Sunday, April 29, 2012

90th Birthday

My grandmother, Dot Coon

After weeks of careful planning, lots of hard work, and worry that the guest of honor might not be able to make it, the day had arrived.  The event was the 90th birthday of one very special lady, my grandmother Dot Coon.  A couple of weeks ago we thought we might lose her.  Yesterday we thought she was not going to be able to make it to the (surprise) party.  But she did!  She is one very tough woman.  All five of her children were there.  Most of her grandchildren were there.  And several great grandchildren were there.  And one great great grandchild.  All in her honor.  All because we love her. 

Grandma with all her sons and daughters and their spouses.

The day was perfect.  Hot, but not too hot.  A nice breeze blew through to cool things off.  The shade from the trees was wonderful and inviting.  The smell of the chicken being cooked over an open fire was incredible and made tummies rumble.  Getting re-acquainted with cousins was great!  And meeting spouses, children and grandchildren of cousins was a little bit daunting.

My dad with his mother.
My sister spent hours and hours in preparation of a book to give to my grandmother, from her children.  The best thing you could ever give to Grandma was a photograph.  Anything else she would just give right back.  So Daddy surreptitiously collected her photo albums and he and my sister culled thousands of photos to put together in a book.  Photos of Grandma's parents.  I believe even a photo of both of her grandfathers.  Photos of her as children. Photos of her and Granddaddy.  Photos of their children.  Photos of their families.  Six copies of the book were handed out, one to Grandma and one to each of her children.  Believe me, those books got conversations going!  And stories told.  I would listen to one, with my ears tuned to others at the same time. 

It was a long and tiring day, but well worth the time and effort of everyone involved. 

Thank you so much, Lord, for my Grandmother, for my family, and for the wonderful day You gave to us yesterday.

"Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."  Exodus 20:12


Saturday, April 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Widow of Saunders Creek

The Widow of Saunders Creek
By: Tracey Bateman
Published by WaterBrook Press
Copyright 2012

This book has it all.  A tragedy in a young woman's life.  One from which she does not wish to recover.  Seemingly unrequited love.  Just a hint of the paranormal.  And overall, the love of family willing to help a woman get past her tragedy and begin to live again.  Throughout the book the love of God for His children shines through.
It has been six months since Corrie Saunders has buried her young husband, Jarrod.  A war hero.  That's what everyone says.  Even the military has called him a hero.  While he was stationed in Iraq he rushed to try to prevent tragedy by a suicide bomber.  But Corrie doesn't want a dead hero.  She wants her husband back! 
Ever since the funeral she has been living with her mother.  Now, she is determined to move into the home she had been refurbishing while Jarrod was overseas.  After all, the home had belonged in his family since his grandparents' time.  Now it was theirs, or rather hers.  And that was now causing another problem.  Some in the family felt that the home should revert back to the Saunders family.  After all, Corrie and Jarrod had not had any children. 

Corrie's first night in the home she wished for Jarrod so hard, was so angry and upset that he had left her.  How could he be so selfish to leave her?  In anguish, she cried out for Jarrod to speak to her. Slowly, the front porch swing on which she was sitting began to swing, as if it was being pushed.  Could it be Jarrod?  

Jarrod's cousin Eli has been helping Corrie re-do the house.  Can Eli also help Corrie learn to accept that her husband is gone?  What will he do with his developing feelings for Corrie?  Will Eli's love for God, his quiet faith help?

Read the first chapter and see if you can resist getting the book.  Author Tracey Bateman has successfully woven the elements of a good romance, a suspenseful look into the spirit world (it exists, and it is not of God), and the love of God.  I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I did.

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus
Joyce Magnin
Zondervan 2012
Seventy-something year old Harriet Beamer thinks she can handle life on her own.  She is a widow who lives with her basset hound Humphrey  in the home built by her late husband.  She is involved in church, has a set routine, and wants nothing to break her out of if.  Harriet has a son who lives on the opposite side of the country, in California of all places, and she believes the greatest thing that could happen would be for her son and his wife to present her with a grandchild.  But she is beginning to lose hope that will ever happen! 
The adventure begins when Harriet’s son Henry and his wife Prudence come to celebrate Christmas.  Decorating the Christmas tree is something Harriet wants to share with Henry and Prudence.  But this one particular ornament – shouldn’t it be placed in just the right spot – it won’t take anything but stepping up onto a chair and it will be done.  Just one little ornament…  And that’s when disaster strikes!
What happens next sets the stage for Harriet’s grand adventure.  You know, placing a little wager that you are sure you can win, what’s the harm?  However, Harriet didn’t bargain for Prudence’s insistence on the terms of the wager.  And what is the wager?  Harriet’s house, and therefore her freedom!  If Harriet loses the wager she agrees to move to California to live with Henry and Prudence.  You guessed it – Harriet has to make good on the bet by selling her home.  However, what no one counted on was Harriet’s idea on HOW to get to Henry and Prudence’s place.  No jets or trains for her!  Once packed, she ships everything, including Humphrey. 
The grand adventure begins with Harriet boarding a bus.  A CITY bus, of all things.  She has decided she has to go to California, but it will be on her own terms, in her own time.  Determined to take alternative transportation, Harriet does things she never dreamed of doing.  She thinks and travels outside the box, outside her personal comfort zone.  And boy does she ever have some adventures! 
Harriet begins to realize that God is using her on this trip.  There are so many people she comes in contact with who need a kind word, who become interested in her adventure, who she is able to help and encourage.  And along the way she finds that she is learning to do as God wants her to do.  She is listening and responding positively to the nudges of the Holy Spirit.  She is learning to forgive, to let go, to let the past be the past.  And her relationship not only with Henry but with Prudence as well improves greatly.
I enjoyed reading the adventures of Harriet, and think you might, too!  Harriet reminds me of my own eighty-something year old widowed grandmother.  She even thinks the same and uses the same terminology!  Ms. Magnin has truly created a character who is both believable and inspiring.
In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of  Zondervan.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New book called FEARLESS

Just when I am getting good and interested in the book, and have had to take a few very deep breaths to hold back some tears, the first chapter ends!  Wait!  I want to read more!  But in order to do that, I am going to have to go out and buy the new book by  Eric Blehm entitled Fearless.  Fearless tells the true story of Navy SEAL Adam Brown, who died the night of March 17, 2010 in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan.

Take a sneak peak at the short video.  Then read the first chapter, and see if you are going to do like I am and go out and buy the book.  I am certain this is one book I will be sharing with my two teen sons, one who right now is toying with the idea of becoming a Green Beret!


NOTE:  Here's my book review:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Photo Story -- Simple Things

Sometimes the simple things get our attention.  Like these daisies growing alongside the road.  I was on my way to my parents' place in the country Friday evening, where I was going to spend the night with my grandmother and then help my mother do yard work on Saturday.  I had noticed daisies out in the fields and thought it might be good to ride back out Saturday morning withMom to get pictures.  When I came to my parents' road, I pulled in and got out of my car -- with my camera.  And there, on the side of the road with my backside to passersby, I knelt down and took pictures of these daisies. 

Saturday morning I was awakened by a downpour.  Thunder was rolling and lightning was flashing, and you could hear the rain pounding on my grandmother's roof and windows. It was only 5 a.m. and I am not an early riser, so I snuggled down under the covers and dozed until time to get up.  I figured with all that rain Mom and I would have a mess working in the garden. 

 What we did was get up and roam around taking pictures.  I am a shutterbug, but Mom is the QUEEN shutterbug in our family.  Not to leave her out, my sister is the QUEEN of taking Mom's photos and turning them into awesome photo books (check out BLURB for ideas for yourself or your family and friends).  Mom had a new lens she wanted to try out.  A macro lens so she could get great close ups.  She normally doesn't use a tripod, but for Saturday's photos she did.  I on the other hand almost always use a tripod because I can't seem to hold my camera steady.  And I forgot to take it with me for the weekend!  Back to the rain -- it made for some beautiful photos!

I told Mom about the daisies and we loaded the chuck wagon with our cameras and camera bags, and up the road we went.  Mom saw thistle alongside the road and said we needed to make sure to go back and get some shots.  It's amazing how you can just lose track of everything else around you when you are taking photos. 

On our way back we pulled over to the side of the road and here are some of the shots I came up with.  Remember I mentioned I forgot my tripod?  I sure was wishing I had it!  But I like to get ground level shots, so it really wouldn't have done me any good.  In any case, I kept kneeling down, and once landed on thistle.  I came up in a hurry!  Probably just my imagination, but I itched and burned for a little while... But look at these pictures.  Some of these plants had both solid purple a yellow/purple blooms on the same plant.

Across the road from the thistle was a stand of grass Mom was interested in.  I was fortunate enough to be able to get this shot with the stormy sky as a backdrop.  But I had to get down almost into the ditch to do it.  Oh well, I had planned to get dirty in the garden later on, anyway.

Again, sometimes the simple things are what catch your eye.  Like these blackberry vines growing alongside the road.  Mom said she needed to have Daddy get rid of them, but first she wanted pictures!  She's right, they were pretty.

Mom's azaleas are in full bloom right now.  She has the reblooming kind, the kind with large blossoms.  Mine bloomed a few weeks earlier than hers.  Mine only bloom once, and have very small blossoms covering the plants. 

Some of the irises have started to bloom.  This variety is very tall (3' - 4' tall, maybe a little taller), with slender leaves that look more like grass than the traditional fan of leaves a lot of irises have.  I think this is called a flag iris.  The irises in my grandmother's yard should be blooming soon.  I believe hers came from her sister.   

Another knock out rose.  I finally figured out how to get closeups with my camera.  I had tried to get physically close to the subject, but all I got was blur.  I couldn't seem to get the camera to focus.  I finally discovered that I could back up a good distance, then zoom in 50x - 80x and get a good closeup.  Now I'm excited and want to do everything closeup.  Maybe I really should sit down and read the book that came with the camera...

Wigelia shrub growing in my grandmother's yard.  It's almost bloomed out, and a lot of the blossoms were becoming spotted, but they still made a good subject.

At the privacy fence between my parents' yard and my grandmother's yard sits this church birdhouse.  I couldn't resist the shot -- I love how the spiderwort sets off the gray of the wood.  By the way, my mother planted and takes care of the extensive gardens in BOTH of these yards.  I spend my Saturdays (and my sons when they are with me) helping out during the early months of the year.  After the end of April everything will be pretty much finished until next year.  My Mom is a big fan of perennials (they come back every year) so a lot of what we do is transplant or divide, etc.  The plants do the filling in for themselves.

You know, my sister, Mom, grandmother and I were downtown after church yesterday afternoon.  We went to the Greater Montgomery Home Builders Show (my Dad had a booth for his business).  Once finished, we decided to tour the downstairs of the Renaissance Hotel which opens into the convention center where the GMHBA event was held.  On the walls of the hotel are hung photos and paintings, and collections of fine porcelain, etc.  I noticed under one nature photo this caption: "Designed by Nature".  How about this caption:  "Created by GOD"?

Hope you have a great week and a wonderful Easter this coming Sunday.  Don't forget why we celebrate.  Just like Spring brings all things new, so does a new life in the risen Christ!


BOOK REVIEW: The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher

The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher:  How to Teach Piano for the Glory of God
Author:  K M Logan
Published 2012

When I was asked by Mrs. K M Logan to review her new e-book The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher, I jumped at the chance.  Although I am not a piano teacher, I do enjoy playing the piano.  For me, playing the piano is a form of praise and worship.  Therefore, I was very much interested in reading about teaching methods based on Christian principles.

Where does music come from?  The ability to write, play, read and sing music?  God-given talent plays a large part, but that talent must be cultivated with practice and teaching.  And what better person to teach than a Christian, someone who wants to give all the praise, honor and glory to God, and pass that passion on to their students?  That's what the new e-book, The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher by K M Logan, is about.  How do you become the teacher you are meant to be, a teacher who guides, inspires and directs students of all abilities and ages?

Mrs. Logan's well written new e-book gives great ideas, encouragement and advice for someone who thinks they might want to teach piano, or even to those who are already piano teachers.  As you can see by the title of this e-book, this is written from a Christian perspective.  Chapters include "Preliminary Questions", "Business Aspects of Teaching Piano", and "The Piano Studio".  Questions such as where lessons should be taught (your home, your student's home, a studio, etc.), what you should charge, and are you even qualified are all addressed in this book, including some very wise advice concerning protecting yourself from any hint of scandal (you will be teaching students, most often in a private setting).

The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher presents great advice that can be used by anyone who chooses to go into business on their own, whatever that field may be.  I highly recommend this easy to read e-book.  Copies may be purchased from Mrs. Logan's website, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of the author, K M Logan.