Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wake up Call

Well, it's back to reality!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #315

update:  The linky is now up everyone!  I'm sorry not sure what was going on because when I went into blogger posting it was up and published and showing yet it wasn't showing on the published page.  So I deleted and republished and it seems fine now.

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Looking back over the week and choosing our favourite 5 blessings is a wonderful discipline that I share with a group of other bloggers.  Please join with us acknowledging the things that lifted us during our ordinary everydays.  If you need to see the guidelines first then click on the FFF button in the sidebar.

1.  Incredible weather.  As mentioned in my post yesterday, the weather here this last week has been wonderful.  Though we've had some super windy days, that warm wind, the chinook is what ushers in the warm air and that it did!  Monday was a record setting 19*C, or 66*F.  For January, that is absolutely a welcome blessing!  The dayhome kids and I were outside in t-shirts with no coats!  Around these parts that just never happens in January.  Most of the days this week have been balmy and warm.

2.  This book.  So good.  It grabbed me from the opening paragraphs and has not let go.  It has challenged me and encouraged me.  I'm almost done so will be doing a review probably on the weekend.  Finding a great read is a huge blessing.

3.  Celebrations.  And this week it was celebrating our son and his 23rd birthday.  Wow, I can hardly believe it!  He's turned into a wonderful young man, if I do say so myself and it was a pleasure treating him to dinner out at a restaurant of his choice.

4. New Bedroom curtains.  I only had mini-blinds up on the bedroom window.  It worked quite fine...that is up until the city changed out the old street lights with new fangled led lights.  Now in place of a gentle yellow-y glow we have a very bright white light.  And does it ever light up the bedroom at night!  Even in the middle of the night you can vaguely see.  And laying down, my side of the bed which is right by the window can definitely sense that light out there.  This last week, we found a discount type of store that had scads of different kinds of curtain for about half the price of even the Wally-Mart.  I actually have a dark bedroom now, something I never experienced except on holiday in a hotel.  I think it's helped me to sleep better!  A good night's sleep is a blessing.  Makes a certain someone oh so less cranky in the morning.

5.  A news story with a happy ending.  In the midst of all the bad news, ugliness, and sad stuff that makes up most news broadcasts it's always nice to come across a happy ending story.  This Southern Alberta story just made me smile and maybe even shed a tear or two.  Love a good happy ending.

What were your favourite blessings this week?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Good excuses for not Blogging!

I have truly been neglectful of posting at all this week, but I do believe I shall have your empathy when I tell you it's because I have been out and taking full advantage of being outside in the spring-like weather.  No when I say spring-like, I mean really spring-like.  After a crazy few days of insane Chinook winds, Monday our city had record breaking temperatures of 19*C.  That would be 66*F, for my American friends.  No, that is not a typo.  19*C.  In January.  In Southern Alberta.  Whoever heard of such a thing?  We were out playing with, get this, NO coats, NO boots, NO mittens!  T-shirts!  We were in t-shirts, the likes of which I had to unpack from their winter hibernation baskets and if truth be told, we were sweltering a bit in our long pants.  I swear I got a bit of a tan.  So I know I have your total forgiveness that the blog went by the wayside.

Another reason I have not blogged is because I am reading a book I just cannot put down.  Started it Monday afternoon when it arrived in my mailbox and I've been sucked right in!  It's a true story and oh, my goodness, what a story it is.  Of course, I have been reading outside, coffee in hand, on the deck soaking up the sun while the kids play their little hearts out. Outside.  In January.  With no coats.  Have I mentioned that already?

In other news around here, I finally have exercised myself back to pre-Christmas season weight.  How is it that I could gain 6 pounds in the week between Christmas and New Year's and it has taken almost 4 weeks to get rid of it?  Something is not right with this equation and if someone could tell me where I find a complaint department who will handle this issue promptly and efficiently I would much appreciate it!  On the other side of the coin, my hubby has not had sugar since November and can turn down a bite of one of his favourite desserts, just like that.  (She snaps her fingers as she types that).  How does he do that?  And why has that discipline not rubbed off on me?

I've pretty much banned myself from all stores other than grocery stores for the next month.  I have to confess that the after Christmas clearance sales at a certain decorating store in our area has seen my presence and my wallet way too many times this month.  But I did get some lovely things for less than half price in some cases.  Next year when my children want to know what I want I'll definitely have to put a gift card from this place onto my wish list.

So that's it in a nutshell for me.  I'm praying my east coast friends are staying warm and safe in the predicted blizzard happening over there.  What's been happening in your neck of the woods this week?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #314

Good morning everyone!  Sorry for the later post.  Went to bed not feeling well last night and totally didn't even realize what day it was!  I had a start to my post, such as it is, so I'm posting that and will come back in an hour or so once I get myself together.  Whew.  

1.  A wonderful massage therapist!  Totally worked out my super tight, super sore achilles tendon.  I can actually walk without a limp now.  And to add to that she showed me how to do it at home for myself to get relief.  Very much appreciate this lady!

2.  Books at my fingertips and Reading Time:  Boy I've really appreciated extra reading time this week.  And the fact that I readily have all sorts of books available within reach at all times is a huge blessing that I very muchly take for granted.  This was really brought home to me this week as I've been reading a memoir set in Germany's WWII.  The author mentioned was a precious commodity that books were and it hit me how blessed I am, and all of us here in North America, to have such ready access to books whenever, however we want.  I've never known a time in my life to not have books and reading material.  For this I am very grateful.

3.  A group of supportive women who make up my ladies bible study.  Though we come from all backgrounds, walks of life, and diverse places in our Christian walk it is a group of women who are there for each other to support, lift up, encourage, pray for each other, correct in love and generally are there.  I really appreciate this group that God has brought together.

4.  Birds singing.  With the lovely weather this week, the birds have come out and have been lifting their voices.  They're not the spring birds quite yet, but I'll take almost any bird song in the middle of winter!

5.  This quote:

"If you’re exhausted, the problem is likely that you have not allowed God to set your agenda. You’re asking more of yourself than God is asking of you, and you’re putting your energy in the wrong things."
Sheila Wray Gregoire

Found here quite by accident, this quote, in fact the whole post, was an absolute lightbulb moment for me.  In trying to find me word for 2015, I've been thinking how for the most part, I feel like I am always rushed, a lot of times in panics to get where I need to be or to do what needs to be done.  And I've been thinking on the reasons why.  I've seen a pattern in my life.  I've been seeing how it's not God who sets my agenda, it's me and then I hurriedly ask Him to bless it.  I'm a huge procrastinator, have been since high school, so things always get piled up.  I'm a people pleaser and have a difficult time saying no.  So put these combinations together and there is bound to be a blow up.  And it's usually my undeserving, unsuspecting family who gets it.  So this is the year I'm intentionally going to take steps to change that.  And this post was the catalyst.  Now if you all could just think of a word that encompasses all that for me, I'd really appreciate it.  

What were your favorite blessings for this week?

P.S.  Everybody who left a link in the comments, I've tried to transfer your links into Mr. Linky.  Please check to see if it made and please go ahead and add yours if I didn't get it!  So sorry for the delay in getting this up.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill ~ Book Review

 I know this is a long review but bear with me it was a long book and covered much.  Inspired by the actual Book of Negroes penned in Manhattan in which names were listed of former and current slaves who had helped the British during the Revolutionary war and who were qualified to board ship to travel to a new life in Nova Scotia, Canada.

 Aminata Diallo was only 12 years old when she was abducted by slave traders from her home in West Africa. Forced to walk for 3 months in chains until they reached the sea, she is then shipped to America where she is sold in South Carolina to an indigo plantation. Having the skills of a midwife passed onto to her from her mother she uses those skills to survive and help other slaves by "catching" their babies. Knowing she must learn all she can to survive she secretly is taught to read by the black women who takes her under her wing at the plantation and when she is sold to a Jewish indigo inspector, she is more than willing to learn to work with numbers and ledgers when he wants her to. Befriended by his wife, Aminata continues to expand her knowledge of the white man's world and ways and when opportunity arises for her to make her escape she ends up in Manhattan living in a colony of other ex-slaves. Her reading and writing skills come to the attention of the British military who then "hire" her with the promise of her own name being added to write the "Book of Negroes" a historic British military ledger that allowed Black loyalists passage on ships to Nova Scotia where there were promised land and freedom. With the desire in her heart to someday return to her beloved African village of Bayo, Aminata agrees, seeing it as one step towards that dream. But her losses keep adding up. When the opportunity finally arrives to return, and with no more family ties in North America, she takes her chance and arrives in Freetown, Sierra Leone, a British colony created for returning slaves. Will her losses and disappointments finally end now that she is back in her homeland? Now all of a sudden unsure, Aminata risks her life to travel back to her village not knowing if she will even see it still standing or if anyone will remember her.

 It was hard to put this book down once I started. Epic in it's scope the story starts with an aged Aminata in Britain then travels back to about 40 years earlier to Africa to America to Canada, back to Africa and finally settles itself in Britain. I was amazed that the author, a male, had written such a strong female character, and that, in a first person point of view. I really liked all his research into the historical aspects of the British military and abolitionists role in the actual Book of Negroes and returning slaves to Africa. The Book of Negroes is the largest single document about black people in North America until the end of the 18th century according to the author's research. 3000 names of men, women and children were recorded, those who had served the British in some capacity during the revolutionary war and then promised a new life, so to speak, in Nova Scotia. It was interesting to read his chapter at the end entitled "A word on history" and should not be skipped as it gels the story together.

 The hardships Aminata endured from her capture right until her move to Britain were horrendous and yet her drive for survival and keeping her character never left. There were times in the story, though, when I thought her strength and backbone would have landed her in way more trouble than the story unfolded and she seemed to walk away from a lot of horrible consequences other slaves might not have and lived a proportionately better life than was the status quo of her peers. But totally free of horrors she was not. Physical, mental and emotional abuse followed her throughout her life. It was heart-rending to read of all her losses throughout her life, yet refreshing to also read of her overcoming them and never losing her character or the will to survive within her. Mentioned in the beginning was the fact that her father was a Muslim and taught her to pray but it is not delved into much further within the story. A reunion of a loved one in the end seemed to happen a little too conveniently for it to be quite believable and was unnecessary to the story but didn't detract from the power of the story.   It was a brave life that she had the courage to step beyond her pain, losses and disappointments, beyond letting hatred consume her and allow herself to work with the white British abolitionists for the removal of slavery even after being disillusioned with them also. If nothing else the Book of Negroes and the story of Aminata should speak to us of hanging onto our hope and courage in the hardest of times

Worthy to mention is the fact that  there is some sexual content.  Too descriptive for my liking it had me skipping a few paragraphs but it is  fairly moderate in today's adult book standards but deserves the mention that there is some in the context of the story.

Alternate title and  cover used in U.S.

Reading Goal Met:   Book with more than 500 pages (slight cheat coming in at 474), Book that made me cry, Book by an author you've never read, A book you own but have never read, A Book based on or turned into a tv show.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #313

It's Friday already?  Well welcome then to Friday's Fave Five.  Looking for the blessings in our everyday.  Are you ready to join in?  If you are new, you can start here with the guidelines and then jump right in.

My highlights to me this week have been:

1.  Dinner out treat.  Every January our church treats all the home group leaders and team leads and their spouses out for a great feed of Chinese Food.  It's good food shared with a group of people who are connected through a similar activity.  It's nice getting to know others in the church who fill the same roles and receive encouragement and share stories and laughs and vision.

2.  Warm weather.  This week has been incredibly balmy, the temperature rising each day well above freezing.  A true blessing after sitting in a cold freeze for a few weeks now.  The only thing with the really warm weather is it's windy, it is the Chinook winds after all that is raising that temperature so quickly, and because of the fast melt it is messy and muddy.  But that's a ok.  It's a nice reprieve in the middle of winter.  I'll take it.

3.  Half price deal on a lovely candle holder and candle tray.  Perfect for a nice glow on the kitchen table in the still dark evenings.  I spotted the tall candle holder on a Christmas half price sale and nabbed it thinking it was lovely and perfect for a wintery theme.  Then the lady who works there commented on the matching tray.  There was a matching tray?  It was tucked away behind an whole bunch of other items but as soon as I saw them I couldn't split them.  A little glow bringing a smile everytime I look at it at a half price deal is a blessing in these long winter days.

4.  New boots.  I've had the same pair of boots for about the last 10 years so my birthday request this year was a more stylish new pair.  I've always wanted ones that came up the calf but have never been able to wear that style thanks to inheriting my Dad's families calves, thanks Dad.  By the time I add tucking the material of my pants in there, there is no way Hosea those boots are going to zip up.   But this year I found a really cute pair in a taupe color I love.  And because of the design style of them they fit nicely and they are comfortable.  So thrilled.  Goodbye black orthopedic looking boots.  Hello cute ones!  Now I don't mind it being snowy outside because I'm rocking the cute!

5.  Gift of light...installed and on!  I've been wanting a new light fixture in the bedroom for a long, long time.  We had a run of the mill fan and light combo in there that came with the house when we bought it 21 years ago.  I was ready for something different, a little trendier, a little bed-room-ier.  I hate the feel of a fan blowing right on top of me when I'm sleeping so that thing rarely got used.  We have ac if it's that hot.  When making the bed I always ended up whacking the hanging strings really good with the comforter which sent them flying and banging into the glass bulb cover and getting wrapped around other arms of the fixture.  I was ready for change.  We went to a couple of light stores here and a huge light store in Calgary but neither hubby or I were ready to lay down upwards of $300 and over just for a darn ceiling fixture.  But nothing at cheaper stores like Home Depot caught our fancy.  So we bided our time.  Then we saw one in Costco.  And we looked and we talked and we walked away.  I just wasn't sure that it wasn't a bit too blingy and he wasn't entirely sure 100% that he wanted to give up the fan.  But just before Christmas I went and look again.  The light was still there and for 50 dollars I thought it would do just fine.   Days went by and I got caught up in the busyness of Christmas and not feeling well so thoughts of the light got pushed into the black hole areas of my brain and I never mentioned it to hubby again.  Opening Christmas gifts and lo and behold what did hubby get me?  The blingy light!  I was thrilled.  I never would have guessed.  Then he installed it.  And it was lovely.  Way better than I had ever expected!  The blingy stuff makes beautiful patterns on the ceiling and wall.  Good bye ugly ceiling fan!  It's definitely an odd favorite, I mean who puts light fixtures as a blessing, but it makes me happy every single time I turn on the light because it tells me my hubby loves me.

So where did you find joy and blessing in your week?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thoughts on Last Year's Reads and a Reading Challenge for 2015

I spent the last couple of weeks during Christmas vacation trying to read as much as I could to get some books squeezed into 2014.  In looking back over the year of reading and comparing it to other years, I was behind.  Way behind.  As in a dozen or more books behind.  And this was bugging me.  Really bugging me.  I kept telling myself that numbers didn't matter.  But all of a sudden in my mind they did so in the midst of being sick and Christmas I was cramming in as much reading as I could get in to add a few more books in there.  And as a result, I missed posting the reviews of the last 4 books of 2014 that I read.  And now I'm not only bummed about not reading as much but also about not staying on top of my reviews.  I like to have record of the books I read and what I thought about them.  So was it worth getting the extra numbers in at the expense of missing reviews?  The jury is still out on that one.

I'm still pondering a bit on why I got so behind in the first place.  As I look back it was a bit of an odd reading year for me.  There were many books which I absolutely loved, some that were alright, a study book that though I didn't really enjoy had to finish because it was done in a group and I sorta had to read it as I was leading the group.   And there were actually 3 or 4 which I set aside because I just couldn't get into them.  I think that was a huge part on why I didn't read quite as many books.  I tried to give these books a good chance before I put them down and that took reading time out of ones that I actually liked.   And when all is said and done I really, really miss the spring and fall reading challenge that a lot of us used to participate in.  I used to to love those and always looked forward to picking my books and setting that bar a little higher in my intentional reading for 2 seasons of the year.  This year I tried to put a spring goal out but doing it by myself was just no fun and not nearly as challenging!

So for this year I found this little challenge for the whole year on Pinterest here.  You'll have to click on over because for some reason I cannot make this any bigger no matter what avenue I take.

I have no delusions that I'll be able to do all of those books within the year but I also want to challenge myself to read as many books out of own piles that I can this year.  I have got to chip away at my stockpile.  I won't even tell you how many I have in my closet and in a box under the bed.  Suffice it to say it's a lot!  Like, lots and lots.  So I was thinking I could accomplish reading quite a few of those and knocking some of these off this challenge with the same read.  

I've started the year well by just today completing The Book of Negroes.  (I believe in the States it's called Someone Knows My Name and it has a different cover). It's out of my closet and at 474 pages including the author's notes I'm going to cheat a bit, call it good and check off the first one:  a book over 500 pages.  Actually I could cross off quite a few off with this one book, now that I look at the list...a book that made me cry, a book by an author I've never read before, a book based on or turned into a tv show, a book I own but have never read.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I wanted to get to this book and finish it right off the bat this year because the tv mini series started last week in Canada (and in the next couple weeks in the States, I believe)  and I didn't want the show to ruin the book for me.  I've watched two episodes now and though a valiant effort is made the book is sooo much better.  While based on actual historical occurrence and an actual Book of Negroes penned after the Revolutionary War,  the story built around it is fictional so I guess I can't check off a book based on a true story but I am tempted.  So all that to say I am done book 1 of this year and will have a review up soon.  I am bound and determined to stay on top of those reviews this year.

How did you all do with reading last year?  What was your favorite read of the year and what's on the reading horizon for this year for you?