Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday's Fave Five #300

Three Hundred?  Can you believe it's been 300 weeks of gratefulness and looking for the good things in one's life.  Three hundred weeks of being thankful to God for the wonderful things that come our way no matter how small?  If you've been with me since the beginning that is 1500 individual items that we have taken note of in our lives that was good.  Big things and wee little things.  What a time it's been!  Made lots of friends along the way.  And I'm so grateful for each and every one of you that joined me in the journey.  It wouldn't have been the same without you!  My focus has changed and I've been more aware of God's blessings especially during hard times.  So join me once again as we continue on developing this habit of noticing the good things in our lives and being grateful for them.

1.  New babes working out well.  I have a couple of new babes in dayhome and that can sometimes be really stressful.  They are precious and wonderful but let's face it, they are thrown into a situation they can in no way understand.  All of a sudden Mom who's been home their whole little lives is suddenly not.  And they are being passed off to someone they don't know in a house they don't know for lengths of time they don'e get.  It's a lot for them.  My little guy who started at the beginning of September has adjusted wonderfully.  After a little fussing immediately at drop off he's transitioned into waving bye to his mom and getting on with playing and cuddling.  He's an absolute joy and a very smiley little boy.  My little girl who's come a handful of times starts full time on the first of October has been the definition of mellow.  Hasn't fussed once when her mom has gone out the door.  So hopefully that will continue too.  So thankful for the smooth transitions as I was a bit stressed over the summer about it.

2.  Beautiful weather.  We've had summer temperatures this week and it's made for good playtime outside which is always a blessing.  When we can get out and run off some energy and play in sunshine it makes for a much better day for everyone.  We've had lots of that this week.

3.  Hard working hubby.   He took it upon himself to learn how to lay a sidewalk and he's doing a wonderful job.  The concrete at the back of the house needed replacing because it had sunk and shifted and broken.  He looked it up and studied how to do it and then grabbed the bull by the horns.  So thankful for his initiative to learn how to do it yourself.

4.  Fall colors.  I've taken out bits of pieces of fall decorating and it's reminded me how much I love the colors of fall.  The plums, burgundies, oranges and gold and browns.  Living in those colors just makes me feel good.

5.  BBQ!  With the nice weather the bbq is still being used and on the weekend I thought I'd try chicken breasts still with the bone attached with PC Apple Butter BBQ Sauce.   Oh my goodness, it was so delicious!  The meat was moist and tender, and the apple-cinnamony bbq sauce was so delicious!  With oven roasted baby potatoes and corn on the cob it was an absolutely perfect Sunday lunch.

What were your favorites this week?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Read the Story ~ Fall Reading List

My gracious.  Last week Calgary, 2 hours away from us, had a major snow storm, in summer no less.  We even had a few flakes fall, just enough to shock us out of our summer haze and make a statement that fall is really truly coming.  We had some whisperings of frost warnings overnight and then today it's 30*C .  That's 86*F!!  That is our usual hot summer weather.  And get this.  I even took out the sprinkler yesterday and let the kids run through it.  In the first official days of fall!  Thank goodness Hubby hadn't yet turned off the water in the back yard.   I'm getting whiplash from our crazy weather.   We've been at least 10*C above our average temperature for days now.  We in Southern Alberta are pros at layered dressing because it can be cool and crisp in the morning and then as the sun gets higher in the sky we start to melt and peel those layers away.  And then the sun goes down and we are shivering if we haven't brought the layers along with us.  The leaves on most of the big trees out front have yellowed from the nip and the fall breezes make it look like it's actually "snowing" leaves the last couple of days, but we're sweltering in the heat.  It's like living in alternate universes.

And with the coming of fall comes the time I start to think of cozy sweaters, leaves crunching, warm drinks and what used to be the Fall into Reading challenge.  I don't think this is running anywhere anymore.  I so miss it.  I really looked forward to it each year with great anticipation and because I adore lists, especially book and reading lists, for my own personal satisfaction I'm doing a Fall Reading list.  It helps me to focus my reading a bit  and challenges me to read more and to turn off that television and choose to read instead.  I found over the summer when I didn't have a list it was so easy to just turn on that silly thing because I was tired at the end of the day or to while away time playing games on Facebook.  I know I am so much more satisfied at the end of the day when I've accomplished reading goals.  For me, it's a  better feeling using reading to relax.

If anyone would like to join me and share their own fall reading I would love that!  One of the things I miss most about the Fall Into Reading Challenge was seeing what everyone else was reading.  I added so many books to my own TBR pile from titles I found interesting on other's lists.  You can spread it around on your own post if you'd like, grab the button and add a link to here so your own readers can link also if they want.  This is totally no pressure.  Just a list of reads we can share.   I have no idea what to call this, so off the top of my head we'll just go with Read the Story Fall List.

So far here is my list for this fall.  I have some review books coming that will be added to it.  I'm excited already and even though fall is soooo busy for me I'm determined.

finishing this one up.  Such a good read of the history, logistics and stories of those red and green Christmas shoeboxes going to children all over the world.

One of my favorite authors and I've been waiting for this one since the beginning of the year.  It's been getting really good reviews everywhere.

Another author I really enjoy.  I think I found this one reviewed on Faith's blog awhile back if I'm not mistaken.  

My token non-fiction.  I am so not a non-fiction reader but I like to challenge myself with at least one on each list.  This one looked very interesting and has a study guide in the back and videos to watch online if you really want to make it into a study.  Thinking of this one for lady's study.

This one is in my pile out of the closet.   So many books in there, so I'm determined to knock that down a bit.  Was offered up on a review site awhile back and I was interested but couldn't get it because I was reviewing another book at the time.

I finished the first book of this 2 book series over the summer and really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to the continuation of the story.

7.  Reviewing the Real Life Devotional NIV Bible

Excited to get this one.  It's edited by Lis Terkuerst.  

I read another book by this author a few years back and really liked it.  So when I saw this at the library sale for a dollar I couldn't pass it up.  Leftover from my summer reads.

Well that is the list so far.  It seems a little short for me, I usually have a least 10, but I've left spaces open for review books as they come.  And if they don't come, then I'll just grab one of the 60 odd titles sitting in my closet or under my bed.  Yes, I know.  Don't judge me.  In my defense 90% are all second hand purchases so didn't cost more than a few dollars per book at the most.

If you'd like to share your own fall reading list, I'm putting up a linky.  I'd love to come and visit and see what you're reading.   Please keep in mind if you share cover pics that there is younger readers that come to my blog and will probably have a look see.  Please link to your specific post so others can find it easily and all posts linked that are not a reading list will be deleted.  Hope to see your name on there and find some new folks too.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Edge of the World by Phil Callaway ~ Book Review

Terry Anderson is a 12 (or is it 10?  I can't remember) year old growing up in the small town of Grace.  As small towns go back in the day, the citizens are grouped by each other into distinct categories of either church goers or not.  Terry's family definitely is so his growing up years are steeped in Christian school and church activities.  And being extremely poor shapes everything he does.  But being Canadian, Terry thrives on the outdoor rink each winter, skating until he's frozen.  The indoor rink where it would definitely be warmer is off limits to the church going kids.  So suffer it out he must.  Nothing keeps him away.  And it is during one of those times when he is the last to leave that Terry makes a discovery that could change his life forever.  He comes across what he's always longed for and what he thought would change his life into something so much better.   He must keep it a secret or risk losing it all.  But with the secrets come the lies.  And with the telling of the lies comes keeping all those lies straight.  And then there is the moral dilemma of it all.  How is a young kid to cope?  The lure of keeping the secret and making his life easier is too big to pass up and Terry starts to question what he really believes.  Does he have the faith of his parents?  With a godly older brother to look up to and whom he doesn't want to disappoint, Terry struggles with telling anyone his secret.  He knows he should but the doors it is opening to his impoverished life is just too tempting.  Maybe he'll wait just one more day.

This fiction story is written by one of my favorite funny authors.  It's his first fictional story and I think it was an engaging and sweet read.  It is written in the voice of young Terry and you really get a young boy's view on everything from church, to school, to a young boy's first crush on the pretty girl at school, to the fun characters in the town and church that make up his small world.  It takes a look at some pretty deep issues of faith and poverty, seemingly good circumstances and moral dilemmas and looks at them through the innocence of a young boy.  The author made the mid century town come to life through Terry's telling and it was nostalgic and fun, sad and sweet all at the same time.  There were many laugh out loud moments as the young Terry describes what he sees in truth and honesty without all the covering up that adults tend to do to keep up appearances. ltimately it's a book about God's grace and forgiveness, acceptance and belonging.  I thought it was a great read.

Linked with Semicolon Saturday Review of Books

Friday's Fave Five #299

It's Friday's Fave Five time!  And I am here.  Whew.  It was a little bit insane last week and my brain was totally fried.  But this week I'm refreshed and ready again to join right in.  Please join in with us recognizing and taking note of our blessings from over the week.

1.  My first is my most obvious from last weekend.  I passed the First Aid course!  I was so relieved to have gotten that out of the way for my job.  But really it is such a good thing for anyone to have whether they need it for their job or not.  I can now hook any of ya up to a defibrillator and zap ya if you should need it.  Really, I can.  But in all seriousness anything can happen at any time and rather than go into a deer in headlights panic, I at least feel confident enough that I have a bit of knowledge that I won't be totally lost.  And it's really amazing how stuff starts to come back to ya when you start to relearn it.  I took a first aid course many years ago in college, and there was quite a bit of it that I retained and was able to recall as we were going over it.

2.  The weather.  After the weather having a little tantrum last week and throwing crazy snow around southern Alberta we are back up to summertime temps this week.  Today was 10* celcius above our average temps for this day.  Yesterday was 29*C (84*F).   Yeah I know this is because I packed all my tank tops away and took out the fall sweaters, but regardless I am enjoying it.

3.  Supper cooked for me by my youngest.  At 19 1/2 she is starting to offer to cook supper once in awhile when she has a day off.  And last night she hit it out of the park.  Hummus crusted chicken breasts, brown rice and salad.  It was sooooo good.  It was so nice to walk in after a long day of work and a good workout at the gym to the delicious smell coming out of the kitchen.  She didn't let me help at all.

4.  Operation Christmas Child season kicking into gear.  And to help me get into the mode I am reading this book that my hubby bought me.  What a blessing it is to read of this great ministry to children all over the world.  I've supported them since I first heard of them in the '90's and have just gotten more excited about it over the years.  This book is their story, their history and roots, and wonderful stories of how the shoeboxes have touched children and their families the world over.  Be warned though, this book is best read with a big ol' box of tissues close by as it will grab your heart and squeeze it continuously.

5.  A sweet hubby who took me out to celebrate my first aid accomplishment.  A nice dinner with a pretty special guy was my reward when the course was done and I had passed.  

What were your favorite blessings from the week?  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I have a really, really good excuse. No really!

I should know better than to make a promise that might go unkept.  And that is exactly what happened with the FFF.  I so did not make it back to do a post.  And I know.  I am the one who is always saying how beneficial looking for good blessings in our lives is, especially when we are busy and don't always notice the good things.  I know I get on my soap box about it.  But I have a good excuse.  I really, really do.   I had to take a Child Care First Aid course that went Thursday and Friday night from 6 p.m - 10 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. for my job.   After a 7:30 a,.m. - 5 p.m. workday it was tough stuff.  I barely had time to throw some food into me before heading out for the 4 hour class.  And the information overload totally swamped my brain.  This brain has not crammed like that since college, people!  And I work with little kids all day so it's not like I am really used to having to study. It was a course designed not only as a basic first aid type of course but also adjusted specifically for child care providers or those who deal with children.   My poor brain felt slightly majorly taxed and stretched to it's limits.  I came home and literally crashed each night.  I could not think anymore.   But I did it! I survived... And I passed!  Yay me.  Now I hope with all that cramming and practical practicing in class that they gave us I can just recall all that info if ever the need arises.  And now no more excuses.  Back to regularly scheduled programming next Friday!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh my goodness, it's Friday!  I'm so sorry everyone.  I totally forgot!  I've had such a crazy week...busy at work and then after a 10 hour day of that I've been in first aid class last night for four hours right after work.  I came home and zonked, not even thinking about the fact the morning would bring Friday.  Go ahead and link and I'll get back as soon as I can with my own FFF.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson ~ Book Review

 Heather has it all.  A privileged lifestyle provided by her heart surgeon husband.  She is a stay at home mom with a teen age son, lives in a huge house on a lake, drives a big vehicle and wants for nothing.  But she's not happy.  She is constantly spending more and more money.  And convincing herself it's all for good reason.  The tennis court is so her son's friends can hang out, the new pool furniture to replace the furniture that's only a couple years old is so that she can give the older one to someone who needs furniture.  And on and on it goes to the point where her husband is being worked into the ground in order to keep up with it.  And his dream of missions is permanently on hold.  But Heather can't seem to stop herself.  She must keep up with the Jones and surpass them all and keep up appearances all in the name of being a giving person.   But this summer all is about to change.   As she is starting to be convicted of her attitudes and spending habits, her world turns upside down when circumstances cause her to meet a pair of Quaker sisters who reach out to her and a nun who runs the homeless shelter.  Can she put aside all her excuses and learn what God is trying to show her?  What needs to happen before she can let go?

I really did enjoy this story.  I found it quite relatable in the sense that we all make excuses, even good sounding ones, for our attitudes and lifestyles and actions.  But when God starts to convict us on some of this stuff we tend to run the other direction unfortunately and it takes time for Him to get through to us.   Though the author chose the vehicle of a privileged lifestyle to get the story across, Heather's journey could have been mine in any number of areas.   About 3/4 of the way through the book I was thinking "Get the point already, Heather",  but thenI thought to myself that sometimes I too am stubborn and clueless and don't want to admit or learn what God would be trying to show me.   We tend to hang onto what we know and what is our comfort zones.  This story made me laugh, and cringe, and my heart went out to the character as she struggled to let go and get out of what she knew and what was comfortable into the life God had for her and her family.

Linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Mountains Is Where It's At!

Willow asked me how narrow the cliff trail was on the FFF post.  It was narrow.  In some places if someone was coming the other direction and wanted to pass you had to back up against the cliff wall and they just had enough room to pass.  There was no guard rails and was a complete drop off.  I looked at the picture of the cliff wall and realized you probably couldn't see my son or daughter because they were wearing grey and were quite camouflaged against the cliff.  So I cropped it a bit and pointed them out.  Original here.

And this was probably the best indication of the width of the trail though it did narrow even more in some spots.  You can see the "hose" in the wall too. At one point I said to the kids that I was totally feeling the mountain goat vibe.

 I laughed when I saw this pic.  At this point I have on a sweater, a hoodie and my husband's windbreaker.  I look like a female version of the Michelin man.  

But in all fairness to my serious lack of hiking fashion sense, it was windy and cold. And my daughter was wrapped in a blanket.  So we were both a fashion faux pax all happening at the same time.  Once we got going, though, the exercise and the adrenaline soon got the blood flowing to warm us up.

Oh well, who has time for pride when you are basking in the glory of this creation of God's.   Or trying to take picture number 239 of 255 that I took and not fall off the side of the mountain and embarrass my kids or force my EMT son to practice his occupation while on holidays.

But seriously, the mountains is where I totally get lost in the awesomeness of God.  Even my husband notices a change in me as soon as we enter mountain area.  The glory of His creation and how small we really are just makes me want to shout his praise and hear it echo in all the valleys.  So beautiful.  And it makes me so grateful that He gave us eyes to see it and the opportunity to experience it all!

"For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind

And declares to man what are His thoughts,
He who makes dawn into darkness
And treads on the high places of the earth,
The Lord God of hosts is His name."

Amos 4:13  NASB