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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30: Two For Tuesday
A Hole In Our Gospel by Richard E. Stearns &
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
by Jen Hatmaker

"A Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard E. Stearns 
"7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker.

I think of these books today, because millions of people in our country are facing a morning without power, water, and heat.  This isn't the norm for them, though there are many living below the radar in my own country that this is normal for.  And in the world?  In the world, the number is staggering.  So large that it becomes too big for us to actually feel.

If the little girl next door starves to death this week, you feel that.  If 25,000 people starve to death today... it's beyond our scope.  They aren't little girls and little boys, but a large faceless number.  Except... they ARE little girls and little boys.  They are mommies, daddies and grandpas.  They are 25,000 people with names, capable of smiles and laughter and playfulness, hugs and comforting words and love.  Thoughts and desperation and longing.  Pleading prayers for God to send some help.

This isn't a guilt trip, or a post of condemnation... truly, it isn't.  I can honestly say that we care about people in our country.  We often times want to help, but don't know what to do... we're not sure what we're able to do with limited resources ourselves, gas prices are going up, and getting ready for those heavy winter heating bills.

"Imagine a world in which two billion Christians embrace the whole gospel - each doing a part to complete God's stunning vision of a reclaimed and redeemed world, the kingdom of God among us.  Picture armies of compassion stationed in every corner of our world, doing small things with great love.  Can you imagine this different vision for our world?" R. Stearns

What if we demonstrated God's love for the world instead of just telling the world about it?

Open yourself up to be exposed to "pure religion" as expressed in James.  Read "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" first, to see what we really have available to work with.  Read "A Hole in Our Gospel" to see what we can do with it.

I'm not calling on you to become depressed, but energized.  Yes, it may be a little uncomfortable at first to know.  But if you've been called to bring good news (the gospel, the truth) to the poor, you have to know who they are and what their poverty is.  Until then, that feeling that you know you have a purpose, but you don't know what it is... it's setting up camp and staying.  Be willing to let God break your heart for the things that break His heart.  Be the answer to someone's prayers.

You can't rescue them all, but maybe you can find a way to bring that good news to just one.  Save One.  You can't save the entire world, but to ONE, you will change their entire world.

Be the answer to someone's prayers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29: If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Euland

Most of my visitors are women, and I think Brenda Euland has something special to say to women, though she's taught writing to both sexes.  Even if you have no interest in "becoming a writer," this book should be in your library. Why? Because it is truly a gift to every woman.

Brenda Euland lived from October 24, 1891 - March 5, 1985.  This book was first published in 1938, reprinted as recently as 2010, and as relevant and fresh as it was 72 years earlier.

Brenda's mother was Clara Euland, a suffragette and the first President of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota. She also was the mother to six children. Brenda wasn't raised with an embarrassment of being a courageous woman, and she turned around to teach that to many other women for decades.

“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability)for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid--because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. [...]"If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; 'Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!' you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.” B. Euland, "If You Want to Write."

Is this any less true today?  Brenda revealed something in that paragraph - so many women have that pervasive feeling of discontentment - we're soaking in it!  Become your fully developed self, or recognize that you're living only a shadow of your life while trying to convince others to live the full living color versions of theirs. What credibility do we have when we're teaching what we don't DO ourselves?

I can't possibly write a summary of this book.  All I can do is say, thank you... to Brenda Euland, who 22 years after her death, daily impacts my life through this little book which doesn't just tell you how to write, but WHY to write - whether another soul ever reads what you write or not. She mentors you on how to be still and listen, to step out of busyness and feed the part of you that is unique.  We all have jobs and responsibilities.  The world doesn't stop turning when we vacate them... but the world is truly a different place when you are fully you.

“Why should we all use our creative power….? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” B. Euland

This is part of the 31 Days Project at The Nester.  For a full list of the books I've recommended this month, click HERE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26: Free Friday eBooks - Thousands of them!

Happy Friday!  Free books?  Yes, please!

This is the last Friday of the Good Books month, which made me a little sad. :-(  <--my sad face.  So, because I love to find free things, love to tell other people about free things and looking around for you has caused a traffic jam on my Kindle as I've been downloading all along the way.... I'm going to continue to do a free ebooks day.

If you stop by Amazon, you can get these books even if you don't have a Kindle.  You can read them on any devise with a browser. Or, it seems you can even download them to your computer with this app. Kindle for PC

The first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes of your awake time are supposed to be the most creative moments of your day. Since I slept in today... you've hit those magic moments of my life... so, yes, we're having a monthly Free Kindle Books day from now on. I'm thinking Free Firsts (On the First of each month) would be a catchy way for you to remember when to stop by, but a subscription to it as a series would be so much easier - you could just get it in your email... I don't have anything techy techy like that on my site.  So.... I'll work on that.

In the meantime, you could follow me on Twitter @AmyJMable or put me in a Circle on your Google+  (just Amy Mable), and catch a reminder there.  This would make me feel a little better, since I just realized I lost 3 twitter followers and I'm a little sad about that... but I'm very new to Twitter, so the number of followers I DO have is nothing short of a miracle.  (I ramble a little in those first minutes of each day as well.)

Released October 15.  The Trial of Poppy Moon by John Corder

A very unusual plot.  I'm not very educated on organ donation, so if the premise isn't plausible, then I suppose the entire story would fall apart... but I downloaded it this morning.

"At the hospital, Poppy is pronounced dead from exposure. Documents she’s carrying permit the immediate removal of her organs for transplant....

But when the human body is dangerously below normal temperature, its vital life-signs can be deceiving. Poppy is still alive. But by the time she regains consciousness, it’s too late: the remaining kidney, which has been traced to a private hospital in Caen, is already in the body of a twelve-year-old boy. Unfortunately, the law regarding transplanted organs gained by illegal means is particularly clear: victims never get their organs back.

Marcus Coaker, a leading London solicitor advocate, is tasked with proving the doctor’s negligence – and he has an unexpected witness to prove it. During the removal of her kidneys, Poppy had a Near Death Experience; she saw and heard everything that was done. Marcus promptly sets in motion the first legal action ever prosecuted on the basis of an NDE...

...The Trial of Poppy Moon is a remarkable debut novel – fast-paced, hard-edged and terrifically moving, it approaches one of the biggest questions of all: whether there is life after death." (Publisher's Summary)

Released October 10th
21 Days to Change Your Body by Helen M. Ryan

"Have you ever wondered why you don't lose weight on a diet? Is it the diet program itself that is ineffective? Or is it your mindset?

In this fresh, new approach to weight loss, 21 Days to Change Your Body (and Your Life) will show you how to lose weight by positively changing the way you think about dieting. Be healthier, be happier and enjoy a better quality life—while eating the foods you love.

Tamilee Webb, the star of the Buns of Steel workout series, says of the book: "I loved it. Lots of inspiration & easy to follow solutions. Anyone can do 21 days!"

Based on the author's own experience with losing more than 80 pounds, Helen M. Ryan shows you how to overcome the mental blocks to weight loss success, how to fit exercise into your busy day, and what you should doing and eating to fit into your "skinny jeans."" (Publisher's Summary)

Released February 4, 2012  "How Can I Forgive and Forget - The Intelligent Way to Be A Happy Person: A Proven Step By Step Guide That Will Teach You How To Forgive and Forget Even When You Don't Feel Like It"  by Ellena Whitey

"Are you trying to forgive someone but just don't know how?
Are you looking for a way to be happier but don't know what is stopping you?
Are you ready to break free from anger, bitterness, resentment and even depression?
Are you ready to forgive and proceed toward a beneficial future without constraints?" (Publisher's Summary)

This book has is very short and has only one review.  What if we all read it and reviewed it?  I just downloaded it.

Lastly, here's a link to 40,000 free books. Project Gutenberg  And now I feel like a philanthropist! 

Enjoy your weekend.  Let me know your thoughts on any of the previous free books you've read!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24: Friends for the Journey by Luci Shaw & Madeleine L'Engle

"Friends for the Journey" by Luci Shaw & Madeleine L'Engle

How often do we set up requirements for our closest friends to be "just like us?" 

As simple as preparing a meal together, as complex as enjoying a love of God from significantly different Christian backgrounds, this friendship is one where both women were willing to love one another through their differences and not only in their similarities.

This kind of friendship is rare, and I felt inspired to make commitments to my friendships in a very different way after reading their story.  We let friendships go because we become uncomfortable with diversities less significant than Luci & Madeleine encountered in theirs. 

This touching story of a friendship spans decades of joy and also sorrow. Each woman lost her husband to a battle with cancer.  Their acceptance of one another and commitment to the relationship was remarkable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23: Unplug the Christmas Machine

"Unplug The Christmas Machine" by Jo Robinson & Jean Coppock Staeheli

Last year I purchased this book near the end of November.  We were already in full swing of buying, buying, buying.  We always spend more than we plan to spend, and as the family grows, so does the shopping list.

Here's who is on the list:

My husband & myself
3 Daughters
1 Son-in-law (lost one this year)
3 Parents (lost one this year)
6 Grandchildren
Grab bag gifts for the party
3-4 others.

My husband purchases a gift for his brother.  They are the only members of their original family still alive,  My siblings and I sometimes exchange gifts.

Because Christmas has been my method of lifting me out of my fall "funk", I feel uneasy changing things. (I go through seasonal depression for the last half of October through whenever my Christmas energy begins to climb.) In addition, I've built expectations of our Christmases into my family - will they think I've morphed into a selfish Scrooge, or appreciate I'm seeking to have a more meaningful holiday.  And, what if I can't do all those personal touches and handmade gifts - will I just exchange one sort of frenzy for another?

This isn't a "how to" book, though you will see how other people "Christmas", but rather a "why" book. I examined the why's of the things I did and things I only longed to, and they made sense.  If you find each year brings with it the desire for it to "be over, already," you owe it to yourself to check this book out.  We're setting our kids up for empty holidays that climax in a ton of wrapping paper and toys instead of memories of holiday traditions with their parents and extended family.

This book helped in a way I never expected... my husband reengaged in the holiday. For a long time, he opted to simply watch me "do" Christmas.  (Better expressed as... "He hid while I did Christmas.") I missed sharing the preparations of the season with him, and last year we enjoyed it together.

Visit my other posting on this topic. Tis The Season of Excess and Stress - STOP!

Do you have a family tradition that isn't stressful?  Please share it in the comments, I'd LOVE to hear it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22: The Messenger Recommended by Vickie Price Taylor

I'm excited to welcome Vickie Price Taylor as my first Guest Blogger.  Vickie & I met at a writer's conference and I'm so pleased she agreed to guest blog. 

Please stop over at Vickie's site: Book Marks  

Siri Mitchell’s summer release The Messenger transports readers to British occupied Philadelphia in 1778. In the midst of political turmoil and religious persecution, devout Quaker Hannah Sunderland is torn between faith and conviction as she searches for a way to save lives without forfeiting her own soul. Inspired by memories of a childhood book on brave women patriots, Ms. Mitchell offers us an indomitable heroine of her own.

We are introduced to Hannah as she is walking home from her church’s weekly Meeting. The tumult inside her is mirrored in the chaos around her. Distressed that her congregation received no word from God concerning the current upheaval and frustrated that they are viewed with suspicion by both Loyalists and Rebels, Hannah simply longs for peace. But none is to be found. When she arrives at her home, she finds British soldiers tearing it apart for firewood. Outraged, she rushes in to stop them only to be ridiculed and ignored. Desperate for help, she searches the street, one question uppermost in her mind: “Was there no one who could stop this injustice?” This question serves as the catalyst for the remaining action of the story.

Knowing that her twin brother had been disowned by the Quaker community and imprisoned by the British for siding with the Rebels, Hannah realizes she can no longer afford the luxury of neutrality. Determined to see to her brother’s welfare, Hannah looks for a means to get inside the prison. Tavern owner Jeremiah Jones agrees to secure her a pass, but he wants something in return.  A Colonial spy with a plan to help the prisoners escape, Jones needs a messenger to deliver the pertinent information to someone on the inside. Hannah agrees to help as long as she doesn’t have to lie in the process. Incredulous and skeptical, he has little choice but to accept Hannah’s terms, and together they set out to accomplish the impossible.

Hannah and Jeremiah make a strong team, providing balance and conflict in equal measure. Hannah’s perseverance and integrity serve as constant reminders to Jeremiah that hope and truth still survive in a world gone mad. Jeremiah’s bold intentions and aggressive questions challenge Hannah to reexamine the foundation of her faith and find the courage to stand up for what is right. Their plan is dangerous, the cost is steep, and the outcome is far from guaranteed, but their journey together serves as a refining fire for both characters, creating a tension that coils perfectly around the external conflict of war and the internal conflict of loyalty.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Siri Mitchell paints a vivid picture of the realities of British occupation during the Revolutionary War while highlighting the strain the war placed on individuals and their personal beliefs. Though Hannah struggles with her decision to defy her church’s edict not to get involved, she realizes in the process how important it is to speak the message God has given her, regardless of how it may be received.

Mitchell’s characters are complex and authentic, and the changes they undergo make them both sympathetic and engaging. I have read nearly all of Mitchell’s novels and have never been disappointed. Her mastery of the writing craft, her grasp of history, and her skill with character development are reminiscent of the works of classic authors like Austen, Bronte, and Hawthorne. This accomplishment alone should place her novels on any fiction lover’s must read list.

This is part of the 31 Days project over at The Nester.  

Here are two other 31 Dayers to visit today:

  • Uplifting Words Wonderful quote for today. Her theme is 31 Quotes in 31 Days.
  • Delighting In Today  This particular post I've linked to is Cake Cheating and it's GREAT! Their theme is 31 Simple Solutions.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20: Directed Verdict by Randy Singer

My recommendation today comes from my daughter, Angela.  Directed Verdict by Randy Singer. Yes, that's sort of cheating, isn't it?  However, when we started this year with a goal of reading 100 books, she was at 38 books when everyone else was somewhere around 8-10.  Getting a recommendation from her is going to be short and sweet, since she's a busy busy woman.

"Directed Verdict.  Oh, that one was really good!"  said Angela.  This isn't her 31 Days series.  She doesn't blog.  This was as much as I was going to get from her for this day's post.

The October Tide Has Turned

This month has taken an unexpected turn for me.  I knew 31 consecutive posts would be a challenge in and of itself, without any surprises.  However, there have been several surprises in the past week that have absorbed large chunks of time, tons of my emotional energy, and almost all of my daily study/writing time.

There are times when no matter how good the intentions are, life throws a party in the middle of our schedule.  Sometimes it's an important party, and other times it's as though a drunken mob has invaded your quiet corner of the world, cranked up the music and spilled stuff all over your living room.  This week has been a bit of both.

So, I will do my best to bring you frequent book recommendations (though perhaps not daily), ALWAYS post the free Kindle Friday news, and at the month's end there will be a prize drawing that every reader will appreciate. I promise! All you have to do to enter is comment on a post during the month of October. 

IF you would like to do a guest post and recommend a book, this would be a great time for us to collaborate on such a project!  I have one in the works already, but it would be fun to see some of my bloggy friends' words here on Pentriloquist!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19: Kindle Freebie Friday

This 31 Days of Good Book Series is part of the 31 Days project at The Nester .

Here are a selection of books that are free for your weekend reading pleasure.  I've tried to provide a variety.  I haven't read these, yet.  Enjoy!

Zero Balance by Ashley Fontainne
Publisher description - "Nine months ago, Audra Tanner exposed the hidden secrets locked away at the prestigious accounting firm of Winscott & Associates. No one escaped her wrath. And once the smoke had cleared, everyone watched as the diabolical Olin Kemper was led away in handcuffs... Soon everyone at the firm will discover that no one is safe when you are dealing with a psychopath that has zero balance."

Horribly Good Halloween Recipes with Coffee - A Seasonal Collection of Holiday Recipes with Coffee by Billy Taylor
Amazon Reviewer - "It is clear this author cooks with love! Being a coffee lover and a lover of unique combinations I loved every recipe! This book is a must for serious cooks! You won't regret having it as one of your most elegant staples to wow your guests!" - Colorado (Amazon Review)

City of Light by Kim Wright

 Publisher Description "Set amid the glamour of Paris on the brink of La Belle Époque, City of Light is a tale of murder, mystery, and masks where no one is quite what they seem…

City of Light, the second book in the City of Mystery series, opens in 1889 Paris on the eve of the Exposition Universelle, the ultimate World’s Fair which debuted Edison’s phonograph, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and the Eiffel Tower. Detective Rayley Abrams has traveled from Scotland Yard to France to study the new science of forensics with the Parisian police. Lonely and awkward, Rayley easily falls under the spell of a beautiful British expatriate named Isabel Blout, a woman with a murky past and suspicious social connections."

Skinny Seafood: Over 100 delectable low-fat recipes for preparing nature's underwater bounty

Mortal Obligation (The Dark Betrayal Trilogy)

Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1)

Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking

Enjoy your weekend of reading and perhaps cooking!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16 of Good Books: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp

I wondered what I could learn about writing from a choreographer.  Then I read The Creative Habit and learned how to be disciplined about my craft. 

The creative person isn't at the mercy of "feeling creative."  Who knew?  Twyla.  A series of exercises and rituals that bring creativity forth aren't specific to a choreographer.  Her no nonsense approach to stimulating her creativity eliminates the tendency to "sit and wait for it." As a result, a blank screen isn't daunting, but energizing.  A clear mind is a fresh start. 

Starting a new project can overwhelm you with ideas and possibilities.  How do you hold on to them without working on them right this minute?  How do you organize them? She even handles these practical tasks.

"Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits. That's it in a nutshell." Twyla Tharp

Learn how to develop it, don't be at the mercy of the elusive muse.  This is a book that belongs on everyone's bookshelf.

This is part of the 31 Days project at The Nester.  Be sure to leave a comment to be entered for the end of the month prize drawing!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15: Ordering Your Private World by George MacDonald

This is part of the 31 Days project over at  To see my complete post series, click here.

Ordering Your Private World by George MacDonald

This isn't a rah-rah, self help, hype book.  I found it on the shelf of a local store that handles overstocked items. (No clue how it landed there, it's a great book.) It took me almost a year to get around to reading it.  I still regret that, since they were sold out when I went back to buy every remaining copy to share with my friends.

If you ever feel as though your life runs you, I think you'll find this book incredible in its simplicity.  If you haven't established and lived according to what's important to you, strong people in your life will easily keep you busy doing what isn't.

If you never take the time to refresh your mind, and make deliberate decisions your time will flow toward your weaknesses.  This book is the opposite of "get busy."  It's a key to learning how to use your private world to discover what living authentically looks like... to YOU.

Loved this book.  

Here are some other 31 Dayers to check out!

Reading Is Social  All about "how to have an Old Fashioned Book Club". I'm just finding this TODAY, and tonight is my first ever Book Club meeting at my house (or to ever attend one). I could be doing it all wrong!!!!

31 Days of Loving Where You Live

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13 of Good Books: 1916 by Morgan Llywelyn

In 1916, during World War 1, a small group in Dublin plan an uprising for their independence.  Home Rule for the Irish was suspended in 1914 due to the beginning of the war.  Public sentiment was not on the side of the uprising, however, because approximately 100,000 of Ireland's sons are in the British service fighting against Germany. 

Ms. Llywelyn tells the story of the events that led to the uprising in Dublin on Easter Monday and took over the major buildings in Dublin ... and she tells it though the eyes of a fictional young man, Ned Halloran.

Ned survived the shipwreck of the Titanic, though his parents did not, when they were en route to see his sister Kathleen who lived in the U.S.  A few years later, Ned is in school at St. Edna's where Padraig (Patrick) Pearse is the schoolmaster.  Padraig Pearse is also a key figure in the uprising.  He was the first of many executed by the British, on May 3rd. Others would later have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment and some granted amnesty.

It was Britain's response to the uprising that changed the tide of public sentiment. Day after day of executions, including the execution of James Connolly who would've died within a day or so anyway, but was tied to a chair the British could execute him by firing squad, pushed the Irish people too far.

I didn't find this to be a war story, but rather a human story of the internal conflicts a civilian community battles as they weigh the cost against the necessity of seeking independence.

I find Irish history irresistibly romantic. I try to fight it, but it's beyond my control.  The beauty of the land, the lilt of the Irish brogue, the bravery of their young, the cost of their fight... it never fails to stir me.  I found this particular book by Llywelyn was written in a way I appreciated largely because of those feelings.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Being "Unequally Yoked" Within The Faith

If you're looking for the 31 Days to Good Books series click HERE.

In our town, the pastors have a regular breakfast together.  The pastor of the church I now belong to attends these breakfasts.  Some pastors do not.  See, not all churches share a common theology.  There's all sorts of confusion about what Mary, the mother of Jesus knows and doesn't know about the prayers of present day human beings.  There's confusion about the meaning of baptism and when it should occur.  There's disagreement about the sacrament of communion, marriage after divorce, drinking alcoholic beverages even in moderation, women wearing pants, and on and on it goes.

So, some of the body of Christ chooses to not be "unequally yoked" with the other parts of the body.  We've got headless torsos rolling around by the park, a spare leg by the court house, a finger behind the mall... and the Head.  The HEAD of our body has to wonder how the New Testament Church can be so stupidly attached to the identity of Pharisees.  Those who have the law, but not the love.

What is wrong with us?  We're told to not hide our light under a bushel, but we're selective on who we allow to see the light?  As if it belongs to us?  It isn't OUR light... It's THE Light. So, Jesus ate with all sorts of people, while some of us feel we'll be soiled by eating with sinners within our own faith, or sinners of a certain flavor outside the faith.  Is our faith so weak that it's endangered by the close proximity of sinners?  If so, we'd best hide the light, guard the light, and shoot anyone who gets close to the light. 

And when was it that WE stopped BEING sinners?  Oh, that's right... we haven't.  Gosh, this circle is getting awfully small - we can't even have "alone time."

What good can we do if we spend all our time with the membership of the Christian Country Club we call "Our" church?

We're ready to vote for a president in a few weeks.  It's interesting that while I was one of the Pharisees, I had no problem with my political affiliation.  I was perfectly comfortable with that alliance. 

Who ARE we? What battles are we picking to fight? Are they battles we've been called to fight?

Day 12: Free Books for Kindlers and Non-Kindlers

 You don't have to have a Kindle to enjoy free Kindle books. All you need is a free app, and you're ready to go - you can read any of these free books on your desktop (Windows OR Mac), smartphone, tablet, iPad.  Just get your FREE app HERE.

OK, so now that you realize you aren't being left out on Free Friday, here are a few free books for you to check out.

The quoted descriptions are from the publisher or the author on the Amazon page.

Zombie Master: You Can't Fight The Fed by Morris Rosenthal -  From the Author -
"It's difficult to write a funny book about a virus that turns half of the world's population into zombies. It's even harder to derive amusement from tens of millions of Americans losing their savings to monetary policy decisions -- unless you happen to be a banker. But if you put these two tragedies together and start looking for a way out, something funny does emerge."

The Soulkeepers (The Soulkeepers Series)  by G. P. Ching - "When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. A beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. But in exchange she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a protector of human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him."

Deadly Offerings (Deadly Trilogy)  by Alexa Grace"Deadly Offerings is an ebook with a blend of pulsing passion and razor-sharp suspense. It is the first adventure in this sizzling romantic suspense trilogy.  Anne Mason thinks she’ll be safe living in the Midwest building a wind farm. She may be dead wrong. Someone is dumping bodies in her corn field and telling Anne they are gifts—for her! As the body count rises, Anne realizes a cold-blooded serial killer is patiently waiting and watching her every move. And he won’t stop until he ends her life. It is clear there are no limits to this killer’s thirst for revenge or how far he will go to get it."

If you're on Facebook, check out Kindle Korner.  Authors frequently announce their free weekend downloads there.

Enjoy your weekend reads!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11 of Good Books: Missional Mom by Helen Lee

This book has special meaning for me, and for my own personal story.  Perhaps you will recognize this in your own life.

When my kids were growing up, it had to be something very important for me to spend time away from them.  All through their childhood, I felt this yearning to write.  Occasionally I'd dabble for a little while and then I'd get back to more important things.  If I were going to leave them, it should benefit them... it should pay, or it should have a hope of paying off in the future.

The thought of writing brought me such joy, but paid no money.  I had no connections, no formal education, no reason to believe I had anything to say that wasn't already being said.  So, I labeled it selfish and put it away.

Then a few years ago, with the girls grown, I gave myself a little time to write.  Then I hurt my back and I couldn't do much else. What I've learned over the last 2 years has largely been because I spent time writing, reading, researching, and writing some more.  And I've learned a LOT.

Regardless of whether or not you have children, you still have a unique position and opportunity to impact your world.  No one else travels your exact footsteps.  "Missional Mom" addresses the way many mothers limit God's calling on their life to their perceived "high calling" of being a wife and mother, rather than in relationship with God. Nothing that impacts how we serve our families is allowed in - not even God. God can't possibly scream loud enough to get past the sound barrier we erect around ourselves living out our "high calling."

We'd gladly sacrifice to allow our husband and children to know and serve God as they are called, but we're sure God would never ask them to sacrifice for us to follow Him.  With that limiting point of view, we end up idolizing our family. In Biblical times it took hours and hours to cook a meal for a family.  It doesn't now, so we just find more ways to serve our families... to bless our beloved.

If no one reads a word I write, I was called to write.  If for no other reason than the clarity and inspiration I find at the end of an hour spent with pen and paper... and that's a HUGE reason.  I've benefited in wisdom gained, a deepened relationship with God, understanding myself, finding peace in the craziness, personal growth and the elimination of some convictions I've wrongly held onto for years.  Above all, I found I've been called to write for decades and chose not to.

No one is just one of a crowd.  Each person has specific gifts, placement and opportunities.  The world can't afford to have so many women enter into family building and opting out of living out their mission.  It isn't about doing MORE, it's about allowing yourself to grow in whatever way you're called to, so you can be a fully developed servant.

This is part of the 31 Days project at

Here's another 31 Dayer to check out:

Roots & Wings I just found this blog today.  She's telling a story, and I have to tell you... I'm impatient to read tomorrow's bit of it.

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the end of the month give away!  You'll like it, I promise!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10 of Good Books: The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I purchased this book for my husband's birthday a couple years ago.  He was looking for a new author and this guy was brand new.  "The Name of the Wind" is Rothfuss' first novel, but it had tremendous reviews.  So, I picked it up and didn't see my husband's face for days. 

Even as he was in the book, he was dying for me to read it.  Since he read and enjoyed the entire Diana Gabaldon series at my pestering (though he wasn't as fond of the intimacy revealed from a woman's point of view), I read a series he recommended.  His series only had 4 books, though and mine had 7, so I felt I owed him a read.

Then... he didn't see MY face for days.

A wonderful story set in a different world.  A young boy Kvothe (pronounced Quothe) loses his parents to something believed to be only a legend... the Chandrian. Not by chance. And certainly not because it's a common occurrence.  Kvothe's family is simply part of a traveling troupe of entertainers, but Kvothe's father is writing a song about the Chandrian... and he's revealing a little too much in the lyrics of his little song.  The entire troupe is massacred when Kvothe is away from camp. 

What follows is Kvothe's story of survival, sometimes nearly not doing so, until he reaches "The University", which has always been his dream.  Now there's a new aspect to that dream.  The University has so much to offer, so many books... Kvothe believes he will find information about the Chandrian.  Information he will use.

OK, so that's actually the boring part of the story to some people.  What is wonderful about this book is the story telling.  Rothfuss weaves a trail that includes an amazing turn of events, I was never sure if what was expected would be delivered.  Not only are there surprises, but the world, the relationships, the people that enter Kvothe's life are fascinating. When he turned the plot, it wasn't just that there was conflict... but an entire new plot opened up and I was drawn into it.  By the time he got back to the first "goal" of our main character, it had almost completely gone out of my mind because I was so absorbed in the new series of events.

Kvothe tells the story to a chronicler that comes to an inn where he's now living as a quiet innkeeper.  He's lived a life of tremendous fame, but now lives as Kote - his true identity kept from the villagers he lives in the midst of.  But something dangerous has come to this village.  Something Kvothe would be able to protect them from, but something went wrong along the way and Kote doesn't have the powerful magic of his past... Perhaps the chronicler will discover why.  Perhaps the memories of his fantastic experiences will help Kvothe regain them.

The second book is already out, and I'm awaiting the third. 

Is there a book you were resistant to read - out of your preferred genre - and was pleasantly surprised?  Please share!

This 31 Days series is part of the 31 Days Project at  
Here are a couple other 31 Dayers that I visited this morning.

The Tiny Twig - Inspiring Women to Create Lives of More Passion and Less Fuss
31 Days of Culinary Crockpot Creations   (spinach and artichoke dip pasta bake... Yummm)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9 of 31 Days of Good Books: For One More Day by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom has this amazing way of telling a story.  He fleshes it out with details and in a manner one would use with their own memories.  As a result, there are a bunch of Google results when you search, "Is Chick Benetto real?"  He is NOT real.

Chick Benetto is the person telling the story in "For One More Day."  His story. Of the night he tried to kill himself.. the night his entire regretful life was unrolled, examined in the tender presence of his deceased mother, and then rolled back up with understanding.  A mother he loved, though he often took for granted the love she so freely gave to him.

Chick Benetto was a flawed man with those unattractive feelings of patronization and toleration often present in family relationships.  This book revealed that tendency to chase after the people in our lives that hold us at arms length, while we hold at arms length those who desire to be ever so close to us.  Almost as though anyone who really loves us, loses value in doing so.  Instead we try to earn acceptance from people who don't care about us.

These two quotes from the book impacted my family relationships. 

"You see, here's my theory: Kids chase the love that eludes them, and for me, that was my father's love. He kept it tucked away, like papers in a briefcase. And I kept trying to get in there.

Years later, after her death, I made a list of Times My Mother Stood Up for Me and Times I Did Not Stand Up for My Mother. It was sad, the imbalance of it all. Why do kids assume so much from one parent and hold the other to a lower, looser standard?

Maybe it's like my old man said: You can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy, but you can't be both. So you cling to the one you think you might lose."
“I realized that when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”

Families can be complicated.  Sometimes people throw away their families for their imperfections and assemble new "families" within a group of friends.  We discard family relationships that don't meet our perceived needs and gather friendships that we never expect to meet our needs at all.

“Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.”

This post is part of the 31 Days project at 
Here are a couple other bloggers participating in the 31 Days Project.

31 Days of Making This House Our Home (NOTE:  I'm linking to a book reader's fantasy post - pics of reading nooks.)
31 Days to Giving Up On Perfect  (This post is about that song "Call Me Maybe" and relationships. Is it stuck in your head now?  You're welcome!)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8: A Long Fatal Love Chase

"A Long Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott  written in 1866.

If you think this book is about a sweet Victorian family ice skating and selling their hair for Christmas shopping money, because that's what you know of LMA's writing ... WRONG!! 

129 years before Sting sang his infamous stalker song, "Every Breath You Take," Louisa May Alcott completed this book about a man who just would not give up.

A naive 18 year old, Rosamond, lives with her aging grandfather and is getting stir crazy in their isolated residence on an island, yes an island.  Not a tropical island, a craggy shored island.  She itches to see the world and behaves with all the grace that any 18 year old exhibits when she just can't wait to put wheels under her feet. She's rebellious, strong-willed and ill tempered.  In Rosalind's case, it's a boat she needs to set her free.

However, her freedom from this safe little island is expensive.  She escapes her dull life with Phillip Tempest, a man almost twice her age.  He offers to show her the world, and much more.  And when she steps foot on his yacht, her life changes forever.  Phillip isn't the lover she expects.  They are married and yet, it seems they aren't.  As Rosamond learns, her husband has many secrets, which include a mysterious previous marriage, the possible murder of a child, and a cruel nature blessed with clever skills that result in a lifelong chase as she escapes and he follows her through country after country.

This book was believed "too sensational" to be released during the author's lifetime, and I believe it was first published in 1995. 

Have you ever been surprised by an author's work?  Read something surprisingly different from their typical releases?  Please share!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 6: Free Audio Book Recommendations & Links

This is part of the 31 Days project over at TheNester.  Please leave a comment to qualify for the drawing at the end of the month.  If you're a 31 Days writer, please leave your link so I can stop by and visit!

I don't really enjoy exercise.  I like it to sneak up on me while I think I'm doing something necessary.  However, after 45, that just isn't enough to make up for eating a slice of bread every 3-4 weeks... so I had to get serious.  I needed some cardio exercise.  I took up walking.  Each lap on my trail is .4 miles.  I can do 8 laps, but usually around 2 1/2 I'm thinking I don't really need to do 8... I could be reading, or writing, or cleaning the toilets. 

I'm frugal about some things... and audiobooks are one of those things.  So, when I discovered and learned how to put those books onto my iPod, i was giddy!  Here's the link to their search page.

Just a quick bit of info on how to do that.  When you unzip the audiobook download it expands into a number of files.  You'll need to create a Playlist, then move the chapters into the playlist in order (they are numbered, but for some reason don't always list in order in my iTunes).  You'll then move the entire Playlist onto your iPod.  It will show up where your other playlists do, as I don't yet know how to put them into the audiobooks or podcast areas.

So, my recommendations for today.

First I'll start with readers.  My favorite reader is Adrian Praetzellis.  He does various accents and has a wonderful story teller's voice.  Here is a link to his readings.  Adrian Praetzellis (who sounds a lot like my father-in-law, but doesn't look like him at all)

My second favorite reader is Karen Savage.  We were certain she was British when she read "The Scarlet Pimpernel".  She is from Texas.  I learned just this morning, she's also a professional reader.

All the books at Librivox are in the public domain.  So, most of them are more than 75 years old.  I've been enlightened as to how blatant stereotypes of women and various ethnicities were at that time.  It can be shocking. 

Right now I'm in the middle of "Mr. Hogarth's Will" by Catherine Helen Spence, where the heroine is just told straight up she cannot be hired for a position she's well educated to do because she would distract men from doing their work.  This is the story of two nieces raised by an uncle and educated to do and know things that women were not taught to do or know.  He dies and leaves them a pittance, though he is wealthy, because he wants them to make something of themselves with their qualities and talents.  I'm only half way done with this one, but so far I'm enjoying it.  I'm aghast when a gentleman at a party comments that having a conversation with an educated woman is stressful because he might be corrected if he states the wrong date of a historical event. WHAT!?!?!?!  Oh yeah, we've come a LONG way baby!

Here are books I've listened to and enjoyed:  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  I don't think I'd like to read this, but it accompanied me to Maine last year and was delightful to listen to.... though I became a bit irritated with Anna's obsessive train of thought. 

Mr. Midshipman Easy by Captain Frederick Marryat.  This was read entirely by Adrian.  It's about a young Jack Easy who believes in the equality of the "rights of man."  So, when his neighbor finds him stealing apples, Jack answers that God created the apples for everyone and he has as much a right to them as anyone else.  He has a similar response when caught poaching fish from a man's stocked pond, and is physically removed from the property, his fishing pole taken under the "rights of man" to equally own his fishing pole.  Jack realizes the only place he will find equality is on the sea, where no one owns it... and he joins the Navy.  Yep, the navy.  Where a senior officer is NOT the equal of a midshipman, and the philosophies of Jack cause issues and laughs for his comrades.  Jack also has a series of adventures which are very entertaining. 

If you're an Oscar Wilde fan, as I am... you'll find his works here:  Oscar Wilde.

All in all, these books have greatly improved my endurance and cardiovascular health.  And they are free.

Here are links to other 31 Dayers:

31 Days of Little Life Lessons from my Children
31 Days to Get Off Your Duff & Live Now (a variety of ideas - something for everyone)

I'm off to a board meeting, when I get back this afternoon, I'll update my sidebar with some fascinating quotes! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5:Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster -Friday's Free Kindle Read

A superior court judge had to sentence a minor to life in prison.  His wife, struck by the significance of a life sentence for one so young was inspired to write a novel about a case where that was a possible outcome.

 FREE!  Yes, today's review is also my Friday freebie announcement.

Linda's 16 year old daughter, Hannah, has just been arrested for killing her grandfather.  Linda reaches out to a college friend (without many fond memories of being Linda's "friend") Josie Baylor-Bates. Josie has criminal defense experience.

Josie doesn't want the case.  She doesn't want to deal with Linda, doesn't want to upset her new position at a small law firm without all the criminal drama... but Linda is frantic and doesn't seem willing to leave Josie's house until she gets her to cooperate.  Josie makes a promise to just the smallest amount of immediate assistance, but that's all.

Hannah has some quirks... She has to touch things... 20 times.  She's hard to connect with, mistrusting, a bit rebellious.  The matches found in her room are the same type used to set the fire in her grandfather's rooms.  She also doesn't have a large fan club. Her step-father just wants this to all go away, because he's up for a government appointment... even if it means Hannah pays with her freedom... even if she's innocent, which he doesn't allow himself to even consider.

And Linda? Linda doesn't want to lose her husband, and she's willing to pay a very high price to keep the peace with him.  Her loyalty is tested.

There's a beach scene between Linda & Josie required a little stretching on the reader's behalf, but overall I enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down.  

So, pick it up for your free weekend read!

This post is part of  The 31 Days project at The Nester.  Here are some other 31 Days participants you may enjoy.

31 Days of Mystery and Mayhem
31 Days of Quotes for Writers
31 Days to Reconnecting

If you're writing on this theme, please leave your link in the comments!

Do you have a favorite free book you can recommend for Kindle readers this weekend?  Please share!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days of Good Books - Day 4 : Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable. " Madeleine L'Engle

Two-Part Invention 
A Story of a Marriage
by Madeleine L'Engle 

I must say I read this book because Madeleine L'Engle's quotes made me adore her and I wanted to know more about a woman who thought like that. (See the sidebar for a splash of her quotes.)  An independent and insightful woman, well informed on world events and holding opinions which were not always popular.  A woman able to hold her tongue when it was prudent, but never wavering in her convictions.  A sad moment came when I realized there was no opportunity for me to ever meet her, because as I became aware of her... she had passed away.

Madeleine L'Engle wrote this memoir on her marriage during her husband's battle with cancer.  Beginning with the beginning, she tells of her own upbringing and what brought her to work in the theater, where she met Hugh Franklin - a fellow actor.  Madeleine left theater and published 60 books.  Hugh Franklin became an actor on a soap opera.  They moved from NYC to a country home, in need of repair.  For a time, they ran a small country store there. 

She expresses honestly that every 40 year marriage has periods of time when they aren't in a honeymoon phase, maybe even believe the love is gone, but she reveals the commitment that brought her marriage through those times.  Through the sicknesses, losses, children, and changes in their careers they remained.  Marriage has changed, and this was a fascinating glimpse into a couple born at a different time with different expectations of marriage.  He didn't need to be her everything. He let her down, she let him down... they didn't walk away.

"I learned fairly early in my marriage that I did not have to confide everything on my mind to my husband; this would be putting on him burdens which I was supposed to carry myself.  When a bride insists on telling her lover everything, I suspect she is looking for a father, not a husband.  Some of my life was mine to be known by me alone. But our marriage was ours, belonged to the two of us, and was full of wonderful things, terrible things, joyous things, grievous things, but ours."

What was so beautifully revealed in this book was the strength and tenderness of a woman who endures even when she's lost what is so dear to her.

This post is part of The 31 Days project at The Nester.  Here are some other 31 Days.... participants you may enjoy .

31 Days of Life After Loss
31 Days of Lovely Lines (Book themed)
31 Days Towards 10 Minute Dinners

Have you read a memoir or biography that impressed something tangible into your own life that lasted beyond the book?  Please share.

If you're a 31 Days participant, let me know where to find you so I can drop by.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of Good Books - Day 3 - 3 Janet Evanovich Books

If you were here Monday, you got 7 books for the money.  Today you'll get 3 more.  If Monday's book satisfied a hearty reader like an entire delicious Turkey Dinner, (I capitalize nouns that make me happy.)  today is Lunch. (I wasn't going to capitalize lunch, but I felt that it was rude on my part to play favorites.)

"One For the Money," "Two For the Dough," and "Three to Get Deadly"
by Janet Evanovich

 I didn't see the movie. I don't watch movies after I read the book. (Except Hunger Games)  They just can't live up to the amount of information you get in a book.

The first 3 in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series were deliciously fun.  Stephanie used to work in a lingerie department, but upon losing her job, took up a career any clerk would... Bounty Hunting.  Yes, she is on a treasure hunt for criminals, because let's face it... she has zero qualifications and that makes everything about skip tracing funny. 

My favorite character is Stephanie's grandmother... who once got her dress caught in a casket, after pulling the fire alarm so she could sneak a peak at a woman's corpse to see if a significant mole had survived an explosion at the dry cleaners, which caused this poor woman's demise.  Grandma gets into all sorts of funny trouble.  Stephanie's mother is amazing at getting her grown daughter to come over for dinner.

I laughed out loud while reading these books.  I don't recommend the later volumes in the series as heartily.  Eventually the margins become so wide, it's embarrassing they wasted all that paper for so few written words. I still read them, but that's because I'm an optimist and held out hope that I'd get a pleasant surprise. Not yet... but I'll keep you posted.

31 Days of... is a project of The Nester.  It began with 7 bloggers a couple years ago and this year has over 1000 participants.

Other blogs participating in the 31 Days project...

31 Days to Being a Real Writer
31 Days of Pinspiration (She has a Recipe for Crock pot loaded baked potato soup on there!!!)

What books have made you laugh out loud?

Be sure to leave a comment in order to be entered for the end of the month drawing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days of Good Books : Day 2 - The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Curled up in my favorite reading chair last winter, I opened this surprising novel and couldn't put it down.  In the late 60's, institutionalizing those with developmental disabilities was much more common.  The public was too willing to walk away from the most vulnerable of its members, and too often those in charge of these facilities had no respect for the humanity they were entrusted with.  This hardly sounds like the premise of a comfy read... and it wasn't that.  But it was good!

This was a story of change.  Lynnie, daughter of a comfortable white family, was placed in an institution as a young girl when her disabilities became clear to her family.  In their desire to see this as "best for her," they asked few questions and did little to supervise the care of their daughter.  Homan is a deaf African-American man who ends up in the same institution, because it's assumed he is similarly disabled.  They become very close, and when Lynnie is ready to give birth to a child conceived in an act of rape... Homan breaks her out and they run.

With no words spoken, they find sanctuary at the home of a lonely widow on a dark night, but the authorities track them and recapture the young woman.  Homan escapes, and a baby girl is left in the care of Martha, the widow, who spends the rest of the little girl's childhood moving about to keep the child hidden - trying to honor the only two words Lynnie spoke to her before being taken away... "Hide her!" 

Lynnie waits for Homan to rescue her, but through a series of events Homan ends up on the other side of the country - unable to find his way back.  As unlikely as it seems, it will have to be Lynnie who finds her way to him.

This novel is about more than their love story. It's about a teacher that cares, a public that needs informed, and what justice looked like at that time in our history.

Rachel Simon shares with the reader an experience of longing and enduring, an unexpected respite from loneliness, the beauty of selflessness, and a miraculous capacity for love.

4 stars

31 Days of... is a project of The Nester.  It began with 7 bloggers a couple years ago and this year has over 1000 participants.

Other blogs participating in the 31 Days project...

31 Days of Noticing Fall (Connections to Fall and all that they symbolically represent to our souls.)
31 Days To Fall In Love With Fall (AND Blog Design Giveaway!)
31 Days of Journaling Prompts

If you're blogging on this topic, please leave a link in the comments so I can stop by and visit.

What I learned from this book... I was reminded that just because we refuse to look at something, doesn't mean it will cease to be cruel... and as a human being... I'm required to look.  What book has brought that message to you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

10 Things I Miss About My Teenaged Daughters

My three daughters are beautiful grown women now.  It's been years since they lived at home.  Today, I was reminiscing about those times.  Occasionally, I'm still very sentimental about them being all grown up.  It doesn't happen at Hallmark moments, but the freezer section at Wal-Mart, for some reason, has a  "make a mom cry" pheromone that rushes me through the balance of my shopping.

While you're surviving the emotional and physical growth of your kids through the teen years, take a little time to smile at what's blossoming before you.   Here are 10 things I'm missing about my girls.

  1. The smell of them. Shampoo, perfumes and lotions. My home was so girly when my girls were still home. I have a bathroom closet that still smells like a conglomeration of their “products”. I dread the day it stops, and I don't allow that door to hang open and let it dissipate. 
  2. The music. Trendy, new and fresh, sometimes bawdy,. I miss the music, the entertainment news, the chores being interrupted with an outburst of wiggling butts, rock star faces and a can of Endust becoming a microphone.
  3. An honest answer to, “Does this look ok?” And frankly, someone who knows what looks OK, not that I'm insulting my husband, but when I walk around the house in shorts that expose my jiggly thighs – he's just happy I'm “showing some leg”. There's got to be some second guessing his fashion advice. And sometimes he doesn't even look before saying, “You look nice.” Teenaged girls NEVER do that.
  4. Shopping companions. With a promise of a stop at Taco Bell, there was always a girl willing to help me grocery shop, chat with me on the way there and through the store and home.
  5. Their holiday selves. Whether it was baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, watching the Thanksgiving parade, or helping me wrestle a slippery 22 pound turkey into a cooking bag – I loved getting ready for holidays with them.
  6. Makeovers and trends. Every so often a girl I sort of recognized would emerge from the bathroom with hair or makeup that took my breath away. Sometimes it was lovely, sometimes hysterical. And for trends? Well, you just never knew what a magazine article could inspire a house of females to do. There was one time we wrapped ourselves in Saran Wrap to see if we really would wake up with skinnier torsos. I woke up with a Saran Wrap belt, as it all wiggled to the middle, and no I wasn't skinnier. I think my husband lost a few pounds during his laughfest, but that was about it.
  7. The life their friends brought to our home. One boyfriend would call and play pranks on me, they were broke down with a flat tire 40 miles away so they'd be late. (actually sitting in our driveway) One who exchanged code names with me – I went by Penelope – I can't tell you his or I'd have to kill you. He's now my son-in-law. A girl who stayed with us a couple weeks while she sorted out issues with her mom and helped us feed a litter of orphaned kittens. 
  8. Help with the litter box. (If I'm not going to be honest, what's the point?!)
  9. A sprawling mass of hair and long legs that would occasionally still plop herself onto my lap. (And that just made me cry, so I'm glad this list is almost over.)
  10. Companions in adventure. Whether it was Irish dancing on family night at Mullaney's Harp& Fiddle, a spontaneous “Let's try ice skating today” at a local park, watching Titanic a zillion times at the theater, touring the architecture of a nearby town, eating at a new restaurant, trying a new craft, or volunteering at a community meal... There was an eagerness to try new things and go new places.
Having teenagers was truly my favorite time of parenting my growing children. Seeing the unique personalities develop and strengthen into full fledged individuals was fascinating. They were funny, kind, loving, thoughtful, and creative in the midst of years that brought their share of angst, self doubt, and striving for independence.

It's easy to cover up the missing of them by remembering the ridiculous arguments over what the dentist said... EXACTLY, or the days when the entire world had more and did more than we did, or the lectures, or the normal tension of a young woman wanting to test the waters of the world and a mom trying to protect her – sometimes overly so, I'm sure. But the truth is – I'd trade anything to recapture a week of that time when my little birds were still in my nest.

If you've raised teenagers, what are your fondest memories? 

31 Days of Good Books - Day 1

Good morning!  I actually dreamt about the book I'm recommending today.  (In case you're wondering, yes, dreamt is an acceptable past tense of dream, though this particular spell checker is making ugly red squigglies at me.)

I'm a fast reader.  In the past, I've devoured books and stories and plots so quickly that I don't remember character names... Inhale the story. So this first recommendation was a true treat for me.

"Outlander " by Diana Gabaldon  c. 1991    626 pages.

Claire Randall was a nurse for the British army until 1945.  A weekend to reunite with her husband Frank, also just released from duty, brought her to Scotland.  Taking a walk in her perfectly acceptable little 1945 summer dress, she stumbles across an old stone henge.  She becomes dizzy, disoriented, there's a terrible sound... a terrible pulling apart of her body... and then it's over.

Stumbling down the hillside, she sees several Scots in KILTS running full speed, followed by British soldiers in red coats.  Is there a reenactment? A film crew? Is she hallucinating?  A hand covers her mouth and yanks her into the brush.  The British soldier that's grabbed her looks like her husband.  But, this is 1745, this lookalike has nothing in common with her dear Frank, and she's apparently dressed in attire only fitting for a prostitute. 

Claire has nothing short of a wild adventure in this book.  She finds no help with the British, but with the Scots - likely the very criminals being sought.  Her knowledge of anatomy is quite useful in this brutal time, though her 20th century mouth gets her in a bit of trouble.  She's no wimp, and she can be a bit salty for the 18th century. There's bad blood between the two countries, though, and regardless of being a woman, to many of the Scots, she's simply English - an Outlander - and there's always suspicion.

Ms. Gabaldon wrote over 600 pages and when I finished it, I felt like I'd really read something. It wasn't finished in an evening or two.  And, she made me want to read every word.  The history is well researched and entertaining to experience. The relationships are as complicated as relationships can be.  Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.  Sometimes you want to do things you shouldn't, and this book has plenty of both.

And when you're done... there are 6 more in the series.  Book 8  "Written In My Own Heart's Blood" comes out in 2013.

31 Days of... is a project of The Nester.  It began with 7 bloggers a couple years ago and this year has over 1000 participants.