Coming Back Stronger | Drew Brees

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” C.S. Lewis

Well internet if you’re expecting anything negative in this review of Coming Back Stronger, then you don’t even know me. A) The Saints and B) Drew Brees. We all know how I feel about the Saints and the jersey I own proudly displays #9.





But, to keep it real and unbiased, I would have loved this book even if I wasn’t a Saints fan. It’s a powerful and well-written story. I cried. Not only because of his personal story, but what New Orleans meant to him and his wife as well as what they meant for the city. I was once again reminded how sports can sometimes become more than just a game, but a vehicle that brings together a community through adversity.

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In the aftermath of one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history, the city of New Orleans needed a hero.

What they got was a Saint.

When a potentially career-ending shoulder injury left quarterback Drew Brees without a team—and facing the daunting task of having to learn to throw a football all over again—coaches around the NFL wondered, Will he ever come back? After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, leaving more than 80 percent of the city underwater, many wondered, Will the city ever come back? And with their stadium transformed into a makeshift refugee camp, forcing the Saints to play their entire 2005 season on the road, people questioned, Will the Saints ever come back? It takes a special person to turn adversity into success and despair into hope—yet that is exactly what Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees has done—and with the weight of an entire city on his shoulders. Coming Back Stronger is the ultimate comeback story, not only of one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, but also of a city and a team that many had all but given up on. Brees’s inspiring message of hope and encouragement proves that with enough faith, determination, and heart, you can overcome any obstacle life throws your way and not only come back, but come back stronger.





“Was I going to quit or come back stronger? I chose to come back.”

The prologue kicks off with Brees sharing about the injury that changed his life and career. And Lord have mercy on all of ours souls, did I get the chills. Not because it’s overly gruesome or anything like that, but if you’ve ever had an injury in sports, you know that feeling. Not only the pain of the injury, but the emotions of it too.

“Adversity is actually an opportunity. It’s a gift, though it may not look like it in the moment. The difficulties life throws at you can be a doorway to something better-something you hadn’t even dreamed was possible.”

Throughout the book, Brees shares with refreshing honesty about his struggles, his faith, what brought them to New Orleans, giving back to the community, his family (definitely cried as he shared about his mom’s suicide) and there’s plenty of football goodness as well.

“God created each one of us for a purpose…When people think you’re not big enough, not smart enough, not wise enough, or not experienced enough for a task, remember that faith will carry you through. The test of adversity is one that is fought with faith.”

“God’s refining process is never easy. It’s kind of like a blacksmith creating a sword. The metal is strengthened when it is repeatedly put in the fire and then pounded with a hammer. But the end result is perfection. All the heat and pounding create a strength and beauty, not only on the outside, but especially on the inside.”





I know I’m a Saints fan, so I already love this team, but even if you aren’t, you can’t help but feel the emotions (or tear up on an airplane in my case), as Brees describes what it meant to return to the Dome for the first time since Katrina hit, watching a video of Katrina devastation, and what the team meant to the city.

Any sports fan will appreciate and enjoy this book and I definitely recommend it! If interested in finding out more about the Brees Dream Foundation, be sure to check it out! Who is one of your favorite sports personalities? Or if sports aren’t your thing, who would you love to read an autobiography of?

Oh and Who Dat!!

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Happy Thanksgiving World!

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

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“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

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There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

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But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

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As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

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But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

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What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

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To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We're best friends now.

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents? I’m excited to continue in this Grandparents series!

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The People We Call Grandparents

First, I have to say Happy Anniversary to my amazing parents. They make 36 years look easy and I’m so grateful/thankful/blessed to call them mine and have one incredible example of selfless love.

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Look at these two…

I’m a fan of my parents. I think they’re keepers and have already told them they will need to live for at least another two centuries. Not decades people, centuries.I’m talking Old Testament style.

I love seeing them happy and while I shouldn’t be surprised, I didn’t realize how much of a joy it would be to see my parents become grandparents (no thanks to me, I might add. My parents probably have worn out knees praying I get married before I’m 50).

And here I thought, as the baby of the family, I was the crowning glory of their happiness. No? Then just kidding, I never thought that.

Both of them of the biggest suckers to those two little sweet girls (who am I kidding, so am I!) and I love it. Some of the things they do have me saying “Who are you two??” It’s hilarious/awesome. It got me thinking about my grandparents and their stories. How, even though they have all passed away and my relationship was different with each one, they shaped my life in so many different ways and I am who I am because of them. Just like my parent’s will impact the lives of my nieces, my grandparents impacted mine.

I’m inspired to write them down too, so I invite you to join me in this 4 part series over the next few weeks. I’d love to hear your stories too! Are your parents grandparents yet? What about your g-rents?

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall | Julie Klassen

I blame my recent lack of adequate sleep and lack of focus at work on this book. Not only did it have me pushing it when it came to bedtime, the next day at work I kept thinking about lunch (aka reading time) and what was going to happen. I should have known this was going to happen, because that’s what happens when you read a Julie Klassen novel.

And it was definitely no different with The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.

And I’ve decided she’s the Jane Austen of today.

And no more starting a sentence with and.

I especially loved this one because it felt like reading a Jane Austen novel and like the set of Downton Abbey.

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Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Observing both brothers as an “invisible” servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?

On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of “serve one another in love.”

I pretty much pictured the different characters as ones from Downton (even if some of their personalities are different) and it kinda made reading it even more awesome! Except none of the characters you love die. Take a hint Downton. Quit killing people. But there is plenty of mystery, suspense, family and of course love.

So next time I have a project to work on, the last thing I’m going to do right before is start a Julie Klassen novel.

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