Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 19

Book:  Whispers of Moonlight. (Rocky Mountain Memories #2)

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 1996, Eugene, OR:  Harvest House Publishers

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭✭

What it's about:  We were introduced to Travis Buchanan and the mystery of his missing wife, Rebecca,  in book one of this series. The back story reveals the couple's whirlwind marriage and a gross misunderstanding that separates them for years.  During their time apart, Travis' love for Rebecca never wanes, and he discovers the love of Christ, while Rebecca deems herself too hurt for any kind of love.  When they reunite, Travis must first prove his undying love for his bride before he can have any hope of her accepting the love of God. 

What I Liked:
  • There wasn't a tidy ending to this novel.  Everyone didn't end up married and/or saved.
  • The balance between tenderness and discipline between a father and his children was refreshing to see.
What I didn’t like: 
  • I've talked about this before, but I grow weary that the author feels the need to throw in some unbelief to explain God's sovereignty.  The best way to emphasize that is not to make God out to be an indiscriminant torturer of His children.  Rather, talk about the things that He sovereignly put in His Word about His goodness and love, and the fact that His will isn't that any should perish, but that all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Takeaway:  Book two is a great sequel to book one.

Game of Thrones: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Give us three rhyming words that say something about your Thanksgiving holiday (or your most recent holiday gathering if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving).
Best rest to be unstressed.  I didn't succumb to the pressure to HAVE to go somewhere or do something because I knew that I was working my normal hours on Friday.  I took the opportunity to relax.  I need some more of that.
When did you last say, 'the more the merrier'? Did you mean it?
It's been a while. 
What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who is your same age?
Don't be like me.  And, no, that's not a joke.
You're ordering a veggie plate, what four veggies are on it?
Broccoli, carrots, spinach, and bell peppers.
Shop til you drop! Did you? Have you ever? Will you between now and Christmas?

Dave Ramsey says NO!
What's your favorite chair in your house, and why is it a favorite?
The upholstered chair in my bedroom.  It's where I read, study, pray, chillax, and ready for the day.  It was an old chair my CEO  didn't want anymore because he was redecorating his office.  When I get my own place, this chair will most likely go in my living room/library.  Thought it was cast off, it was in good condition, plus it's comfortable.
Share an early memory of faith, religion, or spirituality.
Oh, I could write volumes about this.  My best friend in 9th grade, Evangeline Pate, invited me to church and I heard the true Gospel of Christ for the first time.  I gave my heart to the Lord that day. No, it hasn't been a bed of roses, but I wouldn't trade the changes to this life and the eternal bliss in the next for anything. 
I mention Van's name because in all of the social media I'm involved in, I've never found her.  Finding my friend would be an awesome miracle.  I want to simply thank her for being my friend and not being ashamed of sharing Jesus with an angry, bitter, hurting pathetic excuse for a human being.  I don't know if she's married or what her married name might be.  She was here when her parents were stationed at the now defunct Fort McClellan, Alabama military base.  She moved away just before we went into the 10th grade.
I also need to thank her because she's the one who put the notion in my head to take drum lessons...and a band nerd was created. 
Insert your own random thought here.
Please pray for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hung Up: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!


What's something you might say runs in your family? 
I plead the 5th.  All I could think of was the bad stuff, so I'm shutting my mouth.
I read here a list of ten things you should do before 2017 arrives (in less than six weeks!)... visit your Dr. or dentist, deep clean your home, donate unwanted items to charity, look someone in the eye and tell them you love them, write an honest letter to yourself, clean up your inbox-desktop-photos, travel to a place you haven't been, compliment a stranger, watch the sunrise, think ahead to your goals/plans for the new year. Which tasks on the list might you do? What would you add to your own 'before the year ends' list?
Right now I'm thinking ahead to my goals/plans for the new year.  Here's to hoping.  One thing I'm not going to do is wait until January first to start.  If I really want what I say I want, then why wait?  Why sit around for the next month?  Yes, I know I'm finishing up things for this year and some of the newer things have to wait, but why not start establishing good habits now?  Why not get a jump on the new year instead of being jumped on by it?
What's something other generations (not your own) misunderstand about your generation?
Music.  My musical decade was the 80's.  Not to sound like an old fart, but some of this generation doesn't understand the concept of musicianship, innovation, and singing voices without autotune.  In all fairness, my parents generation didn't understand our music either.  Daddy always called it that "belly rubbin'" music (whatever that meant).
Sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread dressing-which would you miss the most if it weren't on the holiday dinner menu?
You can't have Thanksgiving without cornbread dressing.  My mother never made sweet potato casserole; she makes sweet potato pie.  Plus, I can eat mashed potatoes anytime (just follow the directions on the box).  However, dressing is a special treat that we only see at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  If I want to see it any other time, I'd better learn to make it myself.
What are you overthinking right now?
What am I NOT overthinking right now?  Not to go into too much detail, but I've got so many things hanging over my head right now, I feel like a dry cleaners.  Auntie seriously needs a vacation...a REAL vacation.
Your favorite slang word lately?
More of a phrase; "He/she ain't right."  Meaning he/she is addlepated...or just plumb crazy.
Write an acrostic for the word grateful.
Rid of
Estranges you
Ungratefulness tends to pull us away from our ability to freely love God, ourselves, and others and to receive that love.
Insert your own random thought here.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and a joyous start to this renewing season of Advent.
Love,  Auntie.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 18

Book:  Where the Wild Rose Blooms. (Rocky Mountain Memories #1)

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 1996, Eugene, OR:  Doubleday Large Print

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭✭
(yes, blogger now has symbols and emojis)

What it's about:  Clayton Taggart, a hard working miner with aspirations of being a school teacher, has met his match in Jacqueline (Jackie) Fontaine.  Headstrong, prideful, and angry, Jackie makes her disdain of Clayton in particular and men in general quite clear.  However, is it disdain, or a cover up for something else?  Will a horrible accident destroy any chance of a friendship between them?

What I Liked:
  • This story was so good that I couldn't put it down.
  • I've read many of Wick's books, the spiritual aspect of this novel is a new angle for her.  She presented a character who thought he knew Christ because of his good deeds, not because of a decision to follow Christ. 
  • There's some chuckle worthy humor and banter among the characters.
  • Small spoiler: the interaction with a blind character in the book was not stereotypical.  They treated her as normally has possible.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The nicknames of two main characters, Addy and Eddie, got confusing sine they interacted with each other in the story.
Takeaway:  A good beginning to another book series.

Auntie's 2016 Bookwom Challenge 17

Book:  The Holy Bible:  New Living Translation (NLT).

Info: Copyright 2013,  Carol Stream, IL:  Tyndale House Publishers

Where acquired: Purchased at Books-A-Million.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about: This is a large print version of a modern English translation of the Old and New Testaments.  I've read several passages from this Bible version in the context of other Scripture-based literature, but I'd never sat down and read the whole thing from cover to cover.

What I Liked:
  • Though my favorite Bible translation is still the King James Version, the more modern language of the NLT does help clarify some of the more complicated passages.
  • The larger print was easy on the eyes.
  • OK, so I liked the pink cover.  What?  I'm a girl.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Nothing.
Takeaway:  I know this review is short and sketchy, however, reading the Bible isn't like reading any other book.  The text is much more powerful and meaningful than that.  I think this version of the Bible would be great for anyone who is new to reading the Scriptures.  However, this is not a study Bible per se in that it gives the clarity of a paraphrase to passages, but not the depth of a literal translation.  I'll definitely continue to use it as a reference.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Happy Meal: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Let's all think happy thoughts...share one of yours here.

There's a Chinese proverb that says, "If you want happiness for an hour take a nap, if you want happiness for a day-go fishing...." What say you? If you want happiness for a day _____________.
Create something.  Whether it's visual art like a painting or a stitched project, or creativity with words, or to "make melody in your heart" (Ephesians 5:19),  creativity is the spark of joy and happiness.

Where do you go to decompress from the world around you?
Physically, I go to the Ladiga Trail for a walk or ride.  In my mind, I go into the pages of a book.
What song never fails to make you happy? 
(See question one and add Weird Al's White and Nerdy to it.) I can tell when my mood is going into the toilet when I don't want to listen to anything but the rattling of my own head.  Not a great place to be.  Fortunately, I don't go there very often and praise God, lately "there" doesn't last very long.
Wednesday is National Fast Food Day. Should that be a thing? Apparently it is, so tell us what's the last 'fast food' you consumed? If you were putting together your own version of a 'happy meal' what would you include? 
Everything else is a "thing," so why not?  The last fast food I consumed was a McDonald's bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit this morning. (Yeah, I need to go to the store.)  Okay, my happy meal would consist of a piece of original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken, a honey butter biscuit (or two) from Church's Chicken, hashbrown casserole from Cracker Barrel, my mama's turnip green / poke salad mix (she knows how to prepare poke salad without killing anyone), a Coca-Cola from a tap rather than a can or bottle (tastes better and has more fizz), and for dessert:  cheesecake.  Yeah, I know it's worth about four million calories, but I can fantasize can't I?
In a few sentences tell us why you blog.
I blog to share ideas and create with words.  I blog because it's both cathartic and fun.  I blog for connection outside my own little world and to make friends.
List seven things you're feeling especially grateful for today. 
  1. The mercy and grace of God.
  2. I still have a roof over my head and food to eat.
  3. My car is still holding up.
  4. Cooler weather.
  5. Increased strength and vitality.
  6. My job.
  7. Being able speak to far away friends over the internet.
Insert your own random thought here.
I usually share a song right about now, but I've already shared some.  Oh dear.  Well, until next week then.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 16

Book:  Jessie. (Big Sky Dreams Trilogy #3) 

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 2008,  Detroit:  Thorndike Press

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # #

What it's about:  Picking up where Sabrina left off, Jessica (Jessie) Wheeler, owner of the Token Creek's mercantile, finds Seth, who she believes is the love of her life.  Years into the relationship, the couple is plagued with self-made misery.  So much so that the family totally disintegrates and Jessie is left alone.  Seth, suffering the consequences of the life he led while separated from Jessie, comes to Christ, and his senses.  Will Jessie take Seth back?  Can she trust him? More importantly, can she trust in his God through all the pain and uncertainty?

Favorite Quotes:

None that I could think of.

What I Liked:
  • Things between Jessie and Seth didn't instantly clear up.  Both characters had to mature and put serious work into reviving their relationship.
  • Wick quite cleverly included characters from a different book series into this novel.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The relationship between two minor characters went from calling, to courting, to marriage way too quickly. 
  • There always seems to be some unbelief, or at least questionable belief in these books.  This one seemed to be overloaded with it.
  • Jessie's children, ages nine and seven, were written way too immaturely. 
  • The big "mystery" of why Rylan calls Sabrina by her full name was never revealed.  Such a big deal was made about it in book two, it seemed it would be mentioned in the final book of the series.
Takeaway:  Though this book wasn't as good as the first two in the trilogy, it was still a good read.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 15

Book:  The Gifts of Imperfection. 

Author:  Brene' Brown

Info: Copyright 2010, Center City, MN:  Hazelden Publishing

Where acquired: Gift from my mentor.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about:  Dr. Brown has done extensive research on shame and vulnerability.  The experience of this research led her to study the components of an authentic life.  The imperfect life she speaks of is not imperfect in that everything is wrong, but imperfect because that life  doesn't look like society says it's supposed to.  Her themes of courage, connection, and compassion and her ten guideposts of life draw the reader to seek authenticity and wholehearted living.

Favorite Quotes:

"When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness--the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging." - p. 23.

"...the absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering." - p. 26.

"'To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight--and never stop fighting.'" E. E. Cummings. - p. 51

"Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it's about creating a clearing.  It's opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.."  p 108

What I Liked:
  • The author doesn't refer to this work as a self-help book, and it's not.  Self-help denotes self improvement outside of community.  Successful implementation of the concepts of the book require connection.
  • Dr. Brown seemed to be reading my mind and attitude in much of what she wrote. This gives her writings universality and genuineness.
  • Her research wasn't simply based on the lives of others, she has experienced the process herself.  In other words, it's not just "do as I say because my research says so," she's actually lived it.
  • I love her use of humor. 
  • She is an academic--a researcher, but the book doesn't bog down in obfuscation.  In other words, she doesn't talk eight pounds to word; she gets it said intelligently, but without patronizing language.
What I didn’t like: 
  • There is some strong language (cussing) in the book.  It doesn't permeate the text, but it's there.  It's nothing I haven't heard (or said), and it's not drunk uncle language, so it doesn't bother me.  However, some people may be offended by it.
  • This is a moot point, but I don't like Dr. Brown's take on the phrase "bless your heart."  She sees the phrase as passive aggressive.  Maybe in Texas, but here in the deep South, that's not how it's used.  It's not even a major point in the book, but it bugged me.
Takeaway:  I first came across Brene' Brown's work when I viewed a 99U speech on creativity and criticism (the video is below), so I knew her materials would be helpful. 

Dr. Brown's book has been a major game changer in my life.  I've walked around carrying feelings of shame and the overwhelming message that who I am and what I do is never enough.  Reading this has given me weapons and strategies to begin overcoming these obstacles of authentic living.  I'll definitely read more of Brene' Brown's work.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 14

Book:  Sabrina. (Big Sky Dreams Trilogy #2) 

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 2007,  Detroit:  Thorndike Press

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # 1/2

What it's about:  Picking up where Cassidy left off, Sabrina (Bri) Matthews finds herself relocating from Denver to Token Creek, and not under the best circumstances.  While trying to flee from her sorted past, she finds the love of Christ.  But is that enough?

Favorite Quotes:

Not any quotes per se, but I did enjoy that the dialogue was much better constructed than the prequel.

What I Liked:
  • Without giving too much away, though there was a bit of violence in the novel, it forced characters out of their perfect little worlds to have to deal with lives on the "bad" side of town--or the place where real ministry happens. 
  • I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating, Wick has a way of making her novels romantic and sexy without ever being dirty of explicit.  She takes the reader only as far as she needs to go, yet the romance isn't prudish.
  • The author tied these first two novels together well.
  • The Pastor in the story isn't depicted as some limp wristed pantywaist.  He's tender with children, the hurting, and his parishioners, but tough on perpetrators of violence.  There was a scene where he literally tore a door off its hinges with his bare hands to rescue someone.  Now, that's what I'm talking about!
What I didn’t like: 
  • Some characters were introduced rather abruptly.  In the middle of a scene, a character would just pop up out of nowhere as if the reader should already know who they were.
  • The big deal about why Sabrina's beau calling her by her full name instead her nickname was to overhyped, then never explained.
  • Someone was killed at the beginning of the story, yet no details of what happened or what Sabrina may have had to do with it were given.
Takeaway:  These first two novels were really good.  Let's hope the third of the trilogy is just as good.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Five Minute Friday: "Journey"

Our Mistress of Ceremonies for the Five Minute Friday is Kate over at Heading Home.  Hope you link up with us and join the fun.


OK, I'll admit it, I sill dislike the word journey.  It's been so overused.  As I said in a previous post, my disdain for the word grew from going to meetings, the point of which was to share our hearts, and one lady would always get out of being open by saying she was still on her journey.  I'll also admit that I'm really not that crazy about the band Journey either.

...but I digress...

I much prefer more active terms:  quest, adventure, expedition, trek, voyage, you know something more exciting and less passive than journey (say it like you're a whiney three year old with a stuffy nose).  Why?  Journey sounds like I'm just along for the ride and have no control over where I go or how I get there.  The other terms are "take the reins" kind of words.

I want my life to be more of an epic quest than simply being dragged along on someone else's idea of a journey.  PLUS, I really don't want to travel alone.  Is anyone else wanting to do amazing things?  Anyone?  Anybody? Bill?  Ted?  Bueller?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge: 13

Book:  Relationships:  A Mess Worth Making.

Author:  Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp

Info: Copyright 2008:  Greensboro, NC:  New Growth Press

Where acquired: Amazon purchase (actually at the time of download, the authors offered the book for free).

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about:  Relationships off all kinds can get extremely messy.  Whether as a spouse, best friend, or co-worker, we all need help to improve and understand the true focus of godly relationships.  Lane and Tripp use scripture and personal examples to show the reader how all of our relationships can be a glowing example of Christ.

Favorite Quotes:

"Is it okay to keep to ourselves so that we don’t get hurt and don’t hurt anyone else? What’s wrong with playing it safe? Yet something keeps dragging us back to other people. We know we are less than human when we are all alone." - p. 17

"The biblical teaching of the Trinity is very practical for relationships since God himself is a model of loving, cooperative, unified community where diversity is an asset, not a liability. If God is making us into his likeness, we can be encouraged that he will give us the grace to live like this in community with one another." - p. 22

"No human being was ever meant to be the source of personal joy and contentment for someone else. And surely, no sinner is ever going to be able to pull that off day after day in the all-encompassing relationship of marriage! Your spouse, your friends, and your children cannot be the sources of your identity. When you seek to define who you are through those relationships, you are actually asking another sinner to be your personal messiah, to give you the inward rest of soul that only God can give." - p. 59

"God’s redemptive work of change is ongoing in all our lives. When I forget this, I become self-righteous, impatient, critical, and judgmental. I give in to the temptation to play God and try to change you in ways only God can." - p. 64

"Imagination gives us a deeper sense of two unseen realities: (1) our identity, the unseen realities of who God says we are; and (2) God’s resources, the unseen realities of his presence with us and provision for us."  pp. 157-158.

"It [worship] is not vacuous emotionalism, but rather praise that lives in the middle of fear, pain, hurt, and disappointment. The praise never ignores these experiences. Instead, it grows more thankful as it recognizes the redeeming God who meets us in life’s pains and joys." - p. 169

What I Liked:
  • This book wasn't solely about marriage relationships and wasn't worded in "couple-ese."  Though the content would be great for a married couple, it is more than appropriate for any interpersonal relationship.
  • The authors pointed out the relationship of the Holy Trinity as an example of how we can walk in unity and true Christ-centered friendships.  I'd never thought of it that way before.
  • The admission that when people are struggling, they don't simply need and explanation of why what's wrong is wrong, but they need true solutions and help to see that those solutions are viable was so refreshing.  In other words, the advice was simple, but not simplistic and patronizing.
  • The Kindle version has real page numbers.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Though the authors use true life stories as examples, many of them are left unfinished.  Hey, we want to know what happened.
  • There was no way to know which author was speaking when giving an example from his own life.
  • The last chapter was odd in that it kept referencing the lyrics to a Green Day song that was never named and the lyrics never quoted.  I'm not sure what that was about.
Takeaway:  I wish I could remember who recommended this book to me last year because I would like to thank them.  Quite honestly, when I first delved into this tome, I though the authors' counsel was going to put the Christian in the position of the doormat who must always acquiesce, however, this was not the case.  This book answered many of the questions about why I was doing relationships wrong and how I can be a better friend, church member, and employee.  I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with relationship and any couple considering marriage (no, the book isn't aimed at couples, but it would help tremendously).  The advice is not gospel fluff, but hardcore Scripture-backed practical solutions.