Friday, February 05, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #364

Welcome to the first of February's Friday's Fave Five.  Another month to take our Friday to pause and reflect on the good things that God daily sends into our lives to bless us and uplift us.  Join us in sharing our five favourites of the past week.

1.  The gift of friendship.  I so appreciate my dear friend.  We haven't known each other more than 5 years but in that time we have developed an extremely close bond.  Unfortunately, last year their family moved to another province.  Though I miss her terribly, there is always the phone and I appreciate her listening ear.  I sure needed it this week.  As always I hung up in a much better head space after talking with her.

2.  Smooth mornings.  I am so not a morning person so when I have a super smooth morning I am always very appreciative of it.  And by super smooth I mean no one talks to me until I've had my first coffee.  I need peace and quiet until that is accomplished.  No noise, no voices, no music blaring.  Then the next step is there are no hiccups, no stresses or major events that put me behind in getting ready for work. Yay for a couple of mornings like that this week.

3.  Yummy salad made up on the spot.  Saturday I was trying to throw something together for supper for the two of us.  Peering into the fridge it was slim pickins'.  But this is what I came up with:  Very thin sliced red cabbage, yellow pepper, fresh cilantro, black beans and lime italian dressing.  Was it it ever good.  Went perfect with the jalapeno peppers and chicken that we had.

4.  Easy peasy reads.  Sometimes you just need a book that lets you escape without having to think too much.  This week I definitely needed one of those and my review book for this month totally fit the bill.  Romantic suspense that just let me wind down.

5.  American Idol.  Been really enjoying this last season of a show I've been watching since season 1.  I think this year it's been produced and edited really well.  And I love how it's really focused on the positive and the talent and not so much on the weird auditions.  I am going to miss this show.

Well that wraps up my five for the week.  What were your favourites for the week?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt ~ Book Review

This is book #2 in the A Dangerous Beauty Series by this author.  It focuses on 3 different women from the bible who's supreme beauty didn't necessarily benefit them but, if fact, betrayed them or put them in danger.  I reviewed the 1st book, Esther:  Royal Beauty here.

When King David looks out from his rooftop and sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing in her courtyard, he sends for her and forces himself upon her in spite of the fact that she is married and married to one of his most loyal soldiers at that.  To see this side of David who worshipped God with such great abandon, was a shock to Bathsheba and it threw her young life into great turmoil.  She loved her husband, Uriah, and hoped she would have a lifetime of loving him and bearing his children.  But when Uriah left for war, young Bathsheba still had not conceived a child.  Now with King David forcing himself upon her she finds herself pregnant.  With this news, David furthers his sin, by bringing Uriah home from the seige of a city and trying to get him to go be with his wife, but in his loyalty Uriah refuses so David has him killed.  He then takes Bathsheba into his palace as his wife.

The story of David and Bathsheba is not a happy, fluffy romance.  The consequences of David's sin reverberated throughout his life and caused much sorrow not just for him but for Bathsheba as well.  Modern movies and stories have always involved Bathsheba as a quite willing partner in the whole affair but this author has taken a different viewpoint.  Bathsheba lost her sense of self, her husband, her child, her home and everything she knew of her life.  And probably at a very young age in a very short space of time.  From the author's notes in the back, which are well worth taking the time to read, she once again states that she took great care to not purposely contradict anything in the bible.  The viewpoint of Bathsheba not being a willing participant in the affair and that her whole life was ruined and changed against her will was one I never thought of before and it took her story in another path with emotions for me.  The whole tale, even straight up from the bible is so sad. I love how this story explored the feelings of devastation Bathsheba would have been going through and how she had to learn to forgive and not turn bitter.   For the most part, I really enjoyed this look into Bathsheba's life and emotions and thoughts from this perspective.  And I appreciated how the author conveyed that through it all God remained faithful and the story is filled with Bathsheba trying to raise her sons to honor the Lord.   I also really liked the the exploration of how David's other wives would have reacted to Bathsheba and everything she had to overcome in trying to make friendships within the palace so that she didn't lead a totally isolated and lonely life.  The story is told in alternating chapters in Bathsheba's words and in Nathan, the prophet's words.  In all honesty, there were just a handful of paragraphs or sentences that made me uncomfortable from the perspective of this being Christian fiction, but it was not anything near what you would find in secular novel and can easily be skipped if you are sensitive to that.  I also was a tad uncomfortable with a storyline concerning Nathan's feelings for Bathsheba which I don't think added anything to make the story better.  

Reading this really made me pause and reflect on the story of David and Bathsheba and all there is to be learned from their lives and  I gave it a 8.5 out 10.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #363

Welcome to the last Friday's Fave Five for the month of January 2016.  Let's take a look back over the week and remember some of those things that have uplifted us and blessed us.  

1.  This totally cracked me up.  Shared by JoLynne Shane.  Nothing like a good chuckle in the middle of the day.

2.  A great deal always makes my fave list.  I've been needing a coat for those not warm but not super cold days.  I saw one I liked last fall but at a price of $150 I was not willing to bite.  Then last week I saw the store had a huge sale on coats online.  And there was the coat I had been looking at.  My size was not available in the local store but it was online.  So I bought it, had it shipped to the store so I didn't have to pay shipping costs, and it's already in and waiting.  So between the clearance price and an additional 15 %, providing it fits and looks great, this coat is costing me a grand total of $33.99.    Yup, you read that right.  Keeping my fingers crossed!!  (And if it doesn't, I don't have to purchase it.  Now how can I lose on that sale?!)

3.  Boxing workout.  At Curves, which is the gym I belong to, they have added a boxing component.  And it's been great fun and highly motivating.  I like mixing up the workouts...keeps them from getting boring and keeps me from stagnating.  It makes me use my mind as well as my muscles because you have to learn the moves so I have to concentrate.   

4.  Naptime in dayhome.   This has been an absolute blessing this week as it's been very hectic in dayhome, some of the kid's aren't feeling great, and last night I didn't get much sleep for some reason.  So nap and quiet time today made me very, very happy!

5.  My Son's birthday!  He turned 24 this week.  I can hardly believe it.  Unfortunately, he is in school so is not at home to celebrate.  But it was fun to get his birthday package together and send it off, talk to him on the phone and then make his favourite traditional taco dinner he always asks for in spite of the fact that he wouldn't be here to partake of it.  It was a small consolation knowing his friends took him out for tacos to celebrate.

What were your favourite blessings this week?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Anne of Avonlea ~ Book Review

So last year when I was shopping at Costco, low and behold they had the whole set of Anne books (all 8 of them) for a fairly decent price and seeing as I loved Anne of Green Gables so much after finally reading it instead of just watching the movie I took the plunge and bought the set. Which totally set me up to join in with Carrie at Reading to Know and her Lucy Maud Montgomery reading challenge. The challenge is to read as many titles as you can by this author in the month of January and I did all of one. But it did get me finally cracking open this set.

 This book sets up Anne as a young 17 year old who has finished school and is now the school teacher in Avonlea. It continues her adventures finding "kindred spirits" in the continuation of her friendship with Dianna and in her new fledgling friendship with the eccentric Miss Lavender. Anne's personality as usual was all bubbly, fresh, and still doing things without thinking them through though not quite as often as when she was younger. I must admit I did miss the precocious young Anne next to the more mature Anne. It was nice to read of her and Diana's friendship blossoming and being strong. The eccentric characters of Mr. Harrison and Miss Lavender were fun and added a quirkiness to the story. I especially loved reading of how her and Marilla's relationship deepened and moved to an "adult" relationship, reminding me of how my own relationship had changed with my mom when I moved out of the teen years. I missed the character of Gilbert a bit as he was barely mentioned, but there was a good set up for him for the next stories.

 There were a few things, though, that I didn't enjoy so much about this second installment in the series. The first was a chapter in the story that had the school children writing letters to Anne about anything they pleased. After perusing letter after letter and Anne's reaction I grew quite bored and basically skipped most of that chapter. Have I mentioned I really dislike letter writing as a form of story telling? I also found some of the conversations of elementary age children, namely Paul Irving and Davy, so involved and long that it got me questioning whether little boys that age actually converse in looooong complicated paragraphs that way. Some of those were scanned by me too. And last but not least I really disliked how it was mentioned several times throughout the novel that of two siblings in their care, Anne and Marilla loved one well above the other. It wasn't "they liked the personality" of one more, it was they "loved" one more than the other. They had conversations about it. That really irked the mother and child care provider in me immensely. I kept asking the book aloud whether they had never read or heard the story of Joseph.

 As a whole, I enjoyed reading Anne of Avonlea. I don't know what has taken me so long because I love the movies starring Megan Follows, so thanks to Carrie for giving me the nudge to get reading.  I gave it an 8 out of 10 so not as high as Anne of Green Gables but still good.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #362

Hello everyone!  Welcome to Friday's Fave Five!  I am so glad that I have this pause to take note of some good blessings in my life.  The days seems to be whizzing by and I find I am running to keep up so it's a good thing for me to deliberately be looking for the good in my life or those little things might just pass me by.  Please join me and the other faithful FFF group!  The link to the guidelines is in the sidebar.

1.  Tea with my Mom.  My mom still lives in her home at the age of 83 years old.  Amazing.  There is a senior centre close by that she goes to in the daytimes when she feels like company but they are closed on the weekends.  I know Sundays are really a difficult time for her in the feeling lonely department so we try to have her over to our house for Sunday lunch as much as possible.  This last Sunday I just had some other things to get caught up on so that didn't happen but Hubby, T and I popped over for a cup of tea in the evening.  The blessing was seeing how giddy with excitement she was.  I didn't realize how much it makes her happy to have us come over for a tea or coffee.  We'll have to try to do that more often too.

2.  A total relax day.  Saturday was cold and I was feeling right lazy after a hectic week.  Hubby was awesome and just encouraged me to have a total relax day.  I never have those.  The only time I went out was to the gym for a great workout.  Then I just came home and got cozy under a furry blanket, kept my coffee cup filled and read.  Hubby made homemade popcorn just the way I like it with half butter and half extra virgin olive oil and lots of salt.  I know, totally unhealthy, but totally indulgent.  We watched a movie together and made a point of no chores.  It was heaven!

3.  Dinner out with friends at an Indian restaurant.  I have never experienced East Indian cuisine in an actual East Indian restaurant.  It was awesome.  A new favourite added to my list.  The coconut rice was to die for as was the naan bread.  Oh my goodness, I could have just eaten that naan bread dipped into the sauce of my main dish until I exploded.  So good!  I had the Lamb Rogan Josh and Hubby had the Kali Mirch with beef which was peppery and also delicious.  Yummy!  Love the adventure of trying new Cuisines!

4.  Reading experience with Anne.  This month I've been reading Anne of Avonlea.  I have loved the tv movies of Anne of Green Gables starring Megan Follows since it first came out in the '80's.   In fact when my girls were younger we used to have a once a year Anne of Green Gables marathon where we stayed up all night and watched then all back to back.  Such a great memory to share with them.  But I had never READ Anne of Green Gables until I read the first book a couple of years ago.  I know.  Seriously!  So last year when the Anne series of books (8 of them) was sold at costco I grabbed a set and determined I was going. to read then all.  So far I've really been enjoying following Anne along in the book.  And had I have realized it was written in 1909 I so would have read one last year and thereby fullfilled one more category off that crazy challenging Reading Challenge of 2015 by checking off a book written more than a hundred years ago. 

5.  Reading time with dayhome kids.  In thinking of the "little" blessings in my everydays I realized that the time in the day when I read to the preschoolers is one of the favourite parts of my day.  I love passing on the love of reading to little ones!

What have your favourites blessings and good things been this week?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #361 (updated)

Hello and welcome to a very late FFF.  So sorry everyone.  My week has been a bit out of control and I totally am mixed up as to what day it is.  Good thing for Gatina asking where the FFF is or I would have muddled along in total oblivion that it is actually Friday. Add the fact that a very upset little one started dayhome today and I have not been able to get anywhere near the computer until now.   Please go ahead and link up and I'll post mine as soon as possible!

Whew, it's after 3:30 in the afternoon here and this is the first moment I have had in the last couple of days to sit and record my FFF's.  Got my coffee and I'm so ready for this!

1.  My very first to record this week is that I'm so darn happy it's Friday!  LOL.  I felt a little bit like I was in a whirring blender this week but I survived!  Yipee!  And now I'm ready for a lovely weekend.  It's frosty and cold here so bring on the jammies, the coffee and tea, the books and the warming crockpot meals!

2.  75% off sales.  I love when the decor stores around here have their 75% off  a few weeks after Christmas on all their holiday decor stuff.  I just have to be patient and bide my time because first is the 35% off, then the 50% and finally the 75% off.  I always go and search out the treasures so that I can do some shopping for next year.  I get the item that I donate to the church's mission and poverty relief Ladie's silent auction.  I mean how can I turn my nose up at a beautiful door swag/wreath that's valued at $82 for $20?   And I try to get those kinds of gifts that I know I'll need like my ladies bible study secret gift.  It saves me a ton of money come next holiday season.  And now my daughter works at my favourite decor store so she keeps an eye out for the stuff I like and lets me know as soon as she sees them discounted!  Score!

3.  An hour all to my self, in, wait for it, the bookstore.  And the only thing that makes that better is an hour all to myself in the bookstore with not just 1 but 2 gift cards.  Oh my.  It was heaven!

4.  A good sleep.  After a few nights of not so great sleep it was wonderful to have a couple of totally restful nights.  The comfy bed, the big, fluffy quilt and lots of deep sleep made all the difference in the world.

5.  "Fearless" study by Max Lucado.  Our ladies group has only done the 1st chapter but, boy oh boy, I think this is going to be a good one.  So many good things were discussed, fears recognized and learning to involve God in facing them.  Such good stuff.  

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and a sound mind"
2 Timothy 1:7

Thanks for joining in with me in Friday's Fave Five and for being patient with the late posts 2 weeks in a row.  I'm hoping to be back to normal routine next week! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody ~ Book Tour & Review

Publisher's Description: Two decades ago, millions of readers worldwide thrilled to the story told in the international bestseller Not Without My Daughter—subsequently made into a film starring Sally Field—that told of an American mother and her six-year-old child’s daring escape from an abusive and tyrannical Iranian husband and father. Now the daughter returns to tell the whole story, not only of that imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Tehran: living in fear of re-abduction, enduring recurring nightmares and panic attacks, attending school under a false name, battling life-threatening illness—all under the menacing shadow of her father. This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness. Taking readers from Michigan to Iran and from Ankara, Turkey, to Paris, France, My Name Is Mahtob depicts the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by faith in God’s goodness and in his care and love. And Mahmoody reveals the secret of how she liberated herself from a life of fear, learning to forgive the father who had shattered her life and discovering joy and peace that comes from doing so.

About the Author A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Michigan State University, Mahtob Mahmoody has
worked in the field of mental health and is an advocate for public awareness of health and welfare initiatives. She is represented by AEI Speakers Bureau and lives in Michigan.

My Thoughts:  I'm sure most of us, at least those in my generation remember either the book or the movie starring Sally Field entitled "Not without My Daughter".   I remember being deeply affected by the story after reading it, and in fact, it is one of the only trade paperbacks that I kept after my big bookshelf purge a few years back.  I remember watching Betty Mahmoody, Mahtob's mom, talking of their experiences on shows like "The 700 Club" and other morning news programs.  I remember her telling her story matter of factly and how the laws were not on their side when it all happened and how she was now advocating for parents left behind when their children abducted of country by their spouses when it came to international parental kidnappings.

"My Name is Mahtob" is the story told in Mahtob's (the now grown up daughter) perspective of what occurred and how her life was once they made their harrowing escape back to America. Growing up with the 18 month ordeal in Iran, and then coming back to America, having to change her name, battling trauma and nightmares, she lived with the fear of her father returning for her hanging over her life well into her university days.   Having turned her life over to Christ at a young age it is also the story of how her faith has sustained and kept her through it all and through her diagnosis and living with lupus.

Even though these women's experiences of abuse are hard to read, I loved this follow up to the whole story.  I was captivated to read what a well rounded individual Mahtob has turned out to be, how she pursued her dreams in the midst of a chaotic life and most of all how she kept and developed her faith in such difficult circumstances even as a child.  Reading how her faith and relationship with God developed over the years and got stronger as she grew older is a testimony of the grace of God and is an inspiration.  I also really liked reading of her and her mom's relationship through the years and how her mom helped her to not grow up bitter and hard but to forgive.  It was an amazing read and I'm really glad I came across it.   Highly recommend it if you have read or seen or heard about "Not Without My Daughter" but it is also a great read if you haven't.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson Publishing for providing a copy free of charge for my honest opinion.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.