Thursday, October 30, 2014

"A Life Intercepted" by Charles Martin ~ Book Review

Matthew Rising was on his way to a great life. Nicknamed "the Rocket" he was the hometown hero.  A high school and college quarterback star, his winning record was unmatched and he was the number 1 NFL draft pick.  Not only was he the best at football, it seemed he was also the best at life.  His high moral standards for himself caused him to be a kind and passionate young man.  With his high school sweetheart, now loving and supportive wife, by his side, Matthew is about to sign his professional contract.  Audrey was his biggest cheerleader and knew the game as well as he did.  She was his rock and he knew he wouldn't be where he was without her continual support.  But in one instant,  it all came crashing down.  Matthew was falsely accused of a crime that totally went against his character and then with supposedly unrefutable evidence, convicted.  Now he faced a 12 year prison sentence.   With his career devastated, his freedom gone, his reputation smeared,  the thing that buries him most while in prison is the loss of his beloved wife.  Audrey has disappeared and the last memory he has of her is her deep crying as he was led in chains from the courtroom.

Twelve years later Matthew is freed but must register as sex offender and wear a ankle bracelet.  Determined to find Audrey he heads back to the very place where he is most unwelcome, his home town.  Audrey has hidden herself well from everyone including the unrelenting media in a quiet Catholic school where she has taken a young orphan boy under her wing all these years.  Honing his talents and using her knowledge of football and Matthew's old game tapes she feels she has a young man on her hands who can be even better than Matthew had once been.  But he plays under a coach who has ulterior motives to further his own son in his football career.   Knowing Matthew can take him all the way she convinces him to coach the boy even though it violates his parole and could put him back in jail for life.  In the midst of media speculation if he will try to return to the game, Matthew takes on the challenge in secret in the hopes of winning back Audrey.

My favorite author strikes again writing a wonderful story.  Drawn in right from the beginning, he captured my attention with the devastated Audrey as he slowly revealed the story.  I love the character development the author takes.  He reveals the nature of the characters layer by layer as the story progresses.  One thing I always love about this author is the way he is able to create a main male character who has strong moral qualities yet are very human and relatable with their struggles and mistakes.  As usual his prose and way of putting sentences together totally captivates me and keeps me turning the pages staying up way too late to finish the story.  The story goes back and forth between real time and the past nicely laying out Matthew and Audrey's life together.   There was never any confusion to me, the reader, and I followed it easily.  Audrey's character was a complicated one and I understood her pain as she tried to reconcile the Matthew she knew with the Matthew that was convicted.  Her confusion, anger and betrayal were plain to see throughout the story even though I found it hard to believe she wouldn't stand by him a little more.  Another thing I always love about this author is how he weaves elements and tenants of faith and real life together in a story without it being labeled a Christian novel, if you know what I mean.  And with a little twist in the story revealed at the end, this novel leaves you thinking and savoring the implications of living a life of true love.  Again the author's notes at the end are well worth the read as they reveal where the story came in his own life.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Well I just came in the door from attending a 3 day women's conference.  My heart and head are full with everything spoken about and the encouragement that was given to Christian women from all walks of life and from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan.  It was a lot of fun, challenging and now that it's over, tiring.  A lot crammed into 3 days.  And I came home to realize that my FFF post had gone AWOL.  I thought I had set it to publish on Friday.  And I did.  Friday of another month altogether!  LOL.  Sheesh.  I must have been a bit frazzled trying to get everything together.  I apologize for the error.  Next week we'll be back to normal.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Those Bloomin' Flowers

Bet you thought I took this picture in the middle of summer.
But nope.
Notice the scarecrow's striped green leg rising from the pot?
I took this picture the other day.
I can scarcely believe it is past the middle of October
and I have flowers that are still
not just holding their own
but blooming!
And one of them profusely, at that!

Other than a crazy few days where it got really chilly,
and a crazy day of wind on Saturday,
it has been absolutely gorgeous here.
In fact, Monday temperatures reached 25*C,
that's 77* for all my Fahrenheit friends.

I don't know what the difference is from last year,
but the leaves are spectacular this year.
My Colorado aspens in the backyard are this multi-colored
extravaganza of color.
Yellows, reds, oranges, greans.
It is stunning.

Even the fallen leaves are displaying glorious multi-color!
Last year they all just turned this yucky browny black and then fell.
Conditions somehow this year
are creating a feast for the eyes.
And the smell, oh the glorious smell of those fallen leaves!
And the crunch as we play and rake.
The crunch is a de-stressor for me.
I know, I'm weird that way.
We've done lots of playing in them before we raked this batch up. 
And there is lots more to come.

I'm totally enjoying this year's display of the Master Artist's handiwork.
Thank you God for eyes to see, a nose to smell, ears to hear, and hands to feel
your creation!
Thank You for fall!

How is fall shaping up in your neck of the woods?

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Little Girl Blue - The Life of Karen Carpenter" by Randy L. Schmidt ~ Book Review

The biography of Karen Carpenter's life and death.  From the beginnings of her life and growing up years to her passion for drums and her rise to fame as the lead singing half of the duo from the '70's "the Carpenter's".  Karen seemed to have it all, yet behind the scenes and in her private times another story unfolded.  At a time when very little was understood about anorexia, Karen struggled privately to gain some control over her own life.  This book wrote of a domineering mother who's main goal was to promote her brother Richard.  Karen was secondary and decisions were always made in the context of how it would benefit Richard's music career.  The family was close and yet no one saw what was happening to Karen until she was well into the anorexia.  As a team Richard and Karen were very hard workers, always working on their music and even though surrounded by people Karen found herself quite lonely.  She dreamed of being married and having children.   What started out as a diet to help her slim down soon spiraled out of control with food becoming the one thing in her life she felt she was in control of.  She became very adept at hiding what she was doing and at hiding the results of literally eating next to nothing for years.  

It was an interesting read, fascinating and sad.  As with all biographies, especially when the subject has passed away and can't speak for themselves, I read with a grain of salt.  But if everything in this version is true, there was a sadness to this young woman's life and a lesson to be learned of the sometimes heavy burden of pain that famous people might carry that no one knows about.  Karen kept her weight loss very well hidden and though at times some noticed and commented she vehemently would deny it and wouldn't even admit it to herself.   When she finally did seek help it was with the thought that she would attend counselling for a very set period of time and then she figured she was fine.  Not much was known of the causes and triggers of anorexia at the time, so her story ends with the tragic death of one of music's talented artists at a very early age.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Operation Christmas Child...A Story of Simple Gifts by Franklin Graham and Donna Lee Toney

I finished this book weeks ago but you know, life just sorta got hectic and I just haven't put my brain together to write a review.  What can I say about this book?  My heart has been connected with this ministry from the first time I saw Franklin Graham talk about sending shoeboxes to Bosnia in the 1990's.   Our family has been sending shoeboxes since then and I've been the co-ordinator at my church for years.  It is very near and dear to my heart.  So when this book came out to celebrate 100 million shoeboxes packed and given to needy children I had to read it.

From the cover:  It was a simple idea that became the worldwide outreach of Operation Christmas Child - a project of Samaritan's Purse- to minister to children in war-torn and famine-stricken countries.  In just two decades it has inspired everyday people to provide more than 100 million gift - filled shoeboxes to needy children in 130 countries.  This beautiful book weaves the moving, God-saturated story of the ministry's beginning with the soul-stirring, Christ exalting stories of lives that have been forever changed by a simple shoebox.

This is the beautiful history of this ministry, from the inception of the idea, to the excitement, the joy and sometimes danger of delivering the boxes, to the incredible stories of the perfect box miraculously being placed in the hands of just the right child and how it spoke to them of God's love and let them know that somebody somewhere cared about what they were going through.  The story is told, fittingly, in the voice of Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, who heads the world wide emergency relief organization Samaritan's Purse under which Operation Christmas Child operates.  This book is touching and I recommend a big ol' box of kleenex to be handy when you delve into the pages.  You'll cry as you read the plight and conditions of the children the boxes are for, how God has led and blessed the delivery of the boxes, how everyday people have caught the vision and excitement and sought God on what to pack and how certain boxes have made it to children who needed or asked God to show His love by having a certain item within a box.  In other words, you'll do a fair bit of crying.  It is truly a miraculous story and one cannot fail to be touched by what goes on in this organization.  I highly recommend reading this is you've ever wondered about Operation Christmas Child or Samaritan's Purse, ever been curious what happens to the boxes, ever packed a box and thought about the children or if you love an encouraging story of a simple idea touching kids around the world.

The book can be purchased here and proceeds go to Operation Christmas Child to continue the work it celebrates.

To pack a shoebox in your city or to pack one online you can go here (Canada) and here (USA) and here (Australia) .

Linked with Semicolon Saturday Review of Books

Friday's Fave Five #303

Welcome to this edition of Friday's Fave Five.  This Friday came quickly.  It's been a hectic and wonderful week.  We Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend so it's been a short work week.  Join us as we take a moment and reflect back to think of our favorite blessings from the week.

1.  Family.  Holidays bring my little family together and I love that.  My older daughter comes home and even my medic son was home for this holiday.  It was wonderful.  Everyone gathered around good food and good conversation.  It made my small house alive!

2.  Food.  Thanksgiving also brings with it good food.   I love the Thanksgiving meal.  Sunday I made the meal.  We like the traditional turkey here, with all the trimmings.  Yum, yum.  Then Monday my sis hosts a meal for my dad and there we had a delicious ham meal because my dad is allergic to turkey.  .  I was a good girl and only had one dessert at each.

3. Safe Travels.  I'm always thankful when my oldest makes it here and then back to her city safely.  It's a long drive on a very busy highway so when I get that txt saying she made it, I am very thankful.

4.  Coffee and a good book.  I'm reading the latest from one of my favorite authors and I'm really enjoying it.  Monday being the holiday gave me a little extra time to put my feet up, grab that extra cup of coffee and just enjoy getting into the story without a million interruptions.

5.  My hubby's sacrifice of his time and money to take me to a show he didn't necessarily want to see.  I really wanted to go to When the Game Stands Tall.  I'm a sucker for a good "based on a true story" sports film.  I really enjoyed it.  It did however have lots of game play and I couldn't help feeling for my hubby as he is not a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination and I knew he was lost during the "football talk".  It made me love him all the more for taking me knowing he was probably quite bored through those parts of the film.  True love.  :)

What are your favorites this week?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday's Fave Five #302

Hi everyone and welcome to another week of Friday's Fave Five.  Are you ready to look back over this last week and find some blessings in your life.  What uplifted you this week?  Gave you a smile?  Made you feel good?  Or made you feel special?  Did something or someone say just the right thing?  Do something for you?  Make life a bit easier?  Give you pause to stop and be grateful?  Then it fits right in with FFF!  Please join in as we share 5 of our favorite blessings from the last week!

1.  Dinner with our Pastor and his lovely wife.  This is always a pleasure for us.  They are such great people and it's a real blessing to not only have them as our pastors but to call them our friends.  They are such encouragers and such down to earth kind of people and they are a lot of fun.  There is always lots of laughter and yet there is always deep spiritual discussion too.  It's always a blessing when we get to share time with them.

2.  A revelation of my baby girl all grown up.  My youngest who is almost 20 joined us for dinner with our pastors and that night I saw a real maturity and grown-upness (I know it's not a word, but work with me here).  She didn't just sit there but joined in on the conversation and held her own.  She was bright and funny and honest.  It was a joy having her along.  I know in my head she's considered an adult but it just really hit me that evening that yes, she has grown up right before my eyes.  And she just made us all laugh out loud when she commented:  "I must be getting older 'cause I'm enjoying your conversation".    We were quick to point out that it's because we ourselves were so young.  LOL.

3.  A blessing of time.  At this time of year, I am in charge of two different areas in my church:  Operation Christmas Child and Ladies Christmas party door prize and silent auction donations co-ordinator.  The second job has grown huge and it takes up large chunks of time.  I was getting a little behind in getting letters out to various businesses and was really starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with it all (the same as I do every year at this time).  Then on Wednesday only 1 child showed up for dayhome.  It happened to be one of the babies.  And he has a short nap in the morning and a longer one in the afternoon so I was able to get all my letters done and then we even took the stroller and walked to the mailbox to mail them all when he was awake.  What a blessing it is to have that part done.  Now I can relax for a couple weeks until the next busy step in the process.

4.  Self-adhesive envelopes.  When one is doing 40 - 50 letters it is a huge thing not to have to lick all those babies closed, let me tell you!  Or to have wet paper towels to try and get them damp without sopping down the rest of the envelope.  What a blessing whoever came up with that invention is in my life at this time of year.  I will have to make sure to thank the church secretary profusely for getting those envelopes.

5.  The owner/manager/trainer at my gym who took my workout and totally modified it when I came down with major heel pain this week.  In typical modern day fashion, I totally went on line with my symptoms and I think I've plantar fasciitis.  I'm going to have to make an appointment with the doctor to see if I'm right, but whatever the case, I was absolutely bummed because I have been on a great role with my fitness goals.  I do not want to be laid up with an injury and then have to fight my way back like a couple of years ago.  I was very grateful she took the time to change the workouts the gym is doing with Jillian Michaels and modified them or totally changed them up to take the pressure off my feet and heels and still let me come and do something to work out.  It's a blessing to have someone with some knowledge and the willingness to take the time without extra appointments or expense.

What were your favorites from the last week?