Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Today is a day to stop and give thanks. Today, households around the nation are going to be having family over and spending time together.

A brief History
Tradition holds that the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 between the Pilgrims and the Indians at Plymouth Rock. It was a way for the Pilgrims to thank the Indians for helping them to survive the harsh conditions of the New World and to thank God for a successful first harvest. President Lincoln is frequently credited with establishing Thanksgiving as we know it today. In October of 1863, he declared that the last Thursday in November would be a day set aside to give thanks to God and to pause in fighting. I find that rather interesting as the Civil War was at it's height during this time. Our country has been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1863 on an annual basis.

The traditions of football and parades started in the late 1800's and early 1900's. By the time of 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt felt that the country needed a specific day in which to set aside. He set aside the 4th Thursday in November as Thanksgiving day. His main reason was to give retailers more time before Christmas to sell their goods. This is especially important considering that the Great Depression was going on at this time and money was tight around the nation. On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed the bill into law that officially set the date for Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November.

Things that I am thankful for

There are so many things I'm thankful for this year. I am thankful for...
  •  Family that love me
  • Friends
  •  A job that pays my bills
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Spending time every week with one of my best friends to watch a movie
  • My Mary Kay business and the things I've learned from it.
  • My sweet Kiki kitty who loves to cuddle with me
  • The freedom to worship God without being put to death
  • Salvation
  • The chance to read books and watch TV
  • Having friends that hold me accountable for all that I'm doing and learning.
  • The ability to laugh at my mistakes and to just enjoy life

I could go on and on with this list. Take some time today to remember this almost forgotten holiday. The stores will be there tomorrow. But today's a day to give thanks for what you have and to remember the One who gave it all to you. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

*history info came from Wikipedia, images from a google image thanksgiving search

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Georgie Gail is a telephone operator in Brenham, Texas. Luke Palmer is her new troubleman and bill collector. He's actually Lucious Landrum,an undercover Texas Ranger who is trying to capture a gang of train robbers. He doesn't expect a bird loving, outspoken telephone operator to get under his skin and become a distraction. She wasn't expecting her troubleman to steal her heart. When she is put in danger because of his mission, he realizes that there's more at stake than just the capture of the gang.

I've read several of Deeanne's books in the past. Like I've come to expect from her books, she had me laughing pretty early in the book. One of the things that I loved about both the hero and the heroine was that they had major faults. Georgie's was that she loved and wanted to preserve birds so much that she couldn't stand the thought or the site of bird parts being used in decorating women's hats, which caused her to snub the milliner. Luke's biggest fault is the fact that he's way too cocky. As a Ranger, he wears his arrogance on his sleeve. But as a troubleman, he's having to let others in and get close to them.

I loved the fact that the book was set in Brenham. I'm from Houston, and I've been to Brenham several times over the years. I could picture this little town in the early 1900's very easily. I also loved reading about the Rangers, especially in the author's note at the end. I learned a few things about Brenham and the Rangers that I didn't know before. Overall, this is a very light-hearted and fun book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shadows in the Sand by Gayle Roper

Carrie is the owner of Carrie's Cafe in Seaside, New Jersey. Greg is the ex-cop & widower who is trying to live with the demons of his past. Carrie's past isn't all roses either. But when her dishwasher goes missing and then later turns up dead, and her waitress's strange behavior starts raising eyebrows, Carrie and Greg work together to figure out what exactly is going on. In the course of doing so, both must come face to face with past fears and learn to trust God and each other.

What a delight to be able to return to Seaside, New Jersey. I remember first "meeting" Greg back in Spring Rain. The story is fast paced and filled with touches of humor and suspense. One of the things that I loved about this book is the fact that forgivenss is one of the biggest themes in the book. Carrie must forgive her mother if she hopes to have a future free of anger and resentment. Greg must forgive himself for allowing his late wife to drive his car which resulted in the deaths of her and their children otherwise his guilt will eat him away. Andi, Carrie's waitress, must forgive her parents for taking her into a cult called The Pathway. Another thing I loved about this book is the fact that the characters felt real to me. I'd met a few of them before in the other Seaside books, and it was good to catch up with them. I loved the way that Twitter and Facebook played such a role in helping the cops apprehend the killer and all the other little details. Used to be the case that in a small town, everyone knew everyone's business. Now, while that's still true, Twitter and Facebook made it so much easier for the officials to know what was happening.

I really enjoyed this book. It's been a long time since I read one of Gayle Roper's books, and I plan on soon dusting off the ones I own and reading them again. I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am nature's greatest miracle

For the past several weeks, my sales director has had us reading certain scrolls from the book The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino (excellent book, I highly recommend it). Since early this summer, I've probably read this book at least 4 or 5 times. I should probably buy a copy as I keep checking out from the library.

But this week it's been really funny. All day, I've had running through my mind, the words from scroll 4, "I am nature's greatest miracle." Think about those words a minute. I'm a miracle. God knew me before I was born. It's really rather awesome to think about. And of all of the creations in nature, we as human beings are the only ones who are given the ability to appreciate the creation and nature. I mean, here I sit in my nice cozy apartment, listening to the rain (so desperately needed) pound against the pavement outside. My sweet, sweet Kiki (my cat, picture below) is currently no longer hiding behind the dryer or beneath the bed, but is curled up in my lap. And I've realized that I truly am nature's greatest miracle. I have the ear of One who love me. I can appreciate all that He's made.

Just think about it.

And if you find the time, go check out the Greatest Salesman in the World. For someone who doesn't usually read nonfiction, I found it to be very good. There are nuggets of wisdom all through it, like "today I will master my emotions," or "I will greet each day with love in my heart."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wedding Invitation by Alice J Wisler Review

Samantha Bravencourt receives an invitation to a wedding that changes her life. She attends the wedding only to discover that she's at the wrong one. But while staying with her aunt for the wedding, she runs into a former student of hers from the Philippines. This encounter with her former student eventually brings Carson Brylie, the only man she's ever loved and who broke her heart years ago, back into her life. Together Samantha and Carson face their shared past as they help one of their former students, Lien, in locating her mother.

This was a really good book. Interwoven with Sam's experience in the Philippines and the events that have brought Sam and Carson together, I found myself drawn into the story from the beginning. Sam isn't perfect. And each trip to North Carolina brings her failings a little more to light. It's while she's there at her aunt's home that Sam comes to the realization that perhaps she was wrong about Lien so many years ago. She realizes that she needs to let go of the past and ask Lien's forgiveness, which the girl graciously gives. Yet through it all, Sam is trying hard to deny her feelings for Carson. Feelings that she believes she has no right in feeling after their time in the Philippines. Carson's a gentle, yet strong, presence in her life. He pursues her relentlessly until they both admit how they feel about each other.

One of the things I loved about this book, was the mother-daughter or aunt-niece relationships that were built. Sam is very close to her mother. Yet she resents her mother's independence. Her aunt offers genuine love and encouragement that Sam's mother doesn't give her. Not that Sam's mother doesn't love her - she does; she just has a hard time telling Sam that. The bond of friendship is also very prevalent in the book. Sam's aunt shares a deep bond with the women who board at her home. A bond of friendship that goes very very deep. And she shows Sam how important little things are in life. Forgiveness is another big theme in the book. Sam must forgive Carson for breaking her heart and learn to trust him again. She seeks Lien's forgiveness for not believing in her innocence while in the Philippines. And overall, Sam must really learn to trust God when things are out of control.

I'd never read anything by Alice J Wisler before. In fact, I'd never even heard of her. I'm pleased to admit that I will be willing to try out some of her other books and see if I enjoyed them as much as I did this one.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for an honest review. I was not required to like the book, though I did so very much. My thoughts and my opinions are my own.

Couldn't Stay Awake - Review of Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Summary from the back of the book
Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely. Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands. But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find? Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

My thoughts
I am a huge fan of fantasy. I've read things from Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, to CS Lewis and Kathy Tyers. When I first saw this book, I was intrigued by the back cover summary as well as by the beautiful cover. As I started to read it, I grew more and more disappointed and frustrated. Maybe it's because this is book two in a series and I hadn't read the first one. Maybe it's because I couldn't get a good sense of what was really going on. I don't know. I just know that I struggled to read and to complete the book. I would read a couple of pages and then promptly fall asleep - even when I wasn't tired. It got to the point that I took the book with me to work to read on my lunch breaks, and that did help me to finish it.

I really liked Rose Red's character. She was fun and a free spirit. But she was in bondage and felt that her secret was dangerous. Prince Leo, I found him to be arrogant and rather spoiled. It seemed to me that he was determined to find this monster no matter the cost to him, Rose Red, or to his kingdom. I admit that the monster is supposed to show our own sinful natures and that each person must come to the recognition that they have a sinful nature. But I found it to be very disjointed in the plot.

I will give the author credit. She took her time in developing the characters and the story. Though she was a bit too descriptive and wordy for my tastes, she did a good job in writing her book.

As much as I adore fantasy novels and know how hard it is to find quality fantasy novels in the Christian fiction market, I'm sorry to say that I will not be reading anything else that Anne Elisabeth Stengl writes because I honestly did not like the book. Typically if I don't like a book by about the 4th or 5th chapter, I won't finish it. But I did force myself to finish the book so that I could leave an honest review.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to like the book. My thoughts and opinions are my own.