Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Falling In Love With God

Fall in Maine off the beat and path
Winter, spring, summer, and fall are all God’s seasons.  The 22nd was the first day of fall.  When I was young I was a big fan of summer and spring and not at all fond of fall or winter.  Why?  I grew up in South Florida.  We did not have fall or winter.  I didn’t even own a jacket until I moved to Alabama. Moving to Alabama definitely broadened my horizons.  I fell in love with fall.  I think it has something to do with those leaves of red, orange, yellow, and burgundy that grace the trees during fall.  Every year I fell as if I am noticing them for the very first time.  I love to take rides and watch people set out pumpkins in their yards with hay bales, and watch them plant colorful mums. A few years ago I went to see a friend.  As I entered her neighborhood I noticed many yards were decorated for fall.  It was truly gorgeous….but I could not remember seeing this when I had been to her house before.  I began to wonder if I had just missed this glorious season all this time….or was it that as I got older I found myself appreciating the small things in God’s world more.  The Bible says, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, and I will rejoice in it.”  Each day He has given me beauty to enjoy, especially on my daily trek from Wedowee to Wadley.  I decided the first fall I drove down CR 15 that I was going to sit back and take in this amazing artwork He has created.  You know it amazes me how He can create such awesomeness and themes.  We see artists that try to capture the seasons on their canvases by painting what is around them, and they do a wonderful job.  However, neither painting nor paint could ever replace the real thing splashed across the sky and spilled over the earth like the Master’s display of his finest artwork.  God’s winter.  When people say there is no God, I know they do not see with eyes like mine.  They must see a plain, white canvas or a black back drop cloth and not the blue skies that fade into light pink in the evening.  Nor do they see the flowers that no paint on any artist’s palate could attempt to match or the trees that were each given a certain color leaf to change into when autumn arrives.  “No God,” they say.  It is just that they do not know the Master of the seasons, the One who has created such magnificent displays of perfect art.  Instead of always looking forward to the summer and springtime, I have decided to enjoy the Master’s autumn masterpiece for the rest of my life.  What about you?  What is your favorite season?


Cades Cove in Smokey Mountain National Park

Cheaha Mtn/Talladega. National Forrest

University of the South Cross on a fall night


 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Falling For Hodge Podge

Welcome to the last of the summertime Hodgepodges for this year. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a sunny comment for the person linking before you. It's what all good blog neighbors do.


1. What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.
I have to agree with Joyce on this one....grandparenting. Why?  Because they light up my life. I don't have pictures on my school computer....sigh!  BUT my room is full of them.
 
2. What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so? Anything that involves being up high or anything in the medical field.  I can't do heights...and I cannot do gross.
3. When did you last take a fall? What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?
I not fallen in a few years.  I used to be a major source of falling entertainment for years.  My kids thought it was the funniest thing on earth. 
Something I'm falling for these days?  Baking, reading, crafting..we have a craft fair coming up in a few weeks and I am getting my stuff ready.
4. According to the Travel Channel here are some of America's best fall festivals-
National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville PA, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe NM)  Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?  I love Fall Festivals and have been to quite a few.  I haven't been to any of the festivals listed, but they all sound like fun so how do I pick just one? I think I'd go  to the National Apple Harvest Festival.  I LOVE apples.  I also would like the Harvest on the Harbor because I adore lobster and Maine in the fall is amazing!  I love the Cotton Pickin' Fair held in Gay, GA in October and May..   I also love the Hummingbird Festival in Hogansville, GA in the fall and some small but fun ones like  Crafts on the Median in Wedowee and Heritage Day in Freedonia, AL.  I enjoy them all.
5. What is your goodbye message to summer?

Dear Summer-
  You weren't too bad this year....but I am a fall fan and can't wait for the vibrant colors of the season.  

 Love ya though....KK
 
6. Insert your own random thought here. 
I had spiced cider last night because it was raining and I was chilly.  It was yummmy.   What is your favorite fall/winter drink?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wordy Wednesday Hodge Podge


I would love to welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge, but the hurricane happenings have thrown me way behind so it did not happen. We ended up with more Irma effect in our area than was predicted, two days out of school....power stayed at our house....but not so much for many of our friends....and the school.  There were a lot of trees down and the ones that did not drop completely dropped so many leaves and branches all over the yard, but we'll deal.  I still have family and friends in Florida....and my heart is heavy with the needs of those who've lost homes, businesses, pets, and most especially their loved ones. I pray we can all continue to be good neighbors, helping one another in whatever way we're able.  Here are my answers to this week's questions. If you're playing along, add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. Here we go-


1. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
There are many pictures that inspire me to write.  There are many who bring back fond....and not so fond memories.  In my world...pictures speak with talking....and tell so many stories of good times I have had with family and friends.  

2. Have you ever driven any part of the Pacific Coast Highway? If so what was your favorite stop? If not, is this sort of trip on your bucket list?  I have been(driving or being driven) the entire length of the PCH.  It was my very first bucket list.  I would do it again anytime.  Favorite stop?  You know me....it is plural....I  teach Spanish...so I loved visiting all the missions along the way.  San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara were my favorites.  I loved Ventura(be sure to stay at the Cliff House Inn....the views were amazing....I loved Venice Beach....Glass Beach is a must see....Chandelier Drive Tree Drive Through was pretty amazing as well.  There were so many things I would love to go back and repeat....BUT...there are still so many things on my bucket list.  I must go forth....and get the rest of the list taken care of....so I can add new things.

3. How do the changing seasons affect you? As the seasons change do you find yourself looking more forward or backward? Which season-season transition bothers you most? Why do you think that is?  I look forward mostly, but occasionally looking back is a reminder of special times....Fall to winter is hard  for me.  I have lost too many loved ones during this period and it makes me a bit blue.

4. It's your birthday and you get to pick the dinner menu. What are we having? Do you ever lie about your age?  Grilled hamburgers/steaks if Frank is cooking.  Italian if we are at Pizzavilla, Emporers Plate at Mikatos in Auburn, Wings(Colorado Coppers) if we are in Knoxille/Charleston and Chicken Enchiladas Verde if I am at Tres Hermanos in Roanoke.  I never lie about my age.  I am what I am.

5. What's a life lesson you've learned recently?  I am not as young as I used to be.  I have a new friend who has come to visit.  His name is Arthur Itus.  He is killing my left knee and right ankle....especially with all the rain we have been having.  

6. Insert your own random thought here.  You must see the movie A Case For Christ.  It is out on DVD and Blue Ray....and awesome.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Jack Of All Trades

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to Joyce's by clicking here to read everyone's responses.  If you want to you can add your link to the party. See you there!


From this Side of the Pond

1. When you think about your future what do you fear most? Hope for the most?  Retirement and retirement.  I am afraid I will stop like my dad did when I retire and I can't wait til May when I retire and can do the things I love to do.

2. September is National Chicken Month. How often is chicken on the menu at your house? What's a favorite dish made with chicken? What's something you're a 'chicken' about doing or trying?  we love Chicken and eat it at least once a week...sometimes more.  My favorite dishes with Chicken is Chicken in a pot (a Greek inspired dish) and Poppy Seed Chicken made by Mrs. Jean from my church....but I will pretty much eat chicken any way it is served.  I LOVE Chicken enchilada's with green sauce from Tres Hermanos too.  I have not perfected the recipe yet.  I am chicken about doing anything that involves extreme heights....so no bungee jumping, et al for me.

3. What are three things you don't own but wish you did?   A vintage mustang, a Gibson guitar like the one Emmy Lou Harris plays, and a house in the mountains.

4. Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of one? Elaborate.  If you answered one, which one?  I am like my father....he was a master electrician....but a Jack of all trades.  My dad could do anything and I am my father's daughter.

5. Ketchup or mustard? On what?  Both...on hamburgers and hotdogs....ketchup only on French fries....sometimes.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. Hurricane Irma is frightening me.  I still have family and friends in South Florida so I am concerned for their safety.  I am also saddened by the wildfires in Montana.  I have been to many of the places that are now burned to the ground.  The Historic Lodge in Glacier National Park was one of the things on my bucket list.  I am sad because it is no more.  I guess you should always do things when you have the chance and not wait.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hodge Podging Stuff

Welcome to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you've chosen to answer the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post by clicking here, then hop over and say hi to your neighbor on the list. Here we go-


From this Side of the Pond 

1. Did you watch the solar eclipse? Your thoughts? Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Starburst candies, a Blue Moon beer, a Sunkist orange, or a Milky Way candy bar...what's your favorite eclipse related snack on this list?  We absolutely watched the eclipse.  It was a big event at Wadley High School and we took the students out to the football field with their glasses for it. You could see the eclipse as it moved across the sky in our special glasses....but it did not get dark here like they said it would....so sad.  I made a decision to be where there is totality in 2024 when the next one happens.  Most of our teachers passed out Moon Pies, Sunkist, Milky Ways, and Starbursts.  

2. What are you 'over the moon' about these days? What's something you enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon'?  I am over the moon about singing with the girls again in Still Magnolias.  We got to sing together for the first time in two years on Saturday night.  It was awesome.  What do I enjoy doing every once in a while????  Don't laugh....but  eating a Moon Pie.  Every now and then I actually crave one.

3. Tell us about something in the realm of science that interests you. How do you feed that interest?
I have to agree with Joyce.  We have hummingbirds and the ins and outs of the little fellows amaze me.  I love to watch them fly, fight, eat.  I am also amazed by storms and the majesty and power of lightening.  When I was a child squalls before a hurricane absolutely fascinated me.

4. What are a few things you remember about going back to school as a child?  I remember going to Davis' 5 & 10 for new school supplies and hearing the wooden floors squeak under our feet, getting a real cigar box for pencils from the cigar store, my first day dress, the  new shoes I got and how they hurt my feet til I got them stretched out.  First days and last days have always been my favorites....

5. I've seen several versions of this around the net so let's make one of our own...share with us five words that touch your soul and briefly tell us why.

daddy-warmth, comfort - It is well with my soul.. 

dream-I too have always been a dreamer. 
Dreams awaken what could be's in my heart and mind.. 

squalls/storms- awaken life with in me

Lightening - show me the majesty of God and all his power.  There is a bit of fear that is experienced with the majesty.  


Love - unconditionally given by me, to me, for me....no questions asked....just love.


6.  Insert your own random thought here. The first football game starts this week with a Jamboree.  Do schools in  your areas do this?  It is a showcase of the teams.  This week our theme is going to be Beach the Bulldogs and the kids will be dressed up in Beach Attire.  I am not a huge fan of this dress up thing....it causes the kids to be less than focused.  I feel they should do all this during the pep rallys....not during the day..  What about you?  How do you feel about pep rallys and dress up during school?

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Irish Cottage


About The Book:  A story about losing your way and finding your life. Elizabeth Lara built a perfect life as San Francisco’s top divorce attorney, but when she loses her great-aunt Mags, the woman who raised her, she boards a plane and leaves it all behind.

The Irish shores welcome her as she learns a shocking truth, kept secret for thirty-five years. Devastated and now alone in the world, Beth tries to find peace in a beautiful cottage by Lough Rhiannon, but peace isn’t what fate had in mind. Almost as soon as she arrives, Beth’s solitary retreat into the magic wilds of Ireland is interrupted by Connor Bannon. A man with light brown hair, ice blue eyes and a secret of his own. He’s gorgeous, grieving, and completely unexpected.  With the help of Mags’ letters, the colorful townspeople of Dingle, and Connor, Elizabeth might just find a way back to the girl she lost long ago and become the woman she always wanted to be.

The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth is an international women’s literary fiction romance novel with three books in the novel series. Other themes include: romance literary fiction, women’s sagas, love stories, and second chances at life.


About The Author:  Jules is originally from California. She is a true, hopeless, all-in romantic. Her first kiss was with a Frenchman in Paris, her first love was an Eagle Scout, her first crash and burn was with someone from Harvard (Jules studied history at Yale--she should have known better).   The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth was inspired by Jules' love for all things Irish. A love sparked in her teens by Riverdance; fanned into a flame when she befriended a group of Irish kids in France; and blazed into a wildfire by a visit to the Emerald Isle.  Earlier this year, an AncestryDNA test confirmed what Jules has suspected for a while: she's part Irish (one of her grandparents continues to be unknown, but as luck would have it, the test divined that he must have been an Irish-Scot-Swede).

My Thoughts On The Book:  It wasn't the best book I have ever read, and it was not the worst., but I found myself drawn to Beth and Connor.   I am not a huge fan of sex scenes in books but these were not terribly offensive and used in the right places.  I love romance novels and since I am from Irish descent I love Ireland.  This book was a win-win for me.  I enjoyed it.  I am usually drawn to Amish fiction so this was a nice break.  Will I read the next two in the series?  I most definitely will to see what happens to Beth and Connor. The setting was very real and I allowed myself to be carried back to Ireland within the confines of the story.  I would give this book a solid 4.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Amazon. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fraying at the Edge: The Amish of Summer Grove, Book 2



About The Book: Family, community, faith, and love.  These “quilt blocks” sewn together made Ariana’s beautiful life.  When they are pulled to pieces,  will anything familiar remain?  The Old Order Amish life Ariana Brenneman loved vanished virtually overnight with the discovery that she was switched at birth twenty years ago. Now she’s immersed in the Englischer world, getting to know her mother and under the authority of her biological father, an atheist intellectual with resolute plans to expand Ariana’s worldview. Only Quill Schlabach, a childhood friend living Englisch, can steady the tilting ground between Ariana’s two worlds, but can she trust him after so many betrayals?  At the same time, Skylar Nash is forced to choose rehab or spend several months with her true relatives, the large Brenneman family and their seemingly backward life—no electricity, no technology, no fun. What the young woman can’t leave behind is her addiction to illegal prescription drugs and a deep emptiness from the belief that she doesn’t belong in either family.  New ties are binding Ariana and Skylar to the lives they were meant to have. Can they find the wisdom and strength they’ll need to follow God’s threads into unexpected futures?  Fraying at the Edge is the second novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Excerpt: © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved  Summer Grove, Pennsylvania

The dark shadows lying across the living room floor were eerie, seemingly coming out of hiding as Lovina remained kneeling in front of the couch, her Bible open. The pale moonlight only intensified the darkness that surrounded her, as if the blackness were a picture of what was happening to her family. To her daughters.

She tightened her interlaced fingers. Her knees ached from the hours she had quietly sought God for the kind of help only He could give.

The daughter she’d thought she had given birth to two decades ago was gone, spending her first night with strangers in an Englisch home that by all accounts was worldly and in disarray. From what little she knew, that home was dysfunctional at best. She was terrified for the daughter she’d raised, the one who had none of her DNA.

Until recently Lovina hadn’t realized that even God’s faithful ones endured the kind of terror that had now entrenched itself in her heart. But maybe the truth was Lovina hadn’t been faithful, not truly.

“God, please don’t let Ariana or Skylar pay the price for my sin.”

How would Ariana—Lovina’s sweet, wide-eyed girl—survive for a year outside the Amish community she loved with her whole heart?

The daughter Lovina had actually given birth to was upstairs, sharing a bedroom with her sisters for the first time in her twenty-year life. The image of meeting Skylar yesterday for the first time made Lovina break into fresh sobs. Her daughter had black nails that matched the dyed-black streak in her blond hair. And she wore jewelry, makeup, and revealing clothes. But none of that had twisted Lovina’s heart in a knot like the hard­ness she saw in Skylar, as if bitterness had already destroyed her belief in life and humanity. The young woman wasn’t hopeless. She had dreams but no apparent understanding that life and people were valuable. Even with all that, the most painful part of yesterday was when Skylar’s driver, Quill Schlabach, handed Lovina the luggage and suggested she thoroughly inspect it to verify Skylar hadn’t brought any drugs with her.

Lovina had set the luggage aside for a while and tried to connect with Skylar about little things—her hobbies, schooling, and such. Later, when the two of them were alone, Lovina went through the suitcase as Skylar sat on the bed, calmly and apathetically assuring her that she’d only popped a few pills on occasion and that a random drug test happened to catch her right after one such rare event. Lovina found no drugs, but Skylar’s calm, detached behavior toward meeting her family, having a twin, and the drug search was disconcerting.

“Father in heaven, please strengthen Skylar to overcome all desire for pills—occasional or otherwise.”

It was her fault Skylar was in this predicament. Just as it was her fault Ariana had been forced to leave here and go to a dysfunctional home. Would Lovina spend the rest of her life carrying this unbearable sense of blame?

When the floor creaked, Lovina lifted her forehead from her folded hands. Her husband stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, bathed in shadows and dressed in yesterday’s pants with sus­penders pulled over a white T-shirt.

He eased toward her, knelt, and put an arm around her shoulders. “God, help my Lovina,” he whispered, and then he kissed her temple. “It’ll be okay. It will.”

Lovina didn’t need or want false words of hope, but maybe God had spoken to Isaac. Maybe He hadn’t. She wouldn’t ask.

Skylar had spent a lifetime being indoctrinated in ways Lovina had little knowledge of. In fact, she would be in rehab right now were it not for these crazy circumstances.

Lovina’s need to confess her sin to her husband weighed heavily. “The unbearable part is I did this.”

“Shh.” He held her tight, probably trying to ease her trembling. “No, my love. This isn’t—”

“But it is. Please, I have to say it aloud to someone . . . at least once.”

He nodded. “Then say it a thousand times if it will help.”

Lovina wiped her tears. “When I doubted that we had the right new­born, I didn’t push hard enough to get answers.”

“But Rachel dismissed your fears.”

“Rachel meant well, but as a midwife she didn’t have a mother’s heart. I should’ve pushed harder for answers then.” She sobbed. “And twenty years later when I discovered the truth about the girls being swapped, I pushed too hard, too fast. Quill tried to warn me, telling me I needed to slow down. But I forged ahead, thinking Skylar needed the faith we could offer her. But we’re in over our heads with that one. I see that now. I’ve upended both girls’ lives. Ariana is there, and . . .” She broke into fresh tears. “I’m a horrible person, Isaac.”

He wrapped her in his arms and held her tight. “God will forgive us.”

Even he couldn’t muster another denial of their guilt. This nightmare was Lovina’s fault, and no matter how it played out, her daughters—yes, she considered both of them her daughters—would pay the price. Who knew how high a price? All the regret of her past failures and all the fear of her daughters’ futures weighed on her mother’s heart, squeezing and press­ing until she didn’t think she could take any more.

As much as she believed in forgiveness and redemption, she wasn’t sure any existed for her. God could forgive her, and He could redeem her from eternal damnation. But that wouldn’t undo or erase two decades of planting and harvesting in Skylar’s life.

Clarity came to her like dawn dispelling night, and she knew why the burden of her sin was so very heavy tonight. Darkness was stretching to­ward Ariana, and Lovina needed to pray fervently, because her sweet girl would soon be in a fight for her sanity.  
About The Author:  Cindy Woodsmall is the New York Times and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction and nonfiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s Nightline, the Wall Street Journal, and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. She can be found online at cindywoodsmall.com

My Thoughts On The Book:  Fraying at the Edge is book two from Cindy Woodsmall's The Amish of Summer Grove series. I feel that you need to read the first in the series first to get the full impact of the series, although you could read this one as a stand alone.
Fraying at the Edge is wonderful and I loved connecting with my Amish friends again.  The two young women were thrown into unknown worlds have both touched my heart. Woodsmall's books are among the best Amish books I have ever read.  Once I start one I cannot stop reading until it is finished.   It is going to be hard waiting for the third and final book.  I have to see how the story line finishes.  


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Cindy Woodsmall Facebook Launch Team and Waterbrook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”