Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #356

First off, a very happy Thanksgiving to all my bloggy friends south of the border.  I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with good food, friends and/or family and festivities.  I know some of you will probably be up at the crack of dawn waiting in line at stores this morning but we are still pausing to take a moment to be thankful. Even if you can't find the time to actually do a post I encourage you to take a moment in your busy day to pause and think of those blessings of your past week.

1.  A tough work situation over and done.  What a relief when something that is difficult at work is finally over with and a new fresh start can be made.  Whew.  I am thankful for God's mercies, new every morning!  The opportunity to move past stress and a into a new day is a blessing.

2.  Dayhome Christmas gifts done and at a great deal to boot!  I quit giving toys to the Dayhome kids for Christmas a long time ago.  Instead I buy a new toy for the dayhome which they open together on the last day before Christmas and I send them home with a gift of a book.  I love to give the gift of reading!  And I did all my shopping for the books this year online at BookOutlet.  Their already great prices were reduced another 30% for this weekend and they sent me a $5 off coupon code for Black Friday.  Not having to be in a crowded store and still getting a great deal is definitely a blessing.

3.  Phone Reminders.  I love having a task and event memo in my phone.  And what I love even more is I can send myself reminders complete with an audible alarm.  This feature has saved me so many times I cannot even count.  Everything from something as simple as a reminder just to call my mom which can get lost in the shuffle of a busy day to big events and tasks no longer get forgotten.  So thankful for an easy way to remember things!

4.  Warmth after cold.  It's been a bit chilly this last week but starting today is a week long warming trend with an actual 7 days in a row of sunshine predicted!  I need me some good, natural vitamin D!  Warm breaks in the middle of chilly weather is a blessing!

5.  Cheesy Christmas movies.  The made for tv kind.  The kind you'd never pay good money for at the movies.  Love them all.  Add a  nice hot drink and a cozy blanket.   Bring them on!

Again Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Hope you find that moment to find the blessings not only of the holiday but those everyday little blessings that make life good!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #355

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  It's a place we gather each Friday to reflect on and share our 5 favourite blessings from the week.  Whether it's been an awesome week or one that's knocked the wind out of your sales, it's always a great discipline to look for and be thankful what is good in life.  Please join us.

1. Free lunch at a fave restaurant.  Don't know if I mentioned it but I won a pair of tickets for lunch and we finally got to use them on Saturday.  This restaurant is totally unique for a few reasons and is quickly becoming one of our favourites.  First, it's one of two restaurants built into our city's old water tower.  The tower was set for demolition when a local builder convinced the city to sell it to him and let him turn it into a restaurant. 12 stories above the city it's a lovely place to eat.  Every table is a window view. It first had a fine dining restaurant on the top 2nd level and a lounge on the 1st level.  But this spring they changed the lounge to a more family friendly restaurant with a unique concept.    They totally change the menu and decor 3 times a year.  Last was an Americana menu and decor, and it just changed over to a Rustic European.  So delicious with such great flavors and great view.

2.  Evening tea.  As it has become cooler in the evenings I really enjoy a nice hot cup of tea.  So relaxing and cozy with a warm blanket and a good book.

3.  Lunch with my Dad.  It was a weekend of lunches out apparently.  But my Dad took me and my sis to lunch on Sunday.  It was a rare treat that I really enjoyed.  He was so excited to have me try a favourite dish of the both of us at a place I'd never had it.  I was quite happy to oblige.  

4.  Dance time.  Most of the kids in dayhome love to dance and it's a treat in the day to turn on a kid's music station on the radio and watch them let loose.  They are so fun and carefree when they dance.  And I love that the new fandangled thing my hubby got that pulls in internet radio so that I can have a kid's station going.  And Christian music stations.  And easy listening stations.  All sorts of choices I can set it to.

5.  On the tail end of a big project.  Once a year at this time I'm in charge of a certain area at church that requires quite a bit of concentrated work.  We are now on the tail end of it and I always finish with a sigh of relief.  I love doing it but also am glad when it is done.  Whew, now with Operation Christmas Child also done for the year, I can concentrate on Christmas.

What were your favourites this week?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #354

Welcome to another edition of Friday's Fave Five.  Join on in as we share 5 of our favourite blessings from the past week, big or small.

1.  Day off right smack in the middle of the week.  I'll take a day off anytime but Remembrance Day fell right into the middle of the work week and it broke up the week just perfectly.  It was a lazy day for sure, sitting around in jammies, drinking coffee, reading.  Then hubby and I worked on his facebook page for the business he is starting and then I went Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift shopping.  I didn't even cook supper!  

2.  A little detour.  I kinda sorta took a little detour to Winner's  when going shopping for my OCC gift boxes.  And I found me a cute dress for the winter/Christmas season at a decent price.  I don't wear a whole lot of dresses but was in need of a wintery type one so I didn't want to spend a lot of money and this is one I really like.  I can make it fancier with the right jewelry and heels or dress it down a bit with thicker tights and ankle boots.   Glad I took the detour.

3.  Shopping for OCC is always one of my favourite things to do in a year. I've done it since the '90's and involved my kids with it when they were little.  It was always a special Sunday afternoon event to go and fill their very own boxes with their ideas for gifts to send.  I still enjoy it though now I do it on my own.  I take my coffee and just enjoy the process.  This is what kicks off the Christmas season for me.

4.  My daughter landed a FT job this week.  What a blessing this was.  She's been looking for awhile and it came at a good time as Christmas season is starting.  I think this will be a really great fit for her and I'm excited for the possibilities for her.  At the very least it will get her feet wet in the design and decor industry  to see if she wants to pursue that for a degree.

5.  Caramel Brulee lattes are back for the Christmas season at Starbucks.  My very favourite of all their drinks.  Though I rarely have sweets anymore it's nice to get a few of these in the season.  And I always get the Grande size with only 2 pumps as opposed to the 4 they usually come with (trying to eventually make it 1) so I don't feel too terribly bad about enjoying one here and there.

What were your favourite blessings this week?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

In 1911, Clara Wood watched as the man she was falling in love with jumped to his death as the flames from the Triangle Shirwaist Factory roared around him.  Not being able to face returning to Manhattan to a life she was just starting, she finds a semblance of peace in a nursing job on Ellis island.  Here she takes care of the hundreds of immigrants who are kept on the island hospital for health reasons. But when an young immigrant comes in wearing a beautiful woman's scarf with marigolds all over it and in grief for the young bride who succumbed to scarlet fever, Clara feels drawn to help the young man and the colors in the scarf.  But in the helping Clara is caught up in a dilemma of whether to tell the truth or not and in turn must confront the feelings of guilt that is itself keeping her prisoner on the island.

Taryn Michaels has built a life for her and her daughter on Manhattan's Upper West Side.  She's working a job she loves researching and finding antique fabrics for her customers and has convinced herself she is finally happy.  But September 2011 is coming up, the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centers, and she is once again facing that day as a national magazine publishes a formerly unknown picture of her watching in terror and clutching a beautiful scarf with marigolds as the tower collapses and the debris falls around her.  Now she must answer her daughter's questions about why she has never said that she was there when the towers fell and the guilt that she has tried to bury comes raging full force as she remembers her husband's death in the towers.

Susan Meissner has an incredible way of taking two individuals stories years apart and connecting them through a physical object, in this case the scarf and it's journey from one to the other.  Living decades apart both women witnessed a horrible life altering tragedy (the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is a true event).   Both of these women's stories were paralleled in that they were both prisoners in a sense to the guilt they felt in what had happened to their loved one, and that both were choosing to live life in an "in between place" of grief and guilt, holding back from really living and loving.  Their stories of coping and what led to both tragedies really got me in my heart.   I couldn't put the book down.  It is beautifully written and causes the reader to think on whether they believe that things happen for a reason.  It asks us to wonder if a person can actually fall in love with someone they don't really know, asks us to define what love would be.  As an observer one would scoff at Clara's declarations of "loving" someone she didn't even really know, but the feelings she felt for Edward were hers and I as the reader could choose to call it unbelievable or I could choose to believe that this young, innocent girl actually did have deep feelings for the Edward she knew, even though the knowing was more of a budding aquaintanceship (is that a word?).    The story asks us if we believe in destiny and that God has a plan for each of our lives.  It causes us to think of the choices we make and how that forms where our life will take us.  Once again I loved the immigrant experience parts of the story and learning about the hospital on Ellis island.

There was one thing that prevents me from giving this a 10/10, however, but it is minor.  For me there was a bit of confusion at the end on to whom the scarf was passed along to (who is Elinor??) and had me scratching my head and trying to turn back to former pages to see what I had missed.  I loved this quote from the end of the story and it sort of summarizes the story for me:

"The scarf was given first to a woman named Lily by a mother who loved her.  Life sent Lily to a valley of decision, just as it sends all of us there from time to time.  She made difficult choices based on despair.  If I have learned anything this past year, is that despair is love's fiercest enemy.

Do not chose to abandon love because you are afraid that it will crush you.  Love is the only true constant in a fragile world."
Fall of Marigolds pg. 363

Though in the Christian fiction genre, I think it is a story that anyone would enjoy no matter where they are in faith.  I gave this lovely story a 9.5 out 10

Reading Challenge Goals Met:  A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit (New York city), A book by a female author, A book from an author I love,

Linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of  Books

Remembering and honoring with a grateful heart
all those who have served
and those who serve today
all those who have risked their lives
and those who have given their lives
so that I may live in freedom.
Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The payoff to waking up to a dreary, gray foggy morning

Is the gorgeous contrast of blue, green and white a few hours later

Okay, I will say out loud...I do love winter too!

I mean how could you not with this beauty out your front window?

God is an artist!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler ~ Book Tour and Review

From the Publisher:

What can Jezebel, the Bible’s wickedest queen, reveal about God’s holiness and power and even about his sense of humor? What about the Woman at the Well—the one with five husbands and a live-in lover? And what of the prostitute whose tears bathe the feet of Jesus in front of people who despise her?

There are also “wicked good” women like Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, Mary, and more. What do their lives tell us about God’s invincible love and his determined plan to save us?
In Wicked Women of the Bible Ann Spangler tells the stories of twenty wicked and “wicked good” women in greater detail. At the end of each story, Ann provides a brief section including additional historical and cultural background as well as a brief Bible study in order to enhance the book’s appeal to both individuals and groups.
The stories of these women of the Bible reveal a God who is not above it all but who stoops down to meet us where we are in order to extend his love and mercy.
About the Author
Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and the author of many bestselling books, including Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, and The One Year Devotions for Women. She is also coauthor of Women of the Bible and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and the general editor of the Names of God Bible. Ann’s fascination with and love of Scripture have resulted in books that have opened the Bible to a wide range of readers. She and her two daughters live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My Thoughts:
Ann Spangler has taken the stories of 20 women in the bible, both wicked in thought and deed and wickedly good, and given us an easy to read, enjoyable look into their lives and times with the intention of applying the lessons to be gleaned from them to our contemporary lives and pointing us to a God who redeems.  I really liked the format of the book.  Each story is a chapter and is divided into 4 components:  After the title is a scripture that sort of defines the lesson to be learnt, then the story unfolds in a storytelling format.  Next comes a section called "The Times" where the author tells the probable years the story took place and then gives the scriptures where the biblical account can be found.  She then describes the historical times that each woman lived in so that we have a better understanding of what each faced in their lives.  Lastly comes "The Takeaway" where she asks us to answer some very thought provoking questions that serve to take it from just a story and a lesson to a more deeper application to our own lives.  
The author uses her story telling skills in bringing to life these women's stories.  She relays through the story how these women might have been feeling, the setting of the times for their lives and what they were facing as women.  The author shows how we can learn from even those women who made history in infamy as well as those who in today's vernacular either were or did something "wicked good" which means great or excellent.  In their stories we find a God who redeems.  As with any type of historical, biblical storytelling it is best to know first hand what the bible itself actually says about each of these stories and the author provides the places in the bible for the reader to be able to go and look it up themselves.  There are many footnotes that provide the sources for pieces of information the author might have included in the story or in describing the time.   The questions are good both for personal devotionals and reflection and would be great as discussion prompts in a group study.  The chapters can be read in one sitting and a great for personal devotional time.
I was actually blessed to also do an online kind of bible study that had videos with the author so the book really did come alive for me.  I loved this study and am going to put it on my list of probable studies for my group next year.
Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing the book free of charge for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.

Friday's Fave Five #353

Hello and welcome.  It's Friday so that means it's the day to post our 5 favourite blessings from the week.  May I just pause and say I can't believe it's Friday already?  Yeesh.  I had so many good intentions of doing at least 3 posts this week but you know, life happened.  And I didn't get to it.  Ah well, hopefully next week I'll be a bit better about putting up something other than a FFF.  But today that's what it is so please join us!

1.  Warm, flavourful soups of fall.  One think I love about fall is I get back in the mood for my all time favourite comfort food and that is soups.  I love me some soup!  I've always been like that.  My mom made the best soups ever and when she made my favourites I would eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner till it was gone!  So far this month I've made Hamburger Soup, Dave's Mom's Borsht Soup, and last night I made Cabbage Roll Soup. Oh my word it was soooo delicious.   I'll have to post some recipes but some like the Cabbage Roll soup I really just made off the cuff thinking of the things I would put into a good Hungarian cabbage roll and then making it soupy.  It was so good without all the work of pre-blanching the cabbage and then rolling it all and baking.  Anyway, the warm and comforting soups are one of my faves this week.

2. Monthly bills that actually go down instead of up.  So I purchase my tv through a company called Telus and a couple of months ago they contacted me and said they had repackaged some of their theme packages and they thought I could lower my bill.  I finally found the time to get on the phone with the fella and lo and behold we got my bill down 12 dollars a month and I only lost one channel which I didn't care about anyway.  How about that?  I love that they took the initiative to contact me and I especially love that I get to save some bucks.  $12 a month may not sound like much but that my friends is $144 in a year.    I know, I know...some of you are thinking if I just got rid of tv altogether I'd be rich but hey, it's about making it better than it was before, right?

3.  Growth.  Our ladies bible study is a pretty tight knit group of ladies who appreciate where each person is at individually.  But leading this group of great ladies one of my greatest joys is seeing someone "get" something out of the Word of God and watching how it changes their lives or watching one of them step out of their comfort zones and take a step of faith in an area that had been difficult.   Tuesday evening at our study a lady who has never prayed out loud before because she was very shy about it, picked up on something I said just in conversation before study started that I was having a struggle with and without me asking for prayer for it, she all of a sudden during prayer time prayed for me.  What a sweet blessing that was!  I felt like a proud parent!  It was a great encouragement.

4.  Coffee at the ready.  My sweet hubby always has a fresh pot of coffee ready for me when I get up in the morning.  What a gift this is to be able to stumble out still half asleep after brushing my teeth and have a cup poured ready and waiting with just the right amount of cream waiting for me.  He is awesome!

5.  New gym.  My Curves gym has changed owners and they have built a brand spanking new gym in a location just a few blocks from my house.  It's nice to be able to go to somewhere really close by and the freshness and newness helps along with the motivation somehow.  

What have your favourites been this week?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #352

Well this week has been a bit of a tough one as I haven't felt well and my energy level has been totally sapped.  But that makes it perfect for an FFF as it forces me to focus in and find some good things

1.  A good quote

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant"
                                                                    Robert Louis Stevenson

I don't even know where I saw this quote but I found it quite encouraging because it reminds me that if I'm planing good seeds they will eventually take root and grow into good fruit.  Sometimes it takes time.  But it's the diligent planting of good things, like being thankful, that will produce good harvest in my life.

2.   Big Smiley Hello's.   One of my dayhome kids always come in with a great big smile and a big hello.  It's such a lovely way to start the work day.  You can't help but smile back.

3.  Having my daughter read my favourite author.  And  the one she's starting with is the exact same one by him that I did, "Wrapped in Rain".   This book hooked me and I have been devouring Charles Martin books since.   I don't know why, but having my grown kids read books that so touch me is very exciting to me.  I can hardly wait to have a book discussion with her about it.  Hopefully she'll like it too and read more his novels.

4.  Tea.  Nice hot tea.  Being the coffee lover that I am it always surprises me how when I don't feel well the first indication is coffee just doesn't appeal to me.  But tea certainly does.  It's so soothing.  Maybe it's something in the tea, maybe it's childhood memories of my mom always making a big pot of lemon tea when we didn't feel good.  She still tells me to drink tea with lemon when she finds out I'm sick.

5.  Leaves falling. My towering aspen trees in the backyard are the last to drop their leaves.  And when frosted just right they turn absolutely gold overnight.  

And then they start to fall and all the fun starts with the dayhome kids.  We spend hours raking, jumping in, throwing them, crunching through them with feet and toys.  Today they even sat still in them for 20 minutes all lined up in a row.  When I asked what they were doing they said they were pretending they were covered in a blanket watching tv.  Hilarious. Wish I woud have got a picture.

What have your favourite blessings been this week?