Bible Verse

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense. Proverbs 2:3

Friday, December 19, 2014

Once Agan, Confusion Reigns

Do you know a confused old person?  Not a seemingly old person because you’re young and they seem old (Example:  You’re 20 and think 45 is over the hill).  No, I mean a real old person, say around… well, you know if you fit into this category.

I am a senior citizen according to my mirror and my almost 13-year-old AARP membership.  I can tell you why older people sometimes seem confused:  They are.

Everything has changed!  And keeps changing!

Have you noticed the teeny tiny print on everything from aspirin bottles to that stuff that scrolls across the bottom of the TV screen? 

And have you noticed that bottles are nearly impossible to get into?  My mother has glaucoma and puts drops in her eyes every night.  You wouldn’t believe the trouble she has trying to pry that small bottle open. You’d think there would be some kind of easy open bottle for someone who is 93 years old.  I mean, glaucoma usually occurs in older people.  Hello!  Old people have trouble with their sight, their strength, and their grip (on reality and jar lids).

And along those same lines, when I feel a migraine coming on, I don’t want to deal with a pill that is encased in plastic where you first have to break off a corner and then find the microscopic place that you can pull on to pull the plastic back, only to find that it is permanently adhered to the little bubble where the magic pill can be found.  My head is killing me and now I have to deal with this? I take a pair of scissors and savagely cut the thing to pieces.  Finally, my magic pill!  But by this time, my migraine is past the point where the pill will do much good. I take it anyway. Bleh…

I have coined a new word:  checkoutaphobia, the fear of being confused and looking stupid when you check out at Wal-Mart, Dollar General, etc.

I am eat up with checkoutaphobia.  There’s a disaster lurking at every cash register.  If I use cash to pay for my stuff, I end up doing the old lady thing of digging deeper and deeper into my billfold to find the correct change.  To do this, I have to take out the 1, 5 and 20 dollar bills, charge cards, and anything else I’ve dropped in there for safekeeping (Oh, look! There’s the necklace I’ve been looking for).  Once I have the correct change, I have to stuff all that back into my billfold which, of course, won’t fit for some ridiculous reason, and now I’m holding up the line and looking confused and feeling stupid.

If I use a credit card to pay for my stuff, I end up standing there, squinting at that little picture that shows the correct position of the credit card to use while swiping the card.  Does the side with the letters face down or up?  Do the letters go toward me or away from me?  Does the side with the stripe on it go down? If that’s correct, does it even matter where the letters are?  At this point, the cashier usually saves me by taking the card and quickly swiping it for me, for which I am both grateful and vaguely embarrassed.  As I look behind me, I see that I am, once again, holding up the line and looking confused and feeling stupid.

And as I get slower about these things, the cashiers are getting faster because the high-tech cash registers get faster all the time.

Things have really changed at the grocery store. I can’t unload my buggy fast enough to keep up with the cashier, so she’s standing there waiting for me to get my stuff on the counter so she can scan everything and then she immediately has my total, and is now waiting for me to pay as I struggle with the buggy and my purse.

Back when I was a kid (when  dinosaurs roamed the Earth), my sister and I would go with Mom to the grocery store on Friday nights and hurry home to watch The Flintstones. We loved that show and didn’t want to miss any of it.

I remember the cashier had to find the price sticker on each item and then manually enter it into the cash register.  Even with the fastest checker, there would be plenty of time for digging the cash out of your purse or pocket or even writing a check, all the while catching up on the latest rumor going around about the soap opera everyone watched.  The conversation would go on through the bagging of the groceries into big brown paper bags. And all the bags would be cheerfully taken to your car by a store employee. (We still have a grocery store locally that takes your stuff to your car.  It’s great, especially for old folk like myself.)

There was no checkoutaphobia back then.  There was no confusion about how to position your credit cards because there were no credit cards.  Just cold cash and hand-written checks.

But we must go forward and thank God for what we’ve got instead of what we had.  Sometimes, though, as checkoutaphobia surrounds me, I hear the faint echo of “Yaba daba do!” and I smile as I dig out the correct change and hold up yet another line…

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's #ThrowbackThursday Time!

Wow!  How time flies!  Here's Serenity at 3 years old -- what a cutie! (I have Gran privileges, so I can say that).  This picture was taken in 2004...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

To Resolve or Not to Resolve

I need your help!

I'm doing some research on New Year's resolutions.

Do you make them?  Why?

If you make them, do you keep them?

What is the New Year's resolution that you regret making?

What is the New Year's resolution that you regret you did not keep?

Do you not make New Year's resolutions?  Why not?

Please leave a comment below or email me  at

I'll be doing a future post on this subject.  Thanks so much!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Carol’s Exceptionally Valuable Tips for Finding What is Lost

I waste so much time looking for something that I know I had in my hand just a few minutes before. I’ll be right in the middle of a project and suddenly I can’t find the wireless mouse or a pen that is not dried up and will actually write or the piece of paper with that wonderful blog idea that I can’t think of at the moment.

Of course, the first thing I should do is pray for guidance.  But I hate to bother God with such an idiotic request.  I mean, I just had it in my hand a minute ago.  I'm always so sure I can take care of it myself.

But I tend to quickly work myself into a frenzy by immediately being infuriated at myself for losing the item, followed by frantically searching but not really seeing, followed by getting all sweaty, which further infuriates me…   Well, you get the picture. 

This is the only time that I’m aware of that David actively leaves me alone.  He’s not even available for questioning because he’s run into the back yard, hopped on his lawnmower and headed down the street to mow somebody’s (anybody’s) lawn.

In the hopes of helping my fellow human beings, I offer the following ways to find what is lost.

1.  Finding your lost glasses without wearing your glasses puts you at a great disadvantage.  Try slowly walking around, retracing your steps, until you hear a crunch under your shoe.  How did they get down there?

2.  If you have retraced your steps and heard no crunch and therefore have given up and parked yourself in your recliner, a strange lump may reveal that you have found your now crooked glasses.

3.  If you don’t hear a crunch and you haven’t sat on something lumpy, check your head or hand.  Doing this first can save a lot of time.

4.  Try looking on your face.  You may already be wearing them.

     (Bonus Tip: Never tell someone you found your glasses on your face unless you are certain that that someone has done the same thing. Otherwise, they will laugh at you and tell everyone for years to come.)

5.  If you’re looking for your remote control for the TV, DVR, DVD player, Blu-Ray, sound system, the ceiling fan, the heater or the remote start for your car, try taking the sofa apart.  It’s probably not there, but there’s no telling what is.  Just be sure to collect all the dog hair or cat hair, because you still have time to knit that sweater for Cousin Cora for Christmas.

6.  After you’ve put the sofa back together, check your pockets.  I know, I know, you’d never put it in a – see?  I told you!

7.  Remember to look in unusual places.  It just makes sense:  If it’s not in the usual places, it’s got to be in the unusual places.  My mother once found her purse in the freezer.  That was some cold cash!  (Sorry; just couldn’t pass that one up)

8.  Don’t get sidetracked.  Keep your mind on what you’re looking for.  Or, if you have forgotten what you’re looking for, don’t worry.  It will wake you in the middle of the night with such force that you will be unable to go back to sleep until you get up and start looking for it again.

When I was growing up, I remember my dad saying, “Where’s the jelly?”  And Mom would say, “It’s in the refrigerator.” 

Long pause.  Daddy: “It’s not there.”  Mom:  “Yes, it is.  It’s on the middle shelf.” 

Long pause.  Daddy: “It’s not there.”  Mom:  “Yes, it is.”
Long pause.  Daddy: “No, it’s not.” Mom would make that noise that all moms make when their patience has run out.  “Wait a minute,” she’d say.  “I’ll come and look.” 

Shorter pause.  Mom:  “It’s right here.”  Daddy:  “Where?”  Mom:  “Behind the ketchup.  You have to move things.” 

This went on for several years until Daddy finally learned to put it a different way:  “I can’t see it.”  That led to Mom saying, “Move things” much sooner, which led to cutting the time it took to get into an argument about it.

I’m happy to report that this marriage lasted for 63 years.  And my dad did finally learn to move things.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday - W-a-a-a-y Back

This #TBT is from 1967.  I am 15, my sister Linda is 13.  I don't know why someone didn't tell me to sit up straight!  

I'm sure this picture was for a church directory.

If I remember correctly (which is pretty dicey nowadays), the dresses Linda and I had on came in a can.  They didn't wrinkle at all, which was a new thing back then.  If I wore that now, I'd look like an upholstered couch!

Have a great Throwback Thursday!

Your future will be brighter
    by far than your past.

Job 8:7 (CEV)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Carol’s Exceptionally Valuable Tips for Doing Good Deeds Anonymously

It’s coming up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, which means lots of good cheer, and when even usually grumpy people will smile occasionally.  Since there is so much good cheer, some folks will want to give stuff anonymously. 

Before we get into anything else, let’s review what the word “anonymous” means:  Doing a good deed in such a manner that your identity will be forever lost to humankind.  God will know, but He’s supposed to.

1. Because of the anonymous part, be sure all tags, boxes, receipts or mailing labels have been removed before doing the actual deed.  One time I mailed my secret pal a card with my return address label on it. Kind of defeats the purpose of “secret” in “secret pal.” 

2.  Wear a disguise if there is any chance someone will see you hauling 15 Christmas hams to your car at the mall.  A scarf tied around your head and sunglasses for the ladies and an Indiana Jones hat (sorry, no whip) and a penciled-on mustache for the guys.

Then you won’t hear some kid hollering from three rows over in the parking lot, “Hey, Mom!  There’s Mrs. Green.  Hi, Mrs. Green!  What are you doing here, Mrs. Green?”  And then, of course, Mrs. Holleringkid will come over to you as you frantically throw the hams into the back of your car.  “Hi!,” she says.  “Wow!  Look at all those hams!  What in the world are you going to do with that much ham?”  Knowing the Holleringkid family will be the recipient of a food box with a ham in it, you start babbling on about being from a large family of large eaters, blah, blah, blah.  Finally, Mrs. Holleringkid gives you a funny look and walks away with a crooked smile, her hand firmly in her child’s.  Ah, children…

3.  Be ready to duck and run at any moment.  Casually moseying down the driveway won’t cut it if you’re anonymously delivering a package to the front porch.  Always have your escape route in mind as you move around the yard and up to the house. And always pray they don’t have a big old dog that will at least act like he’s going to eat you alive, even if he doesn’t.  You don’t want to sprain anything right before Christmas.

4.  If you’re not in charge of doing the actual deed, you may be called upon to distract the folks who are getting anonymously deeded upon.  Think about this ahead of time so you’ll have an appropriate distraction.  Like, “Look up into the sky!  Is it a bird?  Is it a plane? Is it Santa on a plane that looks like a bird?”  You can always bring out the old “Is that a UFO up there?”  Or the more modern “Is that a zombie over in the woods?”  Or a vampire, superhero, teenage mutant ninja turtle, or any character from Frozen.

5. Of course, an alibi will be needed if you are accused of doing a good deed for Christmas.  This is especially true if you’re not known for your good deeds the rest of the year.  It will have to be kind of vague because you don’t want to lie to them.  Something along the lines of “I was probably watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo that night. Or it might have been The Real Housewives of Orange County.” Well, maybe you could tell just a little lie and pretend you were watching a documentary on PBS.

6.  If you’re delivering something edible to a front porch, make sure you package it in airtight containers before a dog, cat, raccoon or deer tears it to pieces and eats the contents, the box and the bow.  Don’t assume these critters wouldn’t eat Aunt Sadie’s famous fudge.  In fact, don’t assume you can put anything on that porch that wouldn’t be tasty to any creature sniffing around for just such wonderful treats. You don’t want the household fighting with a hissing possum over what’s left of the box.

Giving anonymously is one of life’s greatest joys.  And it’s Biblical: 

But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.
                                         Matthew 6:3-4 (AMP)

Can’t argue with that…

Beg as loud as you can for good common sense.
Proverbs 2:3

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Calling All C. S. Lewis Fans!

C. S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian

 by Gregory S. Cootsona

In this well-researched examination of C. S. Lewis’ books, letters and other personal papers, Gregory S. Cootsona covers eight crises Lewis faced throughout his lifetime and how he dealt with them. 

The reader is taken into Lewis’ life, beginning with his crisis of atheism.  His approach to this crisis, separated into three different categories, is how he approached most anything.  He was a very deep thinker and brilliant scholar who would work very hard on each crisis until he had worked it out to his satisfaction.

Other crises examined include the Crisis of the Bible, the Crisis of Feeling, and the Crisis of Death.  Cootsona’s deep research tells not only how Lewis reacted, but also tells us how others reacted to Lewis.  Even though C. S. Lewis became the best known apologist of the twentieth century and was used by God to help out the rest of us, many at the time looked at him as a fundamentalist or evangelist.  Such things were not necessarily received well at Magdalen College or Oxford where he worked as a professor.

The author also includes personal stories of how he faced many of the same crises in his own life and how Lewis’ writings helped him through them.  His point is that C. S. Lewis is still speaking to us, translating God’s word for us here in the twenty-first century, 50 years after his death.

I was fascinated by this book, impressed with the author’s knowledge, and his willingness to offer his own story.  I liked the way he categorized and then explained each crisis.  There is a lot of hope in this book, which I’m sure Lewis would appreciate.

The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of
this book in return for my fair and honest review.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Carol’s Exceptionally Valuable Driving Tips

Stay out of the left-hand lane unless you are driving at least 10 miles over the speed limit or you’re going to turn left in the next little bit.  I realize that once you get to the warm beaches of Florida you will be turning left; it’s just that you’re in North Alabama at the moment.  I think you have plenty of time to get over.

I once knew a state trooper who said he would give a slow driver one mile to turn left and if he didn’t, the trooper would pull him over and give him a ticket for obstructing traffic.  A man after my own heart!

Be sure all items in your car are safely secured.  Many years ago on a Thursday – I remember the day because it was Chicken Livers Day at the Chicken Shack and I had gone over there on my lunch hour to pick up a to-go box of livers.  Imagine my horror when I was rear-ended on the way back to the office and my livers box went flying into the floor.  What with calling the police to report the wreck and calling David to report the wreck (it only took him 3 questions to ask if I was all right), I was finally able to get to my livers, only to find that during the accident the box had opened, all the livers had jumped out, and the box had reclosed itself.  I think I was more upset over the loss of the livers than I was the car.

Try not to slam on the brakes for any reason – real or imagined.  Recently I was on my way home from the grocery store, and the car in front of me suddenly stopped.  I slammed on my brakes which made all of my groceries slide toward the front.  But I didn’t hit the car, and I made it safely home. A couple of hours later, David asked if I had bought 2 or 3 gallons of tea.  Since I remembered 3 but I only brought 2 in the house, I went to investigate the car.  Apparently, when I stopped so suddenly, one of the gallons of tea slipped underneath the driver’s seat!  I had to do some fancy maneuvering to get the thing out, but I did so with no damage to the tea.  Wow!  That was close!

I’m sure you have some driving tips, too.  Let us know by commenting below.

In the meantime, drive safely, and -- most importantly -- stay out of my way.  I don’t think I could handle another liver debacle.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Carol’s Exceptionally Valuable Camping Tips

Be nice to the folks in the camp office.  It’s a sure thing you will need them at some point.  And it will be for something embarrassingly simple, like not recognizing that big metal thing as the handle that turns the water on.

Your difficulty in correctly backing up into your camp site is directly related to how many snide remarks you made when the last camper came in.

An acorn hitting your camper sounds like someone fired a gun just outside your window. It does not signal a takeover of the camp by local thugs.

Don’t feel superior to tent campers, especially when it’s evident they don’t know how to get their tent set up, and even when part of it starts to fly away on a windy day.

Make sure all the shades are drawn in your camper before you take your pants off.

Don’t act like you are really camping when you’ve got a condo camper and the hardest part about it is where to set the thermostat for the central a/c and heat.

Don’t turn the blow dryer on when the hot water heater is on. This turns your husband into a ranting maniac who first can’t find a fuse and then can’t figure out where it goes.  And don’t get mad because your hair is still wet, because this won’t help at all.  Really.

No matter where you sit at a campfire, the smoke will blow in your face.  Each time you move, the wind will shift and the smoke will blow in your face.  You can move each time, call it a night and go inside your camper, or get used to stinging eyes and nostrils in addition to your clothes smelling like survivors of a forest fire.

Don’t use your leaf blower to blow every leaf off of your entire camp site.  This is nature.  We’re invading their space, not the other way around.

Using a camper toilet is weird.  The toilet paper becomes non-existent during use, so be sure to wash your hands every time.  It’s gross, but there’s no getting around it, unless you want to trudge to the nearest bath house every time or take your chances in the woods.

Chipmunks and squirrels will chew through almost anything to get to a few kernels of corn meant for the deer.  This includes a brand new, 10 x 14 patio mat. 

There will probably be another post along this line in the future. What tips can you contribute?  Please comment below.

Happy Trails to You from this Happy Camper…

Friday, October 3, 2014

It's a Boy!

41 years ago today, I became a mother for the first time.

It was about a week before my due date, and my doctor wanted to admit me to the hospital because of high blood pressure.

I had been in the hospital six times in my life at that point of 21 years old (a whole nuther story).  None of those times had anything to do with giving birth.
I was dumb as a stump about having a baby.

I was put in a semi-private room and told I was on bed rest.  So I laid in bed, talked to my roommate, and watched TV.  Being pregnant, I had to go to the bathroom frequently.  Since my accommodations did not include a bathroom, I had to use the one across the hall, right behind the nurses station.  No one said anything about me crossing the hallway numerous times that day.

Right on schedule, I woke up that night needing to go, so I opened the door to lumber across the hall, when suddenly a nurse went ballistic.  “Why are you out of bed?” she practically hollered at me.   “You get back in there and don’t get out of bed again.”

She scared the living daylights out of me!  I was half asleep and just needed  to use the facilities.

“But I have to use the bathroom,” I said weakly in my defense.  “And I’ve been using that bathroom since I got here.”

“Then we will get you a bedpan.  But you get in there and stay in bed!”

Completely chastised, I quietly laid down, waiting for the bedpan.  I had never used one, but how hard could it be?

Keep in mind that I was nine months pregnant, hugely huge, and about as graceful as a turtle on its back.

When the aide brought the bedpan in, she offered to help me.  I was too embarrassed, so I told her I could do it on my own.

I have to laugh here, because by the time I left that hospital with my newborn son, I had no dignity left.  I lost it when everybody who came in my room whipped back the sheet to look at one thing or another, sometimes prodded me here and there and asked stupid and intensely personal questions. To this day, I believe a few of those people were on the housekeeping staff.

But I digress.  Back in my room, I was trying to figure out how to get my extremely pregnant self onto that cold bedpan.  Having short arms was definitely a liability as I tried to lift my torso and shove the pan under me in a just-right fashion.  I really had to go by now, which improved my aim.  Apparently, desperation is a component of bedpan sitting, because I quickly got situated and let it rip.

Wow!  Did that feel good! 

And it was at that point that I realized I couldn’t get off the bedpan without tipping it one way or the other.  I was terrified of getting some of it in the bed (see the paragraph on dignity above).

I leaned this way and that, an enormous pregnant blob with too-short arms and legs, wobbling on top of a bedpan.

I finally swallowed my poor, pitiful pride and called for help.  The aide came in, looked at me for a moment and then said, “Oh, my!”

By this time, my legs had fallen asleep, my back was killing me, and the baby was kicking up a storm.

Our son, Mark David, was born later that day after 6 ½ hours of labor and an emergency C-section.

The joys of motherhood!  And I was just getting started.

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weigh To Go

I know why my blood pressure is a little high when I go to the doctor.
First of all, it hurts when they pump up that cuff.  I don’t mean a little pressure or even a lot of pressure.  I mean pain!

Most people, apparently, don’t have that problem.  When I tell someone  how painful it is, they attempt to talk me out of the notion.

“Oh, no,” they say with great sincerity.  “Taking your blood pressure doesn’t hurt.”

This doesn’t help.

Another reason my numbers are a little high is that they weigh me first and then take my blood pressure.

How in the world can my blood pressure be normal when I’ve just gotten the news that I weigh more than I did three months ago?  Three months of watching what I eat and trying to keep moving so I’m not sitting as much (which is a big sacrifice because sitting is my hobby, along with anything I can do while sitting).

I’ve even requested that my blood pressure be taken first. 

“Oh,” the nurses say, “it won’t change it that much.”

I beg to differ.

I’ve known for a very long time that I can control my blood pressure by about 20 points.  It all depends on what I’m thinking about.  Grandchildren and kittens get me great numbers, both the upper and lower ones. 

I’ve often had to get weighed in front of other patients, which makes me very nervous.  I’m afraid the nurse will say it out loud or someone sitting there can figure it out because when I stepped on, the nurse had to move that big weight over, the one that sits on the bottom row.

So if I can calm down enough after the weigh in and while I’m thinking of my beautiful grandchildren and sweet fluffy kittens, my blood pressure will probably be okay.
There is one more way to have your blood pressure taken.  I have encountered it in hospitals.  It is absolute torture, even when I’m on a morphine pump.  It’s an automatic machine that doesn’t care what I’m thinking about.  It squeezes and squeezes until I can’t stand it anymore, and then it finally starts to deflate.  It doesn’t care that I have very sensitive flab.  It doesn’t care that I’m desperately thinking of grandchildren and kittens.  It’s programmed for one thing:  bruising my arm. 

So if any medical folks are reading this, please do me a favor.  Take my blood pressure first and then my weight.  I need all the help I can get.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

“Conversations with Steve Martin” by Robert E. Kapsis, Editor

I’ve been kind of a casual fan of Steve Martin through the years; I haven’t seen every movie, read every play or heard all of his music.  After reading “Conversations with Steve Martin,” however, I feel that I have experienced every facet of his extraordinary talents.

Each interview, although sometimes repeating things from an earlier discussion, gave another perspective into Martin’s agenda for his various careers in show business, the art world, and music.

When most of your memories consist of the “wild and crazy guy,” the fire chief with the big nose in Roxanne, and a very talented banjo player, all of these other things covered in the interviews comes as a pleasant surprise.

It seems to me that his professional life can be easily traced, from the kid doing magic tricks at Disney Land, to an out-of-the-blue chance to write for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and other shows on TV, to becoming one of the all-time successful stand-up comedians, to writing screenplays, to acting in movies, to writing plays, to somehow segueing that into a musical career with his banjo.  He is also a respected art collector, another facet of his life, but one more personal than the rest.

Even though there are many interviews in this book, there’s still a feeling of not getting the entire story.  Martin is known to be a difficult interview, refusing to include his marriage and divorce with British actress Victoria Tennant and his role as a well-respected art collector.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I almost didn’t get past the Introduction.  It felt tedious going through all the Martin quotes with the references in parentheses.  I found that format hard to follow.  I was anxious to get into the actual interviews instead of reading snippets interspersed with the author’s narrative. 

Steve Martin is a fascinating man.  The interviews in this book help us to know more about where he comes from, where he has been, and where he’s going.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

There is more going on at the dress shop than just dreams.  There’s a little magic thrown in, too.  This is an imaginative telling of three love stories, all intertwined with each other.

Etta Sparks owns the dress shop where women come to look for beautiful dresses.  Each time a woman slips one on and looks in the mirror, she feels beautiful, powerful and able to do anything.

When she was five years old, Cora Carraway, Etta’s granddaughter, survived a tragic fire that took the lives of both of her parents. In an attempt to cope with this heartbreaking reality, Cora’s mind has suppressed her entire childhood spent with her parents, including the fire.  She works at Cambridge, dedicated to carrying on the work her parents had started.  She suspects they were close to discovering a plant that would feed millions around the world, but she can’t be sure because all their papers were destroyed in the fire.

Cora goes to work, visits her grandmother, and one other store next to the dress shop.  She has known the owner of the book shop since childhood.  She sees no romance in her future with Walt, but Etta disagrees and she vows to do something about it.

After Walt begins a part-time job reading novels over the local radio station, fan letters from women start piling up.  Walt is sure if they saw him in person, they would quickly retract their heartfelt words and stops reading them.  Dylan, the station manager, starts answering these love letters.  The trouble begins when he signs Walt’s name and not his own.

This novel is well written and never confusing, even though each love story has a lot of detail to it.  I loved the ending with its last little twists. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Prophet (Books of the Infinite Book 1) by R. J. Larson

Ela has been chosen.  She’s just a young lady, living in poverty with her parents and her little sister Tzana, who suffers from an aging disorder.  Old before her time, she is quite frail.  She and Ela are inseparable. 

It’s not that Ela does not know Infinite.  He has been a part of her life as far back as she can remember.  But now she hears things she cannot believe:  She has been chosen as the next prophet, the first one in 70 years.  And the first woman.

Infinite chooses a vision to help Ela realize what He needs her to do.  And after Tzana is able to easily open the tomb of the last prophet and retrieve a branch growing there, Ela gains the confidence to challenge anyone who tries to stop her.

And as she follows Infinite’s instructions, she comes up against soldiers and kings, always repeating her Creator’s words, warning them to accept His love and protection.  Unfortunately, few listen.  She takes every failure as her own.  She knows she has much to learn and tries to keep herself open to Infinite’s leading.

This book made me look at myself and my connection with God through Jesus Christ. I realized how close by the Holy Spirit is throughout my day. 

I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who do not usually read this genre.  I will definitely read the next book in the series, Judge.

As I write this on 9/15/14, the Kindle version of Prophet is free.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Feast for Thieves (A Rowdy Slater Novel) by Marcus Brotherton

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Rowdy Slater may have been the most incorrigible man in his Army company, but he quickly overcame that in civilian life.  He encountered a bump or two along the way, like robbing a bank in Cut Eye, Texas, getting separated from his partner while holding the bag of money, and nearly drowning in a rain swollen river.  When Rowdy goes back to Cut Eye and surrenders to the sheriff -- well, that’s when things get really interesting.

Rowdy makes a deal that he refuses to break, even though there are many times he desperately wants to.  It turns out that the sheriff in Cut Eye saw enough in Rowdy to offer him a choice between prison or preaching.  Rowdy has no idea how to preach or what to preach, and that’s quite evident from the start.  But a pretty young lady assigned to help him makes quite a difference.  This is a great story told with great heart.

I found this to be akin to O Brother, Where Art Thou as far as the way Rowdy expresses himself and how he goes from one undertaking to the next.

This is a great first novel, and I look forward to more adventures with Rowdy Slater.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Who Knew?

Okay, we’re hooked.  I admit it.  I honestly thought we could do without it, but I was proven wrong this past week when we left one campground two weeks early and went to a campground that had what we wanted – well, I guess I’d have to say it had what we craved.

It’s more than one thing, actually.  But it all falls under one broad umbrella. 
What was wrong with Campground No. 1, you ask?

Answer:  No wifi, no tv, and an unreliable phone signal.  Even our hot spot was struggling to find a signal and hold on to it.

I quickly tired of this situation. We were supposed to be there a month.  I was bored on the 2nd day there.

I occasionally get bored at the house.  When that happens, I always tell myself that it’s my fault.  There are plenty of things to do, so pick one, quit your bellyaching and get busy.

This was different, though. There were things to do, of course, but I felt trapped.  It seemed that every time I thought of something to do, it involved the internet, tv, or phone. 

Let the bellyaching commence!

I could work on my writing because my word processor wasn’t linked to the internet.  And I did write some.  But then I’d come across something I wanted to look up and realize I couldn’t.  Or I’d remember a blog post I had previously done.  Or had I?  I can’t find it in my word processor and I can’t look it up on the internet.  Arrrrgh!  

The TV was silent except for a few movies we got every day or so at Redbox.  About the only time I watch a movie is when we’re camping.  I don’t watch them at home because of the commercials.  They drive me crazy.  Especially the loud ones that shriek at you to buy a car or a couch or give you the privilege of loaning you money.  But that’s another story.

The point is that I don’t watch movies on TV.  But we’re camping and doing things a little differently, so I watch the Redbox movies.  (I recommend Nonstop.) 

Now, this movie thing would have been enough, and it has been enough for the five years we’ve been camping.  Except that David had introduced me to streaming a couple of days before we left the house.  Awesome!  You can watch movies and TV shows on your computer.  I’m hooked on the TV show House. I never paid it much attention when it was on every week.  But I got to watching the reruns, and I was hooked.

Except you need internet to stream.  We had just signed up with Netflix right before we suddenly made the decision to head out the next day and spend some time at a campground we used to love. No internet, no Netflix (with the first month free), no streaming, and no HouseArrrrgh!

Someone called me when I happened to be outside at Campground No. 1, and I had to walk down the road a little ways to get a good signal.  I didn’t like that phone anyway, so this was not helping.

At the end of the second week, Campground No. 1 installed wifi! Yay!

Well, don’t get too excited.  It was free for the first week and then you had to pay for it.  Pay for it!!  We had never heard of a campground charging for wifi.  Of course, it’s hidden away in their fees for the campsites, so you know you’re paying for it.  But paying separately?  No, not for us.  We had just about maxed out our hot spot and would soon have to add $10 to our bill if we kept using it to connect to the internet.  We didn’t want to do that, either.

So our solution?  Pack up, drive around 25 miles to our new favorite campground, which happens to have wifi, tv and a good phone signal. 

Woo hoo!  Now we’re cookin’!  And streamin’! And gettin’ the internet!

And making friends, as you can see below…


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman

This was a delight to read!  I think the reason for that is it didn’t take itself too seriously.  There were serious issues, to be sure.  The heroine, Lisbeth, had to hide in a closet to avoid epic battles between her mother and her sister.  But even when she’s explaining what is happening and why, she has a sweet spirit about her.

Things get started when she is given the chance to try on the little black dress Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Her friend Jess works at a museum where the dress is on loan for an exhibit. She is an ardent Hepburn fan who feels that every situation can be dealt with by a Hepburn film.

As though trying on the dress is not enough excitement, she appears at a gala being given in the museum that very night posing as her version of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  After a wild night that includes meeting the most popular rock star around under rather bizarre circumstances, she becomes increasingly involved in people’s lives, all who just happen to be amazingly rich.

While all of this is going on, Lisbeth is a waitress at a diner nicknamed “The Hole”.  One of the other waitresses is her friend Jess from the museum.  The wait staff also includes Jake, who dreams of becoming a rock star with his band and keeps asking Lisbeth to come to his gigs.

This book was one of those I-can’t-put-it-down kind of things.  Near the end, things got very serious, and that’s where the story started bogging down. But not for long because the end matched the beginning with the same sense of humor and light touch.

I have seen only a few Hepburn films, so I know I missed a lot of references to them.  It didn’t matter, though, because things were always explained.

There is mild swearing throughout this book, but 
always used appropriately.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Busy with Bios

Alas, the life of a writer/speaker is not an easy one.

Take, for example, the bio.  This short little paragraph will be the death of me yet.

Every social media thingy requires a bio:  Facebook, Twitter, Goggle +, Linked In.

I like to read Edie Melson’s blog because she knows her stuff and shares it so freely.  She advocates having several bios of different lengths written and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

You have no idea how long I work at just this aspect. 

The shorter the bio, the easier it is for me to write because then I only feel the need to be clever (there’s a stretch for you!).  Unfortunately, the longer it is, the dumber I appear.

I have very little previous experience, even though I’m billing myself as a Christian speaker.  I have no education to speak of other than being a Certified Laughter Leader. I’ve been to a couple of speakers’ conferences.  I’ve spoken to a handful of very polite people who laughed at all the right places.  I’ve had a couple of short devotions or stories published.

If you’re thinking that makes for a pretty good list – well, it doesn’t.  Other bios include phrases like “best-selling author,” “keynote speaker,” “author of 6 books,” “member of the National Speakers Association,” and I could go on and on.

So why don’t I get busy and have something to put in my bio?  Other than being downright lazy, I have no desire whatsoever to write a book.  I think I may be the only person at a writers or speakers conference who is not lugging the first 5 chapters of a book I’m peddling to publishers or has no idea for a book I’m peddling to publishers.

Keynote speaker would be good, but so far no one has asked me.  By the way, I have no credentials for that, either. (Not sure what those credentials would be, but I’m guessing they are more than I’ve got.)

To be a member of the National Speakers Association, you have to have at least 20 presentations under your belt.  There’s lots more to it, but I quit reading after that.

According to blogging experts, if you are running a business of writing or speaking, no one is interested in the names, ages and/or pictures of your grandchildren. Well, shoot – that would have added several words to the word count.

You see, each bio is a certain number of words:  25, 50, 100 and 150.  Everything you write and submit for publication should have a bio attached to it.  The writers guidelines will usually mention how long the bio should be.

Ah, the writers guidelines.  Each publication has its own set of rules and regulations to follow.  It has to be a certain number of words, or at least a certain number of words, or no longer than a certain number of words.  It has to be in a certain font in a certain size.  It has to be submitted by e-mail, sometimes as part of the e-mail itself and sometimes as an attachment.  And if the guidelines are not followed, they will automatically reject it for consideration.

Have you got all that?  Mercy!  And you thought I just sat around all day thinking up semi-witty things to say.

But, seriously, folks – if this Christian humorist thing gets any further than it is now, it will definitely be by God’s hand. 

And there is nothing more exciting than that! 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor

I know that this blog usually looks at the lighter side of life and of being a Christian.  But occasionally I post a review for a book I have read through NetGalley.  Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor by Glenn T. Stanton is one of those books.  I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.  I hope you'll take the time to read this post and comment on what you think about it.  Thanks.

This book fills a need for Christians who are troubled by mixed feelings when it comes to loving those who are gay.  How do we love the sinner but hate the sin when the sin involves so much more than just telling a lie or missing plenty of opportunities to call your mother?

The author begins by pointing out what Christianity is by listing six truths that put everyone in the same boat.  No one is sin free; everyone needs Christ as their Savior.  No exceptions.

The author does a most thorough job of helping the reader know the background of the gay movement and what it means in the times of today. He rightly points out that we need to “understand why those we disagree with believe as they do and what motivates them.”

As much as we’d like to bunch everyone in the LGBT camp into one entity, Mr. Stanton explains in detail how each part (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) fits into the whole “Love your neighbor” quandary.

It all boils down to relationship:  relationship with those who identify themselves as LGBT and those who support them.  It’s the old saying of “Make a Friend, Be a Friend, Bring a Friend to Christ”.  It takes time and effort, which, sadly, most Christians will not take.  It’s easier to lump everyone together and hate the sin and the sinner.

What is most troubling to me, personally, is the demand I hear for complete acceptance of the LGBT community’s practices with little respect shown for the Christian’s beliefs.

I agree with the author that this issue is extremely important in showing the world that God’s love extends to all, no matter what the sexual orientation may be.  I also agree with the author that those who identify themselves as Christian should look again at how Christ (who Christians are named after, for heaven’s sake) loved everyone.

In addition, the author also tackles the same-sex marriage issue, an issue that is also very troubling to most Christians.  We say we are against it, but we don’t know why, other than a vague reference to the scripture in Genesis about husband and wife cleaving together.

I appreciate Mr. Stanton’s explanation of not only Genesis, but also what Jesus had to say about it.  By expressly quoting Genesis, Jesus put his stamp of approval on man and woman marriage.  He fulfilled a lot of scripture that changed the Jewish faith in dramatic ways, but he made clear that the old, old Genesis definition of marriage was still correct and is still correct today.

I like the author’s approach to the issue of homosexuality as a sin.  As he points out, being a homosexual will not send one to hell; not having Jesus as one’s Savior will.  This basic truth is somehow lost or ignored when debates or arguments spring up. 

If a person identifies themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, their sin would be in carrying out their thoughts and urges.  The same can be said for those who identify themselves as heterosexual.  Their sin would be carrying out anything that goes against God’s teachings regarding marriage and being single.  It’s what we do with these thoughts and urges that’s important.

As to the it’s-a-choice vs. born-that-way arguments, Mr. Stanton thoroughly explains what studies have been done and shares what the American Psychiatric Association has established: there are no findings to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.

I have a few concerns about the author’s commendable attempts at trying not to sound superior.  In the story of Sam and Nicole, the quote about the “Walmart-shopping, football-watching, NASCAR cheering white male,” and later in the same story the quote “I’ve heard of such people, but thought they all lived in Mississippi,” are insulting and condescending to we who live in the South.  I don’t think they belong in a book about loving your neighbor.

In another story, he quotes Caroline as saying “Michael Jackson was still black…” This sounds racist to me and doesn’t belong in this book. 

I realize that Mr. Stanton was quoting other people, but surely after all his years dealing with this subject, he can come up with better stories without remarks such as these.

But here’s a remark that is the author’s own:  “However, I don’t want or need any that are either ‘Star Trek’ or Adam Sandler fans.”  I know he’s just trying to be funny, but it really doesn’t work.  Snobbish comes to mind.  

But the reference to an Alabama fan and an Auburn fan is spot on.

I’m afraid the superior attitude shows itself again when Mr. Stanton is talking about Weird Al Yankovic.  I’m not a fan of his, either, but I think there are more tactful ways to make a point than a putdown to his friend who is a man “with otherwise good taste”, not to mention any other Weird Al fans reading the book.

In the Homes and Churches chapter, the author writes “Too often Christian parents do this, but it is also frequently just run-of-the-mill parents…”  I feel that referring to non-Christian parents as “run-of-the-mill” is disrespectful. 

In the chapter Navigating the Dilemmas We Face in our Homes and Churches, under Number 6., What about those who are disagreeable and disruptive, Mr. Stanton tells about a husband and wife who led worship in his church with no shoes on.  They came to church each week barefooted and refused to change.  Surely Mr. Stanton can come up with a better story than this.  Bare feet is such a minor issue.  I’m sure there are stronger issues that have a great story behind them.

On the whole, I think this is an important book that addresses very emotional issues that need to be discussed in every church that professes Jesus Christ.