Monday, October 20, 2014

70 Years Ago Today: General MacArthur "I Have Returned"

70 years ago today was a watershed mark for those Westerners being held in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. At this point, they had been held for 33 months and conditions in the camp were deteriorating quickly. Food was scarce and disease was a real problem, especially beri-beri.


Two and a half years earlier, General Douglas MacArthur escaped from Corregidor Island in a PT boat and made his way to Australia. On arriving on March 20th, he declared, "I came through and I shall return."

From that point forward, the internees worked at surviving until General MacArthur kept his promise. By October 20th, 19444, the Americans had been bombing the Philippines for several weeks. The Santo Tomas prisoners had been waiting with baited breath for the announcement of an American landing on Philippine soil.

One of the over 7000 islands that make up the Philippines is Leyte (pronounced Lay-tay). The city of Manila is on the more northern island of Luzon. The Americans targeted Leyte in order to cut off Japan from valuable oil supplies.

Announcements were made at Santo Tomas via a loudspeaker on the grounds, usually first thing in the morning. On the 20th of October, the announcements weren't made on time. At last, the speaker crackled to life. The internees couldn't exhale. What had been the hold up?

The announcer cleared his voice. "The announcements are late, but better Leyte than never." The prisoners understood the play on words. The Americans had arrived in the Philippines. As General MacArthur stepped ashore later that afternoon, he uttered the famous words, "I have returned."

Certainly, no words were any sweeter than those to the Santo Tomas internees. Though overjoyed, they couldn't celebrate the way they wanted. The Japanese continued to hold them prisoner. The war was far from over.

How do you think you would have felt at the announcement of General MacArthur's return if you were a Santo Tomas internee?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#ILoveWhoIAmBecause...

This is a hashtag that gained a lot of momentum on Twitter. Bethany Mota, a YouTube star, started it. She records videos about being bullied, and on Dancing with the Stars, she danced an anti-bullying dance. I don't watch the show (don't throw things at me), but that's what I read.

The responses she got to this were very interesting. They included things like:
  • I've changed to become a better person and I'm proud of me
  • I'm open-minded
  • I have great taste in music
  • There is only one me
  • I'm smart and beautiful
  • I have nice hair
  • I can eat an entire pizza by myself
  • I'm an original
  • I can see who people really are
I was prepared to get on my soap box and preach about loving yourself for all of the wrong reasons. And there were many of those, as outlined above. Let's hope that some of them were kidding.

Among the responses, though, I did find some encouragement. These people love themselves because God loves them. And in the end, God loving us is the only reason we can love. Love our parents. Love our spouses. Love ourselves.

As I wrote about loving ourselves, I thought it might sound proud, selfish and egotistical. But I think we have to view it in the right light. I am worth something because I am created in God's image. I am worth something because He saw me at my lowest point and loved me enough to send his Son to die for me. I am worth something because I am a child of God.

So, why do you love who you are?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cancer Kicks My Butt

It's been over 18 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over a year since I finished radiation treatment, and yet, I'm still battling cancer. No, I'm still cancer-free. But cancer isn't finished with me.

My oncologist works for a teaching hospital. That is to say, he likes studies. Not an all bad thing. Earlier this summer, he was at a conference at which the results of a study were announced. We had been trending toward this treatment anyway, for a variety of reasons.

Many breast cancer patients in Europe with an ER/PR+ tumor like mine take drugs that put them into menopause and then take another drug to block any estrogen being made by their adrenal glands. (It's the estrogen that made the tumor grow.) This class of drug is known as an AI. At first, I did very well on the regimen. About six weeks into it, I began noticing swelling and pain in my joints. It took another 6 weeks or so until we figured out it was the AI causing the symptoms. I've been off of it for about 6 weeks with only slight improvement.

I don't write this for sympathy or pity. But I want the world out there to be aware that the effects of cancer don't magically go away when they pronounce you done with treatment. I saw them in my sister for years after her diagnosis. I'm seeing them in myself. I see them in others who have walked this road. When they say the treatment can be worse than the disease, they aren't kidding.

In all of this, God is still on His throne. He has a plan and a purpose for this. That is what I need to keep trusting in these days. What we all need to trust every day. And then we must go out and fight the good fight. Thanks for all of your prayers.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

St. Louis and ACFW 2014

Even though I didn't win a Carol Award, I had an awesome time in St. Louis. The trip went smoothly (except for getting lost in a not-so-great neighborhood). After arriving on Wednesday afternoon, I went to dinner with my fabulous critique partner and my equally fabulous agent.

We went to dinner at Fitz's root beer (sorry for being disloyal to you, Sprecher. You're still the best in my book!). It was yummy and they had the best gluten free buns I've had. Ever. I'd be a regular if they weren't 6 1/2 hours away!

We then took a little stroll down the street. This is a hip area of STL (I'm hip!) known as the Delmar Loop.

 
There's a statue of Chuck Berry. How fun.


Across the street is the Blueberry Hill restaurant with a bunch of Chuck Berry memorabilia. We didn't go in there, but it looks like fun.


Along the way, they have stars on the street, just like in Hollywood, but for famous people from St. Louis and Missouri. I didn't realize these people came from there.



All in all, a great evening. Thank you Diana, Ed, and Tamela!

The city is celebrating its 250th birthday, so there are all these cakes around town.

On Thursday, my roomie and I took a walk down by the Arch and the Mississippi.

Oh, and here are three Carol Award finalists!

What a great weekend of friend-making, learning and networking!

 What city do you like to explore?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Celebrating the Carol Awards with a Giveaway!

In just over a week, the Carol Awards will be given out. When I get details for the live stream, I'll be sure to post it.



I'm really excited about it. Just getting to be a finalist is way cool. So I've decided to celebrate with a giveaway! Cause free stuff is fun.

With winter on the way (sorry to break it to you), I'm going to be giving away with super soft tulip throw blanket, a $10 Starbucks gift card and your choice of either Log Cabin Christmas, Snow on the Tulips, or Daisies Are Forever.

What you have to do is simple. Take a picture with Snow on the Tulips! If you have it, you're set. If you don't, I'm giving you almost a week to get it. Then post your picture to my Facebook page (not my author page that you may have liked, but my other one: https://www.facebook.com/liz.tolsma.9.) Send me a friend request if you haven't already done so. You can also email it to me if you don't have Facebook.

You have until 11:59 p.m. central time on Tuesday, September 23rd. I'll be gone to the ACFW conference, but I'll draw and post the winner here and on my Facebook page.

Thanks for all of your support along the way. I sure appreciate it! Show me a little love back and get a chance to win!! And pass it on.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Praying without Ceasing

In our devotions last night, the writer was talking about praying without ceasing. He referenced a story about General Stonewall Jackson. He was a very busy, important man who prayed without ceasing. Someone asked him once how he managed to do that with all of his other responsibilities.

He replied that he just made it a part of everything he did throughout the day. If he wrote a letter, he prayed that his words might be encouraging to the recipient. If he received one, he prayed that the words might be beneficial to him. If he looked out the window, he thanked the Lord for the view. If he thought about someone, he prayed for them.

And you know, I had never really thought about praying like that. I knew I was supposed to pray without ceasing, but practically, I didn't know how that worked.

I really like General Jackson's thoughts. When I'm preparing a meal, I need to be thankful for the food I have in my kitchen and need to pray for those who will receive nourishment from it. When I'm sitting down to write, I need to ask the Lord for guidance. When I pull my blanket up at night, I need to give praise for the warm house I have.

Already, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't prayed without ceasing today. Then again, I've heard that it takes 30 days to form a habit, so it will be something I have to keep working on. I want to make it a way of life, a part of who I am.

What a great way to remind ourselves of all we have been blessed with by the Lord and to come to him with each and every part of our day.

What does praying without ceasing look like to you?



Monday, September 8, 2014

Potawatomi State Park Day 3

Well, you got a break from the vacation stories for one week while we ran our WWII anniversary blog tour. I hope you enjoyed it! We had fun and plan on doing things like this from time to time.

Day 3 of our Door County camping trip:

Once Alyssa was awake and could watch Jonalyn, Doug and I went biking. As in off road. I've never really done that before. I managed to stay upright, thankfully, but was just as happy to be back on paved roads. It was beautiful, though and we enjoyed ourselves. While some might complain about the weather we had - too cool and cloudy - we thought it was perfect. We could enjoy all of these activities without getting hot and sweaty. And if you know me, I don't do hot and sweaty. I don't have any pictures of this because I was too busy trying not to fall over LOL!

Doug then took Alyssa kayaking. By the pictures they took, it looks like they had a good time.

We went into Sturgeon Bay in the afternoon. I had to pick up a few things in town, so we showed Alyssa where we stayed on our honeymoon (I'm sure she was impressed!) and did some shopping. Of course, we found a Yonkers and had lots of fun in there.

Once we came back, we had a small celebration for Jonalyn's birthday. As you know, we had our big family party over Labor Day, but we did want to mark that day. She chose pink cupcakes and enjoyed it when we sang to her - poor child must be deaf ;) And we are bad, bad, bad. I thought Doug had some pictures of our little celebration on his camera, but I can't find them :( And I didn't take any. Well, you'll have to take my word for it. We did remember the day.

We then began a rousing game of Bunko - we are wild and crazy, I know - before starting a fire and having s'mores. You can't go camping and not have them. They're especially good with other kinds of chocolate. I love it with caramel chocolate bars. My family likes them with peanut butter cups. We've had them with cookies and cream bars, too. And you can't beat them with Snickers. Have you ever tried s'mores with different chocolates? Which ones do you like?