Tuesday, March 20, 2018

February Book (& Movie) Report

Looking back at the four books I read in February (the month Black History is observed here in the States), I realized that two of the books I thoroughly enjoyed were by black authors.

I have to be honest and say that I choose books to read for a variety of reasons: a friend's recommendation, a subject or storyline that interests me, it's the library book club selection, etc. However, I can't think of a time when I've chosen a book based on the author's nationality or ethnicity or race. So, it was just a nice coincidence that I read these particular books in February.

My sister actually mentioned that she was reading and enjoying Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes at the beginning of the year. Shonda Rhimes is the creator of Grey's Anatomy and several other very popular TV shows. In this book, she shares the story of how she decided to step out of her comfort zone and say "yes" to invitations and offers she would typically not accept. This was a really good read!

Shonda's decision to say "yes" to everything for one year literally changed her life. Not only did she attend a White House dinner and deliver a commencement address (among other things), she found the INSPIRATION to lose weight and get rid of toxic relationships and spend more time with her daughters. Her very unique voice makes this book a FUN read as she tells her (mostly) truthful story - she is a writer of fiction and makes up stories for a living after all! I definitely recommend this book (with the caveat that it has some four-letter words and adult content).

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore was the library book club selection for this month. This novel is about three friends who have been meeting at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat since they were juniors in high school in the 1960s. The story begins when these black women are older, their kids are grown and have moved away. We follow their current stories and learn their history through flashbacks in this very well-written book. The chapters alternate point of view as we learn about each of these characters.

Odette was born in a sycamore tree (literally) and is the bravest of the three, but she has recently begun to see ghosts (which add some wonderful humor to the story) and has been diagnosed with cancer. She is married to James, a good man who loves and supports her through it all. Clarice was the first black baby born in the white hospital and is the first one to step up and take charge of any situation. Unfortunately, she has a philandering husband (like her father). Barbara Jean's mother was a woman of ill-repute and she was born on the sofa in a white teacher's home (because her mother was near the house when she  went into labor). As a teenager, Barbara Jean fell in love with a white boy, but she ends up marrying an older black man who is a wonderful husband to her. I highly recommend this engaging book!

In February, Robbie and I also went to see Black Panther, the newest movie set in the Marvel Universe. It was fabulous! (Of course, we are huge Marvel fans.) The movie is perfectly cast, and my favorite character was Shuri, Black Panther's sister, even before I saw the actress, Letitia Wright, share about her faith in God in this interview. I'm hoping this FUN and highly intelligent character will be appearing in future Marvel movies!

What books and movies did you enjoy in February?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Musings - Sing to the Lord

Old hymns versus new praise songs - this is a topic I hear debated when discussions arise about the format of church services these days. Some people enjoy a host of musicians and a full worship team leading praise and worship songs while others would prefer a return to the piano, a guitar and the occasional tambourine leading familiar songs from the church hymnal. Some of these discussions have even gotten a little heated as proponents for one type of song versus another share their opinions.

Did you know that Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn after the Last Supper? Matthew 26:30 says, "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." So, it might seem that hymns are the way to go.

However, Psalm 96:1 tells us to "Sing to the Lord a new song!" So, maybe continually adding new songs is the way to go.

Personally, I enjoy both types of songs, with some Southern Gospel tunes thrown in! In truth, the important thing isn't which type of song we're singing, it's the focus of our heart during the time of worship. Do we have a heart of worship? Are we lifting our voices in praise to the Lord? (Or are we busy grumbling because it's not the type of music we prefer?)

Whether you sing hymns or praise and worship songs, remember to put your focus on praise to the Lord! Please share in the comments which type of worship song you most enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Five on Friday

A (sometimes) weekly feature here on my blog sharing five FRESH random photos (or thoughts or interesting tidbits) from the week.

1. The first spring blooms have arrived here in North Texas! The Bradford Pear and Redbud trees seemed to just bloom overnight after three weeks of rain followed by beautiful sunshine.

2. I really like the sentiment of the sign I saw hanging in the lab technician's office while I was having routine blood work drawn last week.

3. This month I am teaching illustrated Bible journaling classes every week! I hosted a couple of classes here at the beginning of the month, then aught a private class at a client's home the following weekend. Tomorrow I'll be sharing at another small group and then presenting for a women's ministry event the next weekend.

4. I really like it when I try a new recipe and it looks (mostly) like the photo.

5. Each week I'm popping on to Facebook Live and sharing a little story or thought about serving the Lord in our everyday lives. If you'd like to catch me live sometime, you can like my Facebook page HERE. [If you're reading this as an email, pop over to the blog to see my most recent video.)

Whatever's blooming in your part of the world, I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fahrenheit 451

I remember reading Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 when I was a teenager . . . the wall-size TV screens, earbuds, fast cars, increasingly larger billboards . . . and thought at the time that things were already headed in that direction. And now, thirty years later, those things predicted in the book are commonplace!

The main character is Montag, a fireman who (like all fireman in this future world) starts fires instead of putting them out. Books have been banned, so they must be burned! Most people spend hours in front of wall-size TV screens that even include interactive scripts so the watcher can be in the "program" that really doesn't even tell a story or have a plot. They also like to drive cars really fast; so fast in fact that billboards have been continuously expanded so they can be read at the high speeds.

Montag doesn't really question this system much until he meets a young girl named Clarisse who notices things and talks about the way her family says things were years ago (fireman actually put out fires and people sat on their porches and talked to each other). At the next fire, he slips a book in his uniform and takes it home to read. When his wife discovers this, she eventually turns him in and the fireman come to burn his home.

At one point, Montag goes to visit Faber, a retired English professor. Montag shows him a Bible he rescued from being burned. I really like Faber's comment:

"Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square ink you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail."

In the final part of the book, Montag is on the run, being chased by the Mechanical Hound. Fortunately, he escapes and meets up with the "book people" who live outside of town, each one having memorized a book in order to pass it on to the next generation. At the very end of the book, the men are walking along in darkness. Montag is squinting, trying to see their faces, and one of them says, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

The 60th anniversary edition of the book I recently read included lots of commentaries, original book reviews, and comments from Ray Bradbury about the book as well as the play and the movie that followed. I especially enjoyed the story of how he fed dimes into typewriters in the basement of a library in order to write this book ... about burning books!

We found the movie disappointing, although it was actually fairly well done for a 1960s film. It was not at all how I pictured the book, even when I read it years ago. However, Bradbury said this about it:

"The finale, with the fine Bernard Herrmann score, shows the Book People moving in a snowfall through the woods, whispering the lines from all the books they have remembered. This ending has never failed to move audiences. The film ends on this high note, and one leaves feeling you've seen more than was really there."

Have you read this book or seen the movie? Please share you thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Q-Tips & Acrylic Paint

A while back I watched a YouTube video where the artist used Q-tips and watercolors to create beautiful flowers. I decided to try my own version of that technique to create the water spray from a fountain.

I was recently gifted a couple of old hardback hymnals, and I'm using one as a Worship Hymnal where I can add Bible journaling illustrations. I actually drew the fountain and water flourishes (after tracing and practicing on scratch paper) using a Zig marker. I then used the Q-tip technique and acrylic paints (rather than watercolors) to create the water spray.

I painted a couple of blue rectangles for my journaling and scripture reference and added a puffy cross sticker at one corner of each. I originally wrote my journaling with a black Micron pen, however, it was difficult to read on the blue paint. So, I went over it with a White Gelly Roll pen. I also added a line of faux stitching around the edges to give the page a finished look.

This was a FRESH and FUN technique! Have you used Q-tips and paint to create with lately?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday Musings - Draw Near To God

The Bible is full of promises for each of us. One of those is found in James 4:8, which says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

The Lord is always with us, and as we draw near to Him through prayer and worship and His Word, He draws nearer to us! As we invite Him into every aspect of our lives, He draws near and guides and strengthens us in our everyday lives. What a wonderful promise! How do you draw near to the Lord?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Recycled Christmas Cards

Those bits & pieces of last year's Christmas cards that I mentioned in a previous post have all been recycled into new Christmas cards that I've added to this year's stash.

I chose a card base for each piece, then pulled out my tote of scraps, and these cards came together very quickly.

Some of the pieces I simply cut down to fit on a 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" card base, adding in a piece or two of cardstock or patterned paper matting or some bits of bling.

It's FUN to see how a different background gives a FRESH look to the recycled card pieces.

I really like the colors in this last card. It started with the gray snowy glittery scene, which I mounted on a dark blue cardstock. I really liked how the colors in the seashell paper looked with it, but now I'm wondering if the beachy paper goes with the snowy scene. What do you think?