad because you need me less

You are happy because you have a mom who made you feel safe enough to leave.

Soldiers and Jesus…

Andrew coming home

Andrew came home in a B-52

In a pine box covered with Red, White and Blue

He was one of the proud

and the brave and the few

Twenty-One guns helped us say good-bye

I stood there in silence tryin not to cry

As the preacher, he quoted, lines written in red

Then he folded his bible and in a broken voice, he said

Andrew's Preacher

There’s only two people who’ve ever died for me

Laid down their lives just so I could be free

They both went through hell, bared crosses and shells,

And both got back up again after they fell.

They never picked the fight, but they’re there

to pick up the pieces

God only knows where we’d be without Soldiers and Jesus.

~Remembering Sgt. Andrew Looney 6/26/1987-6/21/2010. We miss you!


Dear Harold Camping,

Two years ago someone I love came to me and told me the world was going to end on May 21, 2011. I scoffed at them and told them that no one knows the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven…. Because that is what my Bible says. I gleefully put it in my cell phone as a joke and thought nothing more of it.

Until this past January. My loved one made no plans after that day and refused to make any plans past that day. I was told they weren’t making any plans because the world would not be here. I was shocked at how deeply my loved one was taken in by your false prophecies. I looked you up on the internet and read about what a heretic you are. I tried to convince my loved one but they were still following you and your false teachings.

Luckily my loved one didn’t go to any extremes like trying to kill them-self or anyone else. I hope they didn’t send you any money… but they may have. They wouldn’t share that with me if they did. They did tell me over and over that this was going to happen no matter what I said. It caused a rift between us, unfortunately.

Well, I am here writing this post because your prediction didn’t come true. When you finally come back to your show I hope that you don’t come back with yet a third prediction. I hope you don’t come back and say that God saved his judgement so more people repent as in the story of Nineveh and Jonah.

I want to hear you say that you were wrong. That you are not better than the angels in heaven , that God didn’t come and personally reveal to you the date and time.

I hope that your message is one of healing.  I want to hear you say “I was wrong, I have no answers… I have asked for forgiveness of my Heavenly Father and He has forgiven me..I now  ask for the forgiveness of my listeners”. I hope Mr. Camping that you then take down your billboards and use the money that you have left for counseling for the families you have destroyed. I hope you find jobs for those who left them to follow you… and finally, I hope that after you ask for forgiveness that you tell everyone that is your last broadcast.I hope we never hear you preach again.

What your (former) followers don’t need right now is more of your ego. They need you to show them how to humble themselves, and they need to feel the healing and forgiveness that only our Heavenly Father can provide. They need to know that their families can be mended. They need to see relationships healed. Devote your new ministry to that Mr. Camping. Devote your ministry to healing broken relationships.

To my loved one…I still love you. I forgave you before May 21, 2011. I will never rub it in your face that you were wrong… or mislead. This post will be the last I ever bring up Mr. Harold Camping to you. If you want to speak about it then I will do so with an open mind. We all make mistakes and we can all be mislead. I know if the roles were reversed you would love and forgive me as well.

I finally did something right..

I just love road trips. Now that the kids are older they mostly hide in their rooms. However, when I get them out in the car they open up like flower buds. They talk to me so much when we are driving.

Last night we got on the subject of religion and Ambii made the comment

“When I am at church I feel like I don’t know anything about the bible… But I notice when I talk about religion with my friends at school, I seem to have more knowledge about the bible than they do… I tell my friends about things in the bible and even though they also go to church, they have never heard of a scripture or bible story I tell them…”

I almost cried with happiness.

My grandmother’s both never went to school past 8th grade, but I learned bible stories from them from as early as I can remember. They knew so much about God and the Bible. As I grew older I always looked forward to long nights discussing religion and points of the bible. I learned so much from both of them.

Recently I did genealogy research on both my mothers and fathers side. All branches came from Holland and was deep in the Reformed Faith since the Reformation in the late 1500’s. I found family history in church records all the way back to the Reformation. Generation passed their faith down to the next generation.

My father is the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to the bible. So are most of his brothers and sisters. I wish everyone had the kind of faith and religious training they have. I am so fortunate to have been born into a family like that.

I am so glad to know that my daughter is following right in their footsteps. All that time I spent with my kids reading bible stories, memorizing the Lord’s prayer, teaching them right from wrong, doing devotions… it all paid off last night with that one little comment. I have always believed that knowing about her Heavenly Father is more important than anything in this world.

A Green Visitor

Yesterday when I got home from work, my son couldn’t wait to show me a visitor. He quickly explained that he arrived yesterday morning. He went on to tell me that my husband, his step dad, saw him creeping around the girls windows last night…. My son was concerned because our visitor hadn’t moved all day and he was afraid he may have died. Continue reading

Attracting Pedophiles

I write this today because I want to warn my friends about something that has become increasingly popular but could put your children in danger…

A few months ago I took a “Rape Aggression Defense” (RAD) course. I recommend it to all my lady friends and teenagers. The class was taught by a police officer. One of the things we touched on was how so many people advertise to pedophiles. I knew many of the things we discussed… Continue reading

A strange visit

With mother’s day coming up, I knew that both my mom and my mother in law were going to have a difficult year. They both lost their mom’s last year within a month of each other.

I grieved my grandmother terribly until a very wise Aunt told me to build a shelf and put memories of her on my wall. I did and the shelf is on my dining room wall and as I eat dinner I see pictures of her and a ball of yarn with crochet hooks, some of her dishes, and a wooden shoe… all things that remind me of her.

Since putting that shelf up, my grief has dissipated greatly and I don’t miss her nearly as much.

So going into this weekend I hadn’t thought of my grandmother much other than knowing her death would have my mom pretty shook up.

Last night I had the most vivid dream of her… and she walked me through something that has been bugging me since she was put into a nursing home. I lived with my grandmother for about two years taking care of her after her back surgery. During that time she had me get out a list that she had started writing with my mom. The list was a list of her possessions and who she wanted to get what. She wanted certain dolls to go to certain people, jewelry specifically picked out for her daughter, grand daughters, great grand daughters and nieces. She was very specific about who got what items… When she was done, she showed me where she put it and I forgot about it.

Until they put her in a nursing home. People started asking who wanted certain items… and the people who lived closer to her got a lot of her stuff.  I had no idea where that note was and no one seemed to believe me that there was such a note. I had forgotten completely where she told me she put it.

Then when she passed away people went in and drove away with her stuff, taking whatever they chose. I lived far away but I heard about it. I felt like I had failed her… because her stuff wasn’t going where she had intended.

Last night in my dream I saw her put the note where she told me she had put it. I know exactly where it is now. I don’t know who has the item that contains it, and if they found it and threw it away… but I do know now where it is, or was. I needed to know, not to make a stink and freak out and tell everyone to give the stuff they got back and give it to the right people… My grandma is gone and where her stuff went makes no difference to me. I needed to know for peace of mind… to know that I am not crazy… and to solve something that has been bugging me for years. And if I come across the item I plan to try to find it. I have only shared where it is with one other person, and I do not plan telling anyone else.

When I woke up, I smelled her in my room. The smell she had right before she went to church, when she had put baby powder on and fresh make up. I felt her presence so strong around me.

I was happy that she had come the night of mothers day. It was great to see her alive again.

Homemade Mother’s Day Cards

What an incredible Mother’s Day today was! I woke up to find my husband making me an incredible breakfast of Eggs, English muffin, Hash Browns, and chocolate covered strawberries. Pure yumminess!

But the best part of my morning was the homemade cards my children gave me. Homemade cards are the best. My cousin has started her own business making homemade cards. I encourage you all to check out her work and order some from her. She does them all herself. They mean so much more than the store bought kind.

I am going to post a picture of the card and what each child wrote inside.

Dott (age 15):

Dear Mom,

I love you so much, even if I run you into mailboxes J
(referring to her recent driving lessons…) You’ve helped me grow so much over the years and I am proud to be your daughter. It may not seem like it but I love you soo much!!! No, I don’t hug you every night and I barely say I love you but you know I do! High School would be horrible without you! Life would be horrible without you! You are uber AWESOME! (This tiny space cannot show all my feelings!)


P.S.- hope you feel better!

Then, she opened it the opposite way making it manga style and that part says:

You are…

Absolutely fantabulous, Amazing, Awesome, Beautiful, Booty-liscious
(huh???), Crazy, Creative, Caring, Down to Earth, Great, Gorgeous, Kind, Loving, Magnificent, Motivated, Pleasant, Phat (ummm….), Radiant, Spectacular, Spicy, Terrific, Uber fun, PVhotogropher (scratching head…), Over all THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD!

Love, Dott

Ambii (Age 14):

This is the part in the story when your baby girl grows up, rebels, and finds who she is. The time that all mother’s hate. I really would like to be that same baby girl but I know that I have no choice. So as I grow up just remember:

“I’ll love you forever,

               I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

My mommy you’ll be.”

Mom, I love you so much, and you do so much for me. I know I don’t seem to appreciate it but trust me I do. That’s what mother’s day is for. I hope you have a great one. Ambii

Cal (Age 13):

(I want to point out that the rose on the front is actually a 3D rose, separate from the card but taped on. He cut it out and made it himself with no instructions. It is really awesome!)

A poem that he wrote himself….

Comfort, Caring, and love

Mom shows everything above

She comforts me on bad days

She cares for me forever and always

She loves me with all her heart

Nothing can ever tear our love apart


Store bought cards can never say it like it truly comes from your heart. These cards do. They mean so much. Thank you kids for a fantastic mother’s day!