Monday, December 19, 2011

A Soldier's Silent Night

As spoken by Ted Berndt

 Twas the night before Christmas; he lived all alone
in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
and to see just who in this dwelling did live.
I looked all around, a strange sight to see -
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stockings on the mantle, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands,
medals and badges, awards of every kind.
A sobering thought came alive in my mind -
this house was different. It was dark, it was dreary.
I had found the home of a soldier. I could see that most clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping - silent, alone,
curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
His face was so gentle, the room in such disorder.
Not at all how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read,
curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
Then I realized the other families that I saw this night
owe their lives to soldiers who are willing to fight.
In the morning, around the world, children would play,
grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoy freedom each month of the year
because of soldiers like the one lying here.
I couldn't help but wonder how many lay alone
on this cold Christmas Eve in lands far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
The soldier awakened and I heard his rough voice,
"Santa don't cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom. I don't ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my corps."
The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
but I couldn't control it and I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
as both of us shivered from the cold night's chill.
I didn't want to leave him on that cold, dark night -
this guardian of honor, so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure whispered
"Carry on Santa, it's Christmas day, all is secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right.
"Merry Christmas my friend. May God bless you this night."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All Good Things...

My most recent read was Star Trek: The Next Generation: All Good Things... (must come to an end). It is the novelization of the last episode of Star Trek TNG, and I LOVED IT!! If you are into Star Trek, then I definitely recommend this book to you. If you are not into Star Trek, I still recommend this book. It's certainly better if you already know the characters and the back story, but I think you will still enjoy it even if you've never seen the show.

It's a trip back and forth between three different time periods in Captain Picard's life, as he tries to figure out how to save all of humanity, while Q, his nemesis, taunts and torments him. Old characters make a comeback, and regular characters become old, and young. It's a little confusing, and very exciting, with humor and suspense mixed in. Plus plenty of high-tech, futuristic gadgets and science to satisfy any sci-fi fan.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks And Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, as we all know, is a holiday which takes place on the fourth Thursday of November. You probably also know that the first Thanksgiving was held by Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. You may or may not know that it was declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

But while Thanksgiving is one day out of the year, giving thanks is an act, which is not relegated to one certain day.

God asks us to give thanks in these ways -
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28:7) 

This verse is written in five different places!! God must really mean it -
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 118:29, Psalm 136:1)

It's also written twice more -
Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever. (2 Chronicles 20:21)
Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever. (Jeremiah 33:11)

So, I think it's pretty clear that we are supposed to give thanks, and that we are supposed to do it at all times, in all circumstances, whether in prayer, song, or action. And we have a lot to be thankful for! As you read in these verses, God gives us victory, he protects and strengthens us, he makes us happy, he helps us, he loves us, and he is always good.

But don't forget to be thankful for other things, too! Like family and friends, a home, a job, a vehicle, food, clothing, even fun things like gifts and toys, and things we tend to take for granted, like sunshine, snowflakes, pets, and especially freedom!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and draw closer to Christmas, remember to stop and think about what you're thankful for every once in a while. It will help you to see how much you have, rather than how much more you want.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food For Thought

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you don't know it, see a psychiatrist.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Tailor-Made Bride

I just read the most delightful book, about a young and talented seamstress who moves to a small town in Texas, and immediately clashes with the local livery owner.

Hannah moves to Coventry, Texas to open her own shop. JT, whose livery is right across the street, hates anything to do with beauty and vanity. So he decides to dislike her before they even meet. But what he soon finds out is that she is the sweetest, friendliest, and most humble woman he's known. How, then, can she be in a business that promotes vanity and feeling superior to others? With these conflicting thoughts, he wrestles back and forth with wanting to court her and wanting to stay away from her. And when Hannah becomes best friends with his sister, he tries to protect Delia from turning into the stuck up and flirtatious woman that he thinks she will become. But when he realizes Hannah is only trying to help Delia attract the man of her dreams, he may start to change his mind.

This is a heart-warming story, with plenty of laugh out loud moments, and a few harrowing ones. The characters are endearing, and the plot is full of fun suspense. If you love any sort of romance or historical fiction, you will absolutely love this book! It was such an easy and relaxing read. I flew right through it, much faster than I usually get through books. Then I gave it to my mother in law and she read it in two days, and loved it! I highly recommend this book!!

A Tailor-Made Bride was published last year, and is the first novel by Karen Witemeyer. She has two more books out so far, and I am off to find them, as I am sure they will be as wonderful as the first! To go to her website, click here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Walrus and the Carpenter

A poem by Lewis Carroll

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might.
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright - 
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done.
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky.
No birds were flying overhead -
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand.
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand.
"If this were only cleared away," 
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach -
We can not do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said.
The eldest Oyster winked his eye
And shook his heavy head -
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat.
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat -
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more -
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low,
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax,
Of cabbages, and kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat - 
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need.
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed.
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said,
"Do you admire the view?

"It was so kind of you to come,
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut  us another slice.
I wish you were not quite so deaf -
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far, 
And made them trot so quick!"
The carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said.
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none -
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Tuesday Morning

In remembrance of the September 11th attacks, Karen Kingsbury wrote the 9/11 series. In the first book, One Tuesday Morning, two men - one a firefighter and the other a businessman - meet in a stairway of one of the twin towers. Both have the same face, but have never met before. Only one of these men makes it out alive. Not remembering who he is or what his life was like before that day, he winds up living the other man's life, and learns lessons about love, faith, and courage along the way.

This three book series is very moving, will touch your heart, and quite possibly will make you cry.

Click here to go to the series page on Karen's website.

Let's Roll

Please take time today to remember the men and women who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Please remember those regular citizens who fought and died to save our nation's capitol. Please honor our military, police, firefighters, and rescue workers who helped out on that day. Please stand strong for the United States.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Food For Thought

Do robots dream of electric sheep?

*I did not come up with this. It's from the song Alive by Superchick.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Who Done It?!

I love mysteries. I love trying to figure them out before the characters do. Although the best mysteries are the ones that have so many surprising twists that you can't figure it out. But you still try.

I also really enjoy cozy mysteries, or whodunits. Yeah, there's a murder. Yes, there's someone watching you. No, everything does not go according to plan. Yes, you most likely will run into danger. But it's presented in such a fun, quirky way that it doesn't seem scary. Not like suspense thrillers.

So here I've gathered the most memorable mysteries that I've read and loved.

Detective mysteries:

Of course, I have to start with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. They're good on their own, each with their own set of friends and fathers and local police officers and arch enemies. But they're even better when the three of them (plus usually their aforementioned posses) team up and work on a case together. My personal favorite is A Crime for Christmas. It's actually one of my favorite books of all time. 
And don't forget about the late 70s show starring Pamela Sue Martin, Parker Stevenson, and Shaun Cassidy!
All of the books were written by Carolyn Keene. The Hardy Boys books were published under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.

Another amateur sleuth who has her own book series is Trixie Belden. Along with her best friend Honey Wheeler, Trixie's brothers Mart and Brian, and Honey's adopted brother Jim, they form the Bob-Whites of the Glen, and solve mysteries around their hometown of Sleepyside.
The first six books were written by Julie Campbell Tatham. The other thirty-three were written by multiple ghost writers under the name Kathryn Kenny.

I'm sure you know who Sherlock Holmes is. The brilliant and witty detective and his sidekick Watson solve murders and other crimes in late 1800s/early 1900s London.
Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 I've read the Dani Ross Mysteries multiple times. Dani is a private investigator from New Orleans. When her father gets sick, she takes over his private eye business, and hires a new employee, Ben Savage. Together, they face some of the toughest and most dangerous situations Louisianna has to offer in this exciting four book series.
Written by Gilbert Morris.


Here's one you might not have heard of. The Deadly Decor Mysteries trilogy is about Haley Farrell, an interior decorator who always manages to get mixed up in the latest murder investigation. She and Dutch Merrill, a contractor and her biggest annoyance, have to work together to solve these murders before someone gets hurt or the wrong person gets blamed.
Written by Ginny Aiken.

One of my favorite book series ever is The Royal Tunbridge Wells Tea Museum Mysteries. Unfortunately, there are only two books in the series. It's unfortunate because I could read hundreds of books about these characters, they're just so lovable. Nigel, an English businessman who's career goes south and forces him to take a job at the tea museum (even though he finds it boring, and prefers coffee), and Felicity, an American who moved to England just to work at the museum, obviously have differing opinions and personalities. But, of course, they must learn to work together, not just in the museum, but in the investigation of two murders that are tied to the museum in more ways than one.
Written by Ron and Janet Benrey.

In The Book of Hours, a stand-alone novel, Brian Blackstone heads to England to honor his deceased wife's last wish, that he take care of her family's estate. This crumbling castle in a small English village holds secrets, and Brian enlists the help of the local doctor, Cecilia, to help him uncover these secrets. More is hidden there than he knows, and what he finds may be dangerous, to him and others in the town.
Written by Davis Bunn.

Finally there's the Clue books. Yes, like the board game. And the movie. And the card game. These books feature a bunch of short stories, and at the end of each one is a card, just like in the game, with a list of suspects, weapons, and rooms. Your job is to read the story, and deduce who the culprit was, what they used, and where they did it. And some of the stories are outrageously funny and confusing! There's one in which all of the guests are playing practical jokes, so not only do you have to figure out who did what, you have to figure out which one of the murders was the actual murder!! It's super fun, and makes you think.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Favorite Quote

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return."
- Leonardo Da Vinci

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do It Anyway

A poem by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God. 
It was never between you and them anyway.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fun Stories For The Summer Months

So sorry I have been away from my "post" for a while! (Pun intended.) I have a few fun summer reads to tell you about.

If you enjoy all those sitcoms about a bunch of friends in their twenties,  then you will most likely LOVE this series. I certainly do!! Ray Blackston has created some of the most vibrant, unique, and quirky characters I've ever met, and placed them on a backdrop of southern charm, beach trips, and a singles sunday school class.

Jay has just moved from Texas to South Carolina. In hopes of making some new friends, and maybe getting a date, he attends a local church, where things are not what he expected. A tanned, poetic missionary with a great throwing arm, a lime green Cadillac, a trip to Myrtle Beach, and a multitude of food fights are only the beginning of this wonderfully crafted story about God, summer fun, and falling in love.

A Delirious Summer
Neil, a missionary on furlough, gets mixed up in the crazy bunch of friends from the first book. Will he, like Jay, find what he is looking for in South Carolina? Or will he run back to the safety of the Ecuadorian jungle? Rejoin all your favorite characters from the first book, plus some new ones, as Neil navigates through his Delirious Summer.

Lost in Rooville
The gang travels to Australia to check out the views and the marsupials, but a few of the guys may have a secret agenda. Plus, what do Americans know about surviving in the outback?! Will everyone make it out alive? Travel along with Jay and the rest of the crew as they try to find their way through the Australian bush, meet new friends, and maybe catch some frogs...

Another great book to read is Just Between You and Me. Written by Jenny B. Jones, this book tells the story of Maggie, a thrill-seeking cinematographer who, in a family emergency, goes back to her hometown, where she hasn't been in years. Thrust into meetings with estranged family members, old friends, and even more old enemies, she must decide whether to help out those who need her, or to get out while she still can. Set in a small town, where everyone knows everything about everyone, and she was the "bad girl" in high school, can she survive long enough to help out her family, and maybe help herself, too?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Easter Morning

I took this picture on Easter morning at a sunrise church service. They had three crosses set up to remind us why we celebrate. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was just coming up, and it was lightly drizzling, which didn't bother us. Especially because behind us, there was a huge and perfect rainbow. Two symbols of God's promises on one day. You can't see that and not be amazed. ♥

Saturday, January 8, 2011

High Flight

This is my favorite poem. It was written by John Magee, an American who joined the Canadian Air Force during the Battle of Britain, because the United States hadn't joined in the fighting. He was inspired to write this poem as he was flying his Spitfire over England at 30,000 feet, and once he landed he finished it and sent it in a letter to his parents. He died in 1941, at age 19, only a few months after writing this.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds,
And done a hundred things you have not dreamed of -
Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there, I've chased the shouting wind along,
And flung my eager craft through the footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew.
And while with silent lifting mind
I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand,
And touched the face of God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lost And Found

Have you ever searched for something for a really long time, and when you finally found it, you wanted to jump up and down and scream and dance around the room? I have.

For example, you're in a rush to go somewhere and realize you can't find your keys. It can make you late for a meeting, work, church, anything. And you can't do anything about it except keep looking and praying. And that's what makes the difference. I've seen someone search for their keys for 20 minutes and not find them. Then they decide to ask God to help them find these missing keys, and next thing you know, they're right there in plain sight.

Thinking about this reminded me of the parable of the lost coin:
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin." (Luke 15:8-9)

After that, Jesus says:
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)

Wait a minute. God sees us like the woman saw her coins? YES! He is longing for us, and when we turn (or return) to Him, He is so so happy! Amazing, right? God is excited about you!

Here are two more parables to further demonstrate how much God loves us and wants us to find Him.

The parable of the lost sheep:
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:4-7)

The parable of the lost son:
There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, "Father, give me my share of the estate." So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything , there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
When he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men." So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-24)

Also, if you have the chance, listen to the song The Lost Get Found by Britt Nicole. It's really catchy, and it talks about the same thing I've been writing about.

I hope that if you've lost anything, or if you're feeling lost, you'll pray about it, and you'll find whatever it is you were looking for!