Hearts Entwined: The Love Knot

by Karen Witemeyer51l747pg64L._SY346_

Ok, so this whole book isn’t officially by Karen Witemeyer, but this review is specific to The Love Knot. Just to specify, the other authors that contributed are absolutely recommended by me as well. ❤

51+6E5Az98LKaren is one of the ladies that really got me into reading. I’m a huge fan and have always enjoyed her writing. In this novella, we once again visit the all ladies colony of Harper’s Station, Texas. (You first read about this in No Other Will Do.) Claire is living in Harper’s Station when she receives a cryptic letter from her sister telling her to go to the train station to pick up something important. When she arrives, she realizes quickly that her whole life is about to change.

What’s not to love about this story? It’s well written and a beautiful story. Please be sure to pick up a copy! Also, read the others novellas included. I promise you will love these ladies if Turn of the Century West is your thing. If it’s not, it might soon be!

You can also learn a little more about Karen in our fun face-off. She’s amazing! 🙂

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Karen Witemeyer

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Just….no.

This lady sure is missing her books! Yes, I’m talking about myself. Just wanted to update you all on what’s been going on! I get a lot of questions and it’s easier to reply this way as I get worn out easily and don’t check my messages as often as I should!

My beautiful view…

I’ve been confined to bed for the most part. I’ve gone out of the house less than 10 times this year. Yes, a fourth of the year has gone by and I haven’t even left my home more than single digits. Yowza!!!

Good thing I love my cute home and my amazing family! ❤

I’ve been wearing a heart monitor for over 3 weeks now and have another week to go. I had an abnormal EKG and abnormal Echo, so I am waiting to see what this will produce. Fun times!

EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) is known to have heart problems attached to it, so I’m not too surprised!

“Three heart problems associated with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndromeinclude autonomic dysfunction, aortic root dilatation (enlargement of the blood vessel that distributes blood from the heart to the rest of the body), and mitral valve prolapse. About 1 in 3 people with hypermobile EDS have autonomic dysfunction.”

I also had some blood work done and we found a few concerns that we are looking into a bit further. (ie: more tests and more blood work)

MakeItStop

I still can’t read hardly at all due to the strain on my eyes and head. It’s terribly sad, let me just tell you! I am hoping we can get to the bottom of this and I can get back on track! It’s seriously gone from a Disney trip and my awesome vacation to meet a lot of you lovelies in August to not even being able to stand and make a sandwich for myself! I can’t even shower very often – meaning that I have to use those hospital wipes and dry shampoo!!

Barf.

Double Barf.

I appreciate your prayers and concerns. Unfortunately, it’s extremely overwhelming right now to have much company. (Yes, even as much as I love you all and miss you!!)

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My Life with EDS?

I am often asked about why I’m always feeling so terrible. frazzled-woman-cartoon-paid-forWhy am I so sporadic about posting and reviewing? Why do I barely leave my home anymore? And, if I am home all the time, why am I not reading, reviewing and posting?

I am going to attempt to share my story here. I would love to say that you will have all the answers and completely understand after this post, but I am sure there are many that have their own viewpoints. keep-calm-and-power-through-9There are many that believe those of us with chronic conditions need to just “suck it up”.

I was one of those. I used to say that all of the time. That is my personality.

God knew I needed some compassion, so remember while reading this that it’s better to have compassion without God needing to teach it to you! ha 🙂

Flowers & Plants

When I was younger, I was very outgoing and active. I always had friends around and was busy with every activity I could fit into my schedule. When I was 18, that all caught up with me. My body just crashed. It wasn’t all the activity, necessarily, but my body was not strong enough to carry all of that and I hadn’t known it.

Cream Rustic Spa Makeover Party Photo Collage

I spent the year of 1996 confined to bed. I just couldn’t get up. I was so tired. Getting up and going to the bathroom was enough to make me need to take a few hour nap. It was unbelievable. I had no strength.

As I slowly built back up, I started back into all my activities again. This time, however, it wasn’t the same. I was a lot more tired and edgy. I would get angry a lot easier.

As years passed by, pregnancies and life got in the way, my pain became more acute. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment with nothing to show for it. “Do more yoga.” “Swim more.” “You just have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

Then there were the “friends” with statements and questions such as: “Why do you need a name for it so badly?” “Why don’t you just juice?” “Why don’t you exercise more?” “Why don’t you just push through the pain. It’s mind over matter!”

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Now, I know their intentions were good (at least I hope they were!), but anyone with chronic pain will tell you that those suggestions are not helpful at all. Chances are very high that we have already heard of all those diets that will help. We’ve done the research. We’ve tried to find the answer.

Thankfully, I am very blessed to be one of the few that actually DID get an answer. When I was 37, I finally found out that what I have is called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (also known as EDS). It takes many forms and affects people differently, but if you want to have a basic idea of what the side effects are, just click here.

Let me give you the quickest way to describe EDS to you (at least the form I currently have). Every person has ligaments that are used to hold your skeletal system together and in place. When you work out, you stretch them and then they tighten back up stronger.

For someone with EDS, that’s not always the case. For me, my ligaments never tighten back up. Every time I work out, my ligaments stretch and stay that way. You can imagine how loose they are around my skeletal system. So, all those years of yoga? Worse thing the doctors could have told me to do. In their defense, they had no idea. But, this is why it is SO IMPORTANT to continue pushing until you find the answer! Yes, a name is important!

Because my ligaments are so stretchy now, they are not able to do their job and hold my skeletal system securely in place. My muscles try to overcompensate by tightening up, but this just causes even more pain and trigger points. My skeletal system is free to move about and frequently “pop” out of place. Ever had a slipped disc? Mine slide as I walk or move.

That is just the very beginning of what it does. The pain I am in on a daily basis is, at most times, unbearable. I must completely trust in God to give me the strength I need for each day for I cannot think of the future.

I don’t sleep. I don’t do much. After years of not knowing what I had, I found that the advice I was given only made things worse. I am in such terrible shape at 40 years old. Some of my personal symptoms (aside from overall pain):

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Under-active Thyroid
  • Accelerated Heart Rate
  • Fatigue (unable to even lift arms or stand at times)
  • Restless Legs (Causing my entire body to jolt)
  • Sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Tension Headaches
  • Severe Trigger Points all over
  • Eye Weakness
  • Knees are sprained in a permanent state
  • Constant shifting of my back (and everywhere, really. The pain is worse in my back.)
  • Foggy Brain
  • Unable to sleep more than an hour or two at a time (3 hours of sleep is a good night for me)
  • Delayed Sleep Syndrome
  • Inability to make very many new memories
  • Slow processing time when talking to people and responding
  • Arthritis in my hands and lower back
  • Inability to plan ahead
  • Overstimulation
  • Inability to turn head left and right due to tight muscles in neck
  • Confusion
  • Fragile bones
  • Simple tasks (like showering, making a meal, etc…) are so overwhelming that I often cry and feel like I am going to throw up when I know they are coming up or while I am in the midst of them.
  • Reading (one of my FAVORITE ACTIVITIES) causes headaches, fatigue and can not distract me from my pain enough to continue for long periods.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because I could get stuck feeling too terrible to get home.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because there are people there.

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I am sure that I could continue (and my family could offer a list twice as long). However, you get the idea.

Now, what am I doing about it?

Well, there is no cure for EDS. It is only pain management. Realizing that, I went into this trying to find things that would remove the pain so I could function normally. I have had everything from trigger points shots, acupuncture, dry needling, pain patches that pumped narcotics into me 24/7, and much, much more. I came to realize that none of that did enough to be worth the effect it would have on my body long term. Years of chiropractic work, yoga and swimming have completely destroyed the stability of my ligaments.

'The voices from my prescription side effects say you should consider lowering the dosage.'

Now, I am on minimal narcotics (by my choice to avoid addiction and constantly raising the amount as I become acclimated to medicine quickly). I try to use as many homeopathic remedies as possible and pray for wisdom.

So, there are so many things that I have mentioned here that are difficult to deal with on a daily basis. How about the things I am really thankful (in-spite of it/because of it):

  • My husband and sons have learned compassion. They watch out for me above their own needs.
  • I have learned compassion as I used to be annoyed by people with chronic problems.
  • My faith has grown and my relationship with God is amazing. I have had to cling to Him and learn to trust Him throughout all this. I would be in a state of hysteria if it wasn’t for Him and His peace. Nobody could ever convince me that God doesn’t exist because my relationship with Him is so intimate that I lack all doubt.
  • He has slowed me down. I used to always race around like crazy doing a million things and had no time to be still. I was angry because I was so overtired. Now, I am home and able to be a good mother and wife. I’m not too busy to love my family and be tuned into them.
  • I recognize my true friends.
  • God used it to save my son’s life (That’s a story for another day! You can email me if you want to hear about that. aTransParentMom@gmail.com)

Again, there are many things I could name, but my blessings far outweigh my troubles.

In my distress I called upon the LORD;to my God I cried for help.From his temple he heard my voice,and my cry to him reached his ears.

Yes, these are true. These are absolute truth. These are the things I cling to.

thinkingof youI pray for you, dear friends, as I know that chronic pain is something many of us struggle with. Unfortunately, many others do not recognize it for what it is. They don’t understand why we are skittish about scheduling things and often times have to cancel. They do not understand why we don’t just power through or juice or whatever. They don’t understand why we can look normal and healthy but say we feel as terrible as we do.

I get it. Hang in there. Find a way to give God glory through your pain and He will bless you more than you can imagine. You will begin to be thankful for the suffering. You will see how it has blessed your life (truthfully!). God can only show you the blessings and give you peace when you are content in His goodness. Trust Him. There’s a reason that you have it. Use it for His glory. That is what I have chosen and it has saved me from so much worse. It’s saved me from sever depression that is my constant shadow. It’s saved me from anger towards everyone around me. It has saved me from literally going crazy from pain.

He is worth it. He is what He promised. Run to Him for dear life and He will hold you in His arms through all of the difficulties.

Orange Bordered Autumn and Fall Photo Collage

But…if we are being honest? This is what my husband usually gets to come home to.

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Face-Offs!

A

Alexander, Tamera

Andrews, Mesu

April Marie

B

Bartels, Zachary

Bartels, Zachary DUEX

Basham, Pepper

Basham, Pepper (take #2)

Belliston, Rebecca

Benton, Lori

Brandes, Nadine

Braner, Andy

Brendan, Maggie

Brencher, Hannah

Bruce, Todd

Bylin, Vicki

C

Cabot, Amanda

Cambron, Kristy

Camden, Elizabeth

Clipston, Amy

Coble, Colleen

Coffey, Billy

Connealy, Mary

Crandall, Dawn #3

Crandall, Dawn #2

Crandall, Dawn #1

D

Dabaghian, Karen

Darcy, Theo

Denman, Varina

Dickerson, Melanie

Dietze, Susanne

Dobson, Melanie

Durgin, JoAnn

E

Eden, Sarah M.

Evander, Jessica

F

Finkbeiner, Susie

Fisher, Suzanne Woods

Frantz, Laura

Fuller, Kathleen

G

Gibbs, Chad

Gist, Deeanne

Grace, Maria

Gray, Sally Shepard

Green, Jocelyn #1

Green, Jocelyn #2

Griep, Michelle #1

Griep, Michelle #2

H

Hannon, Irene

Hatcher, Robin Lee

Hauck, Rachel

Healy, Erin

Hedlund, Jody

Henrie, Stacy

Higman, Anita

Holmes, Gina

Hoover, Christine

Hunter, Kristi Ann

I

J

Jagears, Melissa

James, Syrie

Jennings, Regina

Johnson, Christine

Johnson, Myra

K

Keller, Jessica

Kilpack, Josie

Klassen, Julie #1

Klassen, Julie #2

L

Ladd, Sarah E.

Landsem, Stephanie

Lee, Tosca

Leigh, Tamara

Lessman, Julie

M

Mabry, Richard

Mateer, Anne

Matzelle, Helo

McAdoo, Caryl

McShane, Melissa

Mentik, Dana

Miller, Judith

Moore, Jenny

N

Nelson Dooley, Lena

Newport, Olivia

Nowell, David

Nunley, Loraine

O

Orchard, Sandra

P

Pagels, Carrie Fancett

Parr, Delia

Perry, Sarah Parshall

Peterson, Tracie

Pettrey, Dani

Price, Sarah

Prior, Karen Swallow #2

Prior, Karen Swallow #1

Q

R

Raney, Deborah

S

Seilstad, Lorna

Sleiman, Dina

Sundin, Sarah

T

Tagg, Melissa

Thomas, Sarah Loudin

Thompson, Janice

Turano, Jen

Turansky, Carrie

Tyndall, MaryLu

U

V

Vallance, Brandy

Vetsch, Erica

W

Wade, Becky

Walsh, Dan

Weaver, Anna

White, Beth

White, Roseanna M.

Witemeyer, Karen

Wylde, Anya

X

Y

Z

Holding the Fort

by Regina Jennings

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How can you go wrong with a story idea like this??
– A hard-working, widower soldier that needs help with his two wild daughters.
– A former dance-hall singer posing as a mennonite teacher hired to teach said daughters.

I mean, seriously…what could go wrong?

This is such a fun story. Regina Jennings always has great characters that are full of personality and character. There is plenty to keep the story moving along without it feeling like a heart-racing read. I, for one, prefer not to be stressed out through an entire book and she keeps a great balance!

Be sure to pick up a copy of this one. Go through the link in the pic and get it by Christmas!! Isn’t that cover beautiful? You know that your mom, sister and best friend would be thrilled to open this up!

Thanks so much, Bethany House, for this awesome book. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!

BTW – Check out my fun face-off with this lovely lady!!

holidays!

 

For Love or Honor

by Sarah M. Eden

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Seriously, how many times can I say how much I adore Sarah M. Eden? Simply put: I haven’t read a bad one by her yet!

This time, we get a bit of Regency PTSD. This is long before there was a name for it and the men had to just move forward with no help. Their wives, or the women in their lives, had no idea what they were dealing with and nobody spoke of it. I can’t even imagine. I am really glad that she decided to write on this topic!

Sarah continues on with the saga of Jonquil brothers that we all know and love. This time, the focus is on Captain Stanley Jonquil. Of course you are going to love the characters. They are always written with depth and wonderful character. Make sure you pick up a copy of this great read!!!

Thanks so much for this great book in exchange for my thoughts. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

Know the Word – KJV Study Bible

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Let me start by saying that I do not typically use the KJV in my daily life. However, I absolutely love having this on hand for all of my historical writing. IMG_5327And, let’s just get one thing straight – any version that says Charity is the greatest…I’m on board!

So, what do I love about this particular Bible? Well, I’m always a fan of study notes at the bottom of each page. It also includes a concordance and some beautiful, fully-color maps. You’ll find lots of great extras in between the texts too.

The one that I have is a hardcover, but it also comes in multiple cover types – or even the ebook version.

Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself or a loved one this holiday season! It’s a great gift with lots of extras. Link is in the pic above.

Thanks so much for this awesome book in exchange for my review! As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

A Dangerous Legacy

by Elizabeth Camden

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One thing that you can always know you’ll get when you pick up an Elizabeth Camden novel is history. I’m not talking about a time period, necessarily, but a lifestyle. You will learn so much about the era she chooses to write in. You will learn how they lived, worked and loved.

This time she takes us to the Turn of the Century. In a time of booming industry, factories, wires, and even plumbing, she intertwines a beautiful story. Of course, there is much more than that to it! You can count on love and intrigue. You’ll find deep characters that are easy to love (and some to hate!).

Be sure to pick up a copy of this new series! Link is above in pic. Thanks so much for this awesome book in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

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Be sure to check out our fun face-off here!

 

I Will Find You

by Detective Lt. Joe Kenda

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Let me start off with this:

Have you seen it yet? Ok, I haven’t either, but you can bet I’ll have watched it maybe even before you have a chance to read these words! This series is based on the life of Detective Lt. Joe Kenda and now you can also read the book for more insight into the world of “homicide hunting”.

Detective Kenda is a tough cop that solved a whopping 92% of his homicide investigations! That is unheard of and amazing. This book will take you through some of his most memorable moments on the force. It’s exciting, intense and makes me proud to have great men protecting our country.

Beware, for there is some language and adult content in this book, but I am highlighting it because it’s not distasteful and is used within the realm of the world he’s in. I definitely recommend that you pick up a copy! You can click on the picture above to see more of what’s inside.

Thanks, Hachette, for this great read in exchange for my thoughts. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

Here’s Some Happy

by Gina Graham

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There are so many coloring books on the market now that it’s hard to know which ones are worth picking up. I know! I get it! However, I have stumbled upon a more unique one to the bunch.

If you check out Gina Graham’s book here, you will notice it isn’t just a coloring book, but also a journal. There are so many cute pictures, plenty of places to write your thoughts, and gorgeous places to color and meditate on your favorite verses. In fact, if you click on the link above, you will be able to look inside the book to get a better idea of what’s in it.

I definitely recommend this one as it has a little more to offer than the standard coloring books. I absolutely love the illustrations and I think you will too! Thanks so much, Hachette, for this lovely book in exchange for my thoughts. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!