"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

28 July 2014

2014 Book Review #29: Unlucky 13

Just finished the latest in the Women's Murder Club series.

This is written by the same author as the Alex Cross series.  Both series are easy reads.....with lots of action and drama....always a mystery, always a touch of romance....always a page turner.

STORY SUMMARY

Lindsay Boxer is a homicide detective for the San Francisco police.  She has just had a baby, 6 months previous, named Julie and husband Joe is a former Homeland Security employee who now works from home.

One day, the FBI sends her a chilling photo....of a psychopath woman named Mackie Morales, who, along with her partner, Randy Fish, killed many people.  Randy is dead but Mackie, presumed dead, has turned up in the Chicago area and may be on her way to San Francisco to get revenge against Lyndsay.

Cindy, one of the members of the "Women's Murder Club" is hoping to get the story of a lifetime by interviewing Mackie.  Cindy is a journalist and always getting into scrapes.  She is also heart broken over the breakup between her and Richie (Lindsay's partner on the squad).

Meanwhile, there are people who are dying after eating burgers from a local fast food chain.  They are eating little "belly bombs" and Lyndsay and Richie, along with other members of the SFPD, must try to stop the killer or killers.......who wants to hurt Chuck's the most popular burger joint in town?? and why are they killing people with belly bombs??


Meanwhile, Yuki (a high profile lawyer and another member of the Women's Murder Club) and her newlywed husband Brady, (Lindsay's boss) are on their Alaskan cruise honeymoon when it is taken over by pirates!!

What happens to Yuki and Brady?? Will they survive the pirates' demand of killing one person per hour until the cruise company gives them money?

and will Lyndsay and Richie stop the belly bombers??

Does Mackie Morales find Lyndsay and what will happen when she does??

MY THOUGHTS

This book was easy to read, fast-paced (as usual) and a pretty good plot. I didn't really like the 3 stories running at the same time in the same book but the author made it work.  I especially liked reading the adventures of Yuki and Brady.  It was different.........and a little scary to think that maybe pirates really could take over a cruise ship in American waters!

The story kept my interest but I just am not as big a fan of the series like I am the Alex Cross series.  The character named Cindy drives me crazy...she is portrayed to be such an air head.  I can't stand it!! and somehow she always ends up ok, which, in my opinion, is not reality.....but...it is fiction so.......!

The plot line involving Mackie Morales was very disappointing.  I expected the book to be focused on that and it wasn't....it was more focused on the belly bombs and the fast food chain.  

I guess I need a break from this series.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 7.


25 July 2014

End of July Faves


Wow....it's been summer now for one month and 4 days and I've been on break from the classroom for almost 4 weeks now and STILL dealing with significant back pain that started 3 weeks ago.  UGH!!!!!  But....I'm still trying to find little blessings through the fog of pain and chiro visits....and trying not to stress about not getting my work-outs in or the active things I had planned and just trying to focus on each moment of each beautiful day that God has blessed us with!

I'm joining in with other writers to share 5 of our fave moments from the past week....mine aren't super exciting but they are definitely blessings from the Lord....join in with us to share your faves by heading over to Susanne's site...she is our gracious hostess.

FIVE FAVES

Dave on the trail up Pillsbury

interesting tree shape

Another FireTower checked off the list!!
The Central Adirondacks
as seen from the summit of Pillsbury Mt

Pillsbury Mountain as seen from Mason Lake

  • HIKING!  We had had a scheduled group hike all set for last Saturday and although 3 of the original group had to drop out for various reasons, my friend from my hometown area decided to join us, so she met us at a designated meeting point and joined us for the rest of the way into the West Canada Wilderness Region of the Central Adirondacks.  The trail-head is about 2 hours north of our home.  Although my back ached the entire way, my foot pain was nonexistent. Until we started the climb down at which point my back was just a dull ache but my foot was throbbing! I was very frustrated at how this 3,597 foot mountain took us all afternoon to hike.  We did spend about 25 minutes on the summit to eat some lunch, relax, climb the fire tower as far as we could (it is an unmaintained one) and then take some photos. Pillsbury Mountain is well into the wilderness and I was thankful our SUV was able to handle the extremely rough and narrow road. The hike was one of the most challenging hikes I have done thus far in the Fire Tower Challenge and I now only have 7 Adirondack mountains to climb to finish this challenge. Unfortunately, I don't think my goal of being done this summer is going to be reached due to this back issue. The blessing is that it was a fun day anyways with lots of laughs, singing, and talking.  I always love when my husband and good friends join me for a mountain climb.


  • SAFE!  Our oldest daughter was camping with friends on Cape Cod for a 4 day weekend last weekend and she texted when she arrived Thursday evening, and then she made it back safely on Monday evening.  Huge relief as that whole area has so much traffic in the summer months.  And our youngest daughter left with some of the other teens from our church's youth group to attend a camp in the Berkshires.  She texted us on Sunday evening that they all arrived safely and she has called me once this week.....huge blessing to know God watches out for these precious daughters.





  • QUIET TIMES  I've had some good quiet times this week....the youngest has been gone all week and the oldest has been working a lot so I've had the deck to my self,  and one morning, before the heat and humidity got to me (we had awful high heat and humidity earlier this week) I journaled some thoughts based on some Scripture I was reading.  I love these quiet moments with our Savior...He brings such a comfort to me......what a blessing it is to have the Word of God within our reach.





  • DATE NIGHTS!  Sunday evening, Dave and I were alone for the first time in a long time.....overnight!  So, we grilled some yummy chicken, had a nice bottle of wine on the deck with dinner and just sat and talked.........and then Monday evening when he got home from work, it was just too humid and hot to grill anything so he took me out to this place which I love........oh what a wonderful piece of tilapia and veggies I had...and a yummy martini..........it was a lovely night. It's a blessing to have these slow summer evenings to savor with my husband.



the West Canada Creek in Herkimer, NY
24 July





  • HOMETOWN VISIT:  Yesterday, while Courtney was at work, I drove out to the central part of NY to visit my hometown area.  Driving was horrible due to the lower back pain...but as soon as I got out of the car and stretched the back, it was a little better and I enjoyed my visit with my dad.  He is getting old and frailer.  It is tough to see. But he is a healthy man so.....that is a blessing.  I did a little light cleaning for him, and took him on an errand.  We enjoyed chatting and reminiscing on his screened in back porch.  He was getting tired so I left in the late afternoon to meet one of my good friends for dinner at this place in town.  Diane and I had so much fun getting caught up on the family news, etc. She also has back issues so we were sharing tips on how to deal.....we always have had so much in common!  We realize that our climbing mountains days are almost over so she and I plan on doing a flat hike sometime later this summer.  After dinner, I needed to get a rock from the West Canada Creek for my father in law (a LONG story that I will share later! HAHA) so we drove outside of town to where the creek is the widest and oh, what a gorgeous evening it was. I took the above pics to show my daughters as they typically don't get out to the Valley except in the winter months.  It really is a blessing to be able to go back to one's hometown and see a parent(s) and old friends.
photo courtesy of trip advisor

  • GRAPEVINE FARMS/MOMS DAY OUT!  On Monday, a couple of the moms from my small group were finally free to go with me to this place.  We had it scheduled back in April but that day ended up being one where people had too many conflicts so I rescheduled for a lazy summer day.  Oh what fun we had. I did some early Christmas shopping for my daughters, bought myself a new bracelet, bought my husband's upcoming  birthday gift, and we had lunch on the side porch. After lunch we did the wine tasting.....where I sampled six different NY wines and then we all had their homemade ice cream on the front porch.  It was a fun day out and it's a blessing to have good friends united in Christ.


that wraps up my week... and yup i know that's SIX faves but it was hard to choose from the small blessings God gave me....

We are now having the "perfect summer weather"....clear skies, sun, and NO high temperatures or humidity!!  I love this weather and I'm loving my chiropractor.....I'm off to go see him and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend embracing every moment and activity God gives you!


















22 July 2014

Summer Morning

So this morning...........such a hot, humid one!  Our local weather says it is going to be a day for central air.  I'm so thankful I have it in my car and in my home!!

On the way home this morning from my chiropractor appointment, I was feeling a bit discouraged...and a little anxious about this low back pain I've been experiencing off and on for the last month.  I know I have arthritis in my lower back and I know I have a disk that can bulge like it did 2 years ago.  I know this current problem is why I'm also being treated by him for the plantar faciitis.  I know this chiro team is a good one because they helped to get me pain free and doing awesome fitness workouts before.  But for some reason, this morning, I was most anxious and I don't get anxious all that often.  When I do, though, it can be crippling and all these negative thoughts start running through my mind.

To combat this, I turned on the Christian radio station and the following song is what I heard:







and I became undone.

I started to cry!!  In the car!!  While driving!!  I felt tears slipping out of my eyes and down my cheeks and I realized that even though I have been doing devotionals all summer and going to church quite regularly except when we were on vacation, that I have been holding on to this anxiety and not fully giving the worries and fears over to Christ.  He wants to take them from me, but He doesn't force us!!  We have to surrender....every part of our selves. 

Between dealing with menopausal issues and this back pain, I am a mess of negativity!

And God doesn't want that for me!

He wants us to abide in Him...to surrender ALL to Him...every sin, every thought, every anxiety, every pain, every joy, every triumph, every trial.

I started praying aloud in the car and a sense of peace came over me.......a confidence that the chiropractor does indeed know what he is doing, but that God is even bigger than Dr. N.

That the upcoming ultrasound I have is going to be ok.  That God will get me through that next week and that He has me in the Palm of His Hand.  He made my body, he made my mind, he made my heart.

I will continue to worship Him and press in and surrender each day...........surrender those thoughts that are negative and do no earthly good. 



 And trust Him.


20 July 2014

2014 Book Review #28: The Handmaid's Tale

My 21 year old, about to be a senior in college, recommended I read this book. She read it for a Women's Lit class last year.  It's a bit "science fiction" but it's more of a dystopian novel. In fact, let's pray the events portrayed in this book just never happen....let's pray our government never gets to this point. This is also a bit of a feminist novel....and a little creepy.

But..the story just unfolds and although bizarre, I was drawn in. I figured out almost right away (with no help from Courtney) about the names given the women. I won't tell you as I don't want to ruin the plot line for you. At that point, I was totally creeped out.

STORY SUMMARY

Offred lives in the Republic of Gilead.  She is a Handmaid.  She remembers the years before being a Handmaid...the years with her husband Luke and their little girl. These memories are interspersed throughout the story.

She is allowed to leave the home of the Commander and his Wife only once a day and only to go to the market to buy food.  The markets are only identified by signs, not words, because now, women are no longer allowed to read.  
Once a month, she has to lie on her back and hope that the Commander will get her pregnant.  It is her job.  In this age of declining births, it is the Handmaids' duties...and they are only valued for their ovaries.  All of them hope and pray they are viable.  She used to have a real job, with real money of her own, and access to knowledge, education, news.  All of that is now gone.  She makes friends with other Handmaids. But are they really friends?  She learns that one friend, from her other life, is also a Handmaid. But this friend "escapes". How?? And will Offred be able to escape??

MY THOUGHTS

Wow.  That's all. When I got to the end of this book, all I said was Wow.  And I was stunned by the ending.  I can't tell you how it ends.  But you will be stunned.

I loved that there were historical notes by the author in the back.  They were fiction, as well. 

It is a brilliant piece of literary art.

In my opinion, this book is only appropriate for ages 18 and older (due to the plot line and disturbing scenes). I've heard it is a movie. I hope it's rated R at least.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.



18 July 2014

Mid-July Faves

It's the middle of July!

I am loving the streak of amazingly awesome summer weather we are having here in eastern New York.  The days this week have been beautiful minus the first 2 which were so humid!  We have now been home from our Boston vacation for almost 2 weeks so the faves I'm going to share here are from the last 10 days.....I'm linking up over at Susanne's with other women who share 5 faves/blessings from the past week....how about joining in and leaving a fave in the comment box?

FIVE FAVES


NYC Corps de Ballet
"Union Jack" Ballet
photo courtesy of rpwenzel

Wendy Whalen and Craig Hall
"After the Rain" Ballet
NYC Principal Dancers

photo courtesy of The Saratogian
  • NYCBALLET!  Last week, the NYCBallet was in town again (Saratoga Springs) at this place. Each year they open the Classical Arts Summer Season in our area and we LOVE it. Claire and I have a free lawn pass for any classical concert so we used that twice last week.  (they were only here for 5 nights and several nights were repeat performances).  We chose opening night (Tuesday) and the final (Gala) night (Saturday the 12th) because it was Wendy Whalen's final performance with NYCB at SPAC.  She is always mesmerizing.  The Pas de Deux she performed (see photo above) was one we had seen her do before...and it never gets old. It is truly exquisite.  She had the body type Balanchine loved and she is a favorite of Claire and I.  SPAC did a wonderful tribute to her, too.  The final performance was "Union Jack" an hour long ballet that pays tribute to England.  It was our first time seeing it and it was fantastic.  The above photo is the final scene (fireworks on the lawn followed). Claire and I had such a marvelous time...even though the weather was very hot and humid and the first night it rained!  We are looking forward to 2 weeks from now when we see the most famous ballet company in the world:  the Bolshoi Ballet.  (and yes, we have actual indoor tickets for that!!).  It's a blessing to live so close to Saratoga and enjoy the Classical season.
Courtney on her birthday1
  • 21!!  Last week, our oldest daughter turned 21!!  I can't believe it. It was a bittersweet moment seeing her open her gift (a book she saw in the Museum of Fine Art, Boston). ( I happened to find it online for less than half the cost of the museum price!) She is so grown up and independent...it makes me happy to know she is a kind, compassionate, smart, and fun young lady.  We are thankful she has made good choices with friendships, guys, college studies, etc. We made a special dinner and pina coladas (her request) for her when she got home from work that evening. It was a lot of fun!  She is truly a  blessing!


  • FLOWERS!  Our little wildflower "garden" that I planted in last year's tomato container is really blooming all of a sudden.  The flowers look so pretty and I love sitting out there with my morning coffee and my Bible and just relaxing in the morning sunshine.  Flowers are truly a blessing!

  • "THANK YOU" One evening last week we were all sitting having dinner together...it was a late one and I had grilled chicken and made some of the fave dishes the girls like.  Courtney, on her way past me after clearing her spot, said very  close to my ear "Great dinner mommy, thank you".  Oh how this made my day!!  Sometimes, it's the little things!!


  • GOOD TALKS  This past week was full of appointments for my youngest (oral surgeon consult about wisdom teeth) and my self (yearly ob/gyn physical, and 2 chiropractor appointments...the back pain and heel pain is starting to ease up more and more each day, thankfully), and ballet classes for Claire. (thankfully, the last one was yesterday until Sept1).  I felt like I was so busy and a little concerned with something my doctor was telling me.  So I asked my husband for his ear one evening and just talked to him about some of my feelings.  It was great and we ended the day in prayer.  We are trying to pray more together (we pray separately usually) these days.  I feel blessed when we do.
That wraps it up for me.  I hope you are enjoying some beautiful weather where you are.  

Enjoy the weekend!!


16 July 2014

What are We Choosing?

I've just started reading through the Psalms again, this time using the Soul Care Bible (NKJV).

I'm savoring these Scriptures written by David...........and all the feelings that he portrays in his writings.

Psalm 6 is the one I'm meditating on today and the above verse really stood out to me.....here's the Scripture in its entirety:


"..let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;  let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You."

Um...I don't know about you, but when I'm dealing with some kind of physical issue, I don't tend to be joyful.  These last 3 weeks I've been dealing with plantar faciitis due to a back problem.  Dancing with my husband tweaked my back (mid and lower parts of my spine have signs of degenerative disk disease and arthritis) and I've been less than joyful.  In fact, my oldest daughter says I've been downright grumpy!

And I don't want to be this way!!  So..this Scripture was really convicting to me today.  It was a busy one.....an early morning physical, ballet class for the teen, a chiropractor appt, another ballet class for the teen, and I had to get an early dinner ready so she could have protein before class.  Fitting in some yoga stretches in there, too, left me feeling grumpy and rushed.  So the first thing I did this afternoon, after making a strong mug of blueberry coffee and praising God for the gorgeous sun, pretty flowers, and dry air on my deck, I turned to my next Psalm.

and I sat and meditated.....drinking in the sun, the fresh breeze, the sound of silence............



And was convicted by that verse.

God wants us to praise Him!!  Not just on Sunday mornings but all the time....we are to give praise (and thanks!) to our Savior!

and trust.  Why am I fretting about my back??  God provided me with an excellent chiropractor who incorporates all the latest core fitness treatment into my regimen.  This place was totally a "God thing"....recommended by more than one church friend.  They got rid of my horrible sciatica 2 summers ago....and taught me what and what not to do.  I trust these doctors.....do I trust them more than GOD???

He has shown Himself to be faithful in my life.....He has this!!

So, a repentant heart sat on the deck, seeking His forgiveness for not simply trusting and rejoicing.

I love God. I talk about how He moves in our lives all the time...to other family members, to friends, to my small group.

And because I love Him I need to be joyful in Him.

Being joyful has no room for fretting.

I can choose which attitude to have as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning......

and as a mom, I set the tone in the home!!

Am I going to choose joyfulness or fretfulness?

Which will you choose??