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

19 April 2021

Some thoughts on Habakkuk

 


If I could only choose one Scripture to summarize my study on the minor prophet Habakkuk, it would be Proverbs 3:5-6. This also happens to be my life verse that I claimed when I first accepted Christ into my heart at the age of 15 in 1975 at church camp. 


I made a 2021 goal for my spiritual development and it was to read 4 minor prophets and study them. I've read through the entire Bible before, chronologically, and this year decided to concentrate on some of the prophets.  So far I have completed Hosea and now Habakkuk.

This is a  short book in the Old Testament. Habakkuk's names means " to wrestle".  He certainly wrestled with questions before God!  He was a prophet and a musician and he lived during the times when God's people were facing their enemy, the Babylonians. The songs that he wrote encouraged God's people....King Josiah had encouraged the people to worship God and obey His Word but then Josiah's son took over and he was very wicked and the people fell into wicked ways. 


Chapter 1 is a picture of how we question God when evil lurks. It's also an example of grace and love.  We see through Habakkuk that it's ok to question God as long as know that God is the One who has the authority over everything that has happened and everything that will happen! The author of the study I completed suggested that instead of asking God "why do You allow evil?" a better question for us to ask would be "What are You, God, going to do through this evil?" In today's culture, here in the United States, there are blurred lines between good and evil. 

The verse that stood out to me in this first chapter is this one:

and this quote from the study:

"In every bad situation,  there is a positive that will come from it even when we do not see it." 

Chapter 2 shows us about the importance of waiting on God. When we are experiencing something difficult (think:  pandemic!) we don't always know where God is going with what we're experiencing, do we?  This requires us to accept that God knows exactly what He's doing.....our job is to release our own will and trust HIS will and plans.  This requires patience.  While we're waiting on God to act, let's not leave God!  We can look back on what God has done for us in the past while looking forward to the future and what He will do/reveal.

Chapter 3 is all about trust.  God is looking for our trust in situations that stretch us.  This makes us rely more on God.  (or it should, right??!) He reaffirms His love for us and although it might look like we are waiting for God alone, He is always there!  He never forsakes us!!

The word "selah" appears after verse 3.  Selah means "to hang"...to linger or pause.  It often denotes a reflective moment. Let's linger in the knowledge of God's love for us...and in the remembering of what God has done.  Habakkuk is praying to God for much of Chapter 3. 

The prayer shows that when we surrender and have faith we will trust. 

I liked this quote:  "having faith in God is not for believing in Him but rather, for knowing he will sustain you and never forsake you." 


Drawing near to God and seeking Him in His Word will lead to  internal peace and comfort in trying times. 

This was the verse that jumped out at me in Chapter 3: 


All of humankind, since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, have been in conflict----nations rise up against nations....we have wars.....people talk about peace but there is no peace outside of a relationship with Christ. 

God made a promise to Habakkuk and we can claim it as our own! He keeps His promises.

Habakkuk  went from a time of many questions to God, to fully trusting God....even when he didn't understand the ways of God.








16 April 2021

APRIL Fave Fives

 

It's Friday and I'm much relieved because this was a bit of a difficult week coming back to work after Spring Break and teaching some new groups in a new schedule and different teaching hours.  We are now back to full time hours for the children (4.5 hours of teaching per day vs the 4 from when the pandemic began).  We no longer have to post google classroom posts each day and none of our students are remote learners....we have all 13 students back in our special education preK classroom and it's been fun but so tiring!  I'm ready for the weekend and I'm starting it off by sharing FIVE of my FAVE blessings from the past week.  I do this with other like-minded bloggers who link up together at Susanne's blog.


  • WALKS and EASY HIKES:  Last Saturday morning, I was sitting having my first mug of steaming hot coffee and doing my morning devotional when my friend Gerri texted that she was in my driveway wanting to power walk with me! We had made what I thought were tentative plans but she thought they were solid plans!  I was already dressed in yoga pants and a tee shirt as I had a hair appointment later that morning, so I put on sneakers and we walked very quickly for just a little over 2 miles in my neighborhood and made plans to kayak later this spring. Then after dinner on Saturday, Dave helped to clean the kitchen so I could get on my bike for my first ride of 2021.  I also was able to do an easy hike for an hour in the Pond preserve near our town on Sunday morning after church while chatting with a friend on the phone.  I'm thankful that I have been able to walk every day this week plus get in one short hike. Here are some photos of my hike:
yellow flowers growing in the pond
11 April 2021

a fave part of the inner trail

just a little muddy

signs of life in the woods

Ann Lee Pond
Shaker Historic Site
Albany, NY


  • BLOSSOMS!  This past week, everything really began to blossom! I'm so thankful for the spring colors and flowers!  Here are some scenes from my front and backyards:
backyard pear tree just beginning to flower
12 April

the yellow tulips began opening on Tuesday!

These little pretties sprang up overnight it seemed!

my small rose bush in the front flower bed 
as of Tuesday...forgot to take photo of my big rose bush

  • SUCCESSFUL LESSON PLAN!  On Wednesday, my direct boss (Site Coordinator) had to observe one of the students in my language/cognitive group and of course she observed me teaching.  I was so thankful all went well even though I only had 3/5 students (2 had speech and physical therapies during that time).  The children were eager to hear the book based on our "Spring" theme and we played a game with dice and paint that I received praise for coming up with.  It really does make me thankful when I'm observed and all goes well!

  • VACCINE APPTS!  Dave and I have our 2nd dose of the Phizer vaccine for Covid on Saturday afternoon and our oldest daughter managed to get an appointment for next week for her first dose!  AND our youngest daughter helped with a petition at UNH to get signatures of out-of-state students and they sent it to the governor of NH stating that since they live there 9 months of the year and giving NH their business (and my money!) that they should be allowed to be vaccinated.  And guess what?!  Yesterday we found out that YES all UNH community members (staff, faculty and ALL students including out of state residents, can start to get the vaccine on Monday!).  SO thankful things are moving ahead and our town library is now open longer, restaurants are open longer and life seems to be returning to normal within some guidelines.  I'm so thankful for this.

  • MESSAGE!  I heard from a dear church friend whom I haven't heard from in about 2 years.  Because of Covid, I haven't seen her at church either.  She was a member of my previous small groups and now wants to join my next Book Club group!  I'm so thankful for my friend Linda and her friendship. It will be so nice to reconnect in person again next month!

Those are all just simple things but to me they are  special blessings.  They're what made me smile this week!

What about you? what makes you stop and say "Thanks, God" and puts a smile on your face?  Do share!


HAPPY WEEKEND!



15 April 2021

2021 Book Review #13: Waiting for the Night Song

 

This book is the author's debut novel and I wanted to love it.

I tried to love it and the premise for the story is one I love (climate change/nature/our effects on it) and the setting was exquisite....the forest of NH, one of my fave states!  The author even mentions UNH where my youngest is a senior!

 However, it just got so bogged down towards the end for me.  And the ending wasn't what I was expecting and at the same time I usually like surprises but also it just felt rushed at the very end.  I cannot explain it.  It just  left me feeling a bit let-down.


STORY SUMMARY

Cadence (Cadie) Kessler works for the Forestry Department at University of New Hampshire.  She is doing research on the effects of an invasive beetle which leads to forest fires and is destroying the land.

She has also spent most of her life covering up a truth...keeping a secret from her childhood best friend Daniela and everyone around her, including her parents. Deep down, she always knew her secret would rise to the surface. 

Daniela sends her an urgent message one afternoon after they've been estranged from each other since they were young teens. Daniela is now a mommy to a little girl named Sal.  Daniela and her parents are originally from El Salvador and  were always looking over their shoulders as, although they paid their taxes and ran the local hardware store, they never bothered becoming American citizens.  They are illegal immigrants and have hidden that from most people.  

The message from Daniela brings Cadie back to her childhood home....a small town called Maple Crest in the mountains of NH.  She actually lives in Concord in an apartment when she isn't tramping through the woods collecting beetles. 

Daniela and Cadie became best friends when Cadie found an abandoned boat, a boy they named Summer Kid (aka Garrett), and the disappearance of Juan Hernandez.  Daniela thinks she knows what happened.....but Cadie was there.  And she knows the real truth....or at least she thinks she does until she and Garrett re-unite. 

Daniela and Cadie are forced to face the dark secret they've been a part of.  Something happened to them one perfect summer and the memory of it has invaded Cadie's mind more than any other event in her life.

Cadie needs to decide if she what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and forest she loves.  Drought, foreclosures, and wildfires place tensions between the migrant farm workers and the local townsfolk.  

Is she willing to finally tell the truth about what happened that awful summer afternoon??

Will Garrett still love her?  

And more importantly, will the real truth be discovered?


MY THOUGHTS

The setting is perfect.  The character development is good.

And I so love the themes in this story:  nature, climate change, environmental concerns, the plight of immigrants, the fight for our convictions and beliefs.

What I did not like about the story (and I tried to research this and came up with nothing) is that the author makes UNH the bad guy by saying they are going to stop the funding for Cadie's research because she trespassed on federal lands.  Now, maybe the university really does want to not allow research students to traverse federal lands but from what I know about UNH, they are all about research and have a strong environmental program.  So....I'm not sure if the author was just taking liberties with this or not.  I just didn't like the negative tone to that part and maybe it's because we've invested so much money and time in UNH/Durham! I did find this via the UNH website:  Research


I liked Cadie but I didn't love her.  She really has a lot of issues and life would have been better for her had she just told the truth and let the consequences play out. I don't like that Dolores (Daniela's mom) told a young teen to lie about the body and what really happened.  I get that she was scared.  But something doesn't sit right with me when a parent tells a child to lie.  

I do like the surprise ending but I don't like that it took so long to get there.

The writing style is quite good and I love how the author really writes so descriptively.  I could practically smell the wildfire and the lake and pine trees.  


There were some excellent quotes that jumped out at me:

"I'd rather accidentally cause something bad to happen because I did the right thing, than ause a disaster because I did something selfish." (pg39, Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton, c.2020)


"When someone says you're overreacting, but you know you're right, keep reacting until it's over." (pg 195)


"Not speaking up against injustice is just as bad as being complicit.  I've been quiet too long.....How can I ever hope for forgiveness if I can't stand up for other people?" (pg 237) 


And I just loved this because it's so true!!

"The truth can be buried, crushed, or burnt, but it will always rise." (pg 329)


In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this an 8. 




 

10 April 2021

2021 Book Review #12: How Happiness Happens

 



I just finished reading this non-fiction Christian book that I began in September.
I facilitated/led a book group vs a traditional Bible study this school year mainly because I wanted something easier to prepare and also because of Covid19 ....a smaller group in my home and hardly any writing work.  This book fit what I desired.  It's a Max Lucado book and he's one of my very fave faith-based authors.  His writing is like poetry and his wisdom is phenomenal. The book group read 1 chapter every other week and we would come together to discuss some of the reflection questions for that particular chapter.

STUDY SUMMARY

Max uses alliteration to title his book but the word "happiness" really is in place of "joy".  Happiness and joy are two different things as most Christ-followers know.  We can be sad or upset about something (like a death or a sickness) but still have "the joy of the Lord".  That's really what this book is about...how to find and keep that lasting joy.

There are 12 Chapters:  
  1. The Unexpected Door to Joy
  2. Gimme Five, Rocky
  3. Don't Pet the Peeves (one of my faves!)
  4. The Sweet Sound of a Second Fiddle
  5. The Fine Art of Saying "hello" 
  6. The Power Posture (another fave of mine)
  7. It's Your Serve
  8. Discomfort Zones (a fave!)
  9. Speak Up (an important one!)
  10. You've Been Bustered
  11. Be Loved, Then Love
  12. The Next Step:  The Happiness Challenge
There is also a section in the back "Questions for Reflection" with between 8-12 questions per chapter for discussing in a group.  For my group, I had the ladies journal most of the questions and then share as they were comfortable doing so.

There's also a Notes section with the books he's quoted, or taken anecdotes from, etc

This book is excellent and easy to read.

I liked this  description from the back of the book:

"...What if there is a different, unexpected path to happiness? One that requires no credit card, monthly mortgage or stroke of fortune.  One in which age, looks, and ethnicity aren't factors. What if the road to joy is less about getting and more about giving?" 

And then this:

"if you want to know more about life altering, uplifting, heart stabilizing, peace-producing joy, read on.  In this book you will discover a way of life----backed by Jesus' teaching and modern research---that produces a happiness that lasts, a reliable joy that endures through any season". 

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

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







09 April 2021

SPRING BREAK FAVES

 


 Friday of an amazing Spring Break week! 

I'm sharing FIVE of my FAVE blessings from the past week along with other bloggers at Susanne's site.....it's a way of looking for the positive things in our busy lives.  It's a practical way of saying "Thank You, God for these blessings!"


  • SOLO HIKE: Last Saturday was cool but so sunny and spring-like. Dave had some stuff he wanted to do around the house so I went out to the central part of the state to a site I had been wanting to see.  You can read about it here.  It's an historic site dating back to the 1660's! I'm thankful I had this time and place to my self! Here's a photo and there's more in the link highlighted above.


wise words

  • EASTER!  Our youngest daughter called us after church and it was awesome to talk to her.  I miss her so!  And since our oldest daughter still lives at home, she attended the 10 a.m. service with me as Dave was working production for all 3 services.  The church had the most people since before Covid and it was just awesome!  I love Easter because we serve the only LIVING God....and Jesus is coming back one day to redeem His Kingdom, amen?! I'm so thankful for the Resurrection and a great day!
Courtney, me, Dave
photo courtesy of Grace Fellowship/Latham Church
Easter Sunday 2021

  • SPRING CLEANING! I was able to do some spring cleaning this week.  The bathrooms and family room are thoroughly done with the family room and living room back to our spring-early autumn arrangement.  I also gave the kitchen a good cleaning including the fridge/freezer and drawers/cupboards.  I  also washed the deck furniture, and deck, and repotted a small plant to bring to work for the students to watch grow.  I cleaned up a little bit in the flower beds although the bulk of that will get done in May. I'm thankful it's been a great week of warm weather so I could have windows open most of the day and the heat off!
family room



family room


family room

  • ROAD TRIP!  Tuesday, my oldest decided to use one of her vacation days and go with me to my childhood hometown area to place some flowers between my parents' graves.  It was such a poignant and  beautiful Spring day.  I took her to the park where I used to ride my bike to ,and hike along the brook, from about ages 10-14.  She couldn't believe we used to do that!  It's quite a ways from the house where I grew up. I told her we were all over the village with our bikes when I was a child. Then we met my sister Hope in another town for lunch and antiquing and then Courtney and I headed to a remote southern Adirondack village to find a human to sign my Adirondack 102 Challenge book.  We were in luck!  I found a town resident raking his leaves on the side of the road.  Keep in mind there are more deer and trees in the town of Norway and Ohio than people. The we took the route through the eastern edge of the southern Adirondacks back towards the interstate and home singing along to Taylor Swift. I'm so thankful we had a fun road trip day!  Here are a few pics of our trip:








Brookwood Park, Herkimer 
Mohawk Valley, NYS

Courtney walking along the brook just like I used to do as a kid

small falls on Brookwood 

farmland with wind power in town of Fairfield
Central NYS

  • CHASING WATERFALLS!  Yesterday, my good friend Diane F and I left my home about 9:30 to get to the eastern Adirondacks to a spot about an hour and 20 minutes north of me.  I was trying to find a certain group of waterfalls for the 50 Falls Challenge. First we had to park the car along route 9N between Bolton Landing and Hague.   These 2 towns are right on Lake George.  The falls I was searching for are called Northwest Bay Brook Falls.  Here they are after a .3 mile bushwhack up a very steep cliff and then there was no way to get down to the base so we just shot some photos from the top of the cliff.  The conditions in the woods were dry (no more snow or ice in the eastern mountains) so that was a plus. 
Northwest Bay Brook Falls
town of Bolton
eastern ADKS
8 April 2021





the easy part of the bushwhack



Northwest Bay Brook from the edge at bottom of cliffs
small falls are to the left and the upper falls (1st photo)
 are higher up to the left.....cannot be seen from this spot thus the climb!
After we explored a bit of the brook on both sides, we walked back up the road to the car and drove north to this village.  When the girls were little, we took them to the Fort (Revolutionary War re-enactments, etc). I've been through the historic tour at the Fort 3 times (once as a pre-teen with my parents and sisters, once with Dave and his parents when we were camping up there, and once with our daughters) so we didn't stop at the fort today (plus it's closed until May due to Covid).  First, we had lunch in a little 1950s style diner. Then we hiked the River Walk so I could check off 2 more waterfalls from the challenge list.  Here are the falls:
Upper La Chute Falls
on the La Chute River
Ticonderoga
north-eastern Adirondack mountains




Falls of Carillon
La Chute River Park
Ticonderoga
8 April 2021
After we hiked the 2 miles River Walk, we headed over to the Town Hall so I could get my Adirondacks 102 Challenge book stamped!  What a fun day we had in the eastern Adirondacks and I am so thankful there was no snow and the temps were in the high 60s up there!!

So those were the highlights of my Spring Break week.
Today involves errands and housework and maybe some more spring cleaning and then a date night with my husband tonight.  Not sure yet what we are doing this weekend other than church, but I'm thankful we have had a beautiful week of good weather!

HAPPY WEEKEND!




08 April 2021

2021 Book Review #11: HomeWork

 


Julie Andrews has been one of my very favorite singer-actresses since I first saw her in The Sound of Music when I was 7 years old. I have watched almost all of her movies and this book points out many that I didn't even know she was in! A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter, Courtney, gave me the 2 memoirs for Christmas.  I cherish them!


SUMMARY

This is a non-fiction memoir written by Julie and her daughter Emma (from her first marriage to Tony Walton).  We learn of her start in singing/acting/musicals in the first memoir Home. I reviewed that a while back.

This book centers on her film career in Hollywood. 

She begins with her role in Mary Poppins and let's face it.....there is NO one who can do Mary Poppins like Julie Andrews!!  That musical movie was then quickly followed by her amazing role as Maria in The Sound of Music.  That was my absolute favorite section of the book.  I loved that she included so many photos from the filming, too.

These films brought Julie Andrews to success. She is an icon to millions of people throughout the world. 


She writes with a frank candor and she seems very charming. She has given the reader a good look at the behind the scenes workings of Hollywood and it is not all glamorous by a long shot!


After her marriage to Tony ended, their daughter Emma split her time between the two.  Julie then married Blake Edwards who wrote and produced many notable films (The Pink Panther series, Victor/Victoria, 10, S.O.B)  Victor/Victoria was a gender-bending comedy that earned multiple Oscar nominations.  I really never saw the complete film so that is on my bucket list!

This book delves into her personal family life.  For instance, I did not know that she had adopted (with Blake) 2 little girls, a year apart, from Vietnam just after the horrible war.  This was an informative peek into her feelings and thoughts during a crazy busy time in her life going from her homes in Los Angeles and Switzerland (her preferance).  They also lived for a time in NYC and London. 

I had known she had written a children's book for her daughter Emma titled Mandy but I didn't know she went on to write more books with her daughter, for children. If I ever have grandchildren, I may buy some of those books!

There were a couple of quotes that jumped out at me:

"...when singing, one exposes one's soul.......dancers can look at a mirror, a writer can look at a page, and a painter can look at a canvas and see their work reflected back at them.  But singers can only hear and feel what they are doing.  After all the training, technique, use of breath, and placement of sound, it boils down to an emotional repsonse to music and lyrics---and the way they touch one's heart and soul" (pg 257 Home Work by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, c 2019)

Maybe because I majored in Music Education/Piano and minored in Voice that this resonated with me!

and this one after she toured war-torn Cambodia and South Vietnam:

"I don't understand why the world as an international body isn't able to help more.  the common denominator is human misery.  The most important thing I have learned is the simplest of all: people are just people---no matter their politics, their  skin color, or where they live.  There is no difference in our humanity; only in our circumstances" (pg 295)

Amen, Julie! 

and finally, this:

"I have been lucky. To have been given the gift of song---and to recognize that it was a gift; to have been mentored by giants, who taught, influenced, and shaped me; to have gained resilience from hard work; to have loved, and been loved; and to have sometimes felt an angel on my shoulder, a reassuring presence that helped center and guide me when I needed it most...actually, that's more than luck.  I am profoundly blessed." (page 316)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and I highly recommend both books if you are a fan of Julie Andrews. 

There are some deep struggles in this book:  drug addiction (her brother); feelings of abandonment and trust issues (her adopted daughters); split families and blended families (between her and Tony; and Blake's children from a previous marriage); suicidal attempts (Blake's ex-wife) and the many things that go into a working woman's life when raising children in different countries!

 In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some mature content)


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