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I am a mother who works full-time but who is also a chauffer, chef, seamstress, fitness instructor, teacher, maid, gardener, runner, organization expert, salesperson, secretary and wife. I love my family and life is always busy but fun! Come along with me for the ride:-)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Heart Break and Wisdom!

As my children have grown, I've come to realize just how different, but special, they each are.  Bailee in particular makes me ponder sometimes.  She looks like I did at her age but I had dark hair and maybe not so many freckles.  She does her own thing like I did when I was younger and like I do now - going along not really worrying about anyone else necessarily.  She can be an introvert and so can I - hard to believe, I know:-)  If Cassie is not around, she reads and does quiet things - I even have to go find her to ask "Where are you?" and "What are you doing?".  I love being alone too!

But she broke my heart (almost) about a month ago.  We were home alone - I guess Cassie was spending the night with someone else or at practice.  She said, "Mama, I'm weird".  Of course, I said "No you're not!".  She replied, "Yes, I am.  My friends tell me that all the time."  I replied, "well, they don't know what they're talking about and they are just being mean."  I was really worried about her self-esteem but she wasn't crying as Cassie would have been.  She sat there a few moments and then said  "It's okay because I like being weird.  It means I'm not like everybody else and I REALLY, REALLY, like me.  Besides, you and Daddy love me and God loves me too."  Kinda reminded me of that book by Jamie Lee Curtis, "I'm Gonna Like Me".  I still felt bad that she feels like her friends think she's weird, but I also felt relieved and proud because it was a very mature attitude about it. 

Then, I pondered some on our converstation.............things happen when you ponder, you know?    Sometimes bad things and sometimes good things.  I think I pondered on both that day.

First the bad things - As a youth, I always felt left out and different because I had thick glasses (didn't feel pretty EVER), I was the smartest kid in my class, I had fair skin and freckles, and in middle school I had a full METAL MOUTH.  I was called Four Eyes, Brain, Whitie, you name it and it hurt!  I loved being smart but I hated the way I felt around most of my classmates.  I never liked being different - maybe I didn't have as much support as Bailee does to make me feel better about myself.  Nothing against my parents but serious conversations just didn't occur in our house - not those thought-provoking, self-analyzing discussions that I have those with my girls.

Bailee has good self-esteem so she's one up on me at her age. However she doesn't have really close friends.  She has friends but not CLOSE friends like her sister does.  She and one friend call themselves BFFs - but they aren't constantly together all the time and they are different in so many ways.  Sometimes it bothers her that Cassie always gets invited to spend the night - almost every weekend - and she doesn't.  She is well behaved but maybe other girls don't like her as much as other friends because she is "different".  Other times, she is very much a homebody, always has been. 

The good things I pondered on, you ask?  She is very smart (book-wise and social-wise).  However, she is WISE - so very wise beyond her years, she shocks me a lot of the time.  She will spontaneously will ask me very thought-provoking questions or make a comment - things that make ME think !!  And I think a lot!  She watches people and makes observations that most children do not.  I even wonder if her brain sleeps because she has asked me questions at 6:15 a.m. in the morning.  She has big dreams for big things - things like being the one to cure cancer - those kind of things.

Then I realized one thing about Bailee that so many people struggle with their entire life.  SHE LIKES HERSELF!  And she knows that her parents love her and GOD loves her.  My heart sings because of it :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

God's artwork in the sky has truly been beautiful in the last couple of weeks!  Hope you're all enjoying the nightly (and morning) views:-)


Monday, September 17, 2012

Irritation and Irrigation

I'm in a new Bible self-study and a section of it discusses letting go of things that irritate you and letting your heart be "irrigated" by God's word so that you are a the person God meant you to be.  Good analagy - irritation versus irrigation. 

Irritation - the state of feeling, impatient or angry.  Irrigation - the activity of supplying or providing something (usually water but not always, as in this blog).

We all have situations and things that "get our goat".  The situtations that bug me usually involve certain people or things people do.  As I've gotten older, I've lost patience with stupidity, dishonesty, and people who are underhanded, hurtful or lazy.  I can now easily recognize when someone purposefully behaves a certain way so as to leave one impression with a certain set of people but then behave a completely different way with others.  It is called personality dishonesty.  I've learned that if someone gossips to you about others, that person is gossiping about you to those same others.  I've learned that getting angry with other drivers only makes the drive seem longer - if they want the entire road, I'll slow down and let them have it.  After all, I want to live and I may be late, but I will get there.  I'm learning to step away and step back.

BTW - it is believed that "get my goat" stems from the word goad - people goad you and "get your goat" (or your gander) up.  Just a little trivia there.  Allow is the key word in this process too.  Do you allow certain things and people to make you irritated?  If you do, it's partially your own fault for allowing them to make you feel that way.  Begin the steps to freedom by first recognizing what or who test your religion.  Sometimes the irritation is very purposeful because they know they can make you feel that way.  Sometimes they don't realize that they are doing it but to them life is a constant contest - one they have to win.  You have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to bring it up for discussion - which can sometimes clear the air - or just learn to let go and move on.

If you choose not to discuss it ( and sometimes it's a situation where you just can't) - what do you do?  Do you drive a different way to work?  Do you hang out with other friends?  Do you speak to them but make no future effort to be closer friends?  Do you let them win the contest or stay in constant unspoken battle with them?  My personal opinion?  Some people will always think that they are right and you are wrong (or that you're crazy, paranoid, etc).  Just move on - let them win.  It's okay - I promise!

As you strive to become the man or woman God meant for you to be, it is necessary to let go even though doing so is sometimes painful.  Read God's word daily and let his word "irrigate" your heart.  It will heal your heart and soul.  It will render your hurt and disappointments useless.  They will be forgotten and you will be free.  Your heart will be open for new friendships, new ideas, new things to enjoy!  Your soul will know no boundaries.  Your heart and soul will SING!

Guy Finley stated - "You don't need strength to let go of something.  What you really need is understanding."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Decisions............

Everything we do in life basically narrows down to decisions.  Not just huge life-changing decisions but also the tiny, boring, insignificant day-to-day, moment-to-moment kind of decisions we make without any forethought.  Do I choose to drink soda all day or drink water which is healthier?  Do I eat a candy bar or do I eat fruit?  Do I drive the speed limit or do I go over the speed limit and risk a ticket or worse, a wreck? 

We have choices every day, all day, about everything.  How many times do we really stop and think before making them?  How many times do we pray and ask for guidance before making them?  I have a couple of decisions to make within the next month - I am praying every day for a "sign" - for guidance that what I'm leaning towards is the right choice :-)

Here are a few quotes to ponder.  I especially love that there are two that emphasize that NOT making a decision actually becomes your decision!
  
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.  ~William James

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.  ~Roy Disney

Indecision becomes decision with time.  ~Author Unknown

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30 - Three Things Thursday!

1.  Rain, rain, go away.............ISAAC go away.  He's come and he likes it so much he's stayed for a while. He's left LOTS of rain, wind gusts like from winter storms, tornadoes, flooding........  I posted on FaceBook and I'll say it here - He's the slowest man I've ever seen.  And I know a few slow men.  They were thinking about retiring his name because he was so unique.  Not sure if they've done that but I'd vote for them to do it.

2.  Running update - scratching that C25K plan was the best thing ever.  My time has improved every week. Tonight was an exception - I cheated on my GF diet and it made me lethargic.  Didn't drink enough water today too - leg cramps.  Won't make either mistake again :-(

3.  Instragram monster - that is Cassie.  I never know what pictures she is going to post out there.  I like the photoaday posts and some people are really good at photo editing and post some really neat pictures.  If you don't have the app, download it - it's cool!  If you do - my name is wsmoncrief!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 23 Thankful Thursday!

Short and sweet list of things I'm particularly thankful for this week :-)
1.  Marshall Ramsey's blog and tweets.  He has a unique way of saying what I'm thinking but in a much more humorous, politically correct way.  Gannett Company screwed themselves when they dropped him to contract status -  but the rest of us love the fact that he is branching out into new avenues!
2.  Friends who listen.  You know who you are - thanks for letting me vent, worry, stress-out and for praying for and with me when I most need it.  Love you!
3.  Birthdays.  I turn another year older this week - I don't like thinking about my age but I'm not half dead yet since I plan to live to be 100.  I am definitely a year wiser, a year more thankful, a year healthier and a year more mature.
4.  My husband.  Just when he's getting on my nerves (and all married people get on each other's nerves LOL) - he shows me again why I fell in love with him.  He's The Rock in my book :-)
5.  Resilience.  My 12 year old is growing up.  She has had a HARD week - girl drama, school, hurt feelings, worry, typical tweenage stuff.  I have prayed with and for her - and today she is seeing a brighter day.  Love her perky personality, her smile and her ability to overcome with a smile.  Wish more grownup girls had those traits.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Three Things Thursday!

1.  School started this week (see new picture from 1st day of school)!  I am glad for a structured routine and I think the girls are glad as well because of boredom and missing friends, although they played with friends in the neighborhood all summer.  Cassie is in 7th and Bailee is in 5th.  For Cassie, 7th grade means she is officially in Junior High.  She has a full schedule - Social Studies (Eastern Hemisphere), Science, Pre-Algebra (her coach is her teacher so she loves this), Cheer, Office Worker (second elective choice but she's good with it LOL), ICT1 (computers) and Pre AP-English.  She is really excited about the English - she got the "teacher everyone wants".  Bailee seems to have two great teachers and a neighborhood friend is in her class.  She is excited about Venture (gifted program) because the teacher is fun and the field trip will be a week at Space Camp in Huntsville (unless something changes).  This time of year mkes me wish I were back in school - new clothes, new school supplies, new friends, new teachers..........can I be a kid again for one year??

2.  Running - well I dumped the Couch 2 5K program a week ago.  Each time I try it, I get to week five and struggle because my endurance doesn't build up.  Maybe it works for some but not for me!  I am now following a different plan that I found.  Basically I go the distance it says - and I run as much as I can with walking breaks only as needed.  I have already improved in endurance and knocked several minutes off my three mile runs.  Today I was late getting to the gym so I didn't complete my three mile run so I will go back tonight to finish my training run time and also do some weights.  Saturday will be my first true test because the Saturday runs get longer each week.  FWIW - I do have a goal that I'm working towards but for now it's only known by me and the one place I have it written down :-)

3.  Have you watched the Olympics this year?  We have and have been loving it.  So many of the athletes are so inspiring and I think it is good for anyone (especially our youth) to see that anyone, even with life struggles and hard lives, can set a goal, work hard towards that goal and make their dreams come true one day.  If you have children, this is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about not giving up, about believing in yourself and about how hard work can and will pay off if you keep at whatever it is that you're working towards.  A good less for adults too :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday!

Not much time today so it's a THANKFUL Thursday instead of Three Things Thursday.  I'm thankful for many things today.  As a friend is dealing with her son's health issues (brain tumor) and another friend still mourns the loss of a child to cancer last month, I am thankful that my children are healthy and happy and that we've not had any major medical issues.  I am thankful that I have a wonderful job when others have been laid off and can't find a decent paying job so they are struggling to pay the bills and provide for their families.  I'm thankful that I have spiritual, faithful people in my life who inspire me to remain faithful and grow closer to God.  I'm thankful that I am friends with my husband and that I'm not "just married to him" because so many are married but do not feel close to their spouse or feel loved.  I'm thankful for the freedoms we have in America - freedom of religion, freedom of speech (although sometimes you aren't allowed to voice your opinion about some things without causing a riot - just as the CEO of Chick-Fil-A), freedom to live and work where I want, freedom to vote and choose our country's leaders, etc.  I am thankful that God sent his Son to die on the cross for MY sins so that I can be saved and live in Heaven with him one day.  Today-------I'm just feeling thankful in general :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday!!

1.  Side-tracked - a friend spent the night with Cassie who said she had "allergies".  I'm thinkig NOT since we all have had her summer cold and surprisingly I've had it the worst - or at least the longest.  But today I can breathe again thanks to 2,000 mg of Emergen-C every day and also to this stuff which is the BOMB !  The eucalyptus and menthol hits your sinuses and you want to scream but then you go "aahhh".  Sort of ticked that I have not been able to run since last Friday (breathing is sort of necessary for that you know), but since I can breathe today I'm hopeful that I can run Saturday morning :-)

2.  Summer Reading - the girls have started reading their summer books.  Bailee has to read two and Cassie only has one.  It's hard to believe that in 19 days school starts again.  It seems our summers get shorter and shorter.  I sure wish Mississippi would continue school until the first week of June and not start until the first week of September because of the heat more than anything.  Also, my school day was from 8:00 until 3:00, not 2:00-2:30 pm.  If they attended longer hours each day, daycare costs would be cheaper and they could go to school a fewer number of days each year.  Just sayin'.........

3.  Twitter - do you twitter?  If so - follow me at @wsmoncrief :-)  I find that it's much faster than FB and comes with much less drama.  Nuff said.....

Friday, July 13, 2012

Three Things Thursday

  • Rain - GLORIOUS rain!  We went from days of no rain and needing it desperately - to getting a LOT of it.  We sure needed it so I'm not complaining.  Those first few days of clouds that gave you about five minutes of rain seemed like Mother Nature was just being mean and  teasing us.  Sure glad she followed through with the good wet stuff.

  • Chick Fil-a cows!!!  Friday, July 13th, Chick Fil-a is giving away either an entree or a meal to anyone who comes in a cow costume.  If you have a full costume, you get the meal.  If you have a partial costume or cow accessory, you get the entree.  My girls and our sitter had a blast today making cow costumes.  I have to say that I think I will have the cutest cows at the Brandon Chick Fil-a!  Happy Chicken Eating!!!

  • I have a 2008 Buick Enclave (see above picture).  In mid-June, someone side swiped the front right fender in a parking lot so it's in the shop.  I am now driving a Chevrolet Malibu.  Great car but I feel 80 years old because it takes effort to get out of it LOL.  The person who hit me wasn't nice enough to leave a name and number or at least an apology so I filed a hit-and-run claim on my insurance.  I was a State Farm client for 25 years and switched to Progressive Insurance two years ago.  State Farm is certainly not what they used to be - no customer service, no knowledgeable & caring claims adjusters, etc.  Progressive is WONDERFUL - just like Flo says on TV :-)  Process couldn't have been easier and I am so thankful.  If you're looking for a new company, please call them for a quote - my monthly premium is over $40 cheaper than it used to be - with great service to boot!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three Things Thursday



1.  Fresh Produce - if you aren't going to a local Farmer's Market - you are missing out!  I've been going to the Mississippi Farmer's Market every Saturday and I love it.  I've been getting fresh fruit, veggies, goat milk soap and local eggs.  It is worth the trip because the quality is better, the taste is better and it is healthier!


2.  Sunrise - I've seen a lot of them lately.  I've learned over the last two years that the only way I will get a run in is to get up and do it early.  With my job, my kids and being a working mom, I just can't do it any other time.  I've also learned how much I really love getting up that early.  It's quiet - no cars, no people, no kids, very little noise.........it's peaceful and calming to my soul.  Even if you don't run, get up early one morning and just go sit outside and watch the sun rise.  God's artwork is fabulous and it can become addictive.



3.  If you Instagram - go follow SmokenBoo.  The pictures are always of English bulldogs - puppies mainly.  These pictures always make me smile -  no matter what kind of day I've had.  If I ever have a dog, it will be an English Bulldog :-)  And yes, Boo is Smoken......CUTE !!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday!






Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday - Going Backwards!

Time - it's flying and it's flying FAST !!  I do not consider myself old and I feel that life is less than half over for me.  However, it's amazing how far we have come since the 70s and 80s.  Last night I began listing things that I know from my youth that my children have never heard of.........feel free to comment and add to this list!!

1.  Rotary phones with a cord that are actually attached to the wall in some way!
2.  Party lines - we had one for years and we shared with a couple of old ladies.  I have never liked being on the phone a lot but inevitably one of them would want the line when I WAS using it.  One would interrupt and ask you to get off and the other lady would pick up and hang up repetitively until you got off!
3.  Televisions without a remote.  The TURN dial - and you had to get up to change the station.
4.  Rabbit ears - no cable, no dish!
5.  Radios with a turn dial - no digital, iPhone stations, etc.
5.  8 Track Tapes - one thing I do NOT miss.  LOL
6.  35 mm and 12 mm cameras!  FILM!!  You had to wait for your pictures!
7.  DOS - the black and green screen.  No Apple, no Windows.
8.  Shorter menus at fast food restaurants with no "combo" meals and no "upsizing".
9.  The only donuts  you could get were from the local bakery - not Dunkin or Krispy Kreme.
10.  Standard transmissions - I actually miss them.  I loved driving one!  My kids will never know what that is :-(
11.  Going to the library - because you didn't buy books or have a Kindle or iPAD reader.
12.  Only two movies at the theatre - versus 10-15 to choose from.
13.  Home Economics being taught in the schools.  Now girls can't cook or sew unless their mamas or grandmas teach them.
14.  Everyone having a garden - it's slowly coming back a little but most people buy frozen foods or canned.  Yuck!!
15.  Shelling your own beans or peas - even if you go to the farmer's market, they are shelled for you.
16.  People dressing up for church - this has almost completely disappeared and it's a shame what some people wear to worship God.
17.  A lawnmower you push!  Yes you can get these - but people so often get a riding mower or a self propel.  It would be a shame to actually work to mow the lawn.
18.  No air conditioning.  Now we think we are dying if we don't have one and we are because we are no longer used to the heat.
19.  A clothesline.  I love to smell the clothes after they have been hung outside.  Now your neighbors FREAK if you want one or have one - even if it is allowed in you area.
20.  Sidewalks - so many neighborhoods don't have one.  You risk your life to walk, run, ride a bike or just to visit the neighbor - if you even bother visiting them to begin with.
21.  Using the oven to reheat your food.  Yes we got a microwave when I was 12 but it was HUGE and had a turn dial.
22.  Families actually sitting down together for a meal - my kids DO  know this because I insist on it, but so many do not.  They eat on the run - headed to soccer, softball, dance, work, etc.  It is okay to be home and to be together!!
23.  AM radio stations with a few FM stations too.  No one listens to AM anymore and FM has been overcome by satellite radio or iTunes.
24.  Washing your own car - it's fun to get wet and soapy!
25.  Board games and physical games outside - not Wii, XBox, iPods, iPADs, etc.  Games where you actually talk and interact with each other, not to mention getting some exercise and fresh air.  We also do this at my house still.  TV OFF - go outside.  Or - TV OFF - come play a game with me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Something different this week - THANKFUL Thursday instead of Three Things Thursday :-)  With life's stresses and trials, it is so easy to forget to be thankful for the little things.  I know that when I pray I find myself praying for the day-to-day things - a home, food, family, a job, ability to pay bills, Jesus, Grace, etc.  But, what about the little things that happen every day that we just assume happen on their own - with no help from anyone, let along God.

This week I am so very thankful.  Reflecting today, I realized that despite the stress of the week, I'm quite a lucky woman.
1.  I'm thankful that I have a great job, that I'm good at it and that I get to do it every day.  The week has been full of meetings and I have so much to do at my desk I'm overwhelmed a little, but I WILL catch up and the meetings were necessary so instead of being stressed about that "To Do" pile - I'm glad it's there and that I can get it done...........starting tomorrow!
2.  I'm thankful that the bad weather Monday night caused as little damage as it did.  My house did not catch on fire from lightening as at least two houses did.  No trees fell on my house.  We are alive.  Our family  and friends are safe and well.  We needed the rain and the plants in my garden that survived are growing by leaps and bounds.
3.  I am thankful that I have a husband who can fix virtually anything.  During the storm, our water meter broke - for the third time in 1 1/2 years.  It's getting REALLY old too.  The water meter is only about 10 inches from a very large tree which has grown and has roots that shift and move.  The meter is lifting up but the PVC pipes on my side of the line are not - the meter is about 3-4 inches above the pipe.  We, once again, fixed it ourselves - this time using swimming pool flexible PVC piping that will "give" and "move" with the ground hopefully.  The city will not move the meter - won't do it despite the fact that they approved inspection this house when it was built 11-12 years ago with the meter exactly where it is.  My one prayer is that next time the entire meter blows or the pipes on the city's side go so that they have to take care of it.  Maybe they will move it then - at their cost, not mine.
4.  I am thankful that I have vacation days.  I was not happy that I had to use one Tuesday to get things repaired around here, but if I didn't have them, then I wouldn't have been paid for the day off that I needed.
5.  I am thankful that I have a reliable vehicle and that God watches over me as I drive 25 miles to work one way each day in some of the craziest traffic anywhere.  However, I am not thankful to the fellow employee who rode on my back bumper this morning on I-220 and then gave me dirty looks when we got to work as if I were inconveniencing her when I tapped the brakes to get her off.   And, I am certainly not thankful to the motorcycle who made his own lane and tried to pass between me and the Hertz rental van who was beside me in the next lane.  The motorcycle rider actually bumped my car.  He could have been thrown off under the van and killed (or under MY Buick) but instead he gave me the universal hand signal telling what he thought of me, floored it, and continued on driving between two lanes of cars side by side for about five more rows of cars until he got ahead of us so he could go at least 90 mph or so.  Good luck to him - he's gonna need it because he's got a death wish.  Thankfully I saw no damage to my passenger door but I hope his left mirror is broken :-)  BTW - he also had no tag - I looked in case I needed to file a police report for damage.
5.  Finally, I am thankful that tomorrow is Friday and that Saturday and Sunday follow tomorrow.  I see TGIF all the time - but truly think about it.  The weekend is an opportunity for respite from weekday stresses.  Sunday is the Lord's Day - be sure to observe the Lord's Day and rest. God did - and so should we!  It should be TGSIC !!!  Thank Goodness Sunday Is Coming!!!

Blessings!
Wanda

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Things Thursday!

1.  Proverbs 31 Woman - I am doing a Bible study on the Proverbs 31 woman, my second one actually on this same subject.  I wish every woman would delve into this chapter of the Bible to understand each instruction given there - each individual guide and instruction.  It is changing me in so many ways.  I am definitely not a "submissive" wife - in fact I don't know many of those in today's world.  But I do see too much of the opposite - women who are not respectful to their husbands.  A woman I know has always asked me "why don't you make Jeff do XX?", why don't you tell Jeff he needs to XX?", "(Hubby-hers) knows that he is supposed to do this.", etc.  These comments have put  me on the defensive at times - quite frequently in fact, for two reasons - (1) I don't like being criticized or having my husband or marriage criticized and (2) This woman doesn't see that she is demanding and always telling everyone what they need to do, including her own husband.  The big picture, God's picture, is more important.  I get up early, 5-5:30 most days, to get my day started because it says to do so in Proverbs 31 and because I want to get up early.  I love it - I run, read my Bible, and pray before getting dressed.  I cook, clean, take care of my children, and do all that I do because I want to and because I want to be the woman, mother and wife God wants me to be.  I ask for help when I need it, but I do not "expect" Jeff to do them while I do very little.  I am busy all the time because it says in the Bible to be fruitful and busy - not to be slothful and lazy.  If you're interested in learning more about this study, google Good Morning Girls and  you'll find it.  It's wonderful!

2.  Summer is here finally - Ballet recital is done so my girls are officially free for the summer.  Cassie has practice at school two mornings a week but other than that, they are cleaning & organizing their rooms, swimming, spending time with friends, spending "down" time, etc.  It make me wish I was a teacher so I got a summer break too LOL. 

3.  Fresh Vegetables!! - my garden is growing and I will finally pick some squash this week.  Meanwhile, I'm visiting farmer's markets around the area to find fresh veggies for freezing and for cooking.  I could easily be a vegetarian.  Some suggested places to go:  the Farmer's Market by the Trade Mart off of High Street, the Livingston Farmer's Market in Madison county, Donna's Produce Stand #6 on Hwy 49 in Florence, Wright's Produce on Hwy 49 in Richland, the produce stand on Old Fannin Road - search for one or visit all.  You'll be glad you did!  Yum !!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Things Thursday

This week is a holiday week and my internal clock is messed up.  You'd think I thought today was Wednesday but it seems like Friday LOL.  Well - another short Three Things for today.

1.  Bad things happen in threes - isn't that what they say?  Well I'm up to two so hopefully that superstition won't complete itself!  Took car to be serviced and asked about a warning light that comes on.  Google searches said simple things like brake pads slightly low, sensor messed up, etc.  Not for me - brake fluid leaking into master cylinder for a while that had corroded the sensor and rubber gaskets.  Cost much more than an oil change and tire rotation.

2.  Sunday, while trying to wash clothes in preparation for the week and for Cassie heading out to camp, the washer broke.  No biggie - Jeff fixed it for 60 cents Monday morning and I washed about five loads of clothes.  Then, Tuesday evening while he was washing clothes it started making a noise and when he opened the washroom door, the smoke came out into his face.  We had to turn on box fans to blow it out of the house and we were glad we were home because it would have burned down our house.  The transmission burned up so last night I bought a new washer.

3.  Okay - so it is amazing what entertains a wife with a new appliance.  My new LG top loading washer has a see -through lid and no agitator.  LOVE It.  BUT - I just had to watch it wash the first load of clothes LOL.  Amazing............if you have a newer washer you totally understand.  If not, then you'll just to wait until you buy a new washer..........or come visit me :-)

FINALLY...........my oldest comes home tomorrow.  I have missed her lively personality all week and can't wait to see her.  So glad she had had fun though.  This weekend is Bailee's ballet recital so we are tied up until late Saturday evening..........rehearsals, performance, etc.  Come see them - Pearl Upper Elementary Saturday at 4:00 pm - Cross-Tied Ministries Annual Ballet Performance.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Short and sweet - three phone apps for you health nuts!

1.  My Fitness Pal - if you haven't gotten this app for your phone (I have an iPhone) - then you need to do so.  It has calorie / food log, an exercise calculator, a place for goals, you can add friends and it reminds you where you are with your goals!  If you're wanting to get healthy or lose weight, this is the app for you.

2.  Map My Run - another great app for running, biking or walking.  It uses a GPS to tell you how far you've gone and it lets you save your routes for future reference.

3.  RunKeeper - another great running / walking app.

If you decide to try one of these, please let me know how you like it (or if you already do, let me know).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thankful & Thoughtful Tuesday

Thankful - I'm thankful for healthy, happy, intelligent, loving and fun children.  They have both grown into wonderful young ladies that I'm proud of to say the least.  They always do their best no matter what - with school, money making endeavors (a $64 lemonade stand is pretty good), family issues (unfortunately they have to understand a lot of drama at their age), friends, etc.  They also love unconditionally.

Cassie is on the verge of becoming a teenager and is almost as tall as I am now.  She has tons of friends, never meets a stranger and just loves life.  Things have happened to her lately that actually have hurt my feelings more than hers and I am finding out that she has grown into quite a resilient young lady.   Resilience is a wonderful thing for a girl to have in today's world - because the world is hard and I've found that girls are mean.  Boys fight but they are playing again in five minutes.  Girls fight, it festers, they tell other girls and they are still fighting two months later.  That gossip thing is a killer!

Bailee has always been resilient - things roll off of her easily.  She never tells me anything - if she does it is in a very matter of fact way without drama.  Her main drama is her big sister Cassie - you all know how sisters can be LOL.  I've joked that Bailee is like a little old woman in a little girl's body - she is a child but she has a very grownup soul.  She has friends but her friends don't consume all of her life. She plays with everyone and gets along with everyone.  She has also come out of her shell this year.  Her teacher this year was also Cassie's fourth grade teacher.  At the last parent teacher conference she told me two things about Bailee that made me laugh but one really surprised  me.  (1)  Bailee always sits by her at lunch and without fail, always eats dessert first.  (2)  She said that Bailee actually talks more than Cassie did in the 4th grade. 

Parents can learn a lot from their children.  From Cassie I've learned to just have fun and let things go.  I have had some things happen to me within the last few years that have hurt me to the core.  But I've let go of the hurtful feelings and moved on - to friends and family who truly love me for me.  There is no constant comparison or competition or gossip.  Just love, understanding and peace - something I've needed for a long time.

From Bailee I've learned to eat dessert first.  I put myself first now - I eat right, I exercise, I've gained control of my health, I do things I love more, and yes - I eat dessert first sometimes. 

What about you...............what have you learned from your children?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three Things Thursday!

1.  I've started a new online Bible study through Good Morning Girls about the Provers 31 woman.  The description of this woman is near perfection - as it should be since it comes from God's word.  It is overwhelming to read - especially for us working wives and moms.  Thankfully I have help with the domestic things listed - from the girls, from Jeff and from my sitter.  I slowly realized that I can't have it all done in one day the way I used to before I had children - I try to get some things done every day and then by Sunday be able to truly rest on the Lord's Day.  Do I think I'm perfect?  Absolutely not.  But I do strive to be the best I can at everything I do - I think that's all that anyone can ask of us.

2.  The girls have both done wonderful in school this year as always.  Cassie has done especially well considering that she hates to read.  She is taking Excellerated English and a higher math next year.  Bailee continues to love Venture and I don't think her brain / mind ever stops.  She thinks differently than most children and it's a good thing.  I always did and still do.  They are ready for the summer and a nice break.  TIme to swim, plays outside with friends, be a bum, go to the beach, go to New Orleans and just be lazy!  Don't you wish we got that from work every year?  At least for more than a one week vacation :-)

3.  One thing I'm loving lately is the Farmer's Market at the Fair Grounds.  If you haven't been, then go !!  Fresh vegetables and lots of organic items.  I can't wait for fried squash, tomato sandwiches (on GF bread for me), tomato pie, fresh peans and beans, cornbread, homemade jam, corn on the cob and watermelon.  We have planted tomatoes, squash and zucchini and I'm patiently tending my garden and waiting....

Having to eat Gluten Free has not been easy but one thing I have found that I love is a grain called QUINOA.

I cook 1 cup quinoa in 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of light, FF chicken broth.  I don't add salt because the broth flavors it well.  While it's cooking I saute sliced squash, zucchini, onion, peppers, asparagus and other veggies in a small amount of canola oil.  I spice it up with Tony's seasoning and a little salt.  Then when the veggies are almost where I want them, I throw in some fresh shelled shrimp and cook until their pink.  Then I pour a can of Mild Rotel Tomatoes over the stir fry.  Serve it over the cooked quinoa.  YUM!!!

NOTE - you can also serve the veggie / shrimp mixture over grits and you have homemade Shrimp & Grits.  Jeff eats that ;)  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Three Things Thursday!

Brief on a busy Thursday!

1.  I posted this yesterday but I've moved my book reviews and reading posts to a separate blog called For The Love of Books.  Go check it out.  BTW - blogging reviews about books after signing up with various publishing houses is a great way to get free books.  Some of the ones I use now also offer free e-Books which are great since I love my Kindle.  I never leave home without it :-)

2.  Today's scripture really spoke to me - a sign from the Good Lord Himself I believe.  So - I'm sharing it again here after posting it on Face Book.  Romans 12:12 ---Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 

3.  Rollercoasters are not my favorite ride at the fair - I avoid them if I can because I just don't think that my stomach is meant to be in my throat ;)  And I really don't think life is meant to be a rollercoaster - but it certainly is.  The devil enjoys making the rolling hills higher and turns faster - the more the better for him because it gets us off of the True Path that we are meant to be on.  We become off kilter.  Life is hard - it's stressful, it is fast paced, it is busy, it is crazy.............but it is so easy to just stop and slow down if we "Just Do It" like the Nike commercial says.  I try to do that in so many ways - I don't visit and run around on the weekends like I used to - I'd rather stay at home.  It also seemed that I was the one always doing the running because no one was running to me - I was running to them.  A good test for yourself is to think back and try to remember the last time you just were "there" - at home with your family doing something relaxing.  If you can't remember when - then you're overdue for a down weekend.  Just Do It!!

You'll be glad you did................

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NEW BOOK BLOG !!

Since the amount of book reviews I post has increased I have created a separate blog for just those review.  This blog will remain for family, movies, and fun things while the reviews will be posted on the new blog - see below!  Happy Reading!

For The Love of Books

Friday, May 4, 2012

Arms of Love

By Kelly Long

Description

Northern Pennsylvania, 1777. Adam Wyse is Amish and no patriot, or so the core of his faith decrees. Yet two wars ravage his heart-the longing for the love of young Lena Yoder and the burning desire to defend the country that brought his religious freedom. When Lena's father is imprisoned for being a conscientious objector, Lena is left to raise her two siblings alone. She finds herself imprisoned between her beliefs and her attraction to the rebellious Adam-especially when Adam's older brother, Isaac, presents the opportunity for Lena to regain a sense of balance and rightness with the Lord. How will Derr Herr nurture these two strong hearts into a peace that is "not as the world gives" and bring their love to triumph over all?
Review
I regularly read Amish Fiction books (they are my favorite genre) and I have read Kelly Long books previously but I was not fond of this book.  I am giving it three out of five stars due to the fact that it is an Amish fiction but the storyline, the amount of tragedy and the fact that it was a “historical” Amish fiction tied to the Revolutionary War made it very difficult to read. 
It is set in 1777 and goes into detail about the Pacifists and the Patriots tying it with the Amish conflict of trying to remain neutral during the war but keep their religious freedoms at the same time.  There were parts of the story that did not mesh with other Amish novels.  Ruth, the non-Amish wet  nurse who is brought to help with newborn Faith, spoke only English but most Amish spoke mostly German with a little English.  There was no reference to any language barriers.  Because everyone in the 1700s didn’t not have electricity and they all cooked over a fire the differences between the Amish and other men becomes non-existent resulting in it being so easy to forget that this was an Amish fiction novel.
Also – there are always mild conflicts in Amish novels but usually the stories are heartwarming and give insight to their peaceful and simple way of life with an overall theme of faith, God’s love and love for fellow man.  However, Ms. Long touches on horrible child abuse, murder, hate, anger, superstitions that you don’t really understand and PTSD. 
Lena is the typical Amish woman – faithful, loves a wonderful man, hard working, giving and kind.  Her family has just lost their mother and Lena becomes the woman of the house along with Ruth’s help (the wet nurse).  Adam Yoder and his family are the most conflicted, heart wrenching Amish family I’ve ever read about.  The story makes you so sad that, as you read,  you wonder if anything is going to turn out to be good in the book’s end.  Things do turn out alright in the end but there is never any time reference so it seems that only days pass during this story when in fact it had to have been months.  Something that Ms. Long should consider in future novels.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...]: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Every week in 2012 seems to be getting harder and harder - for everyone.  Lately I think people are losing their Faith and giving up or they are losing their minds.  So many things to pray about.  Pearl Policeman Mike Walter being killed and two of his fellow law officers being hurt in the same shootout with a child molester.  NFL players killing themselves when it seems that they have so much to live for in this life.  Elderly woman disappearing without a trace from her community (several of these lately).  People everywhere seem to be on a down spiral of hatred, intolerance, sadness, immorality, spitefulness.....but there is good to be seen too.  The city of Pearl and it's surrounding communities banding together to remember a loving, hard working father, husband, policeman and wonderful man from what everyone says.  His family is receiving an outpouring of help and prayers from people nation-wide.  This "three things" list could be a list of 10, 25, 100 even but here are just a meager three. 

1.  Life on earth is short.  Loved Marshall Ramsey's Serve and Protect post from yesterday.  It says it all - tell your family every day that you love them because it may be your last day or their last day on earth.  Live your life every day as if it is your last.  If everyone would life with that thought in mind, we would all be more courteous, more tolerant, more patient, etc.  Mike Walter loved his family - that's the one thing I keep hearing - he had a smile for everyone and he loved his family.  So - for today and everyday - have a smile for everyone you meet, love your family (even those that are sometimes unlovable), tell them you love them, love your neighbor, work hard, play hard, use the good china and crystal, wear that nice sweater you've been saving for a special occasion and kiss your mother if you're lucky enough to still have her:-)  Slow down and enjoy every moment because every moment is precious.

2.  This week I've learned that not everyone is tolerant of others.  They preach tolerance and equality for everyone but they don't have it in their own hearts.  I've been preached at (and cursed) for stating that you can love someone but not agree with the things that they do.  Apparently there are those who do not believe that or feel the same way.  Nothing I can do about it anymore than I could stop the hateful words they spit back at me or the names they called me.  I'm sorry that they feel that way but they are wrong.  God loves everyone - but the Bible still says that sin is sin and sin is wrong.  Everyone sins and no sin is considered "lesser" than another sin - but God loves us sinners anyway.  Just because I have that opinion does not make me a horrible person - it makes me a Believer in God's word.  If asked, I will always give my honest opinion at the risk of someone's ire or anger but I will always give it lovingly and prayerfully.  That is all I can do.  God has to do the rest.

3.  Thankful Thursday - I have jumped back and forth between "Three Things Thursday" and "Thankful Thursday".  So number 3 is to cover the thankful.  I am thankful for friends, family and loved ones who love me despite my shortcomings and I love them in spite of theirs.  I may not see you for days, weeks, months even - but I know you are there praying for me and thinking about me - and I always do the same for you.   If you are reading this, you are loved and you are appreciated even if I don't say it.  Have a Blessed Day - and I hope to see each of you soon.  Pray for me always and I'll do the same for you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beyond Molasses Creek


By Nicole A.Seitz

Description
Three lives are bound by a single book . . . and the cleansing waters of Molasses Creek.  Having traveled to the ends of the earth as a flight attendant, Ally Green has finally returned to the Lowcountry to bury her father as well as the past. But Vesey Washington is still living across the creek, and theirs is a complicated relationship--he was once her best friend . . . and also part of the reason she's stayed away so long. When Ally discovers a message her father left behind asking her to quit running, it seems her past isn't through with her yet.  As Ally's wandering spirit wrestles with a deep longing to flee again, a young woman on the other side of the world escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A mysterious sketchbook leads Sunila Kunari to believe there's more to her story than she's ever been told, and she's determined to follow the truth wherever it leads her.  A deep current intertwines the lives of these three souls, and a destiny of freedom, faith, and friendship awaits them all on the banks of Molasses Creek.
Review
This was the first book I've ready by Nicole Seitz.  It was hard to get into the book at first - each character tells part of the story in first-person but about 1/3 way through the book you realize that their lives are all intertwined - particularly Ally and Sunila's lives.  You know that Ally is returning home after her father's death and that she soon realizes that after 40 years of traveling around the world she is ready to be settled and home.  However, Vesey Washington still lives across the creek so her past is hard to forget.  He was her best friend from childhood despite the fact she is white and he is black and they grew up on the 50's.  They find that they still share a bond and that they still care about each other.  The story reveals Ally's past slowly and you know that some tragedy happened to Ally years ago that made her lose faith.  She has traveled the world to try to find peace but she has never found it.
Then you meet Sunila who lives in India and you find out that she is very connected to Ally.  They are reunited and both find peace in God's love - I won't tell you everything.
The ending of this book is happy and it is a good story although the ending becomes expected  and is anti-climatic.  It's a good read - although not a great read.
Visit the Thomas Nelson product page here:  Beyond Molasses Creek Thomas Nelson Page.
I received this book free from the publisher but I was not required to write a positive review.  Opinions expressed are my own.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Free for All!!

Nothing fancy, nothing earth shattering, nothing mind boggling - just fun for Friday!  And HOW TRUE this picture is.  I don't even want a do-over - I just want to move forward !!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THREE THINGS THURSDAY!!

Short and simple for tomorrow!

 1. Victoria Houston - I just finished reading all of her books about Loon Lake. VERY GOOD mysteries - a continuing story line that will make you want to go fly fishing in Wisconsin. Or at least move there in retirement :-)

 2. School - we are on the countdown of the school year. Jeff and I are both so proud of both girls - honor roll all year. The girls have lots of friends, the love their teachers and classes but they are ready for a break (just like mom).

 3. We watch Swamp People and Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe but Duck Dynasty has to be the funniest new reality show. They are LOADED from the duck calls they invented but good grief!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms

By Cindy Woodsmall



Book Description
Annie Martin loves the Plain ways of her Old Order Mennonite people, like those revered by her beloved grandfather. Retreating from a contentious relationship with her mother, Annie goes to live with her Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge.
But as spring moves into Pennsylvania and Annie spends time amongst the cherry trees with the handsome Aden Zook, she wishes she could forget how deeply the lines between the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are drawn.
Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of the brewing storm?

Review
Annie Martin is an Old Order Mennonite from New York with troubled family. She has a difficult relationship with her mother and as a result, she goes to spend time with her Grandfather Moses in Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania. She begins working at Zook’s Restaurant and meets Aden Zook who is Old Order Amish. She has known the Zook family through her earlier visits with her grandfather.
Aden has his own issues. He lives at home and feels responsible for his brother, Roman’s, care. He also struggles with his self confidence due to family issues of his own.
Annie and Aden slowly form a bond and eventually become more than friends. However, Annie loves and is devoted to her Old Order Mennonite faith and Aden is devoted to his Old Order Amish faith. So what do they do? Do they stay together or does one of them change to the other’s faith so that they can be together but, at the same time, risk being abolished by their families and friends?
Annie’s grandfather disapproves of their relationship despite his close ties to the Zook family. On his farm is a cherry blossom orchard that he planted for Annie’s grandmother years ago. Annie and Aden secretly meet for long walks and talks in the orchard. They fall in love and through this love you see them mature and become more confident in who they are and what they want. Roman, Aden’s twin brother , does not like Aden and Annie’s relationship because he is co-dependent on Aden for his care. He was disabled from an accident resulting in bitterness and self-pity. But the story shows that he eventually matures and also has the beginning of his own romance.
Cindy WOodsmall’s writing is very descriptive and you feel as if you are in the story watching it unfold. The characters have depth and they are full of life. The books message of hope, faith, compromise, and love is very inspirational without being cheeky. Amish Fiction lovers will fully enjoy this book.

NOTE: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review with no expectation of a good review from the publisher.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

THREE THINGS THURSDAY!!

1. Newton Running Shoes - I don't always believe the hype surrounding new products but 2-3 friends tried the Newton shoes and loved them so I have now tried them. I am a BELIEVER with these shoes now! If you run, you need to try them. I don't have the lightweight shoes (for more natural running) because I like support, but mine are more lightweight than my older shoes and the support is completely different under the ball of the foot. I have the shoes in the picture shown below. I am a "neutral" girl when it comes to colors - my clothes, my house, etc so I sort of felt like I was all FEET when I first went out in them but I don't care anymore :-) Too many people have complimented me on them and want some. Now if the store would only pay me commission so I can get some of my $$ back LOL.



2. Girl Scout Cookies - we still have some for sale!! Let me know if you want any because I'm sick of cookies LOL. I have only opened one box at my house and don't plan on opening any more. Besides if we don't sell what we have left, our GS troop is out of pocket over $200 and that means less profit for our activities which are great learning experiences for the girls. Seriously!!!!!! Order some!

3. Travel - So far this year, I have been to New Orleans, Tupelo, Baton Rouge and Tennessee (and those are the places I can remember). Next week it's back to Tennessee to Chattanooga for a two-day school trip. Should be fun - Rock City, Ruby Falls, Acquarium, Children's Museum and other fun things crammed into two days. However I'm not happy about having to be at the bus at 3:45 a.m. I'm thinking I just won't go to bed on Tuesday night - I'll just sleep on the bus. Ha!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Three Things Thursday!



1. Spring Break --- The girls are off for Spring Break this week. They have been bowling, played miniature golf, shopped, gone shopping and had a lemonade stand. They both earned money last weekend and that was what they used for shopping. Here is their future in a nutshell: Bailee will look like a pauper because she hates to shop and doesn't want to spend money (but in reality she will be rich). Cassie will look like a million dollars and OWE everyone money because she has spent all of her own money and borrowed from other sources. Polar opposites :-)

2. In a nutshell, what is wrong with people ??? I'm not cynical by any means but I feel really sorry that NOTHING surprises me anymore. People are so expectant because they think that everyone owes them something without them working for it. They have no manners, no sense of self worth, no work ethic, no sense of modesty and certainly no self control - especially when it comes to their mouth and what comes out of it.

3. Spring --- I love, love, LOVE fall. But this year, I am really loving Spring and the warmer weather. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, squirrels in my yard are chirping and playing with each other and the cats and that YELLOW stuff is everywhere. I opened the windows Saturday and the sills were covered with powder. So far, no one has any runny noses and I can totally contribute it to Arbonne Immunity Booster. Ask me what it is and I'll explain. It works!!

Enough rambling for today.........work is crazy, I've worked two nights this week and stayed late two nights and my brain is ded...........yes DED - not dead LOL.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Foto



On February 8th, Cassie turned 12 years old. It seems like yesterday she was born - always big blue eyes and smiling. Other than a few "hormonal" days, she is still smiling and still has those pretty blue eyes. In lieu of a large party, she had two friends over last Friday night. They ate pizza and then I took them to see Journey 2 The Mysterious Island. They enjoyed it because of Josh Hutcherson & Vanessa Hudgens. I enjoyed it because Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was in it. It was a good movie :-)

The one thing I can't fathom is that I'll have a teenager next year! But she'll be my baby forever :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Captive Heart



By Dale Cramer

Product Description

Bandit troubles intensify as Caleb Bender's family tries to settle into their new life in 1920s Paradise Valley. When El Pantera kidnaps Rachel and leaves her brother, Aaron, for dead, Jake Weaver and the Mexican native Domingo pursue the bandit leader to his mountain stronghold in a hopeless rescue attempt. Jake and Domingo manage to escape with Rachel, with the bandits hot on their trail. In a desperate attempt to avoid recapture, Domingo puts himself squarely in harm's way, giving Jake and Rachel time to get away. This is not the quiet life Caleb Bender envisioned when he led his family out of Ohio. What is a father to make of his daughter's obvious affection for a man outside the fold? And how will a pacifist Amishman like Caleb respond to the events that threaten his family and their way of life?

Review

This book is Amish fiction – but with a different twist – perhaps it’s because it’s written by a man, Dale Cramer. However, I am a newly dedicated fan to Mr. Cramer’s books because his stories are well written and they peak your interest. I read this book in less than two days! Until Mr. Cramer’s Paradise Valley series, I’d never heard or read of Amish people moving to Mexico in the 20’s. Usually the stories are set in Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc. Mr. Cramer’s books are sort of Amish fiction with an old western element added in.
Caleb Bender has moved his family to Mexico to escape religious persecution and yet they will have difficulties, struggles and death of family that he probably had never dreamed of. One daughter, Miriam, falls in love with someone outside their Amish community and faith, but tries to follow the Amish way of courting inside their sect. Another daughter, Rachel, has fallen in love with an Amish boy, but has so many trials ahead of her. Then, El Pantera, a Mexican bandit, comes into their lives bringing violence, kidnapping, murder, unspoken horrors. He does not care that the Bender family are Amish and non-violent. He has no morals and is bent on destroying the Bender family or anyone else that crosses his path. For the most part the family clings to their faith in God and his deliverance from this evil man. Included in this book is a life threatening disease for which there is no cure. You see how the Amish deal with hardships, their beliefs, threats and the like. Will they remain faithful or will they fight back?
Then the end of the story leaves you wanting more because Miriam has risked everything to save the man she loves (the one who is not Amish). You are left wondering what will happen next – and wanting more. The third book will be out in December 2012 – I just wish the wait was not that long!

NOTE: I received a review copy of The Captive Heart from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions stated above are my own.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Christmas Singing



By Cindy Woodsmall

Description
After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes? Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Review
Mattie's heart was broken when Gideon broke their engagement, but she moved to a new town and started a cake business. Then a there is a fire in her baking shop and she if forced to go back to her hometown. There, she sees her old love – and suddenly everything is not exactly as it seems. Mattie is surprising a strong independent woman – despite the impression that many people have of Amish women. You long to see her happy – no matter the outcome at the end of the book. Gideon is tender hearted and has always thought of others before he thinks of himself. He lied to Mattie years ago when he broke up with her. In his mind he was protecting her but he slowly begins to realize that he shouldn’t have lied even though he was trying to do the right thing. The lesson learned here was that the truth is always best but this book is also a lesson in forgiveness. It is hard to forgive but it is the right thing to do.

Cindy Woodsmall always created characters that her readers really care about and empathize with. I enjoyed this book just as I’ve enjoyed Mrs. Woodsmall’s other books.

NOTE: I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Questions in The Quiet

Do you ever ride home from work in the car WITHOUT the radio on? I treasure quiet time lately. Work is noisy, people are noisy, the TV is noisy - so sometimes I turn off the radio and ride in silence. When one does that, it's amazing the things you ask yourself. I certainly don't have answers but here are some of the ramblings I have come up with lately.

Priorities - does anyone ever really have their priorities in the right order? It's hard! Do you live JOY-----the order of God? Jesus, Others, then Yourself? I get the last two in the right order but sometimes the Jesus part gets between or even after the other two. Do you do the same thing?

Your children - do you let your children be themselves (yet mind the rules)? Or are you reliving your childhood desires through your children? Is your life go, go, go all the time? If most children were asked, they would just prefer to be home with family and friends. Do you push them into every activity - ball, cheer, dance, soccer, scouting, every party they are invited to? Do you ever forego church or school or family time to do those things? If you do that, sit down and ask them what they really want - and listen!! My girls know that they are allowed to choose one outside activity per year. It's been a choice that has been a Blessing for my family.

Your parents (or extended family) - do you call them or see them as often as you'd like? Or do you let activities get in the way? I am so guilty of this but not for the reasons one would think. Family issues and conflicts get in the way on one side of the family - and distance of driving gets in the way on the other side. BUT, our parents (those who are still living) will not be here forever and time with them should be cherished - and that grandparent time is a blessing to your children as well.

Church - do you neglect going to church because of other things? There is a family at my church who drives one+ hour each Sunday to worship because they do not have a similar church near them. I drive 20 miles or so to church each Sunday. A family member who does not regularly attend services was appalled (yes, can you believe appalled?) that I drive that far because they thought 10-12 miles was too far to go where they used to worship. It's NOT too far - it's all in priorities and my priority is worship every Sunday.

Dinner - how many nights per week do you and your family sit down and eat together? I'm not talking about being home together and somehow everyone eating at some point between washing clothes, homework, lawnwork, etc. I mean sitting down all at the same time, NO TV, eating and talking about your day? Do you say the Blessing as a family? Or are you too rushed to remember to thank God for the food that HE has provided? We may have worked and gotten paid but God provided:-)

Those are just a few of my ramblings. Try sitting in the quiet sometime - in the car if that's where it has to be. It's amazing what you will dwell on and how your mind will gravitate towards some things. It just might change your life - or at least your outlook on life. Quiet is good for the soul, the mind and for your ears.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where Hurting Ends and Love Begins
By John Trent MD & Annette Smith



Book Description
An orphaned boy's story of loss, love, and eventual acceptance by the most unlikely people.
Five-year-old Josh and his two older brothers lose their parents in a drunk-driving accident. A series of foster homes and a shocking tragedy eventually separate them, leaving Josh alone, angry, and distrustful of most everyone. At age eighteen, Josh strikes out on his own to find work. With only a high school education and few life skills, he is one step away from homelessness when Providence brings him to a place where he finds much more than physical shelter. For the first time in his life, Josh receives unconditional love and something every human being craves, the gift of "the blessing."

Review
I don't usually like stories like this - they make me sad. But this book was truly an eye opener as to how lucky I was to have had a loving family who taught me what it means to trust and be loved. Five year old Josh grows up to feel like he's nobody. He is not worthy of love and he can't trust ANYONE. You read about the tragedies he's endured and then how he evolves as an adult through no choice of his own. His tragedy comes full circle and the one thing that happened that made him feel so little of himself, becomes the one thing that teaches him about "the blessing."

His story makes the reader realize that everyone you meet, whether nice, mean, nasty, homeless, poor, rich, hateful - they all have a story that shapes who they are.

Includes an introduction and reader's guide designed to identify and discuss the five elements of the biblical blessing that every person needs. Readers are shown, through the power of Josh's story, how to give this gift to their children and others as outlined in the more than one million copy bestseller, The Blessing. I have not read this original book but after reading Josh's story (although fiction), I plan to go back and read it.

Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck


by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Product Description
Unlikely romance is sometimes just an inconvenient marriage away. Charlotte Beck may be entering adulthood, but she can’t seem to keep to her stubborn, independent spirit from bucking social protocol. Fed up with her behavior, Charlotte’s father Daniel pressures her to settle into a nice marriage despite knowing she is set on going to college. Then Daniel sees Charlotte with the handsome but annoying English astronomer Alex Hambly, and everything changes.

Though Alex and Charlotte can barely stand one another, Daniel offers them a deal they can’t refuse: if they agree to marry, he will save Alex’s family from financial ruin and grant Charlotte the freedom to go to college. Reluctantly the couple agrees, but in private they plot to annul the marriage as soon as possible. But when Alex’s feelings change and he refuses to dissolve their contract, will Charlotte find a way out of her vows? Or will she discover that maybe this marriage isn’t so inconvenient after all?

Review
After reading this book, I really wish I had read the earlier books in this series – it would have made the book more enjoyable (I was periodically lost about story content due to missed storylines). However, that being said, this is a good historical romance book and I did enjoy reading it. IT is also classified as Christian but it is not so obviously a “Christian” fiction book.

Alex and Charlotte are interesting characters. Charlotte is the typical historical young female – young, strong willed, stubborn to a fault, full of fun but deep down she cares and is loving nonethelsess. She gets into crazy situations and it is fun to see what Alex’s reaction will be to her ideas. They were thrown together by machinations of Charlotte’s father and they both know that agreeing to marry will benefit them both. They are engaged forever – four years - but as you read you just KNOW they love each other and you want them to just admit and be done with it. They agree to marry and eventually annul the marriage. But that does not happen of course.

You root for them from the start!

This book is light hearted and a quick fun read. However I was confused about plot several times due to not having read the earlier books in the series. Because of that I would recommend reading the series in order to save some frustration.

NOTE: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Do It Because I Can And Because I Love It!

After taking the month of December off due to being so busy, I am back running and boy did I miss it. It's a miracle I didn't wind up in jail during December due to a stress-related break-down. Not only am I running, I am doing the 30 Days to Fit Arbonne program. It is a great program that teaches you to eat right, has products that are natural and you will lose weight and feel great. There is no soy or gluten in the products - a HUGE plus. Also, they do not use artificial sweeteners which, although they will help with weight loss, are very harmful to your body.

To get my mind motivated and maybe yours too, here are a few fun thoughts and pictures:-) Enjoy......

This first one says it all!!


This one tells it all - run no matter what!


Why do I do it - read below!


Get off the couch and join me! Live is passing you by.


A challenge for the men (and motivation for the ladies) ;)


Don't tell ME you're busy....


The correct question to ask.


The question NOT to ask.


It all comes down to one basic principal----BELIEVE you can--and you WILL!

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