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?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women ~ Review

Publisher's Description:  

You spilled coffee on your shirt before walking out the door. Ran late to your appointment. Snapped at your children, then regretted it all day. And spent an hour at the grocery store with no dinner on the table to show for your efforts. A typical day has come and gone. Life is full of obligations, emotions, and relationships. Some are life-giving, yet sometimes the weight and responsibility of everyday life is heavy to bear. As wives, mothers, friends, and daughters, we need to know we’re not alone. We long for someone who understands—someone to help us find perspective. When our days are long, and our nights are restless, it’s easy to think we should be able to handle things on our own. Or that no one struggles like we do. And that’s when we need a friend … to encourage us, to understand us, and help us become the woman God wants us to be. You’ll find that friend on the pages of the NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. Filled with insightful daily devotions written by Lysa TerKeurst and the women at Proverbs 31 Ministries, the devotions in this Bible will meet you right where you are, in the good days and in the hard days, in the car pool line or the doctor’s office. With God’s truth as the foundation, this Bible will help you maintain a peace-filled place of balance in spite of your life’s hectic pace. Features: The beauty and clarity of the New International Version (NIV) Bible, 366 daily devotions from the women at Proverbs 31 Ministries inspire you to live authentically as a woman of God, Author biographies, and a helpful subject Index.

 About the Editor:
  Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and national speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith. She is the author of 15 books and the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, where she and her team encourage over 500,000 women worldwide through their daily online devotional. Her remarkable life story has captured audiences across America, including appearances on Oprah and Good Morning America. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and five children.

My Thoughts:

This is a beautiful bible.  It has a soft and textured leather cover in a gorgeous two tone blue that I love.  Printed in the NIV version, which I also love, it is a handy size easily tucked into a purse, diaper bag or backpack. There are 366 devotionals from the Lysa TerKeurst and her team at Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Each devotional is organized by a number not a date, are a page long, easily read in a minute or two, with the corresponding scripture.  The devotionals are placed close to their actual reference points in the bible which is really nice and each has additional verses to explore, a feature which I found wonderful.  There is nothing like digging in the Word of God and reading it for yourself and not just taking a writer's word for it.  All the devotionals are related to a woman's life in some way.  In the back is a short bio of each author so you get an idea of who is writing the devotionals and a listing of each author's devotionals within the bible in case you'd like to read all of one author's writings.  There is also a subject index in the back.  So there is many ways this little bible can be used.   I think any woman would get many good things from this lovely bible.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for sending a free copy of this bible for me to review for them.  I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.

The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women can be purchased here.

Linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books

Friday, October 03, 2014

Friday's Fave Five #301

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Time to take a breath, slow down and look back over the week and take notice of our blessings, sharing 5 of your favorites.  Let's get right to it!

1.  Kick off to Operation Christmas Child in church.  Every year I'm so nervous making the announcement. I so want to open people's eyes to what these boxes do in the lives of children, their families and sometimes whole villages.  It went wonderful and now we can look forward to praying and then going shopping for special kids.  If you've never packed a shoebox before, it's a wonderful blessing.  Need info on it?  You can go here for Canadian residents or here if you live in the U.S.

2.  Uplifting words from my wonderful hubby.  Sometimes he just finds the most perfect words to uplift my world. I don't even think he realizes it.  But this week he found just the right ones and I'm so thankful.

3.  Reconnecting with friends we haven't seen in about 24 years.  Unfortunately, it was because of a funeral of someone we both knew.  But getting together with friends out of our past was lovely!

4.  Fall Scents.  I absolutely love the scents of fall.  Outside in the cool crisp mornings,  from the crunchy leaves when I rake, in the spicy scents of candles and lotions.  

5.  Sleep, blessed sleep.  It's been a crazy busy week with settling in the new babe in dayhome and kids ending up getting sick and having to be sent home.  I'm not gonna lie.  I love that age but boy, oh boy, I am tired!  I'm so thankful for sleep at night!

Some weeks it's the little things!  What were your favorites this week?