Thursday, January 31, 2013

Learning From My Pets

**This is Miles

The other day my boss was sharing with us how we can learn a lot from our pets.  I have owned a lot of  pets in my day from worms (well it was a worm farm that I helped my parents with) to horses.  I learned something from each.  The worms didn't teach me too much other than worms really aren't as creepy as one would suppose (I had to help sort them from the big piles of soil), and I learned that worms pee. Sorry.  Just the facts.  :)  

What I learned from our former stray cat (now our newest house baby):

The cat in the photo above is Miles our newest kitty.  Several weeks ago Miles was a stray cat that I had taken to feeding and watering because I was worried about available food and whatnot for this sweetie as the weather was getting so cold.  I began leaving Miles food and fresh water every day on my deck.  

Tenacity & Appreciation & Trust
Miles taught me that there are rewards in being tenacious.  Every day for a week, he would come to my deck, eat the food I left and then sit at my sliding door.  Every day I left him more food.  When I came out and he was there, he would purr loudly and rub against my leg with a thank you.  When the weather started to get extra cold I worried about this cat that came to my deck so often (he obviously had an owner at one point he didn't remotely behave like a feral cat) so I made him a shelter away from the cold with old clothes and boxes.  The next day Miles showed me his wound.

Because I saw Miles' injury, I became even more concerned.  I told me husband that there had to be something I could do to help this cat.  I asked him if he would object to me taking him to the vet to be looked at and if he got a clean bill of health as far as feline leukemia and other catchy diseases could he stay.  My sweet husband having witnessed my growing relationship with the dirty little stray told me to make an appointment.  

The next day I brought Miles to the vet (of course he was still "Stray" according to his chart).  He received a clean bill of health and his wound the doctor said looked like it was healing well and that we could leave it alone.  Miles became an addition to our home.

When we have hurts and pains we should bring them to someone who can help and not try to take care of it all ourselves.
After being in our home in his own little room for two weeks, I noticed Miles licking furiously at his hip.  I called him and he came up to me and turned his side toward me.  There is was, his wound was about four times its original size and stick with infection.  Miles had been fussing and picking at it when we weren't around and instead of making things better, he made things much worse. It reminded me how too often when we are hurting instead of bringing our pain to God or to people who can help us, we hide the pain in hopes it will go away or keep bringing it out to fuss over allowing it to continue to hurt but not heal.  We aren't necessarily qualified to cover all of our ills.  

Psalms 147:3 says "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds."  God is willing to help us.  He has provided his word, pastors, counselors and others to help us by working in tandem with God.  He wants us to come to Him.  All we need to do is trust in the Lord and show Him where it hurts.

we should bring our pains to God and to someone who can help us with them.  Hiding them doesn't help us heal and often we


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Family Friendly Movie Review - The Long, Long Trailer


When I was a kid, I loved old movies.  I watched many and certain ones always stuck in my mind.  Whenever I would run across one of those films on television, it didn't matter what point the movie was in, I would watch it through to the end.  I thought it would be fun to revisit some of these oldies that I loved, and share some reviews.

The Long, Long Trailer
Starring: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

About the film (from IMDB):
Nicky and Tacy are going to be married. Nicky wants to save up money for a house, but Tacy dreams of starting off with their own home on wheels--a trailer. After the two are hitched, they hitch up their trailer and begin their honeymoon. The humor comes from several disastrous adventures the couple has while traveling including Tacy's awkward attempt to cook dinner in a moving trailer, and a cliffhanging ride through the mountains that nearly destroys their marriage.

My Review:  The Long, Long Trailer is a movie sharing the honeymoon on wheels taken by Nicky and Tacy as they bring their trailer to their future home in Colorado.  They pick a trailer because Tacy really wants to set up house with her husband not just an apartment wherever they need to temporarily  rest their heads as he is a civil engineer who must travel and remain in various places for his career.  Living in a trailer seems a dream come true to Tacy who really doesn't want much more than a nice home for her and Nicky.

As Nicky and  Tacy embark on their honeymoon it all seems quite sweet and quaint.  In fact, it can make a person kind of want a trailer home themselves, and then the difficulties begin.  As idyllic as driving a trailer on a honeymoon sounds, it is a long, long trailer and moving it is not as easy as it looks, but there are great places to visit and fun and quirky people to meet.  Troubles come and go sometimes with big laughs and other times with sweet charm.

What I liked:  First of all there was not a lot for me to not like in this film.  When I first saw it as a child, I was enchanted by the idea of taking a trailer on a honeymoon.  As an adult I am charmed by old trailers and actually would love to get a nice small trailers for a little camping hop here and there (I would especially enjoy something vintage and quite similar to what Nicky and Tacy first look at when they are shopping).  I know much of it was on a set and looked it, but it kind of made me appreciate not only the film but the time frame.  That is simply how things were done then.  For me it doesn't even take away from the film.  It is like a time stamp.  I loved looking beyond the story to the props (even the cookware).  Lucy and Desi were a great team.  They worked well with each other on film.  I enjoyed the larger than life supporting cast too.  They were all certainly characters and added to the fun of the film.  The Long, Long Trailer really reminded me of what I like about old films and comedies.  There is an innocence of the characters and the circumstances and although we know that historically there was certainly bad in the world, it is easily escaped by movies such as these.

What I didn't like:  I am fairly certain that the movie was a bit longer.  It was cut down, but I do not know why or exactly where.  It was a long time since I first saw it.

I received this movie from my husband for Christmas.  It was on my list for a very long time, and I was overjoyed when I received it.  He's so awesome.  :)

My rating: Four big smiles

Side note:  The Long, Long Trailer was based on the novel by Clinton Twiss.  I found it as a free download for Nook at Barnes & Noble.  Of course I had to download it now.  More gym reading.  :)  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ohhhhhh....That's Why You Shouldn't Drink Your Calories!

**Oh yes...I do love my coffee soooo!

So the other day I had this wicked "aha!" moment.  I have been working out at the gym (Fitness for $10) and working my way into losing my first goal of 10 pounds.  So far I have been faithful until today.  I  have an excuse for today, but that is not what the post is about.  If you stick around, I'll share that part last.  Where was I?  Oh yeah...goals and whatnot. Besides working out to lose weight, I have also been trying to cut down on the snacking, drink more water and the like, but the one thing I have not done yet is give up coffee.  

For the most part I just don't want to.  I love coffee.  It has been my love since I was 18 and working my first morning shift where there happened to be a kiosk with THE tastiest coffee ever.  Ahhhhhh memories.  It was the stuff really.  Anyway, I figured that I really didn't need to give up coffee IF I worked off the calories.  So at the gym I would put in extra time to get off some of the java.  I had kind of round about guessed on how much I needed to work off until the other day when I went to and their coffee calorie counter and looked up how many calories are in my usual coffee.  

I drink two 16 oz coffees with cream and sugar (2 +2).  This adds up to 190 calories a day.  This is just a small piece of the puzzle though.  At 2 coffees a day, at 190 calories total, that is a potential of over 69000 calories in a year and potentially a 20 lb weight gain over a year!  That makes me rethink everything.  The fact is there really comes a time where you need to look at your calorie numbers and ask yourself "Is it really worth it?"  Unless you want to maintain where you are, and I certainly do not want to do that, you are most likely going to have to cut some calories out and not just workout your way to even.  I'll be honest, I am not ready to drop the coffee altogether, because again, I love the stuff, and I also don't want a killer caffeine withdrawal headache (I've been there is not a friendly place to be), but I do need to do something.  

So here is my dilemma.  Do I cut down to one cup of coffee with cream and sugar a day giving myself 95 calories to work off? Or do I drop the cream and sugar and keep my two cups of java?  Still thinking on this one.  I'm thinking flavored coffee like Green Mountain's Wild Mountain Blueberry with cream.  This way I am cutting out the sugar but it still tastes yummy. We'll see.  I'm a bit of chicken when it comes to these kinds of changes.  Which is probably why I'm in this dilemma.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ebooks Are The Best When At The Gym

*My husband took this picture in Sedona.  It was one of those days where we just got in the car and took off.  I love those kind of days.  This has nothing to do with my post.  I just wanted to enjoy the memory.

One of my favorite things about going to the gym is getting the opportunity to escape the elliptical trainer and treadmill by reading.  This makes my Nook and Kindle pretty much priceless.  Right now I am reading Code Blue by Richard L. Mabry which I have had for quite some time.  I believe there are four books in the series.  I have three so I am very excited.  So far I am enjoying the book, and I thought I would share about it right away as well as a couple other free ebooks so you can grab one or two before they are gone.  And you know how it is with ebooks.  One day they are free and the next, not so much.  So check out this list, but always be sure to check the price BEFORE you download.  They are free now.  That can change.  These are all Christian fiction.


The Beginning: An eShort prequel to The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON)

It Happens Every Spring (The Four Seasons of Marriage) by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE)

Sweet Baklava by Debby Mayne (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE)

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review - Murder of the Cat's Meow

Murder of a Cat's Meow
By Denise Swanson

Summary from Goodreads:

When ex–Vegas showgirl and local business owner Bunny Reid starts an online dating service called Cupid’s Cat’s Meow, out-of-town visitors flock to her bowling alley for the speed dating and cat show events that she hosts to bring in extra cash. Bunny’s scheme sounds harmless enough, but school psychologist Skye Denison knows all too well that an influx of strangers in Scumble River always spells trouble….

Meanwhile, Skye is convinced that her house is haunted and is afraid her fiancĂ©, police chief Wally Boyd, won’t move in until the ghost moves out. But ghost-hunting takes a back seat when Skye is called to the bowling alley, where a riled up contestant is choking a cat show judge for insulting his feline. Skye breaks up the scuffle, but the next morning the judge’s dead body is found, strangled with a cat toy. Now Skye must solve this purrplexing mystery—and show a devious killer that her sleuthing skills are the cat’s meow.

My Review:

QUICK CAPTURE: I hope Denise Swanson keeps writing this series.  It is definitely a favorite of mine and even if there are a few things I do not like, I would hate to see it go.

Murder of a Cat's Meow is the  15th book in the Scumble River Mysteries (and the 17th story as there are two novellas).  The Scumble River Mysteries focus on the town of Scumble River Illinois and school psychologist/police psychological consultant Skye Dennison.  This small farming community is continually the hub of some wacky goings on, but it is always done in a way that is fresh.  I have yet to read and think "Again?"  I came to this series a couple of years ago, and I really have enjoyed each and every one although some more than others.

Skye has been asked to help out Bunny as she hosts a special cat show and matchmaking weekend at the bowling alley Bunny manages for her son Simon (Skye's ex boyfriend).  As often happens when Skye is involved, a murder happens, and Skye finds the body.   The fact that the victim was an antagonistic self-centered witch made this murder not a major shock.  Finding the killer however will be difficult, because anyone with the kind of track record the victim has is bound to have plenty of enemies.  The police force will have a rough time with this one.

I'll be honest, as much as I still enjoyed being engulfed by Skye's story and the town, there were a few times when I forgot what murder was even being investigated.  It became ultra secondary to Skye's wedding planning and her relationship with her fiance the police chief and her trying to figure out how to unhaunt her home.  I'll be honest, if there is a ghost, I hope it doesn't leave, because I don't enjoy Skye and Wally's sex scenes any more than the ghost does.  Now I am not saying this because I am a prude.  I am saying this because a sex life was really sooooo very in the background of the first several books in the series.  Now if Skye and Wally are is like they are a couple of teenagers (though not as bad in this book as it has been).  It is distracting and decidedly not hot.  If I wanted to read a mystery with sex in it, I wouldn't be reading a cozy mystery.  I am glad that at least this time I didn't have to read about how Skye wonders how Wally keeps his year round tan as he gets undressed.

Here is what I enjoyed:  I love Scumble River and its quirky characters.  I love Bunny and how off the wall she is.  I like that Skye has a hungry grumpy cat and that she is tight with her family.  I like that her dad is a farmer and her mom works at the police station as a dispatcher and dresses up her lawn goose.  I like that even though Skye always finds a body, it is a fresh murder and not the same old thing happening again.  Keeping things fresh after so many stories is probably not easy.  Denise  Swanson is really good at keeping a story moving and creating characters with humor and believability.  There are only a few here and there that make you scratch your head and ask why?

Here is what I did not enjoy:  I don't like Wally and Skye together.  Maybe it is because I connected with her first relationship in the book and I never thought her breakup with Simon was a good one (she thought he was cheating on her, he wasn't), and I didn't like how quickly she leaped into a relationship with Wally.  Their relationship seemed good to me.  I liked that it wasn't perfect.  I liked that Simon was attached to some rather quirky souls himself like his ex-Vegas dancer mom.  Wally's dad is an oil tycoon and they have family issues because he apparently doesn't want anything to do with that life and wants to be a cop.  Admirable.  But suddenly Wally sure is tossing around the money.  For a guy who wants a simple life, since he has hooked up with Skye, money really seems more of an issue.  The guy buys her very expensive items including a 2 carat Tiffany engagement ring.  How is he doing this on a small town police chief's salary?  That is like over 25,000 big ones! As much as I like that Skye is growing and changing and heading toward the altar.  I think her and Wally dull the character down.  Lastly, do police psych consultants seriously go to almost every suspect interview.  It is as if Wally can't be alone without Skye and her twinsets (if you read the series you'll know what I mean).

All in all though, I really do enjoy this series a great deal.  It is because I like it so much these things get to me.  It is because I have really grown to care for these characters and this town.  That in and of itself really is a mark of a good series.

I gave this book four stars.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Good Things Come For Those Who Run Late

*Sunrise over the roof at home.  :)

Sometimes the best things happen when you are on the edge of a freakout.  The other day I woke up at 6:19 AM.  I immediately leaped out of bed with my heart beating loudly and with a yelp to my husband "Oh NO!  I'm WAY late!"

 Here was the problem.  The night before I kept waking up all night starting at 3 AM.  I kept thinking I was missing my alarm, but it was just my body saying "Hey, 3 AM sounds like fun doesn't it?  Let's get up!!!!"  Of course I had no intention of getting up before I usually do (5 AM).  When that time hit, I got up as usual.  The next day (my big late wake up day) things did not go as planned.  I woke up and thought, "Oh man!  Should I get up?"  I then answered with "No, it isn't time.  Remember last night how you kept getting up and it wasn't time.  Keep sleeping and enjoy it."  I slept, I enjoyed, and when it was too late I also realized, I hadn't set my alarm! 

My usual schedule has me up at 5 AM and showered by 5:30 AM when my son will get up after having already showered at 4:30 AM.  He catches the bus at 6:30 AM so we get a little time in the morning to just hang.  This morning was going to be a little off.  Our routine had to change dramatically.  There was no hanging out since my son also missed his alarm.  We took turns trying to get ready fast enough to not interfere with my husband needing to get up.  Instead of the bus, I would have to drive my son to school.  Not a bad thing just another bump in the schedule.

However it was a great bump.  On the way to school my son shared with me how they were watching Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat so they could prep for the school production.  He said that because it was a musical, he really didn't feel he was getting the point of the story.  We talked about how Joseph had some pretty incredible dreams that God put into his heart, but there was quite a road to travel before those dreams would come true.  We shared how Joseph had to go through some rough times in order to learn what he needed to learn to fulfill his purpose and to get Joseph into the position God wanted him in in order to save Israel and Egypt.  It was nice to talk about how God has a special purpose for each one of us, and some roads will be easy where others may be bumpy or even incredibly rocky, but usually even those roads teach us something or give us something we need for our journey. 

God has great plans for each of us.  He created you for a purpose.   There are dreams in your heart for a reason.  God put them there.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NKJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Music Music Music - Plumb - Need You Now

I am a huge fan of Plumb since...well it seems like forever.  She has such an amazing voice.  Truly stunning and lyrically, she just knows how to touch to the heart.  Plumb (Tiffany Arbuckle) has a new album coming out on February 26th called "Need You Now."  For everyone who has had those moments where all they could do was cry out to God, this is a song for you.  Check it and the lyrics out with this lyric video.  Check Plumb out at her website.  Oh and a big PS...I am so picking up this album when it comes out!  I have been waiting too long for a new release!  :)

 If you would like to try out a sampler of Plumb's music, you can go to Noisetrade at this link. Leave a nice tip or spread the word for your download.  The download contains:

1- In My Arms 2- Beautiful History 3- Damaged 4- Blush 5- Cut (Bronleewe & Bose Radio Edit) 6- Hang On (Digital Dog Radio Edit)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Family Friendly Film Review - Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea

There are lots of great films out there and some with awesome messages.  However it can get harder and harder to find them.  I like to make a point of watching at least one family friendly or inspirational film a week.  I see it a little bit as modeling for my son but also it is important to me.  Having been raised with a brother seven years older, I truly cut my teeth on Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson films.  Yes, I too made guns out of Legos and whatever else I could get my hands on.  I love romance, but action and thrillers get me every time.  What also gets me, a story that touches the heart.  You can find a lot of stories just like this if make a point of looking for them via streaming Netflix and Amazon. 

Amazing Love - The Story of Hosea
Starring:  Sean Astin, Erin Bethea, Sammi Hanratty, Savannah Jayde, Terrance Hardy Jr., Kenton Duty, Creagen Dow, Tehmina Sunny, Elijah Alexander, and Patty Duke.

About the film: When a materialistic, self-involved teen threatens to ruin a youth group camping trip, the group's leader uses the conflict as an opportunity to share the story of the Old Testament prophet Hosea, who inspires true commitment and unconditional love.

My review:  Ashley, Carrie, Cooper, Steve and Gameboy are all going on a youth group camping trip with their youth pastor, Stuart and his wife Beth.  The kids are all pretty tight as many youth group kids are with the exception of Ashley.  Ashley is a beautiful girl who has a bit of a self-centered attitude.  She is going on the trip because her grandma is pushing her to go.  Her attitude is to just get through it.  This annoys Carrie to bits.  She doesn't appreciate Ashley's snobbishness and has her own preconceived notions about the new addition.  Steve however thinks that Ashley is just misunderstood and needs a chance.  Of course with a big chip on her shoulder, Ashley doesn't make it easy for anyone to give her that chance.  She feels no one understands her or what she has gone through.  

Things don't go terribly well with the kids and Stuart decides to share the story of Hosea and Gomer with the kids.  The story of Hosea is a story of God's love for His stiff necked, rebellious and disloyal people. 

Amazing Love is two stories in one.  The main one really is the telling of Hosea and Gomer.  The secondary, story involving the kids really unfolds first.  That part is good, but the real heart and soul that is going to get you is Hosea.  What is cool though is how in the end, it all really intertwines so well together.  Hosea learned how God felt when Israel turned their backs on Him and worshiped false idols.  He felt it on the level of being a man married to and in love with a woman who was completely unfaithful to him.  There was a line in the story that really hit home for me where Hosea is talking with God in anguished prayer not understanding how God would love this unlovable people who did not act loving toward Him.  He said "You love us because your love is not dependent on us."  Awesome right?

I am going to stop here in order to not give much away.  Although let's face it, you can read Hosea and get the gist of that story, but this one is really told well.  Yep, I kind of cried a bit.   

The movie  does not have difficult themes for kids.  I would say it is another story that would be acceptable for about ages 12 and up.  Just keep in mind that Gomer was not a very faithful chick.  Nothing is seen but her unfaithfulness is obvious. Check it out on Netflix streaming.  I give this movie four out of five big ole smiles. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oh Yeah...Time To Work On My Bod

*Building in progress in Jerome, AZ.  I am in my own progress mode so this fits today. 

I had to take a couple of bloggy days off because I was in the thick of a reality television bonanza.  One of my most embarrassing weaknesses is my love of Reality TV.  I don't love it all, but I am still hooked on a few that would probably make you shake your head.  This actually isn't about my embarrassing love of Reality TV, but because I watched a specific show, a chain of events ensued. 

This weekend The Biggest Loser began, and I was totally convicted as well as inspired.  I love the show.  I really do.  I was bummed though, because last year at this time.  When I watched the show and I had just lost about 35 pounds.  Enter 2013 and I found it all and then some.  Needless to say, I am a little bit annoyed with myself, but I will be darned if I am going to watch The Biggest Loser and not make some changes of my own. 

I told my husband that I needed to get back to the gym.  I had been putting this off because since I have begun my on air schedule, I do not have the time I once did.  I used to get out of work at 2 pm, head to the gym by my son's high school and workout until he met me there (he would walk over from school).  I would get a good hour and a  half work out in, and that kept my weight steady (I'm hypothyroid so weight loss is a bit of a struggle).  I get out of the studio later now so I really have only enough time to get to my son's school to pick him up and wait about ten minutes for him to be dismissed.  Because of this change in time, I have let everything fall to the wayside.  EVERYTHING.  And now all my hard work is nothing but a memory.  I have to begin again.  I found a gym on our side of town that is only $10 a month (It's called Fitness For $10 if you want to see if there is one near you).  I had been saving up for an elliptical so I could work out at home, but that is far pricier.  Scott and I talked about it.  We scheduled a gym shopping date, and now I am a member.  He didn't join yet, but I am hoping if I stick with it, he will join in too. 

Now I haven't gone yet.  I know right?  Nothing like getting inspired, deciding to do something, making a financial commitment and then not following through.  I had good reason though.  I needed a few things first (replacement sneakers and minor items), but I have picked them up and I will begin tomorrow.  Promise.  I guess this will work well with my two week goal of trying something new every two weeks. 

I am really hoping that at some point I will get my weight down.  I'm breaking things down into mini goals.  First goal is 10 pounds. Once I lose 10 lbs I plan to get a Yonanas machine.  I'm hoping that will also give me enough time to afford it.  :) 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Family Friendly Film Review - Set Apart

I hope that Netflix continues to have streaming for family friendly films with a Christian message.  It is so nice having the opportunity to watch films that touch the heart and offer encouragement.  This weekend we watched "Set Apart."

Set Apart
Starring:  Richard Roundtree, John Schneider, Ary Katz, Brandon Wilson, Sarah Lilly, Randy Gunn, Heidi Gunn, Marina Shtelen, and Ronnie Alvarez. 

About the film:  Pastor John Gunn sends a group of urban youngsters to spend a summer on a working ranch, hoping they'll learn what city life can't teach them. With his brother and sister-in-law and a tough-love ranch hand, the kids gain some hard-earned wisdom.

My Review:  Set Apart lightly highlights the ministry of Power Company Kids Club and their work with inner city youth.  There are a few of the children that go to the Power Company Kids Club that are currently in what could be described as a high-crisis situation.  Two brothers are struggling with gang participation, one young man is caught up in a cycle of theft, and a young girl has lost it all.  When Pastor John's brother Randy and Randy's wife Heidi's ministry GunnPoint come near town for a cowboy mounted shooting event, John shares with them about these kids and their need to have a real life changing experience.  John feels that some time spent away from the city and the problems in their lives and instead spent on the Gunn ranch and with their ministry would be a huge help to these kids.  His brother agrees and the kids partake in a life changing experience.

Things do not happen easily at the ranch. There are new rules and new skills to learn.  The kids draw closer together and closer to the staff.  They begin to see themselves with a new confidence and working as a team instead of on their own brings a real change in their lives.  They also draw closer to God.

The movie itself is well acted.  There are some parts that my son described as corny, but it was sweet.  It also drew some tears out of me when I least expected it.  It is a low budget film with a good message that I think you'll enjoy.  There are violent situations but more implied and threatened.  This is not a movie for younger children.  I checked out the Dove rating, and they said that it was suitable for ages 12 and up.  I would agree with that.  The fact is a younger child is not going to get the message that it is giving.  It is not a film that a smaller child is going to relate to.  I will find some of those though.  :)

I would rate it four out of five smiles.  :)

I watched Set Apart via Netflix streaming.  It is also available for purchase at

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Book Review - Needled To Death

Needled to Death
By Maggie Seftgon

Summary from Goodreads:
Taking a troop of tourists to Vickie Claymore's alpaca farm doesn't earn knitter Kelly Flynn a warm welcome. Instead she finds Vickie splayed out on her original hand-woven rug, her blood seeping into the design.

My Review: 

QUICK CAPTURE - Not for me but that doesn't mean it isn't for you.

Have you ever tired of forcing yourself to read a book?  I have held so many books on hold because I was trying to finish this book.  I finally had to stop reading and finish by skim-reading.  I usually race through a book, and I have had to put all my other reading list on hold because I couldn't slog through this one. 

Some books just seem to deviate so dramatically from reality that you get a bit annoyed.  I thought the first book in the series was okay for the most part though there were plenty of things I really disliked like the main character and her snippy attitude, her over fondness for coffee, instantaneous friendships, yarn groping and every single lady (and I mean single as in not married so supporting herself) having gobs of time to spend knitting at the local yarn etc. type of shop.  A friend who loves cozies had lent me the first two books in the series so I had every intention on seeing where the series would go. 

I stopped now a little more than halfway through the story and skim-read the rest of the way.  I could not take another minute of Kelly & company at her deceased aunt's deceased cousin's place.  Having Kelly be the only living relative of not one but both ladies just seemed beyond far fetched.  The cousin was married to an abusive rancher whom she left but never divorced.  The rancher apparently finally dies off and the estate is now Kelly's.  Really?  So we are supposed to believe that he also had no family?  And this second third or whatever cousin had no one on any other side of her family, but Kelly's aunt?  Why does this bug me?  Because it took me out of the story.  By the time we traipse through this relative's place, I couldn't even remember what the mystery is anymore.

This Montana ranch of 300 acres is not only home to apparently loads of cattle but also conveniently sheep and alpaca.  The sheep I get.  Cattle and sheep graze on different plants typically, but the alpaca?  Really?  It seems awfully convenient considering that our most recent murder victim also raised alpaca.  I found it hard to believe that this 70-somthing-year-old rancher would now also be an alpaca breeder.

Finally, I gave up as Kelly's buds were discovering antiques on this relative's property.  Frankly, I just didn't want to stick around for the oil, silver mine or Hope diamond to pop up.  My suspension of belief had sailed so solidly out the window that I could not continue. Everything seems just so wildly convenient for Kelly.   I rolled my eyes so many times while reading this book, I simply had to finally give myself permission to stop reading seriously and just get through the book.  So feeling I had invested enough time, I skimmed from page 140 to the end. 

I read for enjoyment and to learn things.  Neither was happening with this book, and when you pick up a book and just keep getting annoyed, you got to let it go.  I am bummed, I really did want to like it.  

I do want to say that lots of people did like it.  Those who did really did, and those who didn't really didn't.  It could still be the book for you.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

My One Word 2013 REACH

Last night I was reading my Proverbs 31 Ministries magazine and I read an article by Rachel Olsen.  It was about Choosing One Word to focus on for the year rather than tying yourself up with resolutions that, let's face it, most of us never keep anyway.  It was as if a light bulb went off in my head!  This is exactly what I have needed! 

I am going to paraphrase here, but basically the idea is to pick a word that will be your inspiration, your filter for the entire year.  I see it as the way I will approach each and every day.  I really want to draw closer to God.  I want to draw into a deeper relationship with Him and be used to bless others.  I do not know the plans God has for my life, but I do know that I want to walk that walk that He planned for me.  I see this as my start. 

After reading the article, I felt so inspired and excited, I immediately looked up the book that Rachel wrote with her pastor Mike Ashcraft titled "My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word."  Only pure will kept me from ordering it last night online.  It isn't that I didn't want to.  I just order a lot through Amazon and if I order through Amazon, I tend to order enough to get free shipping.  As Christmas just went by, that would not be very frugal of me.  So I stepped away from my excitement and decided to pray.

I so admire women like Rachel Olsen, Renee Swope, Tracie Miles, Lysa TerKeurst, Joyce Myers, Candace Cameron-Bure and...well, let's just say the list goes on and on.  These lovely women have such hearts for God.  I am in awe of them really.  Seeing these ladies in action is humbling, and it stirs up a desire in my own heart to be used by God.  First though I want to truly hunger for God, desire His word and His company more than anything else.  I want to live the life He created me to live and discover the gifts that he has given me to bless others.  I don't just want it, I want to want it.  If that makes sense.  I want to desire His will more than my own.  I want to conform my desires to God's plans.  When I think of who I want to be at the end of the year 2013, I'd like to be just remotely like any of these women and others.  I want to love, I want to give, I want to inspire.  I want more than anything to again desire my God and serve my God above all else. 

So I prayed.  God knows my heart.  He knows how I feel.  I told Him that I wanted to find one word for the new year.  I told him that I wanted to pick up the book and learn more, but if I could have that word before I picked up the book, that would be awesome too.  I asked for that word that fit where my heart is and where it longs to be.  Then in my mind was the word ----REACH.  I literally asked out loud "Was that you God?  Did you tell me reach?"  I answered myself.  Of course it was God.  Why would I toss the word REACH out?  I could choose faithful, truth, love, devotion, and go on and on (and there is nothing wrong with any of those words).  But that is not me. Not that I don't feel those things, but I am a quirky gal.  I am going to definitely go a more obscure route.  REACH is my route.  I knew it more and more as I slowly lulled off to sleep.

This morning I woke up a little frazzled.  See I wasn't sure what I was going to talk about on air (I am still so new to this hosting gig), and it still gets me sometimes.  I was in the bathroom stressing a bit and began to brush my teeth.  I then thought "Reach."  I stopped everything and prayed to God for the strength to get through my show and asked Him to lead the way.  I immediately felt better.  When I got into the station the phone rang constantly.  I ran back and forth from my early morning duties to the phone.  I had just made a pot of coffee for the office and poured myself a cup when the phone rang.  The caller on the other end was sobbing.  She asked if there was anyone who could talk with her.  She said she felt so sad, depressed and wanted to take her life.  There were three of us in the studio.  Me, the morning host, and one of our financial personnel.  I gulped.  Then again REACH came to mind.  Again, I reached out to God for help and reached out to this woman not knowing what to say but praying that God would touch her and take away her pain.  Now this isn't some magic word, but it is helping me get my priorities straight.  It is keeping me in check, and I'm pretty psyched about that. 

God is amazing!  He is so good and so faithful.  I called and He answered.  I have no doubt of that.  Sometimes God surprises us.  I feel surprised and joyously so now.  I do not know what the year has in store, but I will be focusing with every part of myself on the word REACH and making it my action.  I will REACH into God's Word, REACH inside myself, and REACH out to God and to others.  I can't wait to see how this year goes! 

Oh!  While I was at work, I called the Family Christian Store in town, and they had the book "My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word."  I was so excited!  I told them I would be picking it up after I got out of the station, and they promised to hold it for me.  In the meantime I also discovered the website My One Word.  I signed up there as well.  :)  It is an inspiring place.  There are lots of people who have done this many times.  I can't wait to learn more!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thinking On Goals for the New Year

I have thought long and hard about making resolutions for 2013.  

Part of me would really like to make some changes, and the new year is always a good time to do just that, but there is this other side that doesn't want me jumping up into too many plans and getting overwhelmed.  This is why I am mainly focusing on two-week goals and a couple of intentional actions.  

My first two-week goal is for rough elbows and winter rough hands and tootsies.  It is an oddity, but it involves using Phillips Milk of Magnesia on the rough spots.  This was recommended to me by my endocrinologist, and as I read into it, I found out that it was effective with lots of skin conditions, but there was also a warning about it effecting your pH on your face.  I will definitely be sticking with the elbows, hands and feet for this two-week run. 

Now onto the intentional.  I intend to read more of my Bible and study God's word.  I intend to devote time to memorizing scripture.  In addition to reading for enjoyment, I also intend to read for growth.  I'm working through Greater by Steven Furtick right now, and next on my list is Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles.  Honestly, I would love to dive into Tracie's book right now, but another intention of mine is to finish what I start.  I am enjoying Steven's book, but I get distracted easily which is why I want to just leap into Tracie's book- well that and the fact that I found Tracie's book and knew it was an important book for me to read.  No worries though.  There is plenty of time.  :) I also plan on being intentional about taking care of the physical between eating and drinking right to getting plenty of rest and exercise.  Water will be covered in the drinking right.  The rest will be through making wiser food choices.  After the holiday blast that I have had, this intentional attitude towards my intake and output is going to be vital.  I am still toying with joining Weight Watchers or something like it, but for now, I will just use my pedometer and work out videos.  This is mainly because I need to curb the financial output until I get a little extra saved before my husband's birthday.  I guess I might as well add being intentional about getting a handle on my finances is a good call too.  :)

PS...I should also mention that I do also intend to put in a lot of effort into getting organized.  I fantasized about winning an opportunity for a personal organizer to get me on track.  I don't think that is going to happen.  Sadly, I just need to work on this myself.  As my husband is very neat this is kind of a goal because it is a goal to make him happy and make my life less dramatic.  I hate being disorganized.  I actually worked on the first step yesterday when I totally cleaned out my closet and put away in a storage container all the close that don't currently fit (yes, I've gained weight...grrrr) and put aside clothing to donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  My husband was delighted with the neatness.  :)  That delights me.  Win win. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Family Friendly Film Review - The Letter Writer


One of my favorite things about Netflix streaming is the opportunity to watch just about any variety of film that you want.  I spend a lot of time catching up on my favorite sitcoms and series, but lately I have also been spending some time really focusing on finding family friendly films.  With the new year here, I want to be more intentional about watching encouraging films.  My hope is to not just find a family friendly film, but also a film with a message.

The Letter Writer
Bridgestone Multimedia Group
Starring - Aley Underwood, Bernie Diamond, Pam Eichner and Brandon Luke Bringhurst

About the film: When Maggy Fuller (Aley Underwood) receives an anonymous letter full of praise and encouragement, she can?t imagine who would say such wonderful things to her. After all, the rebellious teenager is practically invisible to her dad and a disappointment to her mom. Her search for the mysterious letter?s author leads her Sam Worthington (Bernie Diamond), an aging man who tries to change the world using a pen name, a phone book, and one handwritten note at a time. Maggy?s unlikely new friend seems to know her better than anyone and inspires her to become a letter writer, too, but a tragedy tests her faith, forcing her to continue her search for her own purpose in life.

My Review:

Maggie is a pretty self-focused teenaged girl.  She has dreams for her band and what is important to her.  Her priorities though are pretty skewed, but she is young and sometimes the young just need a lesson in order to get on track.  It can be exceptionally hard to get off the self track when you are in a single parent home and you are in your rebellious phase.  At that point the very ones who love you most are often the ones you feel could care less and understand you the least.  This is pretty much Maggy's view.  Other than her band, she feels pretty much like a giant zero.

Then Maggy gets a letter in the mail.  The letter speaks to Maggy in a way that seems like the author knows her and wants to encourage her.  It reminds her that she is beautiful, gracious and has a unique purpose for her life.  It acknowledges how difficult life is right now, but it is precious.  The letter also encourages Maggy to share kindness with others.  Of course I am just paraphrasing here, but the letter speaks to Maggy's heart, and though the letter is signed, Maggy does not know who the author is.  She doesn't know anyone that would be so kind to her or write such great things about her.  Maggy asks her mother and even reaches out to her estranged father to see if he knows who wrote this kind note.  No one knows.  Maggy looks on her own and finally with a little help, meets the man who wrote her the letter.

Maggy meets Stanley at an assisted living home.  He is the mysterious letter writer.  Maggy strikes up a friendship with Stanley aka Sam and learns how good it can be to share kindness and encouragement and your life with those who are kind and encouraging too.

I liked how Stanley taught Maggy the simple joy of touching hearts with a kind word.  Stanley showed Maggy the importance of using the gifts and talents that God has given you to be a blessing to others.  When you are blessing others, the rewards are great.

There were some great quotes by Stanley in The Letter Writer that I would like to share.  These are great quotes to live by really and great ones to share with your tween or teen. 

"Life is like a mirror.  Who you are is reflected by those around you."   - Stanley aka Sam Worthington

"If you want good and helping people around you, be good and helping."   - Stanley aka Sam Worthington

"Within every human being there's a God given ability, and if you find it and nurture it, you'll be able to bless the lives of others."  - Stanley aka Sam Worthington

The Letter Writer is a simple film with a sweet message.  If you pay attention, you just might walk away with an improved outlook on your own life or perhaps an inkling to find a special purpose.

Because we all like a rating system, and a good movie makes me smile.  I'm giving my family friendly film rating of four out of five smiles. 

The Letter Writer