Monday, May 29, 2017

My Great-Uncle Walter

I am posting this in honor of my great-uncle Walter Leo Smith, who died during WW 1; while serving our country. I never met him, but my grandmother told me his story. Many of the soldiers who served during World War 1 were exposed to the 1918 influenza epidemic. And that included Uncle Walter. Grandma remembered going to the camp in Chillicothe, Ohio where he was in a medical unit being treated. Unfortunately, he died from the virus. Several of the men serving succumbed to this terrible disease. Not only do our soldiers die in battle, many are taken due to illness and environment. Regardless, they are dying for our freedom. God bless those who have lost loved ones in service. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fiction Review: Unintended Consequences by Dan Walsh

Book Description:
Jack and Rachel leave Culpepper for their long-awaited honeymoon trip, a driving tour through New England. On day three, they stop at a little bayside town in Cape Cod to visit Jack’s grandmother. After he gets called away to handle an emergency, Rachel stays and listens as Jack’s grandmother shares a remarkable story about how she and Jack’s grandfather met in the early days of World War 2. It’s a story filled with danger, decades-old family secrets, daring rescues and romance. Jack is named after his grandfather, and this story set the course and direction for Jack’s life to the present day. After hearing it, Rachel is amazed that anyone survived.

My Review:
Even though Unintended Consequences is part of the Jack Spencer series (book 3) this book is a great stand-alone read. And that's how I will review it. I like both Jack and Rachel. They're smart and kind. When they stop by Jack's grandmother's home on their honeymoon, I find them even more endearing. After Jack heads home for a quick few days, Rachel settles in to visit with Grandma Renee. That's when the real tale is told. During WW2 Jack heads to England to find a long lost relative. At the same time, Renee flees there to avoid the attacks on France. The story is a little slow to start but once it does, it's filled with action, romance, and the realities of war. I found the perspective of fighter pilot's interesting. My dad was in the Army during WW2 and didn't talk much about it. He's was proud of his service, but I think the terrors of it all were too difficult to discuss. Although this is fiction, it's an interesting and fact filled story. If you've read the other Jack Spencer books, you'll find the history in Jack's family interesting. If you haven't read them, this book stands alone just fine. On this Memorial Day weekend as we remembered those who gave their lives for our freedom, I find this an appropriate and entertaining read. I received a free copy of Unintended Consequences from the author.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

They Will Walk and not be Faint

Isaiah 40:31
...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

When I worked in an elementary school library, I met a lot of children. Fortunately for me, my path has crossed with many of them over the years. I enjoy learning who they've become as adults. I've even had a few of them work for me at the college library. Today my story is about one little girl. As clear as day, I still see her sweet face peeking at me over my desk as she waited to check out a book. She had a beautiful smile with a hint of shyness. My husband delivered bottled water to her family, and he'd told me a little bit about them. "Good people," he said.

Hannah attended our school for a while, but eventually moved to a different district. But the Lord had plans for our paths to cross. We met up again at church, where I got to know her family. Though our journeys have taken us different directions again, I still keep in touch with her folks. The other day, her dad posted Hannah's photo on Facebook. In the picture, she's wearing glasses, her hair is pulled back, her cap pulled down and she's carrying a huge pack. But under it all is the sweet, shy girl I remember. And that sweet girl is all grown up and going through basic training as she prepares to serve her country. I'm thankful we have people like Hannah, who love God and the USA. God has blessed me just by knowing her.

This Memorial Day, I say a prayer of thanks for the men and women who gave their all for our freedom. I also ask you to pray with me for those who are fighting the fight. I pray the words of Isaiah and ask that "They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Some fun for #WorldTurtleDay

A Poem

Sea Turtle

Imagine the ocean as home.
The vast water, salted.
Haddock, lobster, jellyfish, porpoises, sharks. Neighbors.
Imagine floating.
Wings without feathers— flippers— gliding, guiding.
All I did was imagine— crammed under the granules of siliceous rock. 
Brothers and sisters piled in a heap.
Until one day. We boiled up out of the nest.
One by one, we skittered across the pebbly sand.
One by one, we scooted to the vastness.
The sea.
The beautiful blue-green sea.
Imagine. Freedom!

A Matching Game

Sea turtles swim, eat, and sleep in the ocean. The females travel to sandy beaches to lay eggs, and then they head right back to the salt water. As soon as the babies hatch, they work their way out of the sand and move toward the ocean. Let’s see what you know about sea turtles!
Can you match the sea turtle with its fact?

Length Weight

1. Leatherback sea turtle 52”-70” 550-2000 lbs.

2. Kemp Ridley sea turtle 24”-28” 80-95 lbs.

3. Green sea turtle 32”-48” 144-450 lbs.

4. Olive Ridley sea turtle 24”-31” 85-100lbs.

5. Hawksbill sea turtle 30”-35” 95-165 lbs.

6. Loggerhead sea turtle 34”-49” 176-440 lbs.

7. Flat Back sea turtle 30”-39” 154-198 lbs.

___My large head looks like a log.

___I am the largest sea turtle.

___I eat green sea grass and algae that makes my fat green.

___I float in the sea and let birds sit on my smooth table-like shell.

___I am the smallest sea turtle.

___My mouth is shaped like a bird’s beak. I use it to find food in small spaces.

___There are more sea turtles like me in the ocean than any other kind. 

*Answers at the bottom of this post

Sea Turtle Facts:

  • Leatherback sea turtles would rather eat jellyfish than jelly on toast. 
  • If sea turtles lived on the land, they would need eyeglasses. Their eyes are made to see in the ocean with perfect vision, but once they leave the ocean they are nearsighted. 
  • If you see a sea turtle crying, they are not sad. They are emptying extra salt water from a gland behind their eye. 
  • Sea turtles flap their front legs like a bird flaps its wings. They fly through the water like a bird flies through the air. 
  • Some leatherback sea turtles measure as long as a person does tall. They can grow up to 6 ½ feet tall. 
  • Green sea turtles don’t take bubble baths to get clean. They let the ocean’s cleaner fish slurp off their grit and grime so they look sparkling clean. 
  • Even though the black sea turtle looks black, it is considered part of the green sea turtles’ family. 

Books kids might like to read about sea turtles:

Baby Sea Turtle by Aubrey Lang
Little Turtle and the Song of the Sea by Sheridan Cain
The Life Cycle of a Sea Turtle by Bobbie Kalman

*Answers: 6, 1, 3, 7, 2, 5, 4.

Work Cited

"Marine Turtles." NOAA Fisheries Services. 2008. NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service. 03 Mar. 2008 <>.

"Sea Turtle Information." North Florida Field Office. 31 Aug. 2007. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 01 Mar. 2008 <>.

Spolita, James R. Sea Turtles : a Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004. 24-119.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Purpose and Passion: Mary of Bethany

Matthew 26: 6-13
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you,  but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

In Jesus time, before a person was buried his loved ones poured oil on the body as an acknowledgement of their love and to help with the decomposition. When the woman in the story poured her perfume on Jesus head the disciples didn't understand. But the woman did. This woman who is the sister of Martha, from the Martha and Mary story, loved Jesus. He was her mentor, her teacher, and her friend. And she knew his time on earth would soon end.

Mary of Bethany is one of my favorite women in the Bible. If you remember, she was the one who sat at Jesus feet while Martha prepared food for their company. Now she's going against the societal grain again and preparing Jesus for his death, when he hasn't yet died. The beauty in Mary's story is her obedience. God gave her a task to do and she listened. Both times, in Simon the Leper's home and in her own house, she worshiped Jesus. Without doubt, Mary understood Jesus inevitable demise, but she also knew in her heart he was the King of kings and he'd keep his promise to return.

Mary had a heart for God, faith in Jesus, and an understanding of her purpose. Someone said the other day, find your passion and you'll find your purpose. Mary's passion was obeying God, her purpose was being a dear friend to Jesus. I believe God places our purpose on our hearts and guides us in them day-to-day. Mine is encouraging and giving hope. I can't change the world, but I can share my love for Jesus and offer hope in the midst of strife. I pray I have a heart for Jesus as Mary did; that I'll do beautiful things for my Lord.

Friday, May 19, 2017

May is...

May is a month of change. The school year is winding down. Seniors graduate. Flowers bloom and flourish. Baseball is in full swing. A longing for outdoor activities ignites. 

May is a busy month in our family. Grandsons play baseball. Granddaughters are in programs and graduating to the next grade level. Our great-nephew graduates from high school and our recently married great-niece and her sister both finished college. We've had parties and plays, ball games and events.

May is a time to celebrate the joys in life, the changes, the growing up of children and the beauty in nature. 

I pray May is and has been a good month for you. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

YA Book Review: It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

Book Description:
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night, which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client. If Tatum is reading his emails right, her virtual Prince Charming is funny, smart, and talented—and he seems to think the same about her. Too bad he’s spending his summer across the ocean in Ireland…not that Tatum would be allowed to go on a date anyway.

But over the course of the summer, Tatum will learn that sometimes going after what you want means breaking all the rules. And when Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

My Review:
I haven't read many young adult novels recently that I've enjoyed as much as It Started with Goodbye. Tatum's story, much like Cinderella's, is about a misunderstood teen who's been wronged. Her stepmother is not so much wicked as she is stern, and her father is out of the country for much of the book. Tatum's stepsister has her own issues while Tatum's BFF is avoiding contact. These characters all make a great cast in a delightful story. Have I mentioned that I loved Abuela and "Prince Charming?" If you like fairytales with a modern twist, like I do, you'll love this book. Christina June writes entertaining dialogue. The teens in this book aren't perfect, but they tell a good story through the scope of friendship and family. Whether you are or you have a teenager looking for an entertaining book or you're older like me and like a good story. Pick up a copy of It Started with Goodbye. Well written, I give it a 5+. P.S. I found myself smiling through much of the story, which = pure delight. I received this book free from Zondervan.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

God Freed Mary from the Ordinary

Luke 2:6
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son.

Acts 1:14
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

From beginning to end, Mary loved her son, Jesus. She cuddled him in the manger and stood with him at the cross. And she prayed.

Day after day, Mary labored beside her family members, probably her grandmother, mother, sisters, aunts and cousins. Between carrying water, preparing food, and watching out for the families children, she worshiped God. She loved her heavenly Father and followed his direction. When he called on her to be the mother of Jesus, although she was troubled, she obeyed.

Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

I've been reading a book by Sharon Jaynes, How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free. She tells the stories of several women in the Bible and how Jesus gave them respect and love. In Mary's chapter she writes, "God freed Mary from an ordinary life and freed her to fulfill an extraordinary purpose." Isn't that beautiful? In obedience we're set free! God requires obedience, not because he wants to control us. But because he has an amazing life in store for us. Mary's life was truly incredible. She was the mother of Jesus. I can't imagine how extraordinary that would be. She knew him in a way no one else did. And he loved her as only a son could.

John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple [John] whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

As a mother and daughter, I've been blessed beyond anything I could imagine. I pray that I continue to obey the Lord and pass the blessings on to my mom and daughters.

Happy Mother's Day and God bless!

Jaynes, Sharon. How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free. Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2015.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Children's Book Review: Jesus Loves Me, A Sing-Along Book illustrated by Gynux

Book Description:
Read or sing along with your little one’s favorite song! Jesus Loves Me pairs sweet, snuggly illustrations with the text of the familiar children’s song. This newest board book in the beloved Sing-Along series also features a padded cover perfect for little hands, and is sure to delight children and parents alike.

My Thoughts:
I love sharing Jesus' love through nature. Jesus Loves Me, Sing-Along does just that as we follow the creatures of the woods singing about their love for Jesus. The fun-loving animals in this sweet book will bring smiles to little readers. Gynux illustrations are cheerful and colorful as they show the animals joining together. The soft, padded cover is sturdy for little hands, and the board pages will endure many readings. I'll be sharing this with my granddaughter who loves to sing this song. 5 stars!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Life is Not a Checklist

1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I like lists. I have, for as long as I've put pen to paper. On my desk at work, a pad of lined paper rests between me and my computer. I use the notes I jot down to prompt me to complete tasks I've been given. At the top, I've written the typical things I do each week, plus the emergency phone numbers for the college. Under that, I list projects, reminders, social media needs, and anything else I should remember. By the end of the week, I've checked off finished items, made addendums, and recorded new ideas. Without my notes, there's a great chance I'd forget to do something important at work.

As much as I like lists, I can't live my life by checking off boxes. Organization works wonders for a project. But not so much for life. Living life is more about prompts, nudges, crossroads, inspiration, and endurance. Life in Christ includes hope, conviction, the nudgings of the Holy Spirit, opportunities to serve, and unexpected joy. I've seen a cartoon that depicts life in two boxes. What we think life might be, a straight line from point A to point B. Or what life really is, a squiggly line that curves every which way from point A to point B. There have been stretches in my life when I've tried to live off of a check list, trying to get from A to B with the least resistance. Each time God has had other plans.

If you're a parent, take time to play with your kids. If your children are teens, hang out with them. 
If you're married, date your spouse. 
If you're single enjoy the adventure God's given you.   
If you work outside the home, stop and ask your co-worker how their day is going. 
Take the walk, pet the dog, smell the flowers.
My point--God has plans for me. If my head is focused on a list all the time, I'm going to miss out. I want to live like the Thessalonians who were prompted by love and inspired by hope. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Love a Rainy Day?

Saturday morning-
I heard the rain.
The rhythm-
the beat
of my heart on the window.