Monday, April 29, 2013

Hometown Pride

On Friday, I learned of George Jones passing and was sad. He had lots of great music. It may not all be may favorite, but I know there were covers that were my favorites. And this is one of my favorites by him. George Jones is pretty epic.

When I was on Facebook that night I saw various people saying things about him, but one really caught my eye. A girl I went to high school with posted this video with an RIP for George Jones. It reminded me of how proud I am of my hometown.

The song is sung by a local boy, well now he's a man, but that's not how the phrase goes. Lance Miller played around southern Illinois for awhile before he went to Nashville to try and make it. I do believe he is currently signed with a label and making music. Before he was signed he had an album out that had this song on it among other really good tunes. Unfortunately, I have lost the album and have not found where I can buy a replacement. About the time this album was out, he was on a show called Nashville Star. He ended up being in the semi finals. As a part of the semi finals, he came home had a celebration and a concert. His celebration included a parade, in which the high school marching band played and everyone in town got off work to go watch the parade. That night the high school gym was PACKED. It is still talked about as one of the best concerts people had seen. Unfortunately he did not go on, but it wasn't for lack of trying on the part of the 5000 residents of Fairfield. We made our multiple calls to try to get him there. Thankfully it did get him noticed and now he has some music coming out. It's good stuff, so you should check it out.

Another local kid trying to make it big was on the show, Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious. Country music and the Pussycat Dolls don't have much in common, except in Fairfield. Another local girl was trying to make it big, so we all tuned in to support her. I don't think that show had a call in thing like the other one did, but we all tried to help out.

It's great to see a town rally around a citizen that way. There is still something very important in the spirit of small town America. This support for someone's dream even when you don't understand it is a wonderful ideal that is still lived out in some places in the world. And thankfully my little hometown is still one of those places.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 4-27

I missed last week and it seems that this week I have an abundance of photos and videos. So enjoy the pretty pictures and cool videos.

Awesome Photos and Videos

National Geogrpahic Photo of the Day - Swans, Prague  Breathtaking

Undivided Movie Trailer I so want to  know more about this.

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Elephant Seal, California Doesn't this look so human.

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Sunrise, Badlands National Park I can't believe this is real.

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Wolf, Denali National Park Can you find him?

Exodus Road - Rescue isn't Jason Bourne, it's you. 

101 Books - The Old Man and The Sea like You've Never Seen It Oh my goodness! This is crazy good.

A whole website full of cool movie reviews.

One Minute Review  I love hearing his movie reviews. They are thoughtful and honest. Simply Wonderful!

Articles that might interest you

The Esau Project - 10 Things I'd Like To Do In St. Louis - A great list of St. Louis places to visit.

Desert News - Everything You Think You Know About Poverty Is Wrong  Wow! Simple honest facts about poverty.

Red Letter Believers - Of the Seven Deadly Sins, This One Is The Most Fun  Anger. Righteous or no?

This Time Around - Looking For Beauty - A quote, a benediction, and a song. Just what I needed.

The Esau Project - Life Interrupted - Are you willing to be interrupted? - No Happiness Without Holiness  - This kinda blew my mind. What do you think about it?

A free book of poetry for you to download

Love Poems Deconstructed by #writestuff and Writers Unite 

Friday, April 26, 2013

A fun song

I suppose I should post something because it is Friday and I post things on Friday. I can tell you that I do feel better about life. After hearing about a miracle healing, reading a history of the Gospel, and talking with a friend, I am reminded that God is in control and works all things for the good. And since I'm in such a good mood, I'll share this.

The Secret Gospel of Ireland: A Review

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I LOVE learning about history. So when I saw the title of this book, I had to read it. Christianity, Ireland, Politics, and Science! This book has it all. And it is described well. They track the famous thinkers, Augustine, St. Patrick, John Calvin, Martin Luther and the lesser known thinkers, Columbanus and John Scotus Eirugena. I learned so much about ancient philosophy and society. It really helped me to see the world in a much larger scope than simply my life or even the life of my country. And quite honestly it gave me a huge sense of peace that God really is in control and has a plan. So I don't need to stress so much about each decision made by a leader or idea thrown out there by society. God really is in control and he really does work all things for the good.

My Amazon Review:

This book did an amazing job of sharing the important events in state ruled Christianity from its adoption in the Roman Empire to the creation of the United States. The authors profiled the thinkers and how they came to their ideas. They traced the inclusion of those ideas in affairs of state. And eventually those ideas that began with St. Augustine ended with the scientific method and a democracy of the people and for the people.

The history of Christianity was lived out over the geography of the Western Roman Empire, parts of Africa, and Ireland. Therefore all of the thinkers are not from Ireland. However the idea that began in Ireland was lived out in all of the other thinkers. So by tracing the ideas of Ireland you can find democracy and the scientific method. 

Who knew there was so much going on in the Dark Ages?

Book Description

July 1, 2012
As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism to Christianity, the ancient Irish developed a remarkable approach to the Christian faith that would one day make science, democracy, and our modern world possible.

In this joyous and illuminating journey through more than ten centuries of history, James and Leo Behan follow the astonishing story of how the holy men of Ireland shepherded the West from antiquity to the modern era. With their powerful brand of “Irish Christianity,” the monks of Ireland transformed Europe and produced the key that would ultimately unlock the awesome potential of the Christian faith.

Sure to intrigue, entertain, transform, and capture the imagination, The Secret Gospel of Ireland lifts the veil that has for so long separated science and democracy from their Christian roots in ancient Ireland. More than a book, it is a revelation in which history, philosophy, and theology come together to show how our civilization floats in a sea of faith that was born on the Emerald Isle centuries ago.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Skywest Publishing (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985458305
  • Price: $12.59

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just get me through today

I'll apologize now for being a downer, but here's the truth.

overwhelmed Photo Credit: libookperson

Just when I think things are beginning to calm down and look brighter, some new crisis pops up. I am really trying very hard not to be negative and whiny, but it is hard. Cancer battles for 3 different people in my life, a battle with migraines and anxiety, the marriage of a friend falling apart, and lots of financial strain.

I am overwhelmed. Some days I feel like I am drowning. Every breath is labored and thoughts weigh heavy on me. I don't feel like eating because that would take too much thought and energy. I really just want to stay in bed with the covers over my head, but life calls me out. I have places to be and people to see.

So I pray.

God just get me through today. I would like to ask to be nice to my students today, but I think the stress in my life mixed with their spring fever will boil over into bad moods. So God just keep my mouth shut and get me through today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

River's Edge: A Book Review

I know I have mentioned that I LOVE the book Eyes of Lightning. In fact, I mentioned it so much that the author, Erin Keyser Horn, contacted me to be a test reader for her next novel, River's Edge. I jumped at the chance because I love reading books and I love putting the word out there about amazing books. And I love reading things that are not mainstream because it makes me feel like an adventurer exploring unknown territory. So being a test reader for an independently published novel was a definite YES!

Being a self avowed book snob, I am rather cautious about what I read. Erin herself said this one was a little more mature and a little darker than Eyes of Lightning. So I was curious about what I was going to read and a bit worried that it might not be as good. So how did it turn out?

I'm wondering why I was ever worried!

I think my Amazon review sums everything up nicely.

River's Edge is even better than Eyes of Lightning! Erin Keyser Horn has out done herself. River's Edge is another story with a strong female character struggling with new knowledge about herself and her family. Her new found powers have given her a new view of the world and her responsibility in it.

I can not say enough how much I LOVE this book! It may be considered Young Adult, but it is something adults would enjoy as well. Kasia is inspiring in her desire to serve humanity and the environment in the best way possible. Her bravery in the face of impossible odds is heroic. Blayne is an amazing young man who is willing to stick with Kasia through it all. And that is just 2 of the characters!

Pick this book up today and you will probably have it finished tomorrow. You won't be able to put it down.

Add to that the fact that I literally cheered out loud in front of company when I got my paperback copy of the book. Then tweeted about the book. 

And the fact that I'm reading it again. I generally don't read books a second time. There are too many good books out there waiting for me to go back and reread something. River's Edge is an exception. I read it in February and now in April, I'm reading it again.

This book is fabulous! I promise you will not regret reading it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Life is Beautiful

 Photo Credit: me

As I said on Wednesday, hellos and goodbyes come quickly to me. I've recently said hello to a new project and goodbye to a couple commitments.

I've also said before that feelings creep up on me suddenly also. Sometimes I don't know what I'm feeling until someone asks about it.

So I was rather surprised yesterday when I felt determined to get my grading done and joyful walking to my car 2 hours later than normal. I got a lot of grading accomplished and it felt good. It felt good to focus in on my students and their needs again. It felt good to go home and know I had done all the work necessary for today.

It also felt good to walk and to really see the clouds. It was overcast yesterday. I got to see the various shades of gray blending together to create a beautiful sky. Then on the horizon dark green and light green of the trees stood out against the silvery gray backdrop of the sky. The wind was blowing ever so slightly. The sun was still lighting up the sky from behind the clouds. And the temperature was warm without humidity to weigh it down. I walked to my car and just enjoyed the beauty that God had placed around me.

I have been missing the joy in life because I have been over committed to things that were not where my energies should have been focused. So I said hello something and goodbye to something. Now everything is back in perspective. Light shines brighter. I have more energy. And life is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sudden Changes

Hellos and Goodbyes come to me suddenly.

The new commitment or the project comes on me suddenly. I'm sitting somewhere just listening and all the sudden God impresses this new thing on me. I can't imagine not doing this thing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wants me here. As much as I want to I can't say no. My mind is still rebelling, but my heart is at peace.

Goodbyes come just a suddenly. I'm going along about my business for this commitment or that project. Then something happens and God tells me my time with that thing is done. I doubt that a goodbye could be that sudden and sure. I doubt that from one minute to the next I could change, but He assures me that this is his answer. My heart is at peace even if my mind isn't.

For some on the outside, it may seem as if my decision is sudden. They may wonder how long I've been thinking about it. My answer is generally a matter of hours and not days or weeks.

I know it happens so quickly because God knows me. He knows that he can't just lead me up to an idea. He needs to just hit me with it all at once. Otherwise, I'll try to talk myself out of it. I'll come up with reasons that I don't need to or can't do it. He doesn't let me do that. He hits me with it all at once. He doesn't give me options. He just tells me to do it. Then as time moves forward he slowly reveals to me why it makes sense and has to happen this way.

I'm so glad God knows me that way. I'm glad that as He is directing my life, He is leading me in the way that I need to be led. I'm glad that he knows me deeply. I'm glad I don't have to be doing all of this myself.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baking Bread

I have been working on being healthier in more than just my weight. I'm shred my own cheese more than buying already shredded cheese. I'm trying to make my own food instead of buying it already processed. Ideally homemade bread would be a part of that. It isn't impossible. It isn't too hard.  It does take a bit of time, but in the grand scheme of healthiness it is worth it.

Home-baked bread Photo Credit: V. H. Hammer

Except I'm super busy and kinda lazy. So I don't make bread for my family even though it is one of my goals for my family.

Then yesterday magic happened!

Ben wanted a doughnut, so we tried the local bakery in a very nondescript building that I hadn't paid much attention to until Dunkin' Doughnuts moved next door. In general doughnuts are more heavy than I want, so I wanted a bagel. The local place is called Carolina Bagel Bakery Café. That seemed like a good place to get a bagel. So we drove up there.

The parking is in the back. There is a door in the back, but I wasn't sure if I could go in there. So Ben and I walked around the front. We walked in and there were several booths and tables. It wasn't super fancy, but it was comfy and homey looking. Ben looked at the doughnut selection which wasn't big. Still they had a sprinkle one and he was happy. I looked at the bagels, which was a big selection. My eyes fell upon the Superman bagel, half blueberry and half strawberry. That sounded great!

They asked about toppings and I was lost. They listed a few options and I went with the traditional cream cheese. They asked about flavors and again I was lost. They listed a couple things and cinnamon sounded good. They asked if I wanted it toasted. Of course!
 Photo Credit: Me!

While they did that, Ben sat down to eat his doughnut. I picked up a brochure with their story in it. I was impressed with the education and tradition amongst their bakers. The brought me the bagel. Ben and I went back to the car. Ben got buckled in and continued eating. I got buckled in and started eating.


This was maybe the most delicious bagel I have ever eaten in my life and it was just about 7 minutes from my house. My gosh, I'm lucky. Then I remembered what the check out lady said. They bake their bread loaves there in the store from scratch without chemicals.

There it is! The solution to my lazy and busy problem with bread. I can get healthy bread for my family and support a local bakery which makes stuff from scratch and at the very least limits the possibility of slavery in the product line.

Healthy for my family.
Healthy for the local economy. 
Healthy for others in the world.

Praise God for making me want a bagel. I'm super excited about this place!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 4-13

I suppose since I was sick this week I didn't pay much attention to what I was reading. So this is a short list. All the more reason for you to make a few clicks and read these.


National Geographic: Photo of the Day - Milky Way, New Zealand 

National Geographic: Photo of the Day - Winter, Sweeden 

National Geographic: Photo of the Day - Sheep, Afghanistan 

J Bryant Writes - Wordless Wednesday: Baptized

Stuff You Should Read

a life overseas: the mission conversation - Coping With Loneliness 
Have you ever found yourself asking,
“What am I doing?”
“Is this worth it?”
“Is this what we signed up for?”
If so you are not alone in your emotions, although these feelings can make you feel very isolated.

Sundi Jo - Why I Cried in the Middle of Target 
To the ordinary onlooker, buying a set of dishes shouldn’t be an emotional moment. Ah.. but this wasn’t ordinary. I’m 29 years old and my mom has never owned a matching set of dishes. 
Throughout my life our house was filled with mismatched items. She did the best she could and I never knew the difference, until I got older anyway. Some people may say their ashamed of that. Me? It’s made me part of who I am today.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's Going On...

What I'm Reading: (That I don't have enough time to just sit and read without interruption.)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain 

The Secret Gospel of Ireland: The Untold Story of How Science and Democracy Descended from a Remarkable Form of Christianity That Developed in Ancient Ireland by James Behan & Leo Behan

What I Really Want to Read Next: (And I can't get there fast enough because I don't have time to just sit down and read.)

The Wild of God: A Global Journey by Eric Hanson

The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier

Other Exciting Book News:

Death of the Modern Superhero is FREE until April 15 and  Book Trailer for it.

The River's Edge is released on April 15.

If you haven't read these, you should put them in your To Be Read pile!! They are AMAZING!!!

What I'm Pinning:

I've been rather obsessed with abandoned buildings on my new board: Strange and Lovely

What I'm Etsy dreaming for:

These awesome earrings that are cheap and made by a friend of mine. Squiggle Designs. (Except I don't have pierced ears.)
red and white button earrings
And I LOVE this painting. And this one. And this one. And this one.

What I'm Watching:

Murder, She Wrote because I'm cool like that. And this is my favorite episode.

Accomplishment for the Week:

Sharing the End It Movement with students and making them aware of the 27 million that are still in slavery. It hasn't been eradicated. It is a bigger problem than ever. Several of them put and X on their hand. Next week, we'll talk a little bit about how to get rid of it.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hearing God: One Word Update

In January I wrote about my One Word for this year, Hear.

Pat's Hearing Service Inc. Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass

I typed that sentences and then a couple others. Then I checked Facebook, like 4 times. I checked Twitter 3 times. Started to read a couple blog posts. I checked my email twice. And so I have managed to avoid writing this post for about 10 minutes. I'm not totally sure why. Part of it might be these allergies or cold or whatever that is clogging my sinuses and fogging my brain. However, I think a part of it that I don't know how to put this year into words.

We have had some pretty scary sickness going on. I've started a new side business, Scentsy. Drew and I have received a call from God to work on creatively together. I wanted to give up on writing, but couldn't. I've been reading books that sound like they were written just for me. God has been revealing himself to me. He has been revealing myself to me. He has been revealing big scary plans for me. He has been revealing his amazing love for my family.

I just really don't know how to tell you how much I have been hearing. He has been speaking to me in still quiet moments. He has been speaking to me in terrifying faith shaking moments. He has been speaking to me in stress laden weeks.

I have heard him more these four months than I have at probably any other time in my life. I can't not hear him. And in many ways, I'm not sure I'm ready to face the rest of this year. Way deep down, I'm afraid of what He might say. I'm afraid of what I might hear. I know He has it all worked out if I just keep working at what He gives me. It's the work on my part that I'm afraid of. I'm afraid I can't do it. I'm afraid I'll fail when He wants me to succeed.

And maybe I'm afraid to succeed.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Finding my center again

Trying to be this.
Trying to be that.

None of it is me.
I don't fit in that box.

I read some blogs.
I read some tweets.
I feel not good enough
I can't measure up.
The pressures of being are too great.

So I step back.
I unfollow that blog.
I unfollow that account.
I pare down those speaking to me.

Then I start to hear the voice that matters.
I hear the voice that says,
I made you to be this.
You are my daughter
And I am proud.
I placed this story in you.
Don't be afraid to tell it.
I'm with you.

I take a deep breath.
I see Him again.
My purpose is strengthened.
My story comes easier.

I found my center.
It is Jesus.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 4-6

Photos Full of Wonder

National Geographic Photo of the Day: Mammoth Tusk Hunter, Siberia 
National Geographic Photo of the Day - Monte Perdido, Spain
National Geographic Photo Gallery: Extreme Earth

A Random Mix of Stuff that Touched My Heart and Encouraged Me

Love, Laundry, Faith, & Family - Leaking Into Everything: Faith and Writing - 

It was a brief encounter. I had to make a choice to engage that guy or keep my eyes on my coffee cup. That’s where art is not enough. Studying him to use in an upcoming suspense story is detaching myself from the situation and ignoring my role as an inhabitant of the world I observe.
My faith influences my writing and my writing gives me new insight into my faith. They flow back and forth into one another, leaking all over the place with no thought of compartments or boundaries…
…which is just the way I like it.

James Prescott - Why We Find God in the Abscence of God  - 

All this triumphalism disappoints me. It hurts. Because the truth is, things don’t always work out at the end. When we pray, not everyone gets healed. The problem someone had didn’t get solved.
It’s not all happy ever after all the time.
Sometimes, God feels absent. Like all hope is lost. We are in the pit of despair and there is no escape. And the last thing anyone wants in this moment is someone coming along saying ‘Its’ all going to be okay”

Drip Jesus - They're Not Lepers - 

They’re not lepers.
I mean
they may be different. They may be doing, or have done, things that we disagree with, things that we may believe are contradictory to the Word.
they’re definitely not lepers.

Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - A New Kind of Pizza - 

Every restaurant has the same menu. I am not exaggerating. That goes for pizza places too. They all have the same pizzas. If you try to customize an order, heaven help you because they only know how to make what’s on the menu. I once tried to get a crepe with nutella instead of chocolate and after 5 minutes of explaining, I ended up with chocolate anyway.

Chasing Stephanie - Writing and Still Loving God  - 

So during most of my Christian walk I believed (not consciously) that my Christianity was separate from my dreams. More honestly, I believed that I needed to keep these things separate. Why? Because God wanted everything from me, my sins AND my dreams. This was preached to me-because its true. So many times were spent on the altar giving God my everything. I said “God I give you everything, my sins, my hopes, my desires, my dreams.” I wrote it on a piece of paper “I want to be a writer” and laid it upon the altar. I wanted to be a good, no great Christian. I wanted to not only go to heaven but to be a faithful witness here on earth. I wanted to be an empty vessel to be used by God.
As you can imagine this left me empty.

Katie Axelson: Living a Story Worth Telling - One Word Update: March - 

Sometimes finding joy is like searching frantically for the phone you’re talking on. You’re using one hand to hold it to your ear and the other to riffle through your bag to find it.
It’s right there.

I'd Laugh...But It All Happened To Me - A Bigger Faith - 

There are too many Christians in our world (and on my worst days this includes me) who think they have all the answers, when in fact following Jesus is often more about questions.  

The Story Project - I hate shame. - 

But you see what I hate most about this shame is that it makes God out to be some sort of man demanding submission.

It makes people associate Him with fear. Not with the good and reverent kind, but with the I-am-trembling-in-my-boots kind. The I am afraid of His punishment kind.

It relates Him to abusive and unkind. It relates Him to every sort of definition of love that we have experienced.

Eating Neon Yogurt - Death, Life, and Resurrection: I'm going to get a phone call from school.  - 

Bedtime has become very interesting over the past 2 weeks. 
When my dad died, we sat down with our 3 year old daughter and explained that her papa had died and gone to live with God in Heaven. She seemed fine. Until bedtime.

The Grocery Run - Who Are You Really? - 

When did the names start for you? Maybe you lived in a good home who developed who you were. Or, you grew up in a place that missed this. Your value was lost amidst the living and so were you.

The Ramblings of Denise Dilley - A Fresh Start  - 

But hear me out on this next thought. Don't dismiss it as foolish simply because of what day it is.

What if Monday's weren't a day to dread but rather a time for a fresh start?


Red Letter Believers - The Endless Quest for a Good Word  - 

Admittedly, the words of others affirm us. They measure our worth. They justify our value, and reinforce our sense of importance. Without these words, without any external appreciation of our contributions, some of us may wither or worse, finally rebel.

My One Word - Tracie Miles and Selfless - 

I spent six weeks praying for “my one word,” asking God to make my word clear to me. I had lots of thoughts about what it should be – like love, patience, trust, etc.  Those all sounded like good traits to focus on.
But the word “selfish” kept popping up.
I didn’t really like that word.  So I kept praying about it, expecting God to reveal a feel-good word instead. But as time passed, my thoughts continued to gravitate towards selfish.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Mystery and Some Poetry: 3 Book Reviews

Treachery in Bordeaux

If someone is wine lover, they would probably like this better than I did. There were many very technical wine terms and I got a little lost. The crime wasn't quite what I was expecting, but once again, I'm not a wine lover. So I may not have really gotten the significance. The conclusion seemed rushed. And it was a little jumpy overall. It didn't flow really well.

Positives: Most of the characters were described beautifully. There were many settings that were very well done. There were moments of brilliance in the novel.

If you are a wine lover, you will probably like this book a lot. If you are not, you might get a little lost.

Benjamin Cooker is a renowned winemaker and critic turned gentleman detective who sets out to find who is trying to take down the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion. Is it negligence or sabotage? Who would want to target this esteemed vintner? Cooker and his assistant Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, giving readers and inside view of this famous wine region. Treachery in Bordeaux is the first of the 20-book Winemaker Detective series that delves into the underworld of a global luxury industry.

Title: Treachery in Bordeaux
Author: Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen
Paperback: 103 pages
Publisher: Le French Book (August 6, 2012)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 
Bone Fragments

A wide range of places and peoples and times to cover the topic of war. It is brutally honest. It is poignant. It is real. He holds nothing back. These can be read quickly, but should be read often to enjoy them fully. I really don't have enough words to describe my emotions in reading these poems. So know that it was moving and memorable. Go pick up a copy for yourself.


Set in Iraq, China, and many other places, Bone Fragments reflects the kaleidoscope of life at war, evoking the colors, sounds and sorrows of those in battle, and those left behind. Sharply poignant and touched with sadness, Gabriel Gadfly's poetry encompasses 150 years of conflict and serves as a moving testament to human resilience in the face of tragedy. From the American Civil War to the recent upheavals in the Middle East, this anthology seizes the atmosphere of battle in the smallest of moments -- a soldier pining for a love left behind, the first kill of a new recruit, the loud chattering of teeth in the cold.... Gabriel Gadfly offers an anthology of wartime reading in remembrance of those whose lives have been affected by the many wars fought in human history.

Title: Bone Fragments
Author: Gabriel Gadfly
Paperback: 106 pages
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd. (July 26, 2011)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I bought this book and just decided to review it all on my own.

Ventricle, Atrium

Another volume of honest and poignant poetry. He holds nothing back. The smallest details and mundane rituals have been celebrated as much as the first kiss or the first coupling. There is much here to cause fond memories to resurface. There is also much to cause fears to resurface. Read with caution because your emotions will be engaged.


Love is in the details. In the fingers finding a hand in the dark. In the stretch and curve of a spine. In the goose bumped shoulders and taste of the skin. Gabriel Gadfly's much anticipated second anthology is a vivid and tender tribute to the life cycle of love - the sex, the laughter, the pain, the sweetness, the fear, the vacancy. Filled with yearning, this arresting collection finds beauty in all that love has to offer, from the mundane to the abstract. With Ventricle, Atrium, Gabriel Gadfly explores love at all its junctures, through sickness and health, in good times and in bad, offering sharp and remarkably precise observations on the tiny, all-important details of love.

Title: Ventricle, Atrium
Author: Gabriel Gadfly
Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd. (January 15, 2012)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Change the Story for Kadigueta

My husband and I started sponsoring a girl in Guatemala five months before my son was born.

 (Blurry, but close to the right time.)

I had heard of Compassion International a few years earlier and thought, "I should do that someday because it is a good thing to do." When I heard about it a second time and I was pregnant, the impact of what it must be like to have a child and live in poverty hit me. I knew we had to do something about it. Before we even got to the table, I knew the one I wanted. I wanted a Spanish speaking child. Of course there were a bunch of others there, so I grabbed two packets I could get to for Spanish speaking children. There was a boy and a girl.

It wasn't much of a decision because I knew that a girl living in poverty has more ways to be exploited than boys do. She was from Guatemala. I have studied much about the history of her country. I haven't been there and I haven't met her, but I know a little bit about what has shaped the story of her and her family.

Some time later I had been reading much about Thailand and God burdened my heart for the girls there. Once again, I knew that girls had more ways to be exploited than boys. So this time I went online and searched for girls in Thailand. One face jumped out at me immediately. We started sponsoring our second girl.

I want to sponsor more, but financially we can't do that right now. I know that child sponsorship makes a difference because I have read the stories. I have heard the stories. Even though I don't understand the fullness of my impact for these 2 girls. I know I'm changing their story. I also know that they are changing mine.

And today there is another girl who needs your help to change her story. This isn't just some fancy commercial in blog form. This is a real girl who lives halfway around the world and you really can help her.

This is Kadigueta. She was born 4/03/2005. Her birthday is today. She is turning 8 years old.


She lives in Burkina Faso. Her education is not free. She is in danger from malaria. I could go on, but I won't because it is more about you helping her be who she is destined to be. It is important to know that responsibility, family values, and dignity are emphasized in her country. All are taught to be respectful, polite, obedient, courageous, and hard workers.

Your support provides her food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities, and important life skills training. Most importantly, she will know that someone around the world writes letters to her and helps her live a better life. She will know that God loves her and provides for her because he prompted someone from around the world to care for her. She will know that God loves her because she will go to a Child Development Center and hear about Him. She will meet with tutors and other adults regularly who teach her about Him.

In the end though, it isn't just about her. It's about you too. She can change you as much as you change her. She can give your heart more than you knew you could handle. This isn't just about money. This is about the story of her life and your life.

Change her story.
Change your story.
Change the story.

Fast Food Vindication: A Review

As this is a blog about stories, it seems like a good idea to add book reviews here. I love reading and you might be interested in what I am reading. And just so we are clear, I'm stealing the layout for this from The Deliberate Reader.

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I am probably like many other Americans, busy! Yes in an ideal world I or my husband would go shopping for fresh ingredients for dinner every night. Except there are days when I have meetings until 5 and then he has a meeting at 6 and dinner needs to happen somewhere in there. There are days, like Sunday and Wednesday, when dinner doesn't seem to fit in before church and after church it is too late to cook something. The solution is often fast food. By now, we should all realize that fast food can be very bad for us. Of course, so are most of those recipes on Pinterest that look so amazing!

So what is one to do when you want to be healthier, but you also have lots of places to be? So far the answer has been feel guilty. And that is a bad answer. This book has a better answer!

The fast food industry is not solely to blame for the obesity problem in America. The biggest blame falls on .... AMERICANS! Even our cookbooks have changed their portion sizes to reflect what we now consider 'normal.' (I learned that in the book.) Lisa Tillinger Johansen takes and honest and realistic look at the fast food industry. There are good things about it, smaller portion sizes, healthy side options, and hiring from within. And there are bad things about it, triple cheese burgers, extra large fries, and sodium content. She does not minimize those points. She is neither too positive nor too negative about fast food. She is just honest and realistic. She is also honest and realistic about the sit down food industry and what we are cooking in our homes. If you want to be healthier by taking small steps that will last and will still fit in with your busy schedule, pick up this book!

My Amazon Review:
A realistic look at the chaos that has become the fight over the American diet. She reminds you of what you already know and makes observations that most wouldn't think of. She even includes research most wouldn't hear about. She doesn't demand immediate changes, but suggests small changes all around to become healthier. There are many observations and ideas she shares that I have incorporated into my eating habits and will continue to use for many years.

Publisher's Description:


For years, dozens of books, documentaries, and magazine articles have targeted the fast food industry as the cause for many of society’s ills, ranging from the obesity epidemic to the proliferation of dead-end jobs. Now, hospital dietitian Lisa Johansen makes the bold case that the fast food industry is actually a positive force in society. Johansen takes the reader from the industry’s scrappy, entrepreneurial beginnings to its emergence as a global business generating hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Far from a blight on society, the fast food industry has distinguished itself by providing a product that meets high standards of quality and safety, often healthier than meals served at home and in sit-down restaurants. The myth of the “McJob” is debunked by true-life cases of corporate titans who succeeded by virtue of the fast-food chains’ practice of promoting from within. And, relying on her years of counseling patients at one of the nation’s largest health networks, Johansen shows the reader just how easily fast food can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Lively and informative, FAST FOOD VINDICATION destroys the media myths and paints the true picture of an industry that touches the lives of millions.

Title: Fast Food Vindication
Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: J. Murray Press (October 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0578110431

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGallery in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Temple Run 2: Fan Fiction

Author's Note: I do not own any of these characters or settings. This is just a fan fiction story I dreamed up based on the game Temple Run 2.

He woke up as daylight broke through the darkness of the cave and fell upon his face. She was gone already. She was always up early on her days to run. He had tried to get up early once, but the brain haze only made him run straight into a fire bar. The 3 days of regeneration reminded him that he had to this his way just like she had to do it her way. They had agreed to this. Not so long ago (at least it seemed like not so long ago) they argued about everything, how much water to take, how to map the ruins, where to camp. Now arguing seemed pointless.
He stood up and wandered to the mouth of the cave. He knew he should go find food and start the fire, but he had to wander where she was at. He worried about her. What if she didn't duck put of the way of a fire bar? What if the rope burned her hands and she let go? Of course she would just regenerate like she had before, but watching her struggle and scream through the process was hard on him. She never remembered the regeneration or so she said. Just weeks ago or so it seemed, he worried she would trip and fall or get dehydrated. He was trying to protect her. She didn't know that, so she argued against his stubborn conservative tendencies.

"This was just supposed to be a job." He said to the wind because there was no one else to listen. "That stupid effin statue."

He paced at the mouth of the cave. Two months ago... Had it only been that long? He didn't have the patience to go count the days now. Something like two months ago, he had answered an ad for an adventurer. While many thought he was crazy to pursue adventure as a career, he found it to be a profitable and adrenaline packed lifestyle. And there were plenty of treasure hunters out there with big dreams and big pockets that lacked the courage to go get it. That's where Guy came in. Over the years he had run into plenty of danger from militia men, wild animals, and other treasure hunters. They were nothing he couldn't handle with a little skill and a little money.

Then came Scarlett. He first saw her and set up his defenses assuming her to be the competition. Then Mr. Theo informed him that she would be his partner. Mr. Theo had expressed concerns about their opposing genders. But Scarlett informed them both quite firmly that nothing got in the way of the job. And that has certainly been born out as true even after Barry and Kharma had been lost to the Fog. That next day Guy was slow to get up and on the way. He had never lost a team member before. He wasn't yet ready to face the day without them. Scarlett however got up early and was ready to move along.

"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to live. Grief will only earn us the same fate as them. There is no time for it in these ruins."

He knew she was right. She was always right. Even the day they found the monkey statue. He ran over to it and started to pick it up. She cautioned him because they had yet to fully map the temple itself.  They hadn't read all the inscriptions and the ones they had read warned of horrendous consequences.

"We know about the fire bars. We have our gloves for the rope climbing. And our weapons for the animals. What else can tent throw at us?"

"I don't know, but I would like to find out before we go moving their idols."

"Now who is being 'conservative'?"

"I would call it smart."

Smart. She was right about that too. He hadn't listened because the thought of being done and leaving had been right there in front of him. He could see the way home and he could see Scarlett without this business between them. He didn't want to listen. He wished he would have though.

He grabbed the statue and nothing happened. He handed it to her and nothing happened. No earthquake. No falling beams. No ancient beings chasing them. They walked out of the temple and nothing happened. They went back to camp and slept. They got up the next morning and the statue was gone. In its place was a note.
It read: Your selfish greed has betrayed you. Now you are doomed to search these ruins until you learn the true value of this statue.

What could that mean? They didn't know, so they argued. They left the cave and continued arguing. As they walked, they noticed their speed increased without their trying. In fact, they tried to slow down and couldn't. They stopped arguing as fear took control. They focused on staying alive as their speed dangerously increased. They both missed a turn and fell from the crumbling wall. Part of the way down, he blacked out. When he woke up, they were in the cave again. He didn't know how much time had passed. Only later would they find out that the regeneration process took 3 days and the one being regenerated would remember nothing. However, the screams issuing forth during the process would haunt the other one for days and weeks later.

He knew he had wasted enough time. He left the cave to do the chores for the one left behind. He found the roots and berries they had eaten for weeks. He found no birds or fish. He returned and stirred the fire to find the coals that were still burning. He stoked the fire to bring it back to life. Then he waited. He dreamed of leaving this place and settling down with Scarlett. He couldn't imagine a job either one of them might want or even be qualified for. That didn't stop him from imagining a home and a life with her.

He heard a noise and sought its source. He left the cave and saw Scarlett stumbling back early. "Thank God she can walk back." He thought.

"Any luck?"

"A few new bruises." She said showing him her multi-colored legs. "A little more singed hair." She said holding up her ponytail. "And some more rope burns." She said showing him her palms.

They were silent with the weight of one more try weighing on them. He put his arm around her shoulders and led her into the cave. They sat next to each other looking at the walls.

"I'm tired." She sighed.

"You can go to bed early tonight"

"Not like that. I'm tired of looking for this stupid thing. I'm tired of failing. I don't even want it. I don't think I even want this life anymore. I just want to go home. "

"Yeah. Me too. The money that Mr. Theo offered just isn't worth it. I would pay him at this point if I could just go home. What do you miss the most?"

"Guy. I don't think we should discuss this. We cant get back there. We don't even know what the note means. What will we do when we find the statue?"

"What if it isn't about the statue? The note said the value of the statue. I don't know about you, but I don't think the value is about money."

"What is it then?"

"I don't know what it is, but I know what it isn't. It isn't worth my family and friends. It isn't worth the pizza I'm missing. It isn't worth the home missing. It isn't with my future. It isn't worth...."

"Worth what?"


"That's not what you meant. Say it."

"If I do, we can't go back."

"We can't go back now. Say it."

"It isn't worth you. Every time you leave I spend half the day worrying about you and the other half dreaming of leaving here with you. Listening to you scream and watching you thrash around when you regenerate tears me up. I don't want you to have to go through this. I want you to be able to walk out of here and live your life the way you want to. I cant lie because I really want you to want me to be a part your life. But mostly I want you to be happy."

Scarlett said nothing. Guy looked at her expectantly. She looked at the ground and picked at the dirt. As he was turning his head to look away, she raised her head. He stopped mid turn. He waited ti hear her voice. He kept waiting. He didn't hear her voice though. He felt her hand. She was intertwining her fingers with his. She finally said one word, "Yeah."

With that one word, they both had bared their hearts and found them to be same. This time there was an earthquake and falling beams. They stood up hand in hand and ran. They didn't know where they were going. They ran solely on instinct. Ways that had been previously blocked were open. Walls that had been crumbling were strong. They ran until they were out of breath.

"I think the shaking stopped."

"And so have the ruins. Look! The Forrest." She said shaking with joy. The hope of life gave them new energy and they started to run. They ran until they couldn't see the ruins anymore. They stopped for breath.

"Guy, is this real? Are we going to wake up back there tomorrow?"

"I don't know. But look, your bruises are gone. That has to be a good thing."

"I can't believe it yet. I don't want to think we are going home if we aren't."

"I know. Let's keep going. When we find someone, then we will know it is real."

"Right. Let's go this way."


She turned and glared at him. "Because that is north. The town we need to get to is to the north. The wind that is blowing comes from the east. And by the tree growth at the top of the trees shows that this is the direction the wind blows most of the time. So this way."

Guy laughed a hearty laugh. "You always have been smarter than me."

She eyed him suspiciously and then smiled. "I'm glad you spoke the value of the statue. I'm not real good with words, but I'm looking forward to the time we have to work on that."

He wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled again and they set off in the direction she had indicated.