Isaiah 6:8

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Here And Now

The Here and Now


About The Book:  An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.  This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.  Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking--and a must-read novel of the year.  "This gripping story is set in a world unlike any other and inhabited by beautifully imagined characters that stay with you long after the last page. As always, Brashares expertly captures the wonder of love’s enduring power.” – Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars
About The Author:  Ann Brashares is the bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants, Forever in Blue, The Last Summer (of You and Me), and My Name is Memory.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have read many of Ann Brashares books.  I teach high school and have recommended many of them to my student readers with no problem.  I wish I could say the same about this book.  It was all I could do to finish it!  I had to look several times to make sure this WAS EVEN an Ann Brashares book.  When I read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants I felt as if I knew everyone of the characters personally.  I did not feel that way this time.  The characters to me were boring...plain and simple.  I enjoy reading time travel books.  I am a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series....but  just could not sink my teeth into this one.  I did loan it to one of my avid student readers so we could discuss the book and we both agreed after reading that there was nothing to really discuss.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley Publicity Group  in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

New England's Scariest Stories and Urban Legends

New England's Scariest Stories and  Urban Legends


About the Book:  Journey through New England’s darkest places and read 22 of its scariest stories and urban legends. Explore mysterious cryptids like the Dover Demon, Pigman, the Sea Serpent of Gloucester, the Dublin Lake Monster, and the Derry Fairy. Meet Champ, the legendary lake monster of Lake Champlain, and a fisherman who found himself thirty feet from the beast. See the grave of Midnight Mary and the Desert of Maine, and judge for yourself if their curses are real. Try to walk with the Leather Man and wonder why he chooses to walk alone. Visit The House of the Seven Gables and The Shunned House, both famous in literature, and learn of ghosts that still linger there. Cross Emily’s Bridge in Vermont, creep over the alleged vampire Mercy Brown’s grave in Rhode Island, and more. New England promises to scare you!
About The Author(s)/Illustrator:  Cathy McManus is a lifelong Mainer. When not busy working as a computer technician; she spends much of her free time wandering cemeteries and old houses throughout New England. She's an avid researcher and photographer. Summer Paradis is a native New Englander. When not working in the paranormal, she is employed as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist.  Wayne Bud Ridsdel has had a passion for art since he was a child, He completed seven years of study at Wakefield Art College in Yorkshire, UK. His career has been diverse and he has held positions in advertising design, point of sale advertising, print and graphic design.
My Thoughts On This Book:  As a fan of folklorist, Kathryn Tucker Windham and her 13 Ghosts series I thought this would be something along that line.  I enjoyed the stories for the most part.  I did not enjoy the way the book was put together.  It seemed like it was just thrown together.  I love to plan trips around odd things of interest.  My daughter and I have visited a few of these New England sites and really enjoyed ourselves so I was hoping for something more.  It was a good read, but not one that left me sitting on the edge of my seat.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley Publicity Group and Schiffer Publishing,  in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Hodge Podging

Happy Hodgepodge! It's a big day in the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Come and join in with us by hopping over to Joyce's blog and linking up after you share your answers to her questions.


 1. On Thursday we pause to remember a dark day in history-9/11. Will you mark it in some special way?  I have a special Bell Ringer assignment for my Spanish classes on 9/11.  I will prayer for the families of the ones who did not survive.  This time of year always makes me a little sadder because life as we knew it ceased to exist. 


2. Do you ever/still...listen to an actual radio? Watch a videotape (VCR)? Look up a number in a telephone book? Refer to an actual paper map while traveling? Set an alarm on an alarm clock as opposed to your phone?
 I love listening to the radio especially when I am cleaning house.  I do still look up numbers in a phone book.  I set an actual alarm clock each night and never travel without my map....even though we use GPS.  I don't trust it 100%.  I still have VCR tapes to watch. 

3. Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion and politics with people you don't know?

I check out the emotional stability of the crowd first....but as a rule I do not.

4. What's a dish you haven't eaten all summer, but come September find yourself craving? Have you made it yet this month?

I am with Joyce and have to say Chili.  I never make or eat chili in the summertime, but come September and football season and the slow fade to fall, I crave chili. Haven't made it yet, but I will before September is over. I also want some potato soup and good old fashioned vegetable soup.  I love the foods of fall.

5. What's something you know nothing about?
Rocket science!

6. September is Classical Music Month? Do you like classical music? If so, what's your favorite piece?

I love classical music.  My favorites are:  Canon in D and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy....the Wedding March would be another. 

7. What's the oldest thing you own?

Frank's great grandmother's earrings and my grandfathers tater bug mandolin.. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Photo
God Bless You All and have a wonderful hump day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Home to Chicory Lane

Home to Chicory Lane


About The Book:  Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband Grant are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast, just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Cory? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?
About The Author:  Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deborah’s novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deborah on the web at DeborahRaney.com.
My Thoughts About The Book:  It was a lovely rainy day when I picked this book up to read and I was hooked from the start.  I loved the setting, the characters, the story.....it was a great book.  I have read Deborah Raney before and was very impressed with her ability to develop her characters.  She did not let me down this time.  This book was spot on.  I cannot wait to read the second book in the series. 
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse and their Blogger Program and Net Galley.com,  in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Jeni!

Today is my oldest daughter, Jenifer's birthday.  I decided to write a poem for her, but could not seem to come up with the words to express what I wanted to say.  I found this poem and adapted it to fit our relationship.  I hope her day was an amazing one.  I think she is pretty amazing herself.

Our wedding day.  Jeni is the precious little blonde to my right.  Her brother Eric is to my left.  Are they not precious?
I never wanted to take your mother place,
I just wanted to be your Friend,
Someone you might talk too and a shoulder
for you to cry on,
You could and can always count on me to give a helping hand,
As a mom/stepmom I loved you like my own,
We did not choose each other,
But we were chosen by love.
Through bad times as well as the good times,
I have always thought of you as my daughter,
Love is not lodged within the flesh and bone,
But grew from within my heart,
I know we got off to a rough start,
But as the years went by we learned to trust
and love each other,
You will always have a special place in  my heart,
I have watched you grow into a beautiful woman,
mother and wife and this make me proud to be
your mom/stepmom.
As you grow in your life,
I wish you love, laughter, happiness and peace,
May God walk with you till the end,
Your always in my prayers,
I'm always here for you,
love always, Mom

Jenifer and Kat in Florida

Eric, Kat and Jeni at the Grand Canyon

Kat and Jeni at Christmas.  "Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters..."

Forgiveness?


Scripture today is from Matthew 18:15-20

My sermon is called….. “Forgiveness?”

Grace, peace, love and forgiveness are yours through Jesus Christ, our living and reigning God. Amen.

Have you ever heard someone, perhaps another pastor, one of your Sunday School teachers, or maybe me, talk about the Mysteries of the Church?  Usually when we think of the Mysteries of the Church, we think about things like:

The Immaculate Conception – How could Jesus really be born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit?

The Sacrament of Holy Communion – How does that bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ?

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism – How, with only water and the Word, can faith be given, even to a tiny infant?

The Resurrection – How could Jesus die, be buried, and yet be alive three days later, be risen from the dead?

But you know there are many other unknowns throughout the Bible that might be called mysteries. Have you ever asked yourself…

· How did Noah get all those animals on the Ark?

· How did the water of the Nile become blood?

· How did the Red Sea part allowing the Israelites to cross on dry land?

· How did the millions of people and animals survive for 40 years wandering in the desert on their way to the Promised Land?

· How did Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego survive in that fiery furnace?  That list could go on and on.

These mysteries, these unknowns, these profoundly non-intellectually understood stories, which reveal the power, the might, the awesomeness of our Creator.  But Wait!  Then there are the accounts of the miracles of Jesus.

· Healing the sick.

· Giving sight to the blind.

· Making the lame to walk.

· Feeding over 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two small fish.

· Driving out demons.

· Walking on water.

· Raising people from the dead.

These mysteries of the Church, these mysteries of the Bible, these mysteries of the life of Christ are innumerable.

Today, I want to talk about a different mystery. It’s probably the mystery that confounds me more than any other, perhaps because it’s a mystery that affects me more personally than any of the others.  That’s the mystery of forgiveness. If you followed along with the scripture lesson for this morning, you might think that the message for this morning should be more along the line of confrontation than forgiveness.  In the Ezekiel 3: 16-20  we find, the prophet Ezekiel picking up on a theme that was established early on in his days as a prophet. That is, that he has been appointed by God to be a watchman. He has been given a gift by the Lord to talk to the people of Israel. The people that he is addressing are his fellow captives in Babylonia. You have to understand that Ezekiel is a lot like the prophet Jeremiah. What he had to say to the people was not what they necessarily wanted to hear.   But that’s where his title of watchman comes into play.

I grew up in South Florida and back in the 1960’s we had, in our county, a Department of Civil Defense, perhaps a forerunner to the Department of Homeland Security. My next door neighbor was the head of the Civil Defense team for West Palm Beach, Florida. (That’s because he had been in the military and still owned a uniform that fit.)  On top of the fire station in our town, there was an air-raid warning siren. It was there to notify the town if we were under attack by incoming nuclear missiles. It also warned us of tornados and other weather related dangers.

In the old days, back in Jesus day and before, prior to things such as “early warning radar” and NORAD and satellites, the way that towns and cities would protect themselves was by erecting a wall around the outside of the city. That was great, but they still needed to have someone to keep an eye out just in case the enemy decided to attack. That job of course was given to the watchman. It was the most important job in town. This watchman had in his control, the life and death of the people of the city.  If he did his job, the people could be prepared. They could be prepared to fight, to put up resistance.  They could perhaps overcome their foes. But, if he were to decide to take a little nap, if he decided to sneak away and take a day off, or if he decided that the threats were probably more perceived than real so that he would ignore the movements in the bushes….well, then the city could be overrun and the people could all be killed.  Now, Ezekiel the prophet wasn’t posted up on a wall looking down on the Israelites warning of the enemies that were coming from the outside, although there were real, live, threats from invading forces. Ezekiel had an even tougher assignment. He was to warn the people of Israel of the enemies attacking from within. He was God’s own messenger to the people and he was commanded to tell the people that what they were doing was not pleasing in the eyes of the Lord! In today’s lesson, we hear of an added little bonus for Ezekiel, the watchman. He is told, in no uncertain terms, that if he fails to warn the people adequately, he will be held responsible. He also gets to inform the people that if he tells them of their sin and they do not repent, they are going to die, but he will be saved.  That’s supposed to be the good news portion…and it is, for Ezekiel …but when you have to tell people something like that….well, it doesn’t make it any easier.  So, we move from the OT to the Gospel.

Loud cheers…..yeah….yeah…..away from that awful Law and now for the good news!!!!!  And we read the words of Jesus, talking about how to confront our brother if he sins against you.  Why do we have to bother with this? I mean, after all, if the guy is out there sinning against me by thought word or deed….he probably deserves whatever punishment he’s going to get anyway right?!  And further more, if he’s out there sinning against me, maybe I ought to be doing some confronting!  Maybe the guy needs to hear a few words from me. And I’m just the guy who can do it!!!!!  In our sinful world, this far too often becomes our attitude.  We love to, once again, be selective listeners or selective readers or hearers of the Words of Holy Scripture. You see, this is the way most of us would like to read the opening lines of this text: Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault. Period.” Far to often, I hear people almost enjoying, feeling superior, by pointing out the faults and the sins of others.   And you know what my first reaction is when I hear that: I hit them with a Bible verse: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  And when I do that, I am no better than them.  What Jesus was talking about in that “sawdust” verse is hypocrisy.   You know people just love to use the Bible to try and make a point and to try to beat someone into submission with words of Holy Scripture.  How hypocritical is it for me to use Jesus’ words if I don’t read all of what he says. Because if you continue on in the Gospel text it says: “go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”  You see, the whole point of this confrontation is not to belittle. It’s not to judge. It’s not to turn away. It’s to turn the person back to God. It’s to bring the person back into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The same way that Ezekiel was serving as a watchman, warning the Israelites of their sins against God and urging, pleading, begging them to repent, that is how we are to go to our brothers who have sinned against us.  Not trying to create a crevice. Not trying to drive a wedge. Not going after them with a vengeance, but approaching them in love.  That’s right love.  Just a little side note. You think it’s odd that we talk about confronting a brother in love, or loving our enemies. Look at today’s Epistle lesson. The apostle Paul takes on two subjects that have created more rancor throughout the ages than just about everything but religion…..government and taxes.  Note his final words in dealing with these touchy subjects. Love.  Brothers and sisters in Christ. God is Love.  Do you think that Ezekiel enjoyed going and telling his brothers that they had to mend their ways? That they had to change their way of thinking and living and acting and turn back to God?  NO! and to make matters worse….He was scorned.  Do you think it’s easy to confront someone these days with their sins?   But it is a necessity. People need to hear about sin. People need to hear about their sin.  This is not to say that you follow along behind your brother or sister or husband or wife or son or daughter and continually point out every mistake they make and say, “just wanted to let you know you’re a sinner.”

What it does mean is that if someone is sinning grievously and is unrepentant, they should be confronted.  Once again, not to push them out the door, but to show them the door is wide open.  When Jesus died on the cross he carried on his shoulders the sins of all humanity. Yours, mine, theirs. ALL of the sins, of all the world were ransomed in that one sacrifice. They were paid for.  Do people need to know, do people need to hear that they are sinners? Yes.   But they also need to hear the loving words of forgiveness. They need to know that no matter how bad society thinks they are, no matter how bad they think they are, God loves them.

And He’s already proven it by sending His Son to die for them. I told you earlier that I was going to talk about mysteries and I have to be honest….The biggest mystery in my life I is understanding how this God that reigns in the heavens above…This God that created life… This God that formed the mountains and the rivers and the oceans and the stars and the planets… This God that has His hand in everything that happens in this entire universe, in this planet, in this country, and in this state, also has me.  He holds me in the palm of His great and wonderful hand and promises me that I am forgiven.  He promises me that I am His child.  I don’t understand it. I can’t intellectually figure it out. All I can do is relish it. All I can do is fall on my knees and be grateful for it. All I can do is love and give thanks and praise to Him who loved me first.  Where I grew up there was a bumper sticker that said, “Mi Casa es Su Casa”. It means my house is your house.  If I were going to have a bumper sticker on my car now, it would read: “Mi pardon es Su pardon.” It would mean, “My forgiveness is your forgiveness.”  We say it every Sunday…. “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  When we forgive others as Christ has forgiven us, we show the love of God and strengthen our faith.

 


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cracks In The Armor

Cracks in the Armor (Clipped Wings, #2.5)
About The Book:  Chris, a sexy tattoo artist, tries to win the heart of Sarah, a grad student with little interest in him, in this second e-short and follow-up to Helena Hunting’s gripping love story, Clipped Wings—“twisted, dark, incredibly erotic…a love story like no other” (USA TODAYbestselling author Alice Clayton).  Part owner of the Chicago tattoo shop Inked Armor, Chris Zelter is a talented artist who decorates skin with gorgeous designs. He might look the part of the typical jacked-up, inked-up bad-boy, but underneath is a fiercely loyal, complicated man. Kicked out at sixteen, Chris has had to fend for himself for the last twelve years, making his Inked Armor crew as much family as they are business partners. For him, it’s enough—until he meets Sarah Adamson.  A grad student waitressing at the local strip club, Sarah is used to propositions and crude comments. The job is a means to an end—finish her MBA, pay off the tuition loans, and get a good job. Then she won’t have to rely on anyone to take care of her. So when brawny, tatted up Chris begins hanging out at the club, she rebuffs his advances. At first. But Chris isn’t like her usual clientele: despite his hard exterior, he’s almost…sweet. Sometimes, the people with the roughest edges have the biggest hearts.
About The Author: Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's putting her English degree to good use by writing popular fiction. She is the author of Clipped Wings, her debut novel, and Inked Armor.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I was not impressed at all.  I felt that just as I was beginning to read the book....it ended and left me hanging high and dry.  This book needs some body added to it.  Very disappointed!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.