Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #482

Welcome to Friday's Fave Fives everyone.  We're taking that moment to pause and recognize a few favorites blessings from the past week and share them.  They can be big or they can be small, they may stand out or it may be that they took a moment to think of or to recognize.   But taking that time to reflect on them helps us to take note of them a little easier when times are tough and to lead lives that are more grateful.  Please join us.

~Mother's Day~ It was a lovely day all around.  It started with a lovely card from my youngest daughter made me cry and her gift of a manicure, then delivery of lovely flowers from my older daughter and husband with a lovely note.  It continued with a great church service where my girl arrived with a starbucks coffee for me, then our traditional Mother's Day lunch of KFC with my mom over, phone calls from the above mentioned pair and then my son who was calling from Ottawa where he was on holiday. It was a gorgeous sunny day outside and I got some reading time in too.  A lovely day.

~ Fern leaf peony bushes~ My mom has had them for ages.  They are a smaller, more delicate bush and I don't see them in very many gardens.  She blessed me with enough for about 3 bushes on Mother's Day.  They are super expensive to purchase, at least around here, so I'm so excited to see them grow and fill in the flower beds.  They bloom in the spring but throughout the summer the airy leaves will be a nice green background to some bright blooms of annuals.

(Photo credit to as mine aren't bloomed yet and aren't an actual bush yet)

~summer type weather~ Other than yesterday which was cold and rainy, it has been a gorgeous week.  One of the days even set a heat record.  We've been outside lots with the dayhome and we even had the water table out, which is always a favorite.  And now the long weekend is looking to be wonderful too.

~forgiveness~  for those times when one totally blows it.

~from the heart conversations~  some great conversations were had this week with my younger daughter, who is 23.  Conversations about life, about her new job and how it's going, about her trip to Italy this summer.  It's such a blessing to have her share and talk to me about her life.

What have been your favorite blessings from the week?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Mountain Between Us comes a new, spellbinding story of buried secrets, lost love, and the promise of second chances.

 Allie is still recovering from the loss of her family’s beloved waterfront restaurant on Florida’s Gulf Coast when she loses her second husband to a terrifying highway accident. Devastated and losing hope, she shudders to contemplate the future—until a cherished person from her past returns. Joseph has been adrift for many years, wounded in both body and spirit and unable to come to terms with the trauma of his Vietnam War experiences. Just as he resolves to abandon his search for peace and live alone at a remote cabin in the Carolina mountains, he discovers a mother and her two small children lost in the forest. A man of character and strength, he instinctively steps in to help them get back to their home in Florida. There he will return to his own hometown—and witness the accident that launches a bittersweet reunion with his childhood sweetheart, Allie. When Joseph offers to help Allie rebuild her restaurant, it seems the flame may reignite—until a 45-year-old secret from the past begins to emerge, threatening to destroy all hope for their second chance at love.

 In Send Down the Rain, Charles Martin proves himself to be a storyteller of great wisdom and compassion who bears witness to the dreams we cherish, the struggles we face, and the courage we must summon when life seems to threaten what we hold most dear.

My Thoughts:
Once again Charles Martin has written a story that touched all my emotions and had me invested in the characters.  It's a beautiful story of lost dreams, great sacrifice, worthiness, PTSD, forgiveness, and the struggle of good and evil.  And as always there is a beautiful thread of redemption that all his stories carry.   And that is a lot to pack into one story but he managed to do it.   The story grabbed me in the very beginning and then kept hold of my interest and emotions right on through.  At first there is quite a few story lines being laid but it all starts to come together and presents the story of a Vietnam vet who despite everything he's seen and experienced and his longing to hide himself away, steps up when he comes across someone in need.  Charles Martin is my favorite author and once again he's proven why.  His stories just do something in my heart, make me really think and feel, his prose is lovely and I can't pick up another book for a few days while I mull over everything I just read.  The sentences and statements he makes throughout the book about forgiveness, good vs evil, and worthiness just took my breath away at times.  Highly recommend.

I rated this a 9.5/10   (Because Booklook does their star rating out of 5 and does not have a half star I will round it up to a 5 on their rating system)

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for sending me a free copy for my honest opinion.  All thoughts are my own and I'm not required to write a positive review.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #481

Hi, welcome.  It's Friday and that means it's time to take a pause and look back over the week taking note of some of the good things, those blessings big and small, that may otherwise go unnoticed.  And then take a moment to be grateful.  Please join us.

So in no particular order these were some of the blessings in my life this week:

~no new brakes needed~  Hubby took his car into the mechanic thinking he might need new brakes.  A couple hours later the mechanic phoned and said to come pick it up, there was no need for new brakes, these would go for a while yet.  I suppose there is a double blessing in this in that we didn't have to shell out money for new brakes and also that we have a great mechanic who is honest!

~day trip to Calgary~ we did a spur of the moment day trip to Calgary with good friends of ours.  Our plan was to return to the historic neighborhood of Inglewood we had introduced them to last year.  We had the delicious milkshakes on our mind that we discovered from the last time we went so Kane's Harley Diner was on our mind for dessert.  We also wanted to try The Fine Diner which just closing the last time we tried.  So we went there for lunch.  Everything was delicious and to counteract all those delicious calories we spent some time walking and exploring the fun shops that are in Inglewood including my favorite spice store The Silk Road Spice Market.    But the best thing was being with dear friends who we enjoy spending time with.

~book talk texts with my daughter~  both of us are avid readers and though we have very different taste in books it is still fun to discuss what we are reading and what we like and don't like about the stories.  I love having a daughter with whom I have this in common with.

~my hard working dishwasher~ it is chugging away even as I type.  I'm so thankful for this appliance as I would be spending a whole lotta time in front of the sink without it.  With a dayhome filled with 6 kids x 2 snacks and a lunch, and then my own families breakfast and supper dishes, well you get the point.  I love my dishwasher.

~home health care~ Thankful for this group of LPNs who come into my senior Dad's home to help him with some care that he needs.  They come 1 -3 times a day depending on what the needs are and I don't know what we would do without their service.  Very grateful for the job that they do.

What have been the blessings in your past week?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent ~ Book Review

Agnes grew up in poverty & neglect in Iceland in the early 1800's.  Abandoned at a young age by her unmarried mother and never knowing her father, she moved from farm to farm working to stay alive from the age of 8.  Growing up never learning what love was or even what a hug felt like, when she met single "healing doctor" Natan Kettilsson in her 30's, she agreed to move to his farm and become his housekeeper and given the hope that she might become his wife.  As Agnes tries to make a life for herself and finds herself falling in love with Natan events conspire and she finds herself, along with the other housekeeper and a 17 year old male on trial and convicted of the brutal murder and attempted cover-up of Natan and another man.  Put in jail, she endures great hardship and abuse until the authorities decide to put her with a lesser official's family in Northern Iceland until the king of Denmark's approval of her execution.  At first the family is horrified that this is required of them and that they have no choice in the matter.  Their reactions of distrust and anger dictate their ignoring of her and treating her as a servant so that she earns her keep but as time passes they come to see another side of the "murderess" and "convict".

I finished this book more than a week ago but have been dwelling on it since.  This is a fictionalized account inspired by the of the real life Agnes Magnusdottir who was the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland.  The author has taken great care in her research, both of Agnes and the other main characters in the story and the events surrounding them  and also the way of life and what was happening in the country of Iceland at the time.  She calls her story a "speculative biography" because of course she had to fill in the blanks of conversations and the relationships within her story but was faithful to stick to her research surrounding the events that transpired.  Tradition sees Agnes as a witch of sorts, cold and brutal and uncaring but there is really no historical record of who she really was as Agnes was not really given a chance to tell her side of the story in court.  The author gives a voice to perhaps a different story of Agnes' life that led up to her execution. 

The telling of the Agnes' story goes back and for from 1st person as seen through the eyes of Agnes and what she is feeling and going through as she awaits her execution, and then 3rd person telling the story of the family and of the priest Agnes requested be her spiritual advisor.  The story was an interesting look into the power hungry officials, how the poor and classless servants were treated and given no voice,  how the church officials may have played their role.  It is also an interesting character study of both the family Agnes stayed with and Agnes herself exploring assumptions and preconceived ideas dictating reactions.    The story is definitely atomospheric as the landscape of Iceland, which the author loves, also almost became a character of it's own mirroring the bleakness, hopelessness and poverty  reflected in the story.  Even though one knows right from the beginning what is going to happen because it is history, the author did an amazing job in presenting a character that the reader wants to hope for as her story, as imagined by Hannah Kent,  is unfolded.  I will put a caution in to my reader's sensitive to it, that there is a couple instances of sexual content.

I rated this a 9.5/10

Friday, May 04, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #480

Hi everyone.  Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.   Spring has sprung not just in name, or calendar date but finally with the gorgeous weather.  A perfect time to reflect back over the week and find those good blessings in our lives and promote a grateful attitude.  Please join us.  The guidelines are linked in the sidebar if you're new or have never read them.

~first lunch on the deck~  it's been a long time coming this year but on Saturday I was able to take my lunch and book out on the deck and enjoy the sunshine.  Around here in the spring the warm weather sometimes comes hand in hand with some pretty strong wind but Saturday at noon it was just gorgeous.  Had to take advantage of that!

~ flower beds cleaned and prepped for flowers~ with the nice Saturday I decided to get to the flower beds and clean them of all the dead leaves and blown in garbage that collects over the winter.  It felt really good to get that chore off the list early.

~ early morning bird song ~  with the spring and nice weather has also come the singing of the birds in the morning.  What a wonderful sound that is.  And now that we can actually open some windows we can really hear it.  Such a nice way to start the day.

~ some good advice~  my dad has been going through some health issues as of late and ended up in emergency one night this week.  It was the middle of the night so we had no idea until the er called here for someone to come and give him a ride home.  One of the nurses graciously sent a note that had what the findings were (with my dad's permission, of course) and some suggestions of questions to go over with his family doctor.  What a gracious thing that was.  It was very helpful and I'm thankful someone there cared enough to do that.

~baby snuggles ~  One of the little babes in my dayhome is a snuggly sort and has been coming in for the cuddles on a regular basis this week.  I am happy to oblige.

What have been your favorite blessings from the past week?

Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers ~ Book Review

Roman Velesco is a successful artist who has the world at his fingertips.  Living the high life he can have whatever he wants but avoids most relationships beyond how they can serve him at all costs.  His past keeps him a bitter loner with walls and secrets.  His art brings him money, fame and fortune but not satisfaction or joy.  When he hires a young single mother to be his new assistant he can't imagine how she will change his life.  Grace has some secrets of her own.  Taking the job for Roman was a desperate move to move beyond her self-doubt and guilt and try to make it on her own and build a life for her and her infant son.  Grace is a believer and has never tried to hide her faith, but as she starts to finally think her life is on track her faith starts to clash with Roman's lifestyle and his expectations.

First of all, the is beautiful!  I loved this book.  In fact, I think it might be my favorite from this author.  She has taken a story of two broken people who had traumatic childhoods and wove a beautiful story of  sin and it's consequences, mercy and redemption and love.  Both Grace and Roman had very traumatic childhoods and rejection that scarred them deeply.  The way they handled it as they grew up could not have been more different and it went on to reflect in their adult lives.  I loved how the author explored how childhood trauma follows you into adulthood and affects all your decisions.  The main characters really drew me and made me think about how we as adults are shaped by what might have happened to us as children.  The paths Grace and Roman chose and the reactions and feelings they had were real and raw and it was easy to cheer them on and to hope for the best for them.   I really liked the secondary characters too and loved the stories that connected them to the main characters.  The story has been criticized by some as not being biblically truthful to some events that happened within the story.  Yes, it might not have been 100% biblically accurate.  But my personal take on that is that I  like to take stories at face value and I am not necessarily reading a fiction novel to get a theological dissertation to be within the story.  As long as it doesn't overtly and purposefully cross the foundations of the Word I am ok with an author taking a few liberties in trying to get a point across.   This story just sucked me in with real characters who make mistakes, who are trying to survive their pain, their reactions were honest, raw and real.  It re-opened my eyes to the fight of good and evil over a soul and it made me re-realize the love of God and how He reaches out to us where we are at throughout our lives and in ways that we as individuals with different backgrounds and experiences can relate to even though it might not sense to others. 

And for that I gave it a 10/10

Friday, April 27, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #479

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  We're intentionally looking for blessings and good things in our lives from the past week.

~taxes done and filed for another year~  not a time of year I look forward to but I am very blessed in that my hubby is on top of all our receipts, claims and those things we need for taxes on a regular basis.  I basically just hand him dated receipts throughout the year and do my income receipts in January and he does all the rest.  This way it is done in small bites instead of an overwhelming mess to wade through in tax season.  I so appreciate everything he does in this area.  If it was left up to me I'd probably be one of those people arriving at the accountant with a shoebox full of stuff.

~netflix and food channels~ last weekend when the stomach flu hit the house I was pretty thankful for the ol' couch and tv.  Feeling too sick to even read, ya gotta know I'm sick when that happens, the tv kept me company for most of Saturday.  I now know all I wanna know about "Martha Bakes" marathons and I found a new series on Netflix I'm enjoying so far:  "Timeless".

~ birthdays celebrated~  two of my very good friends have birthdays a week apart so we celebrated with a fun filled birthday lunch out.  Not only was it fun celebrating them but it was just the girl time I needed after a very stressful week

~ faithful prayers~ I love my lady's small group.  Not only do we study God's word but it is also a place where I know I can give a prayer request and have a faithful group of ladies pray.  Not only a quick prayer at the end of the meeting but prayers throughout the week too.  This brings great reassurance to me.

~ a start on the yardwork~ with the sunshine and warmth finally starting to hang around, it's enabled me to start putzing around the yard as the kids play.  I've gotten some things swept up, branches picked up from when the winds knocked them down and the city trimmed some of our trees that are around the power pole, this weekend I'll power wash the deck and chairs, get the grill ready for some great bar-b-ques and start prepping the flower beds for all the beautiful flowers to come.

What were your favorites from the week?