Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #551

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  A place to reflect, to pause, to slow down the busyness, the clamor of disappointments or stress and just look for the things that blessed us this week.  Taking a moment to intentionally look for good things in our lives and be thankful for them gives us a better perspective in life and helps us to get through hard times because we've developed the habit when it was easy.   Please join us as we develop a grateful heart.

1.  Yet another lovely candle smell.  Again from Bath and Body Works, this one is Warm Apple Pie.  If you haven't guessed I tend to like the fall smells the best.   So yummy smelling and I especially like it because it's not overpowering as a lot of Bath and Body Candles tend to be.

2. Annual Calgary road trip with friends.  This has become a traditional summer thing with our good friends and we all always look forward to it.  Hubby pops a big bucket of popcorn because our friend looooves his popcorn, we grab some coffees and hit the road.  We don't always do the same thing everytime but the day usually involves a nice lunch somewhere, maybe some shopping, maybe a little neighborhood exploring or an attraction of some sort.  But it's always fun and always relaxing and a great stress relief.

3.  Relaxing couple of hours at the lake.  Sunday afternoon was just gorgeous outside.  Wouldn't you know after I packed all my tank tops away for the year that a day would still happen where I would need them.  But at any rate we took advantage of the beautiful blue skies, warm air and sunshine, no wind and headed to the lake for a lovely Sunday afternoon.

4.  Virtual reality travel.  My son is a bit of a nerd and loves all the techy gadgets and bought himself a virtual reality headset.  When he was home on the weekend he brought it with him and we enjoyed the Google earth travel.  I picked Budapest, because my family history is in Hungary and I visited there once when I was 10 years old.  How fun it was to zoom in on familar landmarks.  I even tried to find my Grandma's street that she lived on when I was there so many years ago.  I found the one street but could remember the intersecting street anymore and I no longer have her address as she's passed away a while back.  But it was fun exploring different districts in Budapest.  I also did a quick trip of my neighborhood which in all honesty was a tad bit weird because there I am in virtual reality going past my house with our cars parked in our drive.  

5.  Plum Dumplings (Silvas Gomboc).  It's the time of year when the dark Italian Prune plums abound and that means Plum Dumplings.  I grew up eating this wonderful Hungarian food and I finally learned how to make them a couple years ago.  It's really supposed to be a type of dessert thing I think, but I eat them as a meal.  They are so good.  It's a potato dumpling that encases a prune plum which has a sugar/cinnamon mix where the seed was. After the plums balls are cookedby simmering in a pot of boiling water they are rolled in mixture of buttered, toasted fine bread crumbs and then baked.  Sprinkled with a touch of icing sugar, and served with an ice cold glass of milk and it is heaven!  I haven't perfected it quite yet, the dough part is always tricky for me to get just right, but they are still awesome and take me right back to childhood.

What were your favorite blessings from the week?

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #550

Hi everyone!  Welcome once again to Friday's Fave Five.  Thank you for bearing with me and the kind words last week.  Long story short but Thursday evening and almost all day Friday was spent in the ER with my daughter as they tried to figure out what on earth was making that girl so sick.  I was just not in anyway able to do up a post.  But this is a new week and I am ready to go.  Please join us as we looking for blessings in the past week, whether the week was easy or hard.  I'm so glad I have a community to do this exercise with or else life would make it so easy for these blessings to just slip right by me unnoticed at times.

1.  Girl on the Mend.  Though she was one sick girl and spent 5 days in hospital,  our girl is now on the mend.  We are very thankful that she is home.

2.  Movie night out with friends.  Tuesday was the night our ladies small group restarted for the fall and we kicked it off with a movie night.  Though we were small in number we still had a lovely evening and it was a wonderful way to de-stress from the worry of the weekend.  We saw Overcomer and all really enjoyed it.

3.  A new candle scent.  Roasted Coffee, sugared brioche and vanilla creme.  Love it.  From Bath and Body.

4.  This song has really touched my heart this week.  I've been playing it over and over.

5.  Another great reminder.  You know I love a good quote:

What were your favorite blessings this week?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne ~ Book Review

When Nathan Steen passes away in a freak accident while helping a stranded motorist, his wife and children are devastated.  A small semblance of comfort comes from the fact that Nathan lost his life helping somebody else which is what Nathan lived his life for.  As long as Halley had known him, Nathan had carried a handful of stones in his pocket to help him to remember to do small acts of kindness each and everyday, moving a stone to the other pocket with every act of kindness in the day until all the stones had changed pockets.   The day wasn't complete until all the stones had moved, whether it was a small kindness or a large one.  It doesn't take long for someone to start a facebook page with people leaving comments of how Nathan touched their lives.  Nathan's legacy were very big shoes to step into and his family is very aware of that.  But as they deal with their grief, Halley finds she is angry at the motorist who needed help and at Nathan for helping him.  Then one comment on the facebook page by a stranger that states that Nathan saved her life has Halley questioning who this Madeline Zuckerman is and why Nathan had never mentioned her or saving her life.  When Halley is given Nathan's computer from work to sort through his personal stuff, Halley discovers years worth of emails to this Madeline and references to their little girl.  Halley is devastated and now is not only fighting grief but anger and betrayal that her husband apparently was not who he said he was and had kept such a huge secret from her.  But thirteen year old Alice believes in the character of her father, what he stood for and what he tried to teach them and she embarks on a path to find out the truth.  But will her faith in her Dad be rewarded or will she find what she doesn't want to face?

I loved this story.  It was so multi-layered and real.  The characters and their emotions were so raw and relatable and the story so inspiring and yet heartbreaking at the same time.  It dealt with bullying, grief, abuse, lying...all very heavy topics but the story of love, faith, compassion, friendship, and truth that were the foundation made it thought provoking, convicting, challenging and inspiring.  It really brought to the forefront that we really only do see the "now" of a person's life and not what led them to where they are, whether they are people we think negatively of or whether we hold them in high esteem.   In my humble opinion, this is the kind of book that should be required reading in all schools, rather than some of the other stuff they made us read that had no impact whatsoever on our lives.  It would also be an awesome book for a book club as it deals with very real feelings related to all sorts of things people face and would make great discussion.  This is a story that should challenge and make great impact on a reader's life as it really looks at the humanness of us all and how we can all individually choose to make a difference for someone in our everyday lives.  I know it really challenged me and made me think for day's after I finished it.

I do feel to give warning to those it would trigger of an instance of sexual abuse though it lets you know what happened without the descriptive details.

Gave this an absolute 10/10 rating.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #549

Hi everyone.  Due to circumstances beyond my control I will not be posting a Friday's Fave Five this week.  But please don't let that stop you!  Go ahead and leave your link below and have a great time looking for and making note of your blessings!

Operation Christmas Child Costa Rica - Part 3

As we go further in my Operation Christmas Child Costa Rica posts I want to say that from now on some of these pictures do not belong to me but to other team members.  And I don't know which belongs to whom.  We shared our pictures on WhatsApp with each other and in the flurry of 1400 pictures being shared within a few days (yes, that number is correct!!) I didn't think to mark which came from who as soon as I saved them into my files.  :(   So if a team member happens to come across these blogs and you recognize your picture please let me know so I may credit you!!!  I will try and mark with an asterix if it's not my picture but am still watermarking them to the blog.

Also to note, we were asked to be respectful and treat the pictures we took of children as we would want our own children's pictures treated.  In other words, ask and don't necessarily splash them all over the internet.  So if you are wondering why I am lacking in pictures of the children directly, that is why.  In fact at the first school  we went to I was so worried about doing something wrong with the camera I didn't take a whole lot of pictures of the kids at all.

One thing I really learned in Costa Rica is that when one joins with a group and goes on a mission such as this is that one's focus and understanding gains a whole new perspective.  We were not going in there because we, coming from a privileged country, know better and have got it together and we want to change the receiving country.  We go in humbly, understanding that we are joining with God in what He is already doing!  He has been at work in Costa Rica for a long time.  When we take on that attitude instead of one of superiority it is amazing to watch what God is doing and such a privilege to become a part of it.

And now the fun began.  This year there were 40,000 shoebox gifts awaiting distribution in Costa Rica alone.  Samaritan's Purse works with local churches who have been registered with them for the Operation Christmas Child program (referred to as OCC from now on in the posts).  Samaritan's Purse trains the church's pastors and leaders and volunteers and supports them in the distribution of the gifts and in the presentation of the gospel and in the follow up discipleship classes of "The Greatest Journey".    There were about 3 teams that I know of that went to Costa Rica this year to distribute shoebox gifts.  Our team gave out about 350-450 over the course of week, I believe.  All our distributions were in smaller rural schools or churches but sometimes a distribution can have around 200 kids!  When there is not a missions team involved the rest of the distributions are done with awesome local volunteers who give of their personal time.  Time to load up and go!

Our team went to schools and churches in tiny, very rural, very poor areas.  The schools were one or two rooms with one or one or two teachers.  Very poor, most with very, very limited supplies.  Dirt areas to play.  Not one had any sort of playground.  These teachers were amazing as sometimes they not only fulfilled the role of teacher but also of mom and advocate. 

 The children must all register to come to the party.  The distribution policy is one box per child in a lifetime.  This also helps the directors know how many boxes of each age group and gender they would need.  The children are not told about the boxes, only that there will be a special party and because we were helping they were told we were there to have some fun and play with them.  We came in and set up our different stations:  nail polish, bubbles, face painting, tatoos, coloring and stickers, crafts and sports.  And then we played.  And tried to communicate lots of times ending up in giggles as we stumbled over trying the language.  Some of the kids were shy, some quite bold and thrilled we were there to play. 

This play time was so precious as it gave us opportunity to pursue relationship and connect with the kids and the parents, if they were there, in small tangible ways.  Love shown thru a smile, laughter, touch when we painted a face or sparkled a finger nail.  Love and laughter are not barricaded in by language.  We just had to let it flow.

 Part 1

Part 2

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #548

I cannot believe another whole week has so quickly come and gone.  I have such great intentions on posting during the week including Part III of my Operation Christmas Child Costa Rica trip.  We've had members of the household sick, things have cropped up that needed dealing with and the next thing I know here it is Friday.  But all the more reason to pause and look for blessings through my week I may have missed in the hectic days.  Please join us.  Guidelines are linked in the sidebar.

1.  Treated out for supper.  We were treated out by friends of ours to a delicious little local Vietnamese restaurant.  This place has really taken off here in town and with good reason.  The food was fresh and delicious and you got good portions.  It was fun enjoying this little gem of a place with great company.

2.  Fall Mums.  Though it is a sure sign the cooler weather is coming, the fall mums, also known as chrysanthemums, are out in all the stores.  I love these prolific blooming little flowers and they are showing up in all sorts of colors.  Paired with pumpkins or other fall decorations they look gorgeous by front door entries.  I haven't bought mine yet because I just can't decide what color I want.

3.  Cool evenings, warm days.  Tomorrow we will turn the calendar to September 1st which in my mind is the real start of fall.  We are already seeing the signs.  The weather is turning here.    We are still getting nice warm days but the evenings definitely are cooling off.  So glad that for the most part we don't have to run the ac during the night.  I much prefer fresh and natural air. 

4.  Laundry fresh out of the dryer.  As you know, I was without my dryer for a whole month.  Well this week I realized just what a blessing soft, lovely smelling laundry is.  You just don't realize until you don't have it, what a blessing having a dryer is.  Yes, I did run to Mom's for a few loads, but I also tried to wash and then throw some loads over the deck railing to dry.  And though it smelled awesome, it was for the most part rough and the towels downright crunchy-ish.  It tell you, that first couple of loads, warm and soft, right when the load was done in the dryer?  Heaven!  It's the little things, I tell ya!

5.  Texting.  So thankful when I get those little texts from my grown kids that let me in on the goings on in their lives, or those little hellos that let me know they are thinking of me.

What have your favorite blessings been this week?  Are you seeing signs of fall in your neck of the woods?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday's Fave Five #547

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five .  We're looking for blessings in our lives in a purposeful way.  By taking some moments to take note of those things that bring joy or lift us up we are cultivating a grateful attitude and training our hearts to look for the hand of God in our everyday routines.  Feel free to join us if you are new.  The more the merrier.  Guidelines are linked in the sidebar.  

1.  Dryer fixed.  I had been without a dryer for a month.  Wow, you don't really realize how much you rely on an appliance until it's taken away from you.  I was washing my clothes at my house and then taking two wet loads at a time to my mom's to dry each week.   So thankful for that but it did add so much more effort compared to just throwing it in a home.  And the huge blessing is we got it fixed for free even though it's off warranty.   After expressing shock and dismay that they would make me pay any part of what was  faulty circuitry (or whatever it's called) and that they were lucky they didn't burn my house down the company acquiesced and agreed to pay the whole shot.    Very thankful for that because last week my car's steering decided it was going to put up a protest!

2.  Car fixed.  As mentioned above my car's steering decided to join the dryer in mutiny.  We took it to our mechanic who ordered the part.  Unfortunately when the part came it came with a huge warning sticker that it must be programmed by the dealership.  So then we had to book into a dealership.  And then the weekend came so I was without a vehicle for almost a week. I finally have it back and I'm so grateful.

3.  Pool replaced.  I had bought the dayhome kids a new pool for the summer in July.  It's the same one I've bought for years and they usually last me 3-5 years which is good considering how often it's set up and taken down.  This one, though, lasted me 3 uses.  I was going to start the repairs on it (good ol' shoe goo and duct tape are miracle workers) when I thought I should phone the store and ask for a replacement even though I no longer had the box or receipt.  I did that and within a few minutes of being passed to a couple different departments I was told to come in and get a new one.  Very thankful for that.

4.  New favorite lip balm.  Caramel Creme by Chapstick.  I think it's a seasonal one (Christmas, maybe?) but still loving it in the summer.

5.  Favorite bookmark found.  I had misplaced a favorite bookmark given to me by my daughter which had a sweet picture of Winnie the Pooh on it.  Winnie is a favorite nostalgic character from their childhood so the fact that she gave it to me makes it very special.  I had lost it and now have found it again.  Makes me happy everytime I look at it in my book.  :)

Bonus:  Loving this quote:

Goes very well with the goals of Friday's Fave Five, don't you think?

Just a note:  My internet server has had a major issue this past week that has affected the receiving and sending of emails.  As in I can't do either.  So if you've wondered why I might not have answered something you might have emailed me that is why.  They've set up a temporary email online and I can now receive my emails but I still cannot send any.  It has also messed with me posting pictures from my phone.  Has been very frustrating but I know it will eventually get back.  Learning a little lesson in patience.

What were your 5 favorite blessings from the last week?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Lost Daughter by Gil Paul ~ Book Review

In 1918,with the Bolshevik's taking control of Russia,  the Romanov's are moved to a small house in Ekaterinburg and remain living in captivity.  Maria is a friendly 19 year old with a fun personality but has a times felt that she is not loved by her parents as much as the other Romanov children are.  As time drags on in the house their days drift back and forth between mind numbing boredom and heart stopping fear.  Through it all  Maria manages to still be friendly with a couple of the younger guards.  Little does she realize in her naivety that her innocent flirtations will reap consequences that will have a profound effect on her life.

In 1973 Australia, Val Doyle has struggled all her life in her relationship with her harsh and abusive Russian father.  When the nursing home calls her with some strange & disturbing things her father has said, Val breaks her long time estrangement to go see him to try to decipher what he means.  But while there he is distraught and repeats to Val what the nurses heard:  "I didn't want to kill her".    Stunned, Val can only surmise that he is referring to her Asian mother who disappeared without a word when Val was only twelve years old.   When her father dies, she tries to solve the mystery of the disappearance of her mom, Val finds there is more to the story than she ever imagined and it all centers on an odd collection of photographs and a Faberge box found in her father's safety deposit box.

This book is a prime example of why I love historical fiction.  It was so well researched and written.  I've read quite a bit about the Romanovs, both fiction and non-fiction and still it taught me pieces of Russian history I didn't know a lot about and yet managed to involve my emotions every step of the way.  This novel takes historical events and supposes a different outcome.  The demise of the Romanov family came with some speculation that some of the children had survived the brutal murderous event.  This fictional story supposes that Maria had survived.  It follows her life as she tries to survive, remain hidden and get over the horrible, heartbreaking events she witnessed.  As she finds love and builds her family Russia is once again in turmoil.  The author takes us through Leningrad when Stalin took over and built communism.  It takes Maria's family through the heartbreaking siege of Leningrad when Stalin basically abandoned his people to starvation.   It was hard to put the book down and had me on the edge of my seat as the author wove the historical and the contemporary stories together.  All my emotions were involved.  It was fascinating, captivating and I cried my way through several parts of the story.  It is a story of survival, courage and love.

I will put a warning out for domestic abuse within the story and ,of course, the violence of the Romanov murders for those that would be triggered by that.

I rated this a 10/10