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

10 February 2016

2016 Book Review #4: Depraved Heart


Wow. When I saw this in our town library a couple of weeks ago, I was very excited because I really enjoy the Kay Scarpetta series. This author is one of my faves and her Scarpetta series are always page-turners. 

This one did not disappoint although I don't think it is one of her very best. 

STORY SUMMARY

 The story opens up about 2 months after the last book. Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the chief medical examiner for Boston is at the very prestigious and historic home of a young woman named Chanel Gilbert. The home is located in Cambridge.  Chanel has been found dead by the housekeeper. But was it really a fall from the ladder that is in the foyer, or was this a homicide? Only time and intense investigation will tell. While Kay is examing the body, she receives a text alert on her phone. A video link brings her to a very disturbing scene...and it appears it's from her niece Lucy. But....how can it be? It is actually a surveillance film from 20 years ago when Lucy was only 19 and a student at the FBI Academy! 

Soon, more videos arrive to her phone and she is confused, scared, and quite alarmed. These seem to implicate that her precious niece has commited a crime! Whom can she tell about the videos that disappear as soon as she views them? She can't tell her FBI profiler husband Benton, nor her friend and investigative partner Pete Marino. She certainly can't question Lucy! The person in the videos is a known psychopath and mass murderer named Carrie Grethan whom everyone, including the FBI, thought had died when her helicopter crashed into the Atlantic Ocean some years ago. But...she didn't die. She is alive and two months ago had almost speared Kay to death during a scuba diving rescue mission. It is now Kay against Carrie. 

Why is the FBI at Lucy's very private home she shares with her partner Janet and their little boy Desi who just lost his mother to cancer? What does Lucy have to do with these videos and more importantly how are they connected to the death of this young wealthy woman?? Is Carrie, who used to be Lucy's romantic partner, trying to kill them all?? 

MY THOUGHTS

As usual I was on the edge of my seat at the beginning of this book. The story takes place in one day and although it is exciting and fast paced, it did get bogged down in the middle for me. I began to get bored and kept thinking this should be resolved by now...it has been years since Scarpetta and Benton have been trying to nab Carrie. Yes, it makes for an exciting twist to these characters and their lives and they do apprar in every book in the Scarpetta series. But this one started to drag for me and seemed to be too vague.

The ending finally arrived and again, too vague!!! Did the FBI, Kay, and Benton finally get her?? I don't want to write anymore about the details of the last 1/4 of the book because I don't want to spoil it for you. It was very good...brilliant really....because we have to come up with our own conclusions.

Is Carrie Grethen finally gone???

I doubt it.

But you never know! 

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

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9. 

05 February 2016

February Faves



I'm thankful it's Friday. It's been a long week.

I need this exercise of reflecting back on the week and finding FIVE of my FAVE blessings from God.  I'm linking up over at Susanne's site.  Jump in and join us!



photo courtesy of the Union Village website

  • MOTHER/DAUGHTER DAY:  I wanted to go back to this store which is about a 45 minute drive north-east of where I live.  I wanted to get one more area rug from them for my living room floor.  I was praying they would have the same pattern/color...and they did!!  For 10% off because, sadly, the store is closing after 22 years of business...and my daughters and I JUST discovered it this past autumn.  So I was thankful my oldest (Courtney) and I went out for the afternoon.  We had fun looking around but we only bought the rug and a packet of note cards.  I'm really going to miss this local store.  I told the owner how much I've enjoyed it...all 3 times.  (she is retiring). I love shopping in stores that are not "big box" or "chains".  To keep with our "shop local" theme, we ate a scrumptious lunch at The Village Cafe.  It was absolutely marvelous.  Inexpensive, a fun menu and a coffee bar!  I really had fun with my 22 year old.  I'm thankful we could do this together.


  • MOVIE NIGHT:  On Friday night, my husband and I decided to have an "at home date night" and watched the above movie.  We were borrowing it from a friend and had never seen it before.  It was absolutely wonderful and I've always been a Russell Crowe fan.  It was the perfect ending to a very tiring day at both of our jobs.  I love winter nights when we have no obligations and can just sit together in the family room.


  • AMAZING SERMON/WORSHIP:  We are blessed to be in this church.  I still can't believe it's been 10 years since we became members.  I am SO thankful God led us to this body of Believers with our amazing pastor.  He is doing a new sermon series on the Power of Jesus...the miracles.....and Sunday's sermon was #1.  It was all about the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana and oh my....VERY powerful.  Combined with powerful worship songs and hymns, my soul was filled to the brim.

  • INDEPENDENT STUDY:  my 17 yr old (Claire) wanted to take French 1 this semester which means doing 2 years of French in ONE semester.  Because our school district offers French 1 only at the junior high (8th grade) with the beginning of French (sort of like a pre-level 1) in 7th, she needed to get this as an independent study (because in junior high she chose Russian to study) and needed the approval of her current Russian teacher plus the district supervisor for languages. She is in her 4th year of Russian (for 5 college credits) and did Latin 1 last year.  Because she is also taking Pre-Calc, and Physics plus Honors everything else, we weren't sure this would get approved.  BUT...it was approved!!!  Glory to God!  She met with the building principal yesterday for the final approval of studying French 1 independently.  Basically, she just has to report to a language teacher once a week and will be learning the basic vocab (all level one) on her own during her prep period at school.  There is also a DVD for her to use at home.  She is super excited and knows this 3rd language will look good on her college apps. 


  • PERMANENT:  Our oldest daughter came home from work last Friday evening and said that the arts and crafts store she has been working in has officially hired her as permanent part time. Glory to God!! (she was "seasonal" until January 31st).  Meaning, she has a steady paycheck to begin paying back her Stafford loan from college and will still have time to write cover letters and apply to graphic design jobs.  Now...she just needs to stop dawdling and get some of these applications done!  
that wraps up my week...nothing too exciting, but blessings are found among the mundane, everyday things, too!

What about you?  Do you have some faves to share from your week? Please do comment!

Happy Weekend!!


01 February 2016

For Today............




It has been a long time since I've participated in this journalist community.  Please visit Peggy from The Simple Woman to learn how to link up.

FOR TODAY


Outside my window...grey skies with a hint of the sun dipping below the horizon as it is 5:15 pm here in eastern New York State; temps in the mid-40s, windy.


I am thinking...about yesterday's sermon on the miracles of Jesus


I am thankful...for hot, steaming coffee


I am wearing...my work clothes: black footless tights with black pinstripe socks, a burgundy tunic dress, silver oval ear rings 

I am creating... a journal of favorite quotes


I am going...to the library later this week


I am wondering...how much homework my youngest will have in this new semester for 11th grade


I am reading... Depraved Heart; Becoming a Woman Whose God is Enough, and the book of Hosea in the OT


I am hoping...the mild weather continues into the weekend!

 
I am learning... how to "let go and let God"


In my garden...um...it's the middle of winter in upstate NY....what garden??  no snow but no garden!!

In my kitchen... grilled balsamic salmon for dinner tonight with steamed spinach, rice and raw veggie platter (pea pods, carrots, red, green, orange peppers)


A favorite quote for today...


A peek into one of my days...
rainbow over our backyard
January 2016


One of my favorite things... reading on the couch curled up with a strong cup of coffee and a fleece blanket after work or dinner

What about you? What's your day like??





31 January 2016

on peace. and faithfulness.

 
I woke up with this song in my mind......

one of the most beloved hymns of the traditional church.......I'm thankful my interdenominational, contemporary church still does this song in our worship time...........the words and music always resonate with me...even in the midst of a "storm".  The song got me thinking about peace...and God...and His faithfulness......

After I woke up and got a cup of coffee, I settled on the couch in the living room with my small group study book.  Here are some of the words I read:

"True faith depends.........upon the Lord alone and His faithfulness..........to have faith is to have trust in the faithfulness of our God, knowing that faithfulness is first and foremost not a human but a divine attribute." ~Mike Mason~ (pg. 93 Becoming a Woman Whose God is Enough by Cynthia Heald, c.2014)
I find it no surprise, or coincidence, that this next week's chapter is based on the faithfulness of God.  God seems to do that with me (and other friends!)....when He wants to get our attention about a topic or attitude, He shows us through His Word, through a study, a song, a sermon, a scripture.


One of the passages of Scripture in the chapter points to Jesus calming the wind and the waves. (see Matthew 8:23-27)



How do we do when we face the storms of life?  Do we fret and worry and have little faith?

I know I sometimes do.  It can be hard to believe God has something in His control when we want to take control...or when we don't know the future....or are facing loneliness, singleness, brokenness, sickness, addictions, joblessness, homelessness....the list goes on and on.

I tend to be anxious about my daughters' future.  Or my husband's heart health.  Or my finances.  But then I remember that God tells us to NOT be anxious.  And we want to please God, right?  

How much more calming.....peaceful...it is to simply lay our burdens down at His feet......and allow Him to pick them up and carry them on His shoulders...the very way He carried that burden of the cross to Calvary for us.

He can calm the raging storms within our minds.

The study chapter goes on to say that the reason the disciples were so amazed in the boat when the waves and the wind calmed down, was because they (the wind/waves) were controlled by Jesus.  God is the One who created those waves and that powerful wind.  Only He can control them!!  We cannot.  Only God can command them to be still.

and He wants us to be still.


How are we going to respond to the storms around us?  Whether they be physical or emotional storms?

God is faithful.  He will never leave us.  We just need to have the faith..the trust...to reach out to Him.  Allow Him to take your needs, concerns, health, future.  Whatever it is you are facing.  Ask Him to show you the way to walk.  He will lead you through the storms of life. 

When I look back on my own life, I see His Hand in so many areas.  When I needed a job, He provided. Maybe it wasn't my dream job right out of undergrad school, but it paid the bills.  Maybe I had to endure many single nights, alone in my bed, crying out to God for love and romance, but He comforted me and brought me to a place of acceptance and peace.  No, I don't have my dream home in the mountains, surrounded by a pristine lake.  But I have a home, near mountains, with lakes.  He provides in ways we cannot imagine.  We just need to take our little faith and ask God to grow it.

God is powerful.  He is sovereign.  He is with us.  He will calm us....and bring us that peace.

Peace...like a calm river........

and we can say

It is well.  With our souls.




29 January 2016

"New" Faves

We are almost in a new month!

I can't believe this is the last weekend of January already and we still don't have any snow on the ground here in the capital region of New York State.  HALLELUIA!  I truly don't miss it at all.  That is definitely a "new" thing to happen this far into the winter season.

Speaking of "new things", this list of my FIVE FAVES will be based on the word "new".  I was looking back over the week and realized that it held some new things for us..........God is good............how about joining in with me and some other friends in sharing our FIVE FAVES from the week.  You can link up at Susanne's site.





  • NEW BAMBOO!  Last weekend we had our living room carpeting ripped up and new bamboo flooring put in. It also extends to the front foyer and coat closet!  It is the exact same kind as what we had done in our family room 2 years ago. We love it!  Our contractor did an amazing job...no mess was left!  All Dave and I (the girls helped too) had to do was move furniture out and put it back in.  I also love the new place for my piano. I used to keep it in the corner where you see the rocking chair facing the wall where you see the couch.  Now it is on the inside wall and frees up that corner. I love this room and am so thankful  we could afford this upgrade this year.  


  • NEW DRESS:  Sunday I had to run to one of our local malls to pick something up and my oldest daughter decided to go with me.  While we were in one store that was having a good sale, I spied a purple cocktail dress which I decided to buy as it was on major clearance.  My husband's youngest sister is getting re-married in 2 weeks and requests that we wear purple to the wedding.  I had nothing appropriate for a wedding so the timing of this sale and the fact that they had a dress in my size was amazing.  I'm thankful for good sales!


  • NEW MEMBER:  A new friend of mine (and co-worker) has decided to join my Bible study small group! She had visited the group last year for about a month but couldn't commit due to family issues.  Well, she is back and loves it and is going to stay the year.  I'm so thankful that God is using my home as a place for this ladies small group I lead.  It is a blessing to lead them in a study, pray with them, and come alongside them on our walk through life.


  • NEW ROUTINE:  I started a new routine a couple of weekends ago, where I don't rush through my morning time.  Unless I am going hiking, biking, or kayaking (typically only in the summer/autumn months), I plan on sticking with this routine:  staying in jammies for breakfast and coffee, reading the morning paper or a novel and taking the time to just sit.......and journaling and reading the Word more and really soaking it in.  My soul needs it!  Just like our bodies need a Sabbath so do our souls/minds.  It's just for 2 hours but oh my how nice it is!!  Then, after a leisurely start to the day, I will do some yoga stretches or a power walk and then shower and get my household duties done.  I'm also on Facebook less which helps...I tend to get distracted on there and start chatting with friends!  I needed something new for the weekends, and I think this new morning routine is it!
Russian Dance, Act 2 Nutcracker
Claire is in center background in turquoise skirt
photo courtesy of National Museum of Dance/School of the Arts
Saratoga Springs, NY

Claire (far left) and the other dancers in the Russian Dance
photo courtesy of the School of the Arts/National Museum of Dance
Saratoga Springs, NY

photo courtesy of School of the Arts/National Museum of Dance
Saratoga Springs, NY
December 2015
 
  • NEW PHOTOS!  We finally got the email from the director of the School of the Arts at the National Museum of Dance that we could view the photos from the performances of Nutcracker Ballet (done in Dec 2015).  We can also share the video but it didn't work for on here so here is the link if you are interested in watching.  If you fast forward the video to 26:08, you can skip ahead to the Russian Dance. Claire is the first one to come  out  in the turquoise dress. Just look for the heading titled "News" and click on Nutcracker Video.  I'm so thankful Claire was able to perform in this production! 

That wraps up the blessings of my week......

I hope you all have a wonderful, restful weekend!!

And to those of you who were asking me:  NO! My part of NYS still does not have snow!!  In fact we had some very mild temps this week which was nice after last week's bitter cold.  (we live about 2 hours north of NYC and they DID get alot of the white stuff last weekend...but up here?  Nothing but dead grass and muddy walkways.

HAPPY WEEKEND!



26 January 2016

2016 Book Review #3: The Heart Goes Last


There is no doubt that Margaret Atwood is a master storyteller, from a literary perspective.  She weaves quite a tale.  

But...I'm finding I either truly love her stories, or hate them.  This one I started out loving.  And ended up with a bad taste in my mouth.  Yet at the same time, I have to agree that she is quite an author.....very well done with plot, character development, twisted psychology, emotional upheaval, weirdness, and futuristic scariness.  Yet...she also has too much use of profanity (not the Lord's name but vulgar language) and some of her depictions were ......let's say....not for under the age of 21.

I would have rated this a 10....in fact, I was telling my oldest daughter, who enjoys her writing, that this would probably be better than A Handmaid's Tale.  NOT!  It is downright icky in some places.  But it didn't begin that way!  By the middle of the book, I was starting to feel uncomfortable and almost put it down.  By about 3 chapters from the end, I decided to just skim through.  My rating of a 10 slipped lower before I was done.

STORY SUMMARY

Charmaine and Stan are married and homeless.  They are homeless because they both lost their jobs.  There has been a major social and economic collapse in the northeast.  Living out of their car is risky...there are violent gangs.  They really need to turn their lives around...yet how??

They learn of "the Positron Project" in the town of Consilience.  The town is run by a man named Ed.  Everyone living in that town is employed and everyone has a house!  But.....only for 6 months of the year.  

On alternating months, the Consilience residents must leave their homes and go live in the Positron Prison where they perform different jobs than when they live in their houses.  They become inmates!  Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they go back to their house and the people living in the house, enter the prison.

When they first arrive in Consilience, this seems like an ok thing to do.  After all, they are employed, they have a comfortable and clean home, and they have nice clothes and good food.  But...then Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house while she and Stan are in prison.  And soon, a strange series of events begin to happen.  These events put Stan's life in danger!  

With every day that passes, the Positron Project looks less like a prayer that has been answered, and more like a horrible prophecy being fulfilled.

MY THOUGHTS

I really liked this story until I realized just how many sexual scenarios were taking place, along with the profanity and vulgar talk.  I just don't understand why this is necessary to write a good story!  I don't want to spoil it for you if you decide to read it, but I do realize the author had to write those scenes as it is the main basis for her plot.  But..again...WHY?  the plot was interesting but as a Christ follower I just didn't care for how vulgar she was describing things.

Maybe I'm old fashioned!

It is just too weird for me....disturbing really in many ways.

Like I said before, I understand that she is a brilliant author who has won so many prestigious awards...from a purely literary perspective, it is amazing.  But as a Christian, I just can't rate this a 10.

In my opinion, this book is only appropriate for ages 21 and older.

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