Friday, September 19, 2014

The Edge of the World by Phil Callaway ~ Book Review

Terry Anderson is a 10 (or is it 8?  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.  But 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?  But 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 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 Canadian 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.  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

Friday, September 05, 2014

Friday's Fave Five #298

Welcome to Fave Fives everyone!  I had a wonderful break with family and have so much to be thankful for!! Please join me as we look for our five favorite blessings from the week whether they be big or small.  For details and guidelines just scroll to the link in the sidebar.

1.  A new fireplace.  After humming and hawwing for a few years we finally bit the bullet and bought a new air conditioner.  We knew our original was old; it came with the house when we bought it 21 years ago. In fact, when the salesman who was a friend came to check out the logistics of moving the location, he took one look at it and said, "Wow, that's an old one."  It was tediously slowing down on us, giving out less and less cold air even though we recharged it.   And sure enough when they disconnected the old one there was a date of 1985 on the back. We now had wonderful cool air for those hot days of summer we were expecting.  Again hot being relative because I'm sure Anne and Willow would scoff at us Southern Albertan's wilting in what they consider a cool down.

Now what does this all have to do with a fireplace you ask?  Well the air conditioning company was having a special on where you received a wall electric fireplace for free with the purchase of the air conditioner.  And our friend was incredibly generous in upgrading us to a really nice larger framed unit (rather than the smaller square shaped lcd looking one).  I really love the "fire" in it and it's also a heater for those really cold nights. For now I haven't figured out how to decorate around it but that will come eventually.  I may even lower it a bit but that will take some renovation as I'll have to remove the chair rail but that's down the road.

What a cozy feeling for the already cooler nights that we are experiencing!  And did you catch the fact that it was free?  I love free!

2.  Time with the family all together. Last week we had the family all together, the first time since Christmas.  Oh how I enjoyed it.  We had decided in the spring to have a more low key holiday a bit closer to home.  I wanted my oldest to be able to spend extra time with her grandparents, she wanted to go to our beloved Waterton National Park.  So we skipped the 10 or so hour drive to Kelowna, B.C. and stayed closer.  We were all together and that was the main thing.

top of Bear's Hump Waterton National Park

3.  A family trip to Glacier National Park.   Waterton National Park and Glacier National Park are the 2 sides to an International Peace Park, Waterton being the Canadian side and Glacier being the US side.  I hadn't been there since I was a kid and had bits and pieces of memories.  What a stunning drive we had!  I took over 250 pictures.  I just couldn't help myself.  It was breathtaking.  I can hardly wait to go back!  Because of time constraints I've had this week I just haven't been able to upload and make a nice collage but I'll leave you with one and put up more during the week.

4.  My most thrilling part of being in Glacier National Park...hiking the trail at the Logan's Pass visitor centre. It was cold and it was windy but boy oh boy was it worth it.  A trail that ran the side of the mountain, sometimes so narrow that for someone to pass you had to push your back against the cliff.  In fact, when on the side wall, they had a hose type hand hold for you to hang on to.  Cliff wall on one side, cliff edge on the other, but the view.  Oh the view!  God is an amazing creator and artist.  Pictures cannot do it justice!  And the thrill of doing a hike like that was exhilarating!!

5.  the hotel we stayed in.  I booked from the Starbucks in Kalispell and we hit on a wonderful hotel.  Nice and clean, they provided lots of extras.  Firepit in the evenings, an incredible breakfast with made to order omelets amongst a whole host of other things hot and cold, and the best part they had bicycles to rent with the first 2 hours being free!  We love biking as a family so that was really a treasure find for us and we took advantage of that.  

What were your favorite blessings this week?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday's Fave Five #297

I cannot believe we are already at the last Friday of August.  To me this is officially the end of summer even though the calendar states that we really do have 3 more weeks.   It's back to school and dayhome is going to be crazy starting on Tuesday with new kids and new schedules to get used to.  I have had the whole family together this week as our official family summer time together so have avoided being on the computer as much as possible, soaking in every possible moment as these times are getting fewer as the kids are all young adults with lives of their own.  And that brings me to FFF, or my lack of one this week.  Though I have much to be thankful for with many special moments, I just have not been able to make myself take the time to do a worthwhile post.  So I'll let you all share and have fun and when I've had to say goodbye to my oldest girl and my son heads back to his next stint on the rigs and routine settles in for the rest of us, I'll finally catch my breath in the silence and join in next week.  Have a wonderful last weekend of August everyone!