Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #427

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  I'm not going to do a big intro paragraph this week as my 1st fave pretty much sums it up.  I'll just extend an invitation and invite one and all to join on in.  Guidelines are in the sidebar if you have never participated before.  

1.  This post from Lysa TerKuerst on facebook.

"Are we rushing past God’s goodness?

 One summer when my son Mark was working at a camp and feeling homesick, I mailed him a special care package to cheer him up. 

I was a little disappointed when several days passed, and I hadn’t heard a word from him about the package. When we called to ask if he’d received it, Mark simply said, “Oh yeah, I did. But I haven’t opened it yet.” 

Who gets a gift of love packaged up and sent to them and doesn’t even take time to open it?

 In that moment, the Holy Spirit pricked my soul, “Lysa, in all of your rushing, you do this very same thing to me.” God places gifts of love all throughout our days, things He knows we need. But it’s up to us to slow down enough to even notice."

This is exactly why I started Friday's Fave Five.  It's why I have continued it for 427 posts.  It's why even when Thursday night rolls around and I haven't done my post and I'm tired and unmotivated that I stop in my tracks and pause and intentionally do my post whether I feel like it or not.  I am trying to train myself to daily and moment by moment notice the gifts God places in my day.  I don't always get it, the tyranny of the busyness still gets me at times even after all this time,  but at least FFF helps me to intentionally look.

Check out Lysa's FB page (linked above) or the Proverbs 31 Ministries homepage for more daily encouragement. 

2.  Gift from my youngest.  Mother/Daughter watches.  Cause Mom is not quite ready for a tatoo (though the girls are trying hard to convince me).  But it was a sweet idea.  And she actually was able to get a watch that has a picture of something that means something significant to each of us.  A bird for me, an owl for her sis and a butterfly for herself.  What a special gift from the heart.

Note to self:  Don't let my hand be on top 'cause it will look twice the size!  :D

3.  Easter celebration with the family.  It was a special weekend indeed.  A couple of nice dinners with the all the family.  Easter Sunday service with all of us together.  And a show together with the girls.  Lots of visiting time and lots of fun.  

My sister even had her Easter egg hunt which is hilarious because my 80 something mother gets right in there with the young people.

4.  Movie evening with hubby.  Monday was a day off for me and with the kids headed back to their respective homes, hubby and I relaxed and watched the movie "Lion".   Such a good movie!  I love "based on a true story" movie and this did not disappoint.  Even though the first 1/4 of the movie was sub-titled it was easy to read and follow and because I was invested into the character's story.

5.  The gift of beautiful warm afternoons.  Gorgeous mid-days have found me and and kids able to go outside every day this week.  Sunshine and exercise,  room to move and run around always perk us all up after being cooped up inside.   I love spring!
What were your favorite blessings this past week?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #426

Happy Easter weekend everyone.  I don't know how many of you will be coming to do Friday's Fave Five but regardless of if you actually do a post I hope you take a pause at some point this weekend and reflect on the death and Resurrection of Jesus and all of the blessing that means for you.

This last week has just zoomed by.  It was very busy with the added busyness in dayhome that any holiday brings so it's a good thing I have this post to take that moment and be thankful for the good things in my life.

1.  Movie night with the ladies study.  The week before we had finished up a study on the book of Ephesians and won't be starting another one up until after Easter so we took this week and went to go see "A Case for Christ" based on the true story and book by Lee Strobel which tells how he, a staunch atheist and journalist who dealt in facts, tried to prove to his newly believing wife that there was no evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It was really well done and we all enjoyed it and each of us took away something and related to different aspects of the film which made for really interesting discussion.  It was a great movie to see right at this Easter time.  

2.  Surprise lunch from my hubby.  Just after I fed the kids lunch one day this week I received a text from my hubby telling me he was bringing lunch.  It was a really nice surprise on a busy day when I don't always get a sit down meal.

3.  Rain.  The past few days have seen scattered showers here and there.  I love the smell after rain and I know this moisture is going to make for a lovely green spring so I'll take it even though the last couple of days have been a bit grey.

4.  New fast food.  For our Friday night out, we tried a new fast food place in town called Chopped Leaf.  Not the usual fast food fare, they specialize in gourmet salads, wraps, sandwiches and soups.   Everything was very fresh and tasty and I especially enjoyed their orange and mint infused water.  I always enjoy giving a new place a try.

5.  Cleaning spree.  I know, an odd thing for a fave five list but it just felt so good.  It didn't take forever, just set an hour and worked like crazy in that hour.  That little bit of intense time just made everything look and feel so sparkly clean and fresh.  I love doing it in concentrated short bursts like that rather than hours long cleaning routines that take up half of my precious 2 days off.  

What were your 5 favorites blessings this week?

May you all have a wonderful Easter weekend filled with good family, friends, food and love.  I'm looking forward to my kids all being here together and cooking for everyone.  I'm sure I'll be dog tired after it all but I also have Monday off to recuperate so looking forward to that too.  :)

Friday, April 07, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #425

Happy Friday!  That wonderful day where we take a moment to pause and intentionally look for blessings from our past week, whether our week was a good one or maybe not so much.  Fostering a grateful attitude and an intentional looking for the good things in life helps us to get through the tougher times and makes for a more happy me.  Please join me in this.

1.  Another nice candle.  I started burning a new one yesterday morning that I had bought on the same sale as last weeks fave.  This one was called Sea Grass(from Bath and Body) and smells very fresh and subtle.  It was also a great deal which makes me even happier.

2. First bbq of the year.  Sunday was a pretty nice day so we set aside the planned after church lunch of chicken pie and made a pit stop at the grocery store after church to buy hamburger supplies.  And it was so worth it.  Nothing like a grilled burger, especially the first grill of the year.  Yummy!

3.  Movie afternoon with Mom.  Mom had been sick the week before Sunday so I knew she would appreciate getting out of her house and just sitting around with us for company.  So after the burger lunch we put in the movie "The Light Between Oceans".  Very sad but very good, I had read the book a couple of years ago and loved it.  I watched the movie a couple weeks ago with hubby but had a hunch Mom would like it and I wasn't wrong.  It was nice pleasing her this way.


The little meme that I shared on Facebook and tagged my bible study ladies with.  I am so thankful to be part of a group of ladies that have bonded so well and really do build each other up and care for one another.

5.  Chocolate Berry Burst tea.  I found this at Winner's, which is like a T.J. Maxx kind of store one day.  Turned out to be a yummy buy.  Gives a little taste of dessert without the sugar or calories.  I've been enjoying it in the evenings when I've got a craving to routing through the cupboards for the sweet fix.  Hopefully, I'll be able to find it again.  That's not always the case with this type of store so I might have to go hunting online.

What were your favorite blessings from the last week?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Some Small Magic by Billy Coffey ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description:
All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past. When Abel discovers letters to him from the father he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems. With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely on his simpleminded friend Willie—a man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than most—and a beautiful young woman they met on the train. From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is it the magic that will one day lead him home?

My Thoughts:
Have you ever read a book where you just didn't know how you felt about it or what to say about it?  Well, turns out this is one of those reads for me.  Parts I really liked and others not so much.  The description sounded interesting, a bit out of the genres I usually tend to gravitate towards .   Anything in the "magical" genre usually doesn't grab my attention, but I picked it up anyway because of the other aspects to the story as described on the back.

After reading it, I would have to say I don't know if I would list this as Christian fiction, and by the barcode of the book neither is it listed as such but just as fiction.  Has a smidge of faith element to it but I would  not call it a biblical based story.  If I had approached it this way, rather than expecting more of a faith based read because of who published it, I think I might have enjoyed it a touch better.  But I kept waiting for more of a biblical foundation to come through.

I found there were parts that captured me, where I couldn't put it down and then other parts that tended to the tedious side and I found myself skimming the pages.  The friendship struck between Abel who was a young boy born to poverty, raised by a single parent and living each day with a disease that caused his bones to break very easily and the young adult who was mentally disabled was beautiful.  How they supported each other was heartwarming and inspiring as goals of friendship. I had to really push past the name given to this character however,  as I found it offensive to this day and age and my own sensibilities.  The character was a simple-minded man because of events that occurred when he was small and he was called Dumb Willie by those who knew him.  For the setting, I understood this and got that the attitude towards him was being established, but then to keep on referring to him as such through the whole story, even by his best friend, was really hard for me to get past, especially with my own experience working  with mentally impaired children.  The portrayal of brokenness and the different ways brokenness manifests in people's lives was also really well written.  But the comparisons, or maybe the right word is references,  of faith, miracles and magic just didn't sit quite right with me.    This made the telling of the story just a bit too long for me but that could be because with this type of story, rather than relaxing and enjoying it I feel like I always have my discerning feelers up and working.  Was it a bad story or unenjoyable?  No, just not what I was expecting and not quite my cup of tea.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for providing a copy free of charge for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review.

Linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #424

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Looking for our favorite blessings of the week consistently and intentionally helps when those tougher times come and changes our perspective to one of thankfulness.  Please join us.  Link to the guidelines is in the sidebar.

Sorry I was not able to get around to commenting last FFF.  It was a very full weekend for me with house guests and plumbing that decided it was going to let the spring tree roots invade it's borders so that we had a huge emergency plumbing job on our hands.  😲  Yeah that was fun.  But there was lots to be thankful for too so lets get to that!!

1.  A visit from our son, J. and his girlfriend and his friend.  I can't believe it's been almost 2 years since he moved away to go to school to finish his Paramedic studies.  We've seen him occasionally as his heavy course load and studies and busy practicums would allow but more often than not it was just short visits as he was also working shifts as he could pick them up on an ambulance service out of town which was the usual holidays that the regular staff would want off.  We got to meet his sweet girlfriend for the first time, she's adorable, and had a nice visit with his friend who've we met before and enjoy having.  It was so nice to take up more than 2 or 3 seats as a family in church again!  It almost made me cry, weird I know, but it's the truth.   Next time we see him will be in May at his convocation where I will totally be the proud mama.  

2.  Sushi and Thai Fusion lunch.  The boy loves sushi so we treated them to an all you can eat sushi restaurant in town.  It was great food and lots of fun.  And we all ate way too much but my sushi craving is now satisfied for awhile.

3.  Happy smiles learning new things.  I love when the preschoolers accomplish a new skill and are so proud of themselves.  The huge smiles are so worth the sometimes seemingly endless repetitions to learn it.

4.  A beautiful warm spring day.  Yesterday was absolutely beautiful.  Warm and sunny, we savored it and spent practically the whole day outside playing.  It's been such a long, harsh winter this year and it was heavenly being able to take off jackets and feels the warm sun on bare arms.  And last night was the first spring rain so it should be getting green pretty quick around here.

5.  Orange Blossom & Driftwood Candle.  The spring candles have arrived and I found one I really like.  I'm not into the really flowery smelling ones at all which is typically what starts coming out in the spring but love this orange blossom smell of this mixed with whatever makes the driftwood scent.  It's more refreshing than overpowering.   I burn it in the morning before the dayhome families arrive to help get any lingering cooking odours out of the house.  Thumbs up on this new scent.

What were you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Memory Palace - a memoir by Mira Bartok ~ Book Review

From the Reading Group Guide Introduction (back of book):

"When piano progidy Norma Herr was well, she was the most vibrant personality in the room.  But as her schizophrenic episodes became more frequent and more dangerous, she withdrew into a world that neither of her daughters could make any sense of.  After being violently attacked for demanding that Norma seek help, Mira Bartok and her sister changed their names and cut off all contact in order to keep themselves safe.  For the next seventeen years Mira's only contact with her mother was through infrequent letters exchanged through post office boxes, often not even in the same city where she was living.

At the age of forty, artist Mira suffered a debilitating head injury that leaves her memories foggy and her ability to make sense of the world around her forever changed.  Hoping to reconnect with her past, Mira reached out to the homeless shelter where her mother was living.  When she received word that her mother is dying in a hospital, Mira and her sister traveled to their mother's deathbed to reconcile one last time.  Norma gave them a key to the storage unit in which she has kept hundreds old diaries, photographs and momentos from the past that Mira never imagined she would see again.  These artifacts trigger a flood of memories and give Mira access to the past that she believed had been lost forever."

This book has been on my radar for quite awhile now and I finally got around to reading it.  With the recent releasing of a schizophrenic man here in Canada who committed a horrible, unimaginable  crime on a greyhound bus a few years back that shocked our nation, changed the lives of all those on the bus and was the direct cause of one of the first responders taking their own lives, I really felt the need to read this.   I can pretty much say people here are totally dumbfounded and angry as he was  given total freedom without conditions and let back into society because it was deemed the crime was committed during an episode and he's now "likely to stay on medication".  This made me dig into my TBR pile and pull this book out hoping maybe it would bring some kind of understanding into the life of a person suffering from schizophrenia and how it affects those around them and to somehow justify or explain in my mind the reasoning behind the release of this man here in Canada.

Mira Bartok was told at her mother's funeral that "people have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you've been through".  And even though for their own safety, Mira and her sister had no contact with their mother for many, many years and in fact, changed their names so she couldn't find them, Mira wrote a touching, heartbreaking account of their lives growing up with their mother.  The book really let the reader into a glimpse of the harrowing struggle for both the schizophrenic sufferer and their families.  And it also brought out how the loved ones can feel hostage to the illness and, in Mira's mother's case anyway, the  system that was incapable of bringing help to their family in crisis.  In order to protect themselves, they literally had to let their mother become homeless and living on the streets and in shelters.  No family should have to make that choice.  Mira's story also pointed out to me how memory can be affected by different things and even the one remembering as her and her sister sometimes had different recollections of the same event.  There were also beautiful moments throughout the book where Mira makes the mother/daughter connections while caring for her mom.  The moment when she was helping her mom in the hospital to walk from the bathroom back to bed and as they stood, her holding her mom up as her mom rested a moment leaning against her and the nurse came and asked if she was okay, and Mira realized she hadn't hugged her mom in 17 years was especially touching.  Though at times the writing style bogged me down just a little bit as I tried to make connections in the points the author was trying to convey,  this memoir was well worth the read just to gain some understanding of the struggles of those suffering severe mental health issues, to develop some compassion for them and their families and for those who are homeless, and an understanding of how the "system" works and lacks in actually being helpful and beneficial for those in this situation.  And most especially to read about that mother/daughter connection in spite of the illness.

9/10 rating

Linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #423

Welcome to the first spring FFF of 2017.  So glad to see that day show up on the calendar.  And true to it's name, we have had some lovely sunshine in our days this week, albiet with the crazy wind that brings the warmth in Southern Alberta.  Join us as we find the blessings from the last week in our lives whether the weather was good or bad.

1.  Birthday dinner for a sweet friend.  My friend's birthday was this week and we had a lovely dinner together on Saturday night.  Her hubby cooked up a wonderful lasagna dinner with of course, birthday cake for dessert.  Tuxedo cake was the birthday girl's choice.  Then we played a card game called "Budget".  It was a wonderful night of great food and lots of laughs celebrating a good lady.

2.  Bouquet of favorite flowers from my honey.  My sweet hubby came home with these for me with the sweet note "Happy Valentines in March".  He decided that after I had bought some fake tulips for a vase, that I really needed to have at least one bouquet this spring of the real thing.  Love that man!

3.  Small but talkative.  Tuesday night's study group didn't see the whole group out but those who came really participated and some really good discussion ensued.  I love when that happens.  I learn so much from the ladies in my group even though I am the leader of the study.  They come with such good questions and insights and aren't afraid to participate.

4.  Phone call with my son.   I sure do miss this young man and was so thrilled that he called.  Sometimes it's hard to know when to give him a call.  He's so busy with homework and practicums that require long shifts.  Hate to wake him when he's getting off one of those.  But the great news, he gets to come home for a few days this weekend.  Can hardly wait.  We'll get all caught up then.

5.  New runners.  This is a bit past it's due but I have been really enjoying the new workout shoes hubby got me for my birthday a few months back.  Funny how one doesn't realize your old shoes are just not supporting like they should until you put on a pair of quality new ones.  With the couple of injuries I've had in the past few years it's important that I have shoes that support and help my feet not to be sore and I'm thankful for the gift of new ones.  And they're nice to look at.  Who doesn't love a cute shoe in one of their favorite colors?!

What have your favorite blessings been this week?