Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Waving Goodbye

Can you believe we are waving goodbye to 2019 already?

Looking back on the year, I am so thankful for you! I appreciate it when you take time to read a post, leave a comment, and/or email me with your thoughts (and book suggestions). I am so grateful for the friendships and interactions I've enjoyed through this blog over the past (almost) ten years.

As the new year begins, I'll be taking a little break here as I spend time:

*seeking the Lord's direction and inspiration for 2020
*preparing to complete some in-progress scrapbook projects
*participating in the 20in20 workshop
*focusing on my 2020 word (HEALTH)
*joining in the OLW workshop
*and planning our schedule and travels for the year!

As we wave goodbye to this year, I pray the Lord will bless you abundantly in 2020!

Happy New Year Y'all!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas Y'all!

I hope your stockings were filled with lots of fun and crafty things!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Book Reviews | Books About Reading

Recently I've enjoyed a couple of books about one of my favorite hobbies - reading!


I'd Rather Be Reading is about "The Delights and Dilemmas of The Reading Life." The author, Anne Bogel, hosts the What Should I Read Next podcast and owns The Modern Mrs. Darcy website. This small, easy-to-read book covers a variety of topics like confessing your literary sins (the books you should have read), books that make you cry, books from others (what it says about you and them), gifts you give, how to organize your bookshelves (in a way that works for you, it's a hobby!), books that have shaped you, the ones you reread, and tracking books you read. A very nice read!

I saw How To Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas C. Foster at our local Barnes & Noble and was intrigued. The chapters [with wonderful titles like "Every Trip Is A Quest (Except When It's Not)" and "When In Doubt, It's From Shakespeare..." "...Or The Bible"] address various symbols and themes and contexts found in books (and movies). Professor Foster shares what these items mean (or might mean), although he also asserts that a story should stand on its own first, even if the reader doesn't recognize the symbolism, etc. This was a very interesting and entertaining read that ends with the admonition to enjoy reading, whatever you're reading.

Have you read either of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday Musings | The Prodigal Son

Are you familiar with the prodigal son? We find his story in Luke 15:11-23.

A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Matt Carter, author and pastor of a church in Austin, Texas, has a new book out sharing a deeper look at this age-old story. The Long Walk Home: Discovering the Fullness of Life in the Love of the Father is a very well-written and easy to read book. However, the author doesn't minimize sin and the lasting effects it has on our lives. Instead, he juxtaposes that with the unfailing love of our Heavenly Father.

Filled with personal stories (which I thoroughly enjoyed as I'm familiar with the Texas settings) as well as other Biblical examples, this is a thought-provoking book that will help you release any doubt you have about whether God can love you after all the things you've done that go against His will for your life as well as whether following God will cause you to miss out on the best life has to offer. [Spoiler Alert - God's love never fails & a life with Him is better than anything this life can provide.]

If you haven't take a good look at the story of the prodigal son in a while, or if you still have doubts about the God's love and questions about your future in His family because of your past, I highly recommend this book!

(Note: I am a B&H/LifeWay Blogger and received this book free in exchange for an honest review.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Book Reviews | NonFiction

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann is a nonfiction historical book written like a narrative. On the Osage Indian Reservation in Oklahoma, the native Americans retained mineral rights (headrights) to the land. When oil was discovered there, the Osage became extremely wealthy. Some of them were able to control their own finances; however, the government appointed "guardians" for many of the Indians. In the 1920s/30s many Osage died or were murdered. Actually, some whites were killed, too, if they happened to know too much or might be in line to control a headright.

There are three parts to this story: (1) the story of Osage Mollie Burkhart and her family, many of whom died suspiciously; (2) the story of Tom White and the FBI's investigation and trial; (3) and the author/journalist's finds that further the story. [I personally didn't like the author putting himself in the narrative as it interrupted the flow of the storyline.J. Edgar Hoover was the new head of the FBI during this time. Unfortunately, only one or two of the murder cases went to trial (instead of the 26+ that occurred). This was a very interesting read about a piece of history I knew absolutely nothing about.

I read Thanks! by Robert A. Emmons, Ph,D. in preparation for my Gratitude Journaling Event back in October. This book shares research on the benefits of gratitude, so it is occasionally a slow (but good) read. The research shows how gratitude leads to more happiness and better relationships.

It also includes a list of ways to practice gratitude:
*keep a gratitude journal
*learn prayers of gratitude
*use visual reminders
*watch your language - make it positive
*go through the motions - smile!

In The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs, John C. Maxwell shares the leadership lessons he's learned throughout his career. I began reading this book when it was recommended in an entrepreneurial group I'm in; however, I read it at a slower pace as it's easy to read one chapter here and there. The chapter titles are the "lessons" - for example: "If It's Lonely at the Top, You're Not Doing Something Right" and "Keep Learning to Keep Leading." Each chapter also includes ideas for putting the lessons into practice.

As I strive to create healthier meals for us, I picked up a copy of What Do I Eat Now, which is recommended by the American Diabetes Association. 

I've found that when I'm trying to make changes, it's motivating to be reading things that encourage and educate on those topics. I didn't learn anything new from this book; however, there are several recipes that I'd like to try soon.

I picked up a copy of Ryan Leak's Unoffendable after we heard him speak at a church service last year. This small quick read is about not staying offended because offense has "the ability to ruin someone's day, someone's week, someone's month, someone's year, or for some ... their entire life." The author also discusses how God can use the things that hurt us to build our confidence and help us become who He wants us to be.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday Musings | Are You Watching For Jesus?

The day Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord, a man named Simeon was there. We find Simeon's story in Luke 2:25-35.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,

According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

We learn from this passage that Simeon was waiting to see Christ! He knew, by the Holy Spirit, that he would see the Consolation of Israel in his lifetime, so he was watching for Jesus! He was rewarded for his devotion and gave thanks to God at His fulfillment of the promise of a Messiah.

We, too, have a promise to watch for! Jesus said:

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)

Jesus promised to return again! Like Simeon, we don't know when that time will come. But we do know that God always fulfills his promises!

As you look forward to Christmas and the celebration of Christ's first arrival here on Earth, are you watching and waiting for His return?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Katharine Graham & The Washington Post

Several months ago, I read an article about Katharine Graham in Issue 30 of Flow magazine. I honestly didn't know anything about her, but this piece sparked my interest and led me to do more research.

Katharine Graham's father purchased The Washington Post at an auction in 1933. Several years after her marriage to Philip Graham, her father turned the paper over to Philip, who ran it until his death by suicide in 1963. At that time, Katharine herself took over as president of The Washington Post Company and eventually became one of the most successful and influential women in the United States.

The article mentioned the 2017 movie The Post, which Robbie and I watched together. The movie depicts the events that took place in 1971 and Katharine Graham's decision to publish parts of The Pentagon Papers, secret reports about the United States' involvement in Vietnam. I now had a better understanding of why the magazine article touted Graham as a heroine of free speech.

Robbie then told me about another movie portraying the events surrounding The Washington Post's reporting on the Watergate Scandal that led to President Nixon's resignation. This movie, All The President's Men (featuring a young Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford), does a wonderful job of showing what investigative reporting required (before the internet), how publishing decisions were made, and the extent of political corruption during that time.

Finally, I purchased a copy of Katharine Graham's 640+ page autobiography aptly titled Personal History. This book was written in 1997 when Mrs. Graham was almost 80-years-old and it covers a vast amount of the history of our country, particularly the Washington DC area, during the 1900s. The personal story of her life is intertwined with so much history! It is well-written and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

The book begins with her parents, who were a prominent and wealthy family. She grew up in Washington DC and Mont Kisco, New York. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936 and married Philip Graham in 1940. Then at the age of 46, she began what she called her "second life" as she took over the reins of The Washington Post Company.

Throughout her life she rubbed shoulders with many prominent players in our nation's history (she dined at the White House, was good friends with Warren Buffet and Truman Capote, etc) and had an influential part in the history of printed newspapers (publishing the Pentagon Papers, breaking the Watergate story, surviving the pressman union strike, etc).


I have to admit that after all this extremely interesting research, I decided I like Katharine Graham ... and I don't like her. While she had many advantages and eventually became an influential player in crucial events in our country, she suffered from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in her abilities for many years. Her political and personal viewpoints were quite liberal. However, she lived through some tragic times (a controlling yet absentee mother, her husband's mental illness and eventual suicide) and was very forthcoming and introspective about her shortcomings and regrets as well as her successes. She made a point of recognizing and giving credit to the people who helped her, especially as she learned the newspaper business and began to grow The Washington Post Company through acquisition of TV stations and magazines. Yet, it was pretty evident which administrations and individuals she did not rate highly.

Overall, this was a wonderful learning experience, and I'm so glad I ran across the article that sparked this journey. I'm curious, did you know who Katharine Graham was before reading this post?