Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Perspective

This is certainly a very busy time of year, and I have been guilty of letting that keep me from reading and writing.  I'll try to do better.  I only have a few minutes right now, but I want to share with you a Scripture my pastor shared (in light of the Christmas season) this past Sunday night:

      "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty ye might be rich."
~ The Apostle Paul (II Corinthians 8:9 KJV)

What a powerful verse!  He had everything and willingly gave it up, so that WE could have EVERYTHING...  I can't emphasize enough each of these words.  I could probably talk a good bit about each word and phrase in this verse.  Just think on it for a while. 
And have a wonderful, Christ filled Christmas season!

Reese

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: GRACE, More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine


By:  Max Lucado
Published by:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2012

If you have never read a book by Mr. Lucado you are missing a real treat.  He does not lecture, talk over your head, and is not dry or boring.  In fact, when I read a book by Mr. Lucado I feel as if he is sitting in my living room sharing a cup of coffee with me.  We are friends, and he values my opinions but is not afraid to share his own from the Bible.  Plus he has a very fine sense of humor, and is excellent at explaining things. 

Such is the case in this new book called simply "Grace."  Herein he gives the Biblical account of grace -- what it is and what it is not.  He presents it in a manner a child could understand, while at the same time being intellectually stimulating.   Some moments are just "a-ha" moments, why didn't I think of it that way before? 

To me, grace is a beautiful word.  One of my favorite words.  Because of grace, I have the greatest gift imaginable which is an eternity in heaven with God.  All because of grace.  And what is grace?  Simply a GIFT I can choose to receive or reject, based on the precious gift of God's only Son Jesus' death on the cross, taking my sins and graciously covering them with His blood.  Grace is not earned. 

Find out much more in the eleven short chapters of the book.  I would also like to recommend the Reader's Guide in the back which is filled with extra Bible references and study questions.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  Thomas Nelson's book review program.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Borders of the Heart

Chris Fabry, Author
Tyndale House Publishers, 2012

J. D. Jessup wants to get away from life, so he heads to the desert near Tucson, Arizona where he hires on at an organic farm.  The lifestyle is far from the one he is running from, where he was once a musician, playing guitar and writing music from his heart.  Now, his greatest responsibility is to make sure that if he ever sees an illegal, he is to call Border Patrol.

One early morning ride changes his life forever.  While checking fences he stumbles across a body, only to find that the "body" is a beautiful young woman, an "ILLEGAL" by the name of Maria, who is near death.  Blocking from his mind his employer's requirement to call Border Patrol, J. D. hides Maria, caring for her wounds as best as he can.  In search of better medical care, and also with the vague thought of persuading Maria to turn herself in, J. D. begins to look beyond himself and care for someone other than himself.  

Unfortunately, trying to take care of Maria leads to a deadly trail of events.  Death and destruction seem to follow Maria, and hence J. D. as well.  Constantly on the run, J. D. and Maria seem to have different directions in mind.  What follows is definitely not what you would expect.  Throughout the journey, J. D. and Maria change, for the better.

Author Chris Fabry takes many twists and turns in this story.  What you first think might be a love story turns out to be anything but.  Hopefully you will "enjoy" this book as much as I did. 

Check out Chris' author Q & A, and take a peek at the book trailer.  Then pick up a copy of this book.  You won't regret reading this fast paced tale!

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please be advised that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Friday, October 19, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: A Season for Tending

By:  Cindy Woodsmall
Published September 2012
Book One in the Amish Vines and Orchards Series

Once again Cindy Woodsmall has written a book that I could not put down. She left me hanging!!  Now I have to read books two and three, or however many she will write in this series.  Exasperating sometimes.

Rhoda Byler is a young Amish woman who is still single, and she prefers it that way.  Although she lives in the home of her parents, along with her two brothers and their growing families, she has her own profitable business.  She is also considered by those outside her family as being peculiar and someone to stay away from.  It's been said that she gets premonitions of things that are going to happen.  She even knew her younger sister Emma was going to die.  And she couldn't save her. 

This sense of impending doom is not something Rhoda wants to be known for or deal with.  How can she cope, knowing she was unable to save her sister Emma?  Understandably Rhoda tends to keep to herself so she won't stir up conflict.

Another Amish family is going through their own problems.  The weight of the family business, an apple orchard, rests on the shoulders of a young man named Samuel King.  He is embroiled in a relationship with a young woman who wants more of his time than he is willing to give.  His younger sister Leah is going through her wild, running around years, and his brother Jacob has come home from the outside world and will not talk about his problems.  Plus he has other sisters and his younger brother Eli to deal with.

The lives of these two families become entwined when Rhoda finds Leah hiding in her garden after a late night out on the town.  Rhoda butts heads with Samuel over Leah, but also over the proposition Samuel offers concerning utilizing her services with his orchard.  Along the way a romance blossoms between Rhoda and Jacob.

The story concludes with a cliffhanger.  The families are working together, and now they must make a decision that will change their lives forever.  What choices will they make, and how will those choices impact the lives of the younger generation?  Will they allow God to guide their lives, turn over their problems to Him?

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  the WaterBrook Multnomah book review program.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Own Comedy of Errors, and My Rescue

Can you hear it?  The constant drip... drip... drip of the leaking bath tub faucet.  Annoying enough.  Then it's drip, drip, drip.  And soon it goes to dddddrrrriiiiiiiiiipppppppppp, a nice, steady stream...  What's a girl to do?  She can call her Daddy, or she can look it up on the Internet (watch the video below) and figure it out herself.  After all, she was raised to be independent, to be able to do things for herself. 

 

Okay, so I watched the above video a few times, and it seemed simple enough.  I lined up my tools in the bathroom, took a big breath.... and I couldn't get the handle off.  Yes, I was using the 1/8" Allen wrench, but the screw must have been stripped.  I tried and tried, to no avail.  So I went to bed and couldn't sleep for thinking.  How am I going to get that handle off?  I haven't even started on the real work yet.  I don't want to ask Daddy to drive 30 minutes one way to come to my rescue (he had done just that three weeks earlier when my car broke down).  I can do this!  I just have to figure out how.  

The next morning I was determined to get that faucet off and the water leak repaired.  After all, that WAS money going down the drain, and I'm not rich.  Once more I tried the Allen wrench, still didn't work.  So I brought out the big guns (I sure hope my Dad isn't reading this, because he just might disown me...).  My electric drill.  With a nice drill bit on the end that fit just right into the hole in the faucet.  Yep, if I couldn't make the wrench work, I could certainly drill through the head of the screw.  Or so I thought.  The drill bit wasn't quite long enough.  Talk about frustrating!  But apparently it was long enough to drill out the center of the screw, because I tried the wrench again and out the screw came, fitting neatly over the tip of my wrench.  That screw certainly can't be used again!  So, off came the handle.

Now things would certainly be much easier.  Couldn't get any worse, could it?  Especially since all the parts were coming off as the above video said they would.  I didn't even need a wrench on the fitting that held the valves in place!  To pull out the valves and replace those rubber fittings and springs was going to be a piece of cake!  

Except... when I managed to pull out the valves, I released a jet of water!  I'm talking about 65 psi (as I was later told)!  Sixty-five pounds per square inch!! It was like someone was using a fire hose in my bathroom, or at least so it seemed.  I mean, I certainly didn't remember the video saying anything about this happening!  In a panic, I forgot all about putting in the rubber gaskets and springs, and desperately tried to force the valves back in place.  It wasn't happening... I was standing outside the tub, and it was filling up fast.  Nothing to do but climb in and shove for all I was worth.  I was desperately praying for God to give me the strength to put that valve back in place.  Wasn't working. I started bailing water by the bucket full and dumping it into the toilet, then slipped and ran to the laundry room where I turned off the hot water on the furnace.  I bailed some more, jumped back in the tub, and once again tried to force the part back in.  Finally!!!  Shaking so bad I thought I was going to drop my parts, I tried to put the outside fitting back on, hoping it would hold and slow or stop the flow of water.  No such luck.  Well the fitting held, but it didn't hold back the water.  At least now the water was coming out of the faucet at a regular fill-up-the-bathtub rate, which gave me some time.  I bailed some more.  I called the water company and asked them to come turn off the water, since I couldn't find a shut off valve to the house.  I must have been a sight!  They said they would come turn it on whenever I was through with my repair, which was now much easier to do.

Unfortunately the drip was worse than before.  The water guy had said I was losing water at the rate of 1/2 a gallon per minute.  Start adding that up!  So what do you think I did next?  I called my Daddy!!  He didn't seem amused when I told him I thought I had tried to drown myself that morning.  But after explaining through my laughter, he did see the humor. And of course, in true Daddy fashion he said he would fix it for me.  What a relief!  

Daddy called me Monday morning to discuss my problem.  Did I know that I could have turned the water off in the wall behind the tub?  All I had to do was take off the face plate and there were the cut off valves.  No, I didn't know that.  That video above, you know.   Must have been made for someone with some basic plumbing skills.  Because I still don't remember it saying anything about cutting off the water, or how or where to cut off the water.  I guess the guy just assumed that MOST people would KNOW to cut off the water first!!  I have watched my Dad and helped my Dad work on so many repairs of various kinds that I should have.... well, you know.

Upon telling the guys at work my story and after hearing their raucous laughter (and heartily joining in, I might add), I was told that I should never, ever try to do any electrical work.  Because failing to turn off the POWER would not allow me a second chance (guys, I'm not THAT stupid!).

More seriously, I left money for my Dad to use to replace the parts of my faucet.  But he called and told me that the money was on the counter, that it was "his privilege" to make those repairs for me.  I'm having a hard time writing this part, because I'm writing through tears.  I am so fortunate to have a dad like mine!  

When Daddy told me it was "his privilege", it made me think about God.  He is waiting for us to step back and allow Him to help us, but He'll never force His way.  Can't you hear Him?   It was and is His privilege to help us.  He loves us.  He sent His Son to die for us, and WE DON'T EVEN DESERVE IT!  Just because He loves us, like my Dad loves me.  Remember Philipians 4:19 says, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Reese

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl's Still Got It


The Girl's Still Got It by Liz Curtis HiggsBy Liz Curtis Higgs

Published by WaterBrook Multnomah Released July 2012

Ladies, if you have never heard of Liz Curtis Higgs, you really need to check her out!  THIS girl's got it.  In her new book The Girl's Still Got It, Liz explores the story of Ruth.  A story completely about women (well, the men do play minor parts, although they are sort of wimpy, all except for the HERO of the story,  wait 'til you get a load of HIM!).  In her characteristic style, Liz tells the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.  She explores verse by verse, phrase by phrase, and it is not dull or boring at all!  Liz definitely has the gift to transport you back in time, to be able to stand in the shadows and see this story unfold under God's guiding hand.  You will fall in love with the characters.  You might cry, and you will most definitely laugh.  After all, the narrator IS Liz!

Take a moment to visit the Liz Curtis Higgs website.  You can get a jump start by watching the video, and don't forget the Righteous Ruth Rap, Liz's own take on rap music.  Plus you can join in on the online Bible study that's available.  Whatever you do, reading and studying the story of Ruth with Liz will allow you to see Ruth and Naomi from a whole new angle, to be sure.  And I guarantee you will learn something new, and hopefully new things to apply to your life.   I know I have!

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  the WaterBrook Multnomah book review program.

Monday, September 3, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Power of Happiness: A Comprehensive Guide to Daily Joy and Well Being

By:  Timothy McKinney
Published July 31, 2012

Wow!  What do you say when you get a book with a title like that!  Everyone wants to be happy, don't they?  Unfortunately not everyone is happy.  Happiness can be elusive.  And really, what is happiness?  Is it a result of our actions?  Our emotions?  Can it be as a result of both our actions and emotions?  In "The Power of Happiness" author Timothy McKinney seeks to help us learn how to become happy people. 

"The Power of Happiness" is separated into three easy to read parts covering the definition of happiness, determining if you are really happy, and how to be happy.  Through the use of vast amounts of controlled research, life examples, quotes at the beginning of each chapter, charts and graphs, questionnaires and even the suggestion of the use of certain foods and physical/mental exercise, along with a touch of humor to get the point across, Mr. McKinney has made this book an excellent tool for achievement of and recognition of one's personal happiness.  There are even questions and lists to be completed in some of the later chapters. 

There are so many quotes from this book I would like to share, but I'll settle on just one:
The secret to lifelong happiness is to really understand that Life Isn't Supposed To Be Easy.  It's not!  Think about that for a moment.  The VAST majority of our unhappiness comes from expecting things to be different than they are.  We as humans are under the false impression that life is supposed to be easy and that when life isn't easy, there is something wrong.  (pg. 59)
Although there was much in Mr. McKinney's book I liked and will personally use, I must admit I disagree with some of his points.  Most importantly I disagree with "The Golden Key" of Emmet Fox from which Mr. McKinney quotes, which basically states that you can call on God and He will solve your problems.  Better yet, you can think the name of God (or any religious icon you want), and just by thinking, you can make your problems go away.  Let me yell this out -- based on what the Bible says, I disagree!  You cannot use God as a talisman or good luck charm.  You cannot think of God or the name of God and your problems disappear!  Just because you may believe in God does not mean that all of your problems will go away or that God will work in your favor.  God says that all things work for His will, not mine. 

I also have to disagree that the goal of life should be our own happiness, although I don't believe there is anything wrong with being happy.  To the Christian, the Bible tells us to put Jesus first, then others, and lastly ourselves.  When our goal is only our own happiness we have missed the point and have become self-serving.  Colossians 3:12-17 gives the Christian virtues, and verse 17 makes this point: 
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
So what are we to do?  There is nothing wrong with being happy or trying to be happy.  But don't make that the goal of your life.  As a Christian speaking to Christians, this is a good book with much great advice and wisdom.  Use this book to help you achieve your goals in life.  However, temper it with God's wisdom.  If you are a new Christian or are not grounded in the Bible, I would have to say it would be best not to read this book.

I received this book free from the author, who requested an honest review of his book.  I am under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Weekend

SMALL portion of the nearly 30 pounds of pears "artfully" arranged prior to the great canning adventure.

Tuesday evening my pastor called and one of the things he asked was if I could use some pears.  His tree was loaded down, the branches touching the ground, and his wife had put up all the pears she wanted.  Of course I said yes!  My pastor brought over two large plastic grocery bags filled with pears.  So pretty...but if I didn't do something with them, they would spoil before my guys and I could eat them.  Over the years I have done some canning and preserving with one of my grandmothers and so I thought I could do it on my own.   

Pears in the process.  You can tell I was already into the project...

Of course I used the Internet to research recipes for pear preserves. I found one or two in some old recipe books, but was searching for other ideas.  One of the ideas was for gingered pear preserves,which called for crystallized ginger.  Which means I had to find a recipe for that, as well.   

Amazingly Winn Dixie had a sale on sugar last week, and for some reason Monday night I purchased two bags for nearly the price of one.  Guess that was God's timing because pears came to my house Tuesday night, and canning and preserving takes LOTS of sugar!

Friday evening I made a trip down to the country (my parents' and grandmother's place) and picked up canning jars and advice.  Then it was off to Wal-Mart to purchase lids for the jars.  And fresh ginger.  

The finished product.  Covers nearly the entire stove top.


After many, many hours of work, I was well pleased with the fruits of my labor!  I have enough gingered pear preserves, regular pear preserves and pears in light syrup to last my little family for a while.  Can't wait to share with the extended family.  And yes, I've already eaten some of those preserves with hot biscuits and melted butter...oh, and over pound cake, too.  Pure heaven!!  

I am not the Proverbs 31 woman, but I sure felt a little like her this weekend.  Now, what can I find at the farmers' market?

Reese

Thursday, August 2, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: House of Mercy




HOUSE OF  MERCY

By Erin Healy
Published by:  Thomas Nelson, 
Publication date: August 7, 2012


Beth Borzoi is a young, gifted woman with a love for her family and animals, who is also an aspiring veterinarian.  Unfortunately, family dynamics in the Borzoi house are tinged with jealousy.  Jealousy between Beth and her older brother; between Beth and her mother.  Good natured teasing goes on between Beth and her youngest brother, Danny.  Her father is her hero and she feels secure in his steadfastness and love.  She and her family own the Blazing B ranch where they raise cattle, and where they also give a home and jobs to men who have fallen on hard times.  Her father has become a hero to some of these men, for standing in the gap between society and the lives they are trying to make right.

Unfortunately Beth has a problem, and she takes the matter into her own hands by stealing a good friend's unused, forgotten saddle to use as payment for another friend's veterinary bill.  Beth's theft leads to a chain of events that includes the loss of an expensive piece of property and consequently the loss of her personal freedoms.  Death comes, and Beth believes it is because of her misdeeds.  She leaves the ranch in a desperate search for answers, only to find much more than she bargained for.  And has she been given a supernatural gift from God?  Will He forgive her for all the trouble she has caused?  Some things cannot be changed, but can Beth accept mercy and forgiveness, and even offer the same to others?

I hate to be so vague, but this is one story you are just going to have to read for yourself.  Read with an open, non-critical mind.  Don't pass it off as being too mystical.  And even though I do not believe that God works today in the manner that happens in this story, remember that all things are possible with God, and He can choose to reach and use His children in any manner He chooses (remember the talking donkey in the Old Testament?).  This is  a work of fiction, where anything goes to teach a point.  Didn't Jesus employ these same traights Himself when He tried to teach those around Him?

In my opinion, Erin Healy has done an excellent job in using uncommon "characters" and events to heighten the suspense of House of Mercy.  If you would like to learn more about Ms. Healy, check out her website where you can download free samples of this book.  If you like suspense and a little bit of the unknown, with a strong sense of God's guiding and Word, I think you just might like this author.
  
In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  the Booksneeze program.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Fourth Fisherman

By Joe Kissack
Published by WaterBrook Press, 2012

Let me begin by saying if you are squeamish, you may want to skip this book or be prepared to skip over parts of this book.  

Joe Kissack's new book The Fourth Fisherman tells the true story of five Mexican fisherman who set out on a three day fishing expedition only to encounter problems which eventually lead to the death of two of the fisherman.  Of being stranded in the Pacific Ocean for nearly nine months with no supplies such as food and water. How did these three men survive?  What gave them the will to go on?  

Simultaneously, Joe Kissack was facing his own ocean of problems. Although he was a fairly well off mover and shaker in the television industry, there was something missing in his life.  His life was beginning to crumble and fall apart.  The Fourth Fisherman combines the life and death story of the struggle of the Mexican fishermen with the life and spiritual struggles of Mr. Kissack. 

I did enjoy reading this book and had a hard time putting it down.  But without personally knowing Mr. Kissack I was somewhat uncomfortable wondering if he was using the fishermen's story to sell his own.  But the book does tell a beautiful story of the grace and mercy of God.  However you take Mr. Kissack's personal intentions, I don't think you will have a problem becoming engrossed in the story.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of the Blogging for Books program.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend of Camping and Photography

Path through the woods leading to my camp site.

Friday night I spent the night in the woods, by myself except for my dog Duke.  I, the 'fraidy cat.  It was really dark out there.  The bugs were loud, and some lights kept going off -- bright enough to shine through the roof of my tent.  At first I thought it was a plane going overhead, but it was really fast.  Growing up on UFO stories, that was my next fleeting thought.  Yep!  Then I realized it was only lightening bugs, and a lot of them.  Wish I would have thought to try to photograph them.  


Anyway, this was my first experience camping alone, and I wanted to do it somewhere safe. So I asked my parents if I could borrow their woods (unknown to them, if I got scared, I could make a five or ten minute run through the dark to their house!  Except they let me borrow their chuck wagon that has headlights, so the trip wouldn't have been so long or so bad).  Really, I wanted to make sure I was in a semi-familiar area where it would be okay if I forgot something. And yes I forgot something -- my bug spray!  It fell out of my bag in the car, and today I am feeling the after effects.  Ouch!!  I think the next time I go camping I'm going to have to pack an air mattress.  I kept tossing and turning, but I did sleep.

Yes, I really camped here.  By myself.


Camp site in the woods.


My camping buddy, Duke.
One of the benefits of camping at my parents' place is feeling safe to walk through the woods.  There is no chance of getting lost back there.  And although they have seen coyotes, foxes, deer, turkey and bob cats, it's still relatively safe.  Unless you want to count the snakes we've seen (Mom and I killed a big one earlier this year -- I held it down and she killed it).  Hence, my dog/warning system.  Unfortunately, because of my dog there was little chance I would see any wild life, but that can be saved for another time.

Beautiful weed in the woods.  So -- who determines if something is a weed?


Along the edge of the woods.


Tissue thin mushroom in the woods.  Perfectly pleated.

One of the things I enjoy most about my parents' place is being able to take and share photographs.  I can take pictures of the woods, the fields, and the flower beds around the house, as well as the pond and the creek.  The choices are almost limitless.  And early Saturday morning that's just what I did.  You know, I find it hard to understand that some people believe everything happened by chance.  When you are out in nature it's quite obvious that there is a master design going on!  As an amateur photographer, all I do is try and capture what He designed.  

There was a path of morning glories growing in the woods.
Love the design -- perfect star shape.
Morning glories.


In the woods.


Mushrooms growing in the woods.


Fungi growing behind a tree, alongside the road.
Saturday morning I took my grandmother (who will be 85 this fall) for a ride on the four wheeler.  We had to stop for a gaggle of geese crossing the road.  She pointed out the geese on both sides. There were forty or fifty geese spread from the field, across the road and into the neighbor's pond.  My dog soon found the geese, and off they flew.  Too bad they don't come with a warning system to tell you they are about to fly away, I would have loved to have gotten some better pictures!  

My grandmother and I saw this gaggle of geese.  So did my dog...

This is the result.

Thunder storms had been predicted for Friday evening and again Saturday evening.  And although we didn't have any, there was a lot of cloud cover.  Which made for beautiful skies.

Clouds equal a beautiful sky.
My mother is an excellent gardener.  She likes fullness and variety, as evidenced below.  She takes after her grandmother who was also an avid gardener (she always saved strawberries for me).

Lantana, salvia, and roses.
Mom asked if I had any butterfly pictures.  I told her I didn't have many because the butterflies flew away too fast.  She made a suggestion, and this is what followed:



Butterfly in the lantana.

I can't get over the color of these day lilies!  I love them mixed with the mini roses and grasses.  The best part is that when it's time to divide the day lilies, some of them go home with me!
Mom's day lilies, with mini roses and grasses.

My parents know the importance of taking a break every once in a while.  This is one of the shady spots they created by Daddy and my brother's building the arbor and hanging the ceiling fan, and mom's use of plants to make a cool, inviting place to relax.  It was nice to sit here and work on the computer some.

Wonderful place to relax anytime of the day.  Here in the steamy hot South, it's better with the ceiling fan on!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend yourself!

Reese

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thoughts

I am naturally curious.  I always want to know more.  What is around the corner, why something happened the way it did, that sort of thing.  It shouldn't be a surprise that I'm this way.  I have heard often enough that my mother used to try to get me to quit asking questions, while my grandfather told her to answer them -- how else was I going to learn?

One evening not long ago and friend and I left Bible study, and he asked if I was in a hurry to get home or if I could just hang out for a while.  I drove because she doesn't like driving at night (neither do I!).  She pointed and asked if we could find out what was down that road?  Being naturally curious, I said sure!  It was dark and the way was lit only by a few street lights and the headlights of my car.  But we drove down the winding, rising and falling road, looking around, surprised we didn't know what was in this area of town.  I admired a small lake we crossed over, and the lights of homes shining in the lake.  I really enjoyed the architecture of the homes.  When my friend asked if we could explore one of the side roads, I happily complied.

All of our exploring got me to thinking.  I had never been down that road before so I knew nothing of what was there.  And when I took the road, I could only see what was along it's edges, not what was hidden from view.  Only when we drove deeper, down side roads, could I see what was off that first road.  And isn't that just like people?  What you see on the surface is not the whole truth.  Sometimes you get an accurate picture of what is buried inside, and sometimes you don't.  What would happen if we were to dig deeper into the lives of others?  What would we find?  And almost more importantly, what would someone find if they were to dig past the top layers of me?  Would it be pleasing to God?  I'm afraid that a lot of times it wouldn't be pleasing to Him. 

I don't want to be as Christ accused the teachers and pious leaders of His day: 
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."  Matthew 23:27, New International Version (NIV)
But instead like this: 
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:16, New International Version (NIV)
How about you?

Reese

BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Madness



Published by:  Thomas Nelson, 2012

Have you ever wondered what it would be like living in the times of the kings of the Bible?  What if you were of the house of Nebuchadnezzar?  Say, the daughter of the great king himself?  I love history, the actual life of history.  I always want to know more.  And Tracy L. Higley has certainly satisfied my curiosity and held my attention with this new book, Garden of Madness

Garden of Madness is set at the end of the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar's banishment, when he roamed as a madman, as a beast, until he submitted to the one true God, the God of the Jews, Yahweh.  Nebuchadnezzar's youngest daughter Tiamat has just lost her husband (whom she was forced to marry to form a political alliance), the son of the imprisoned Jewish king Jehoichan.  Now she is faced with another impending forced marriage alliance to one of her mother's cousins, a prince of the Medes.  Unbeknownst to Tiamat, the mage Shadir is plotting his own takeover of the throne through marriage to Tia by a man of his choosing.  A third possible contender for Tia's hand in marriage is the unwilling Pedaiah, the brother of Tia's deceased husband.

With so many unwanted marriage options, along with ferreting out the reason for the death of Tia's husband and two murders in the palace, Tia seeks solace in the presence of her father Nebuchadnezzar, to whom she remains loyal even through his madness.  She tries to find answers through the ways of her people using the magic of the powerful mage Shadir and through sacrifice to the gods.  When she finds herself in impossible, terrifying circumstances she begins to believes she is going mad.  After all, isn't madness hereditary?

In her search for answers, Tia has to decide if she is willing to follow where truth leads, and if she is willing to make choices based on that truth.  Following truth leads to surprising personal decisions and outcomes for Tia and her family.

Tracy Higley does a wonderful job answering the question of what might have happened to Nebuchadnezzar during his seven year absence, who might have reigned in his stead, how a takeover of the kingdom may have been presented, and a look into the life of the beloved Daniel.  To find out more about this book visit Tracy's website.  By the way, I'm going to the website myself to check out all of her other books!

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  the Booksneeze program.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Tidewater Inn




Published by:  Thomas Nelson, 2012

I have to admit that that I am an avid fan of Colleen Coble.  When I saw this book up for review, I knew it was what I would be reading next.  Ms. Coble did not disappoint!  Tidewater Inn is a good mixture of romance, mystery and morals.

Libby Holladay is a driven woman who restores property to historical accuracy.  History and architecture, attention to details, a love of all things old is her life.  Tidewater Inn begins with Libby inspecting a property for renovations when she receives a phone call from her best friend and partner Nicole who has news about property on Hope Island, which she has been inspecting for a renovation project.  Nicole has uncovered surprising information about Libby's family -- Libby thought she had no one, but now she has a family.  Nicole tells Libby she has also inherited a substantial amount of property from her recently deceased father.  A few minutes later  Libby witnesses via video cam the kidnapping of Nicole, and now a double mystery begins.  Who took Nicole and why?  Why had Libby been told she had no family? 

Libby arrives at Hope Island in search of the missing Nicole, only to find she is now a suspect in Nicole's disappearance.  Can she clear her name?  More importantly, can she find Nicole?  A hurricane is brewing and time becomes critical.  Can Libby recruit her family and others to help her find Nicole?

What is she going to do about a family that does not want her? And what is she going to do with the beautiful old inn her father left her, which needs extensive, expensive repairs she cannot afford?  It looks like the only thing to do is to sell and move on, leaving behind her legacy and her family.

Tidewater Inn is a rapidly moving novel full of what ifs.  Full of learning to trust.  Learning to let go.  Learning to let God.  I highly recommend this new book by Colleen Coble, along with any other of her books you can get your hands on.  You won't be sorry!  Visit Ms. Coble's website (there's a free down loadable book available) to get more information on this and other books.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  the Booksneeze program.





Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Adam Brown: Further Information


What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than reading about one of our American heroes?  Yesterday I posted a review on the book Fearless (by Eric Blehm), about the life of Navy Seal Adam Brown. Today I wanted to follow up with some further information, listed below:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_L8ca7AKEA&feature=player_embedded
www.EricBlehm.com
www.theadambrownlegacyfoundation.com
www.nralifeofduty.tv/adambrown
www.fearlessnavyseal.com


Hope you get a chance to read the book Fearless!  


Have a wonderful Fourth, and don't forget those who have fought or are fighting for our continued freedoms!


Reese

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Fearless


Fearless
By: Eric Blehm
Published by WaterBrook Press
Copyright 2012


I have heard about the book Fearless for a few months now, and even posted earlier that I had read the first chapter of the book, so I was very excited to find that WaterBrook Press was offering the book for review.  I read this book in two sittings, which really would have been one sitting if I didn't plan to get ready for a family reunion at my home over the weekend.  This book is just so good that it was very hard to put it down.  And like really great books, I did go through a few tissues, especially at the end.  I spent about twenty minutes during a drive with my teenagers yesterday excitedly re-telling stories from the book (with them listening wide-eyed).

Fearless, written by Eric Blehm, tells the life story of Adam Brown, a man who should go down in history as one of our American heroes. The book tells the good, the bad and the ugly in Adam's life, including a stint with drugs and a stay in prison.  It tells the incredible story of how Adam overcame physical wounds that would have sidelined any other man (including Navy Seals) to advance to the top level, DEVGRU (Naval Special Warfare Development Group), upon which time all records are labeled "Top Secret". 

Even though I knew the end of the story, it was still very hard to accept the fact that Adam gave his life for his country.  I wanted him to live on forever.  But as author Eric Blehm points out Adam was a Christian, a man who professed Christ as his Savior, and his life and his witness did not end with his death.  

Adam's witness at home and in the field affected many people, from the Afghan children he took shoes to during the cold months (over 500 pairs were distributed by Adam, collected from his family, fellow Seals and churches), to the way he engaged in battle.  He helped his wife teach Sunday school.  He brought fellow Seals to church with him.  One Seal struggled with the concept of Christianity, but accepted Christ shortly before he was killed on a mission.  Many lives were changed because of Adam's faith and example.  

The author makes a statement in his Afterword that speaks volumes to the character of Adam Brown:
And though I hadn't opened a Bible in more than twenty-five years, his (Adam Brown's) faith encouraged me to question my own questioning about religion.

This is a book you might want to reserve for older, mature teenagers and adults.  Those who can handle the graphic nature of the book, as well as a few choice words sprinkled in, mainly in the beginning of the book.  Overall, this is a book that I will be sharing with my sons, a couple of my nephews and other family members.  I believe it is important that we choose heroes who actually do what is right, those who serve our country and try to make our lives better, and not those who are portrayed as "heroes" today on television shows. 

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  WaterBrook Press.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Anything


Anything
By: Jennie Allen
Published by Thomas Nelson
Copyright 2011


Anything.  The word that says so much.  Can you pray that one word, and mean it?  Can you ask God to take anything you have, everything you have, and use it for His honor and glory?  Can you take that one word and let Him DO anything with your life and subsequently the lives of those around you?  Why is it so hard for those of us who profess to be Christians, who profess to have given our hearts to God, give Him anything He asks of us?  Why are we so afraid?


These questions are probed thoroughly in Jennie Allen's book Anything (the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul).  This is a powerful book that really pokes at you and prompts you to make a decision to go all out for God. If God is Who He says He is, what do we have to lose?  If God is Who He says He is, where are we going to spend the most time -- here on this earth, or in eternity?  So what REALLY MATTERS?  What does God want?


As Jennie says:
Are we truly willing to completely and finally forsake this life?  To yield ourselves to God without restraint?
If Anything has "buts," it wouldn't be anything.  When we look at the God of the universe who willingly sent his son to be brutally murdered so that we get to live in his kingdom forever as his own kids. . . saying that you will do anything "but" just doesn't go over well.
Here's a chilling thought from the book:
We don't want to get to heaven and realize we missed it, that God rerouted around us...
We all have to decide -- are we going to spend time living lives that are pleasing to those around us, or are we going to live our lives that are going to be pleasing to God?  Where will we spend the most time?  Here on earth, or in heaven?  What's our perspective going to be?


This subject of surrender has been on my heart for a while, and has grown stronger over the past few months.  My dad and I just discussed it the beginning of this month.  Why am I wrestling with myself?  And that's it exactly, I am concerned about self and getting what I want out of life, not fully wanting to accept that this life is so very short, and that eternity is just that -- never ending.  It's decision time.


I hope that you will find a copy of Jennie's book.  It will change you. It will at least make you think.  I will challenge you to do what God wants you to do.  Are you ready to start the journey to be sold out for Christ?


If you would like to learn more about Jennie Allen, her family, faith and ministry, check out her website:  jennieallen.com


In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  Thomas Nelson and Shelton Interactive.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Personal Thoughts on Abusive Situations


I have been feeling like I need to make some personal comments after having read and posted the book review on Break Through. I have kept quiet on my blog about personal abuse in my marriage out of respect for my two teenage sons. However, reading Break Through has prompted me to give you some personal, insider notes without trying to make a big deal or cast blame. I do feel that at some point in time God will ask me to share, and I want to be obedient, ready and willing when that time comes. But for now, here are some comments from the perspective of someone who has been there.

To those in crises situations:

There is no shame in seeking help.

There is never any reason for someone to verbally or physically abuse you.

You did not "make" them do it to you.

Be prepared for denial on the part of the offender.

It will NOT get better, only worse.

To family members of those in crises situations:

Unless a person is ready to get out of the abusive situation, they will go right back to it. It’s easier to deal with what you know than the unknown.

Never, ever minimize the abuse with your loved one.

Do not pretend it did not happen.

The person in the situation needs to be acknowledged and allowed to give voice when the need arises.

Most of the time your loved one just needs to talk.

Yes, it's painful for you to hear.

Yes, you may want to take action against the offending party.

And no, you are not to blame for what happened or for not knowing what was going on.

The important thing is what you do now. Just don't let yourself get into a situation where you are enabling, you need to help your loved one grow.

How do you think God feels:

God loves you.

You are precious in His sight.

He died for us to free us from our sins.

He was ABUSED and MURDERED for us.

He knows what you are going through.

He wants you to be free from abuse.

You know, Christians have been taught that divorce is wrong; that under no circumstance should you consider divorce. I struggled with this issue of divorce for several years before breaking free. However, there are a few instances in the Bible in both the Old and the New Testaments giving permission for divorce. While waiting to make your decision you may need to get help and physically step away from the abusive situation and not return until you are certain the offenses will not happen again (which means that not only the offender needs to change, but you need to change, too). If your life is on the line you need to get out, and the sooner the better. And please, find someone you can trust and talk with.

I am a woman who is now five years free from living this type of life, and my situation was mild considering what I have seen and heard of others. I made a decision to get help (counseling and the help of family members), to change my life, to make good friends (do you really have friends when you are in this type of situation?), to grow into the woman I feel I was always meant to be. You can do it, too!

Reese

NOTE: I am not a professional counselor. I am not a counselor at all. My thoughts are just that, my personal thoughts. Please seek counseling from a professional if you are in an abusive situation!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cat


Have you ever heard stories of people finding creatures under the hood of their cars, having driven for miles not knowing they were there?  Well, that happened to me personally, although my distance was only from the Walmart parking lot to my house, maybe 5 miles.  I picked up medicine at Walmart, and when I got back to my car I thought I heard a cat.  I looked around but didn't see one, so thought maybe I was hearing things.  Went through a drive through for dinner and heard it again.  By this time I was praying I wasn't killing an animal and that I wouldn't see it bouncing down the road behind me!  When I got home, before I could pop open the hood of the car, a perky little kitten jumped out.  A cute little grey cat with white markings -- and No Tail.  And no, I AM NOT THE ONE WHO CHOPPED OFF IT'S TAIL!  It was already that way -- I promise! 

It's been three days now, and I have found that this is one very loving little kitten.  I haven't told my sons yet, they'll be home Wednesday night.  Maybe I'll let it be a surprise...

 Reese


Thursday, June 21, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Break Through




By: Tim Clinton and Pat Springle
Copyright 2012
Published by Worthy Publishing


It is sometimes difficult for me to read about negative, destructive relationships, having come from one myself.  I wish I would have had this book a number of years ago, but I was able to get good counseling to help me sort out my own issues.  I was able to realize there was a problem, determine what the problem was, and seek to remedy that problem.  But I had to get away from the circumstances of that problem.  Reading Break Through five years after I stepped away, FREE, from my own personal issues sheds a lot of light on my situation and why I did the things I did.  I imagine I am not alone in personal relationship struggles.  In fact, I would venture to say that most everyone has had a negative relationship in their life, either by being the needy person or being the one who was controlling. And even though these relationships are unhealthy, it is sometimes easier to stay with something we know instead of breaking free into the unknown.  That is what Break Through, by Dr. Tim Clinton and Pat Springle seeks to explain. 

Here is an excerpt from Break Through which seems to sum up these harmful relationships:
"It is incredibly difficult to overcome a lifetime of entrenched habits, fixed and vivid memories, rigid brain patterns, manipulative feedback from a demanding person, and the adrenaline rush of pain and pleasure.  Until a major crisis creates an explosive combination of desperation and true hope that shakes us to the core, we will not change. Until that crisis rocks our world, we will cling to the false hope that the person(s) with whom we share an enmeshed relationship will magically change and everybody will live happily ever after."
Another point made in Break Through is that we all have to realize we cannot change another person.  We can only change ourselves.  And if the other person refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem and continues in the destructive pattern, then we must have the courage to separate ourselves from that relationship.  We ourselves cannot heal until we step back from our destructive behaviours, whether they be controlling others or being controlled by others.  We need to be willing to set things right with other parties, realizing they may not be willing to comply.  We may need to forgive and then move on with our lives, making sure to keep avenues open to accept and work with the ones we have been entrapped with, without allowing the same destructive habits to come back into the relationship.

Let me just take the opportunity to say this:  if you are in a destructive relationship where abuse occurs, find someone to help you!  Do it now, don't wait.  And if one person is not willing to help you, then search until you get the help you need. 
  
Clinton and Springle liberally use God's word to show how being in a hurtful relationship, whether we are the one hurting or the one doing the hurting, is not what God designed.  And using the same word of God to show how we can make changes in our lives to have better relationships with others.

Something to remember: 
"Crises seem utterly cataclysmic.  The heartache and darkness of a crises can be overwhelming, but God is the master of turning mourning into dancing and darkness into light.  If we step back, we might catch a glimpse of what he sees...God will use even our most difficult moments to produce the qualities of Jesus in us as we trust him.  And he'll replace our shame with hope -- the assurance that our lives matter and God loves us dearly.  We may not like the curriculum God has for us, but the outcome is sweet:  hope and love."
I hope that you will pick up a copy of this book.  Read it yourself, answer the thought provoking questions at the end of the chapter, share this book with a friend.  If you are hurting, take the first step to get help.  If you know someone who is hurting, be there for that person.  Lovingly help them get help to make needed changes.  Share this book and other books with them.  And by all means pray!

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  Handlebar Marketing.

Friday, June 8, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Through Rushing Water


By: Catherine Richmond
Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Copyright 2012

What happens when your plans change drastically, something you thought was a sure thing turns out very differently than you had expected.  That's the story of Through Rushing Water.  Sophia Makinoff is the French teacher at a girls' college and has plans to marry a US Congressman.  She is positive he is on the verge of proposing.  However, the proposal is not for her!  


Sophia packs her bags and runs off to be a missionary to the Ponca Indians in Nebraska, hoping to leave behind the sting of rejection.  Her first choice was to be a missionary to China after which she could return to her native Russia, but the position with the Ponca Tribe became available first.  Anything to get away from her humiliation!


Unfortunately Sophia does not seek the will of God.  She delves into her prayer book in order to pray.  She is not seeking God on a personal level.  But just because Sophia is not exactly in tune with God does not mean that He is not in tune with her!  And when she thinks she is in the wrong place, she is exactly where God wants her to be.


Sophia lasts longer at the Ponca reservation than any previous teacher.  And in the course of her year at the reservation she falls in love with the people not just as a whole, but as individuals. And is her heart opening to the Agency carpenter, Will Dunn?


Not only does Through Rushing Water tell the story of Sophia, it also tells the story of the Ponca Indians during a time of deep trouble and sorrow.  Information on the tribe and one of their leaders, Standing Bear (who is a character in our story) is readily available online.  


This is a very moving story.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  Thomas Nelson, Inc.