31 August 2011

Earthen Vessels, Book Review

Book description:

Our bodies matter. Christians today sometimes forget this, dangerously ignoring the importance of their physical selves when it comes to technology, sexuality, worship, and even death. Anderson's book will help readers learn what the Bible says about our bodies and grow to appreciate the importance of embodiment in our spiritual lives. It will also explore generational differences when it comes to how we perceive and use our bodies. Just as Christ's body was crucial to our salvation, our own bodies are an important part of the complete Christian life. 

My review:

I will admit to a certain penchant in choosing books that inevitably will produce subjects for interesting conversations (albeit never at the dinner table! There is a rule in our house that religion and politics will not be argued upon at the dinner table, EVER) and this one was no exception.

I have always been a little confused about Paul's statement regarding our bodies being a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). I remember both pastor and youth counselor at the church we attended had different ideas on the subject!

In 'Earthen Vessels' Matthew Lee Anderson states: 'Our body is a temple, but the temple's beauty is not of our own making. As earthen vessels made from clay and dirt, our glory as humans is that we are free to give ourselves back in gratitude to the One who gave Himself  for us.'
He also reminds us of Jesus 'Sermon on the Mount': 'Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?'
Still I started this book with lots of questions...

Mr. Anderson's extensive theological research outside the Evangelical world, especially into Catholicism, will generate some deeply felt answers about our body's interaction with our faith. As a Roman Catholic married to a Protestant, I try to be as open minded as possible.
I must humbly state I am just a believer and in the learning stage! I have questions and I am always looking for answers. In fact, I often earned frowns in school and Catechism for saying 'why?' to most things!
But I found Earthen Vessels to be serious and informative, never shying away from difficult subjects, even more so because the author leaves us to ponder freely upon each in the end!

There is no doubt our faith is shaped by our culture. Having worked with youth for many years, my husband (Church of England) stated he wishes this book had been available to him then!
Chapters on abortion, gay sex and cremation, yoga and assuredly the online church were in fact the best we have read so far! The most heated conversation came about when we read the chapter on 'Tattoos'!

Matthew Lee Anderson deals equally with the Old and the New Testaments with passion and authority. His provocative style as I stated makes for interesting debates!
But it is his definite dream of 'seeing a generation of Christians passionately in love with Jesus, full of irrepressible joy, committed to serving neighbours and friends and thinking deeply and hard about the reality of God's goodness to us' that made this book so appealing!

An excellent read and another 5 stars!

I received this book free from BETHANY HOUSE as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

30 August 2011

Blue Skies Tomorrow, Book Review and Giveaway

Book description:

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

My review:

Each of Sarah Sundin's novels seems to reach out to readers with their wonderful blend of romance, faith and drama. Blue Skies Tomorrow is the last book of the 'Wings of Glory' series and perhaps the best of the three (albeit it was very hard to choose)!

In 'A Distant Melody' we met Walt, the first of the three Novak brothers, a B17 pilot with the US Eight Air Force (read review here) and in 'A Memory Between Us', the author introduced us to dashing brother Jack, also a pilot stationed in England (see review here). Each of the Novak brothers' characters brought to mind the very best of the many American (and British) pilots who flew countless dangerous missions over enemy territory to bring about peace during the WW2 years! Most of these brave men were barely in their twenties and many gave their life for God and Country!

Ray Novak's courage and faith is not to be doubt for a moment. His job is to train B17 pilots stateside and unlike his brothers, all he ever wanted was to follow his father's footsteps and preach.

Sarah Sundin's superb description of this quiet man's trials as well as the human frailty displayed by the woman he loves is what makes this historical novel certainly hard to put down but in the end, it is a story about faith and the courage to go on during incredible times of conflict!

If Ray's decision to join a combat unit overseas is somehow expected it is however the description of his survival behind enemy lines that will touch you in more ways than one! It is in the little details Sarah Sundin shares with readers that you find yourself pulling for the heroes (and holding your breath literally!)

This beautiful love story is about Ray and Helen, both survivors, each reaching out to God for the courage to face their demons. Ultimately, it is the story of people torn apart by circumstances who in the course of their duties, both overseas and on the home front, reminds us that with God at our side, anything is possible!
'Blue Skies Tomorrow' is the perfect ending for the 'Wings of Glory' series!

This is nothing less than 5 stars material!

Meet the Author:

Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II.

 And now for Sarah's Giveaway:
Enter 8/22 - 9/22!

To celebrate the release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final installment of the Wings of Glory series, Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Vintage Kindle Prize Package! 

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Handmade vintage apron for you and a friend (see a photo here)

* Blue Skies Tomorrow (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/10. Winner will be announced on 9/12 at Sarah Sundin's blog. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Blessings to all,

I received this book free from LITFUSE as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

29 August 2011

Fly Away, Book review

Book description:

The drama unfolds as Mike searches desperately for the courage to face the inevitable, and Wilhelmina prays for the wisdom to lead a dying man to a personal faith. Will Mike take the future into his own hands? Can Wilhelmina learn to trust again? Will love be enough to see them through?
My review:

Being a fan of Lynn Austin's work I had no trouble reaching out for this particular title on the library shelf! 
Married for too many years to count to an ex-RAF flyboy, I know the slightest sound of an engine in the sky will have him running out of the house to identify its source. Having flown twice around the world, most often at an altitude of 5000 to 6000ft (not counting the couple of 'canned' flights over Australia), he loves anything to do with flying, even his simulator!
The resume struck me as eye catching...A WWII veteran battling terminal illness and a former professor of music with struggles of her own...What possible common points could these two have?

In 'Fly Away' I discovered a poignant love story of two opposites who reach out to each other and find the faith and the courage to truly live. This is absolutely not a story about Eros by the way!  Instead its very pathos evokes a quality that is sure to arouse countless emotions! 
Mike Dolan is a man who grabs life with both hands and this is his final flight...As a Christian Wilhelmina Brewster feels it is her duty to lead this pilot back to God...
A beautiful story of two people who learn to trust the Lord's words:
'I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even
though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'

I give it 5 stars!

About the Author:
As a Christian author Lynn Austin never disappoint! Visit her website (here) for more information!

Note: I was not asked to review this book and all opinions expressed are therefore mine only!

Blessings to all,

Faces of Christ, Book Review

Book description:

Jesus is one of the most commonly portrayed figures of all time in the artistic community. But what can all of his varying faces—coming from so many different ages and diverse countries around the world—tell us about him as a person? In this beautiful book, images of Jesus are used to explore his life and legacy, including Jesus as shepherd, Jesus as victor, Jesus as broken, and many more. With illuminating text and arresting images, this book is visually stunning and textually inspiring—the perfect gift for anyone with an interest in fine art, spirituality, or both.

My review:

Throughout the centuries artists have depicted Christ sometime sad, sometime reflective, often smiling but also in deep sorrow. The inside cover of The Faces of Jesus tell us:  'Jesus' face is the true face of humanity, as it was created to be, reflecting God's love and enjoyment of the world.'

Jane Williams walks us through the life of our Saviour, skilfully using art and words to illustrate Christology.
Beautiful paintings and images have been carefully chosen to show you definite moments in Jesus's life such as the Annunciation, the Nativity, His baptism and temptation, Miracles and  Ministry and much more!

Each artist viewed these specific moments in a different light and the author chose the illustrations to remind us of whom Jesus is and what He has done for us.
'The Last Supper' is an excellent example of the deep meaning thus revealed in a painting. Imagine for a moment a meal shared with friends, particularly when one of these friends is Jesus. It is a sorrowful meal for Jesus is soon to face death yet it is also the feast of the kingdom of God, where everyone is welcome and therefore also a moment of joyful hope.

An excellent addition to your personal library and an insight into the many faces of our Lord!
I give it 5 stars!

 I received this book free from KREGEL as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

26 August 2011

Homeschooled like Jane Austen

Much has been written about home school, particularly in the last few years. I know it to be very successful with most children but I also know it requires a deep commitment from willing parents!
The notion that children might be missing something being home schooled, particularly regarding social graces is not to be credited. At the risk of sounding naive, I prefer home school to public schools these days. 
And I might add for anyone dubious of my understanding of all that it entails, I have home schooled our youngest child! 
Literature has an enormous place in our household, bookshelves abound in every room (but the washroom!) and we always seem to have our nose in one book or another. So it appears pure logic I would do a bit of research on whom in the literature world was home schooled!

I doubt very much there are many people around the world who have not heard of Jane Austen. Born in Steventon, England in the year 1775, Jane Austen is considered a classic writer who completed six novels in her lifetime, four of these books published posthumously!

Her father was a clergyman who supplemented his income by providing a school for boys in their parsonage. Apart from a short stay in a boarding school, Jane Austen was taught at home by her father like any home schooled child!

Jane Austen's whole world centered on her family and she was reputed to be very shy. Due to financial difficulties, the Austen family eventually left Steventon for Bath, a fashionable social resort but a change that Jane never liked.
Later Jane's family settled in the village of Chawton after Mr. Austen's death in 1805.

'In the years that Austen lived at Chawton Cottage, she woke every morning, practiced the pianoforte before anyone else got up, cooked breakfast for the household, and then retired to write, free of further household duties. She apparently worked in a room that was both a hallway and a dining room, but the room had a squeaky door. Austen refused to have the door repaired, ensuring that she had notice of any one's approach.'

We know romantic pursuits came to naught and she died in 1817 at the age of 41. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Much has been written on Jane Austen's life and her novels (see list below) 
  • Northanger Abbey - sold 1803, not published until 1819
  • Sense and Sensibility - published 1811 but Austen had to pay the printing costs
  • Pride and Prejudice - 1812
  • Mansfield Park - 1814
  • Emma - 1815
  • Persuasion - 1819  
Finally, it remains for me to say I have always felt this amazingly modern author for her times, feels like a well known friend whom I grew up with. Her intuitive detailing of an era most romantic as well as her witty, at times caustic, description of society as she knew it never fails to entertain me. 
I return to her novels time and time again.

For all Jane Austen aficionados:
The 2011 Jane Austen Festival is from Friday 16th to Saturday 24th September.For more information, read here

P.S. A quick peek at the Jane Austen gift shoppe is a must! (see here

Thank you very much to 'Where Beechmast Falls' for sharing more about Jane Austen' world!


24 August 2011

Coastal Living and A Stroll Around The Globe

Coastal living is wonderful when you love the ocean (as much as I do!), live on an island serviced only by a private ferry (and do not mind waiting your turn in line to go to the mainland as you can see!).

There is something infinitely relaxing to island living, particularly during the off season! During the summer months we see a lot of traffic on this tiny island (1 1/2 mile long by 1/2 mile wide) so much so that we fear the island might just sink! Since no one is allowed to cross on the ferry without a guest pass signed by an islander there is the question of how many friends of a friend comes over to visit...

With Autumn not far (The Priest's Housekeeper tells us there is already a nip in the air in Wales), we know from experience the island is soon to return to its normal calm! Big sigh...

Most readers will remember we have no amenities such as deliveries including postal, stores and so on, but what we miss the most is a church! Regretfully despite the occasional offer of visiting preachers, nothing has come to be!

We like therefore to take a stroll around the Globe in the wee hours of the morning and visit other blogs for a moment of peace such as Domestic Serenity before the beginning of a busy day, a touch of reflection with A Trail Of Flowers, an amazing amount of History facts with Once I Was A Clever Boy,  and life in the Outback with Cattle, Kids & Chaos to name just a few!

Since our ferry schedule allows only so many runs a day, everything must be planned ahead of time. You are definitively out of luck if you forget something!
As  to emergencies, we depend on the mainland fire department volunteers and Life Flight.
Life on an island...Soooo relaxing as you can see!

Just in case you were wondering how do I ever find time to read all these books!

Take a moment to relax today, smile at someone and let others benefit from a kind gesture! You will feel so much better!

22 August 2011

Mugabe and the White African, Book Review and Giveaway

Book description:

Ben Freeth has an extraordinary story to tell. Like that of many white farmers, his family's land was "reclaimed" by Mugabe's government for redistribution—but Ben's family fought back. Appealing to international law, they instigated a suit against Mugabe's government in the SADC, the Southern African equivalent of NATO. The case was deferred time and again while Mugabe's men applied political pressure to have the case thrown out. But after Freeth and his parents-in-law were abducted and beaten within inches of death in 2008, the SADC deemed any further delay to be an obstruction of justice. The case was heard, and successful on all counts. But the story doesn't end there—in 2009, the family farm was burned to the ground. The fight for justice in Zimbabwe is far from over; this book is for anyone who wants to see into the heart of one of today's hardest places, and how human dignity flourishes even in the most adverse circumstances.
My review:

As part of this blog tour I am not quite sure why I decided to read this book as I usually shy away of anything there is to do about Africa. My reasons stems of seeing my family sufferings relating to over twenty years of existence in Africa, in another time, another place... 
We poured every resources we had in building a life on a continent that few people truly understand. 'Authenticity' was proclaimed: house, land, warehouses (Fibers) were reclaimed, 'questionnings'  regularly happened and legal ressources came to naught. 
Abandonned, all went back to the wild. 
Ironically never for a moment did my father ever doubt the government was not in his rights. When reapatriated weighting only 52 kilogrammes, he lived only 3 more months believing all would turn out well in the end. He never stopped thinking of himself as anything else than a lawful citizen of the country who stripped him of everything he owned and loved.

I carefully read both Desmond Tutu and John Sentamu's forewords and after reviewing any available information about Mugabe, I decided I owed to Ben Freeth, Mike Campbell and their families to read their story.
Mugabe and the White African is a compelling narrative of families struggling to survive in a world gone mad. This however is not about whites and blacks but Africans who worked side by side to make a life for themselves and fought evil whilst uphelding their Christian beliefs.
I have never read a better account of the 'rule of law' in Zimbabwe and I feel deeply for the immense courage displayed by people whose only crime was to be white!
Ben Freeth is a rarety amongst whites living in Africa as he has fully accepted an evil spirit world is constantly working on the continent. There is no doubt in my mind either as too many things have happened without reason. Evil is ever present, ready to pull you down and it matters little about your skin colour!
Yet this man nevers fails to believe God is always with him! His faith is truly something to behold!
My heart went to Ben when I read his letter to his son on the occasion of his fourth birthday. A man of convictions, he truly believes there is a time to heal for all in the future of Zimbabwe and I marveled at his open letter to Mugabe in 2005.
'Mugabe and the White African' is the story of one man taking his unlawful eviction case to International courts and what happens when he and his family are systematically singled out and face unspeakable abuse.
Mike Campbell did not survive torture at the hands of Mugabe's lynchmen. Others also lost their lives or fled away.
The latest resurgence in violence in Zimbabwe is cause for concern for all residents, white and black!  On the 19th of August 2011 the following notice was posted:

-Zimbabwe Daily News-

'Thousands of people have been left destitute after a spate of land invasions in Nyazura in recent months.
Four of the remaining five white commercial farms in the district have been invaded by a mob working for so called ‘beneficiaries’ of the land grab campaign. The mob is led by a self confessed CIO agent called Onisimas Makwengura, who has used intimidation and violence to force the farmers and their families to flee their homes. The mob in turn has been given free rein to loot the properties.'

This is not easy to read material but it should be read by all, anyone who believes in right and wrong and God!
You will  find a glossary to help with African words and a startling timeline as well as maps to help you better understand the unimaginable courage of today's farmers in Zimbabwe!

God speed!

This one can only be 5 stars!

About the Author:

Ben Freeth, MBE, is a British-born Zimbabwean farmer. He has lived in Zimbabwe most of his life and is raising his three young children there, together with his wife Laura. Ben's story has already been the subject of an award-winning documentary which won Best Documentary 2009 (British Independent Film Awards), was nominated for the BAFTA Outstanding Debut Film 2010, and shortlisted for an Oscar in 2010.

The PBS debut of Mugabe and the White African, the award-winning documentary of the same name, was on July 26. Watch now at PBS: http://www.pbs.org/pov/mugabe/.

 Blog Tour schedule information:http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13422041)

About the Giveaway:

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Mugabe and the White African or share about it on Facebook!

I received this book free from LITFUSE as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

21 August 2011

Amish Values For Your Family, Book Review and Giveaway

Book description:

In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows how you can adopt the wisdom of the Amish when it comes to family matters. In this inspiring and practical book readers will find charming true stories interlaced with solid, biblical advice about parenting, marriage, and all aspects of family life. As readers get an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of real Amish families, they will learn to prioritize what's truly important, simplify decision-making, slow down as a family, safeguard time together, and let go when the time comes.

My review:

Amish life has always fascinated people perhaps because of its simplicity. Theirs seems to be a gentle, peaceful life following the seasons. Often their homes beckons due to their well maintened buildings, the laundry drying on the line, the women working in their vegetable gardens, the children working alongside their elders in the fields or walking in groups to their school.

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes about the Amish, their beliefs and the strengh of the very structure of their community. But in this particular instance she speaks of Amish values that should actually also be ours.
With progress we have changed family structures and judging by society today, it would seem we have lost something very special.

Children are brought up in Amish communities to be part of a group, to help and be helped, to know God first and foremost and to respect their family and their community.
None of us can function entirely by ourselves, particularly without acknowledging God's presence all around us.

There is much wisdom in Amish values! I would not infere they do not have problems like everyone else or that abuse does not exist for it does happen like everywhere else. But their very strong beliefs and much more peaceful existence enables them to raise large families who are resilient and productive!

In Amish Values for your family and what we can learn from the Simple life you will find the author has divided her book into 4 sections:
  1. Children are Loved but not Adored
  2. Great Expectations
  3. Daily Bread
  4. Letting Go
Each chapter will bring a little flavour of Amish life (including some funny anecdotes!) and healthy advices to apply in your life as well (and no, you do not have to give up your car!)

Amish proverb: “Love, peace, and happiness in the home is of infinitely more value than honor, fame and wealth.”

The Lesson: Never let ambition destroy life’s better goals.

Dont miss the Interlude: A Year in an Amish Family, page 97 a favourite of mine! 

I give it 4 stars!

About the Author:

One of my favourite authors, Suzanne Woods Fisher has been writing for many years about the Amish Community and is also a 2011 Christi finalist!.
She also has her own weekly radio program 'Amish Wisdom'. Any prayer request? Visit her Prayers Closet!
And don't forget to check out her contests!

To learn more, vist her website (here)

I received this book free from REVELL, a division of Baker Publishing Group as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

And now for the Giveaway:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of Amish Values for Your Family, her latest non-fiction release. "It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It’s a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful." -Mary Ann Kirkby

To celebrate the release of Amish Values for Your Family, Suzanne has teamed up her publisher Revell Books to giveaway a Kindle, and with Bill Coleman (the amazing photographer used on Suzanne’s book covers) to give away a signed Bill Coleman original.

One Grand Prize winner will receive an Amish Values Prize Package (valued at over $200) and includes:

* A brand new KINDLE
* A Signed Bill Coleman original
* Amish Values for Your Family (for KINDLE)

Click on one of the icons to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

But, wait there's more! Suzanne is running a Bill Coleman caption contest during the month of August on her blog. Title one of Bill’s gorgeous photos for a chance to win a print from Bill’s Amish Photo site and/or a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.

Blessings to all,

Twelfth Prophecy, Book Review

Book description:

Life is fraught with danger in the village of Sychar in the first-century A.D. But for Abigail, the Samaritan woman, the danger lies not as much from the ever-present Roman soldiers but from the rabbi and the people of Sychar. A woman of renowned beauty, whose reputation was tarnished at an early age, Abigail is pregnant . . . and the father is not her elderly husband, Zakane. While protecting her lover’s name, believing he will spirit her away, Abigail is imprisoned, then nearly stoned by her neighbors. She’s befriended by the beggar Leah. But even the beggars, the lowest of the low, don’t want her around. Abigail longs for love, kindness, a home for her soon-to-arrive baby . . . and forgiveness for her anguished soul. 

My review:

We are avid fans of Bodie and Brock Thoene's books in our household  and I was delighted to be amongst the first borrowers of 'The Twelfth Prophecy' at our local library. 

For all those of you who have followed the many series written by this great husband and wife team including the A.D. Chronicles, the Twelfth Prophecy is yet again proof of the excellence of their cooperation!

For those of you who have yet to discover Bodie and Brock Thoene's work, pick up any of their novels and you will be entranced!
'The Twelfth Prophecy' is number 12 in the A.D. Chronicles, a perfect combination of historical facts and fiction allowing us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. New Testament characters so familiar to Christians comes to life as we learn about their daily lives under the Roman rules.
The description of Jesus' anger when confronting the money changers in the Temple seen through the eyes of a Centurion is breathtaking!

 (Living Water by Simon Dewey)

 But this is the story of Abigail whom Jesus sought at Jacob's well for a drink of water. As we read of her near stoning by the local townspeople, their abuse and mockery and share with her the birth of her child we see the scriptures come to life.
This is a magnificent story about love and a factual description of early Christian life in Palestine. 

As always, an excellent addition to your family library and nothing less than 5 stars will do!

Meet the Authors:

Be sure to visit Bodie and Brock Thoene's website (here) for information

Do take a moment to visit the 'Shiloh Light Foundation', a nonprofit Christian association located in Nevada. Thanks to their sponsorship, US Armed Forces personnel and others receive literature and audio books!

A quick reminder: I was not asked to review this book and all opinions are entirely my own!

19 August 2011

Make A Wish Foundation and a very special little girl named Catherine

I humbly admit I learn something daily from my children and today was no exception! 

From the time our daughter was 8 years old she decided to be a vegetarian refusing meat as she could not abide animal slaughtering, read every tin label for additives, compiled a list of companies allowing testing on animals (products to never be purchased again by our family), used only absolutely necesary paper items (killing trees was a no-no), and rescued every stray crossing her path...

She soon had her name on every petition for saving all sorts of animals, worthy causes to help the needy and the environment.
I credit her Welsh roots (obstination comes to mind) for her determination! She was going to make a difference and that was that!

Now in  her thirties, I have lost track of the numbers of rescues (dog, cat, rabbit, rat...), the causes she espouses and the many times she calls our attention to yet another association needing sponsorship and volunteers!

Have I mentioned how proud we are?

But this is not about her, it is about another little girl named Catherine (and according to my daughter a wonderful foundation!)

Catherine was diagnosed when she was 15 months old with Juvenile Diabetes and after a week in hospital, Mum and Dad took her home armed with syringes, insulin and test equipment.
Typical signs of low blood sugar such fatigue, thirst and mood changes are normal behaviour in toddlers and she could not communicate when she was low. Imagine testing every two hours even at nights ...Catherine soon learn to toddle over to her Dad with her finger stuck out when she would see him pick up the blood meter!

It is estimated this little girl has had 6,500 shots and 16,000 blood tests as well as several very anxious trips to the emergency room! Diabetes is a life threatening disease!

Catherine is only 6 years old and she has three wishes...

Now for those of you who are interested in learning more about the Make a Wish Foundation, please read (here) and for Catherine's three wishes, read (here)!

I will end this post by reminding readers that Diabetes is a life threatening disease and wishes can come true...

Blessings to all,

18 August 2011

Francis, The Journey And The Dream, Book Review

Each of us is somewhat familiar with Saint Francis, his work, his love for his fellowmen and of course his friends, the animals. 
When I chose this book I expected it to be something of a work of historical facts blended with myths.
The author indeed gives us many historical facts about the Saint yet he also takes us on a journey or shall I say, Saint Francis's journey, which included not only his struggles but also many heartbreaks.

This 40th anniversary edition written by Father Murray Bodo is very informative but surprisingly also gripping. I found myself many times walking alongside the Saint as Fr. Bodo describes his life as a spoiled rich child and his trials and often agonies in his love for others.

You find yourself drawn to Saint Francis in Fr. Bodo's lines: 'To Francis everything in him and around him was a gift from his Father in Heaven. He expected nothing, so he was grateful for everything. Even a piece of earth was cause for rejoicing, and he thanked God always for everything that was. He held everything to his heart with the enthusiasm of a child surprised by some unexpected joy...Nothing was evil, for everything came from God, and evil came only from a heart that chose not to love.'

From his early days of soldiering to the time Jesus spoke to him through the crucifix, we experience this amazing dream that became Saint Francis's life and the eventual formation of his order of Lesser Brothers.
Here is the story of a little man named Francis who lived and died quietly at age fourty five in Assisi. 'He left behind a Dream to dream and a journey to challenge everyone!'

Beautifully written, this book will inspires you to follow on the footsteps of the Saint and to love and embrace your fellowmen!

I found myself rereading chapter after chapter and find this one a 'keeper'! I give it 5 stars!

I received this book free from The Catholic Company as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Francis - The Journey and the Dream. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid Spain

Planted in built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith (St Paul)

More than 1 million youth arrived in Madrid for this 2011 Worth Youth Day, travelling from their places of origin by land, sea or air.

One young group of Catalanes traveled 600 kilometers on foot from 'St Teresita Del Nino Jesus' in the suburb of 'Gracia', Barcelona! 131 girls and boys betwixt the ages of 16 to 25 accompanied by 2 Priests left Barcelona on 22 of July to join the celebration in Madrid!
Their route was not the shortest but one that took them through small towns and villages to give testimony of their unity with His Holiness the Pope.

Another group, this time from France arrived by sea, hailing from the diocese of Cambrai. Their sailing boat named 'Star of the Sea' began its journey on 5th August and they chronicled their journey on a blog (here)

His Holiness message to the youth on World Youth Day 2011: 
'I have come here to meet thousands of young people from around the world!'

Upon his arrival in Madrid the Holy Father addressed the crowd:
'I repeat to you again, nothing and no one can take away the peace that comes from our Lord'.

World Youth Day 2011 runs from 16 August through 21 August 2011. For more on the event, including schedule (here).

"Whatever you give, the Lord will return to you a hundredfold" 
4,750 Madrid homes have welcome 14,725 young people for the next few days. Faith is truly a wondrous thing!
"We are not alone, we are one big family. May WYD unite us all as one! ".
It is our hope that the experience of WYD will strengthen the faith of all and encourage them to follow Christ!

Benjamin Disraeli said: 'We live in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the Future are represented by suffering millions; and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity'.  

These young people are our future!

Blessings to all,

17 August 2011

A Walk For Sunshine, Book Review

I first heard of Jeff Alt and 'A Walk For Sunshine' through another blogger's site and curiosity about this 2,160 mile trek for charity on the Appalachian Trail led me to read more about this intrepid hiker.

Since I know very little of the Appalachians I decided to look at a map and available resources and was immediately struck by the length of such a journey. 2,160 miles, more than 5 million steps and all in tribute of a brother? If this alone did not speak out to me, the fact his book is published by a company called 'Dreams Shared' was enough to reach me! I believe myself nothing more than a dreamer after all!

The next thing of course I had to do in order to understand what this trek was all about was to read the book.
As the wife of a Scoutmaster, Youth leader, Rock climber, Spelunker and Hiker (let's not forget virtual DC3 pilot), I thought this to be just another book about hiking challenges and camping experiences in the wilderness. 

It is important to know this trek is not for amateurs! This magnificent trail attracts betwixt 2000 and 3000 hikers each year yet only about 10% actually complete the journey. Jeff Alt gives us an example of how little prepared some hikers are on page 218 but also speaks of Earl Shaffer who was the first person to finish the trail in 1948 and was again hiking at age 80 hundred of miles south on the trail!

It is amazing what one person will do for love and this is certainly the feeling you will receive when reading this incredible adventure. Jeff Alt speaks of his brother Aaron with respect and it immediately left me with the impression of a very special person. 
Born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation, Aaron would not be able to live his dreams due to these challenges but his family cared enough to make sure his needs would be met.
The story of Sunshine, Aaron's home and the fundraiser Jeff Alt organized to purchase much needed equipment for Sunshine's residents is one that will stir your heart! 

A Walk For Sunshine is nothing short of breathtaking and an absolute read for anyone! Since the original trek, Jeff Alt's family and friends have raised more than $160,000 and brother Aaron has not missed a walk! In fact most residents participates in the yearly 5K walk, some walking, some in wheelchairs! 

In this inspirational book, you will meet a caring person who describes a land only God could have blessed in so many ways.
You will find Jeff Alt to be an excellent storyteller, a serious hiker and always a gentleman! In turns serious and funny (find out why his trail name is Wrongfoot on page 36!), this is a beautiful story you should not miss!
Humour can indeed spread a smile over difficult times. Dreams can be achieved through lots of small steps in the right direction and I am very glad I read this book!

I could not give anything less than 5 stars!

About the Author:

Jeff Alt received a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award. You can read more about him on this website (here)

Note: A DVD is also available at Amazon! Author, adventurer and story teller Jeff Alt, takes you along with him on a 2,000 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, in this documentary, with hilarious and engaging tales, stunning photography, and music.

Just a reminder as always: I was not asked to review this book and received no compensation for it (only the satisfaction I shared a great story with my readers)!

15 August 2011

A moment of silence...

Today marked the 66th anniversary of the end of WW2 in the Pacific.  Japan's pledge never again to engage in war and instead to actively contribute to the establishment of ever-lasting peace in the world was renewed.

Japanese Citizens offered a moment of silence from noon for about 2.3 million Japanese military personnel and 800,000 Japanese civilians killed in the war.

This elderly Japanese lady holds a dove as she prays for the souls of those killed in WW2 in a gesture for peace at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

Too many lives lost...

Let's take a  moment also to remember the many men and women who fight for freedom today...


Always remember and never forget!

14 August 2011

The Colonel's Lady, Book Review

Book description:
To the trail-weary and frightened women, Fort Endeavor seemed unwelcoming at first, but Roxanna Rowan knew they needed to get to safety as quickly as possible in The Colonel’s Lady  by bestselling author Laura Frantz. Deep within the Kentucky Territory, Fort Endeavor could provide a new life for genteel spinster Roxanna as long as she was with her father. She had to find him in the mass of all these soldiers. But where was he?

Shortly after arriving at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, the Colonel tells Roxanna that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna accepts the Scrivener position once held by her father. Before long, Roxanna discovers secrets that her father uncovered shortly before his death. Who could she trust with this discovery that she found in her father’s Scrivener desk? Could she trust the Colonel? Was his attraction to her real or was he hiding his own secrets including her father’s death? Roxanna needed answers that only the Colonel could provide.

Set in 1779
The Colonel’s Lady is a powerful and emotion-packed story full of love, suspense, intrigue, faith, and forgiveness from reader favorite Laura Frantz. Her solid research and skillful writing immerse readers in the world of the early frontier while her realistic characters become intimate friends.

My review:
The clear portraying of frontier's life is certain to be the first thing you will notice in 'The Colonel's Lady' but it is the rich tapestry of love, honour, duty, loyalty and faith Laura Frantz weaves in front of our eyes that will take your breath away. 
Historical novels, particularly the ones describing the Colonial era have always held my interest.
Diaries, letters and oral information passed down from generation to generation have revealed something of these brave families who tamed the wilderness and faced countless dangers to make a life for themselves but there is still a lot of information about the Americas we have yet to uncover. 

Laura Frantz's fascination with 'Kentucke' history is instantly detected in her novel and the emotions she endowes her characters are so palpable you will at times hold your breath. She skilfully draws you in her story with her minute details of a time and a place in American History few of us even imagined. 
Here are the braves souls that forged a free country for themselves amidst the cruel hardship of frontier life. Here are the women whom alongside their men fought for liberty and equality against tyranny. 
Here are the likes of Washington and his men who survived countless deprivations to make a world for themselves. 

I have always coveted a copy of the painting of Washington praying at Valley Forge. As I read Laura Frantz's description of the Irish commander Colonel Cassius McLinn, I pictured this painting and felt once again the faith the painter imbued the General in this humble moment of communion with the Almighty.

'The Colonel's Lady' is a story of endurance, love and forgiveness in a time of intrigue and danger. Fort Endeavor comes to life as you read this powerful story yet it is the unquestionable faith the characters displays during their trials which makes this a wonderful Christian novel with a definite place on your bookshelves!
A must read for anyone who loves a well told story!

I confess I loved the story and give it 5 stars!

About the Author:

Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late eighteenth century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. 
More about her at LauraFrantz.net

“Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book free from REVELLa division of Baker Publishing group as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

12 August 2011

Visiting the Outback...

Sometime it seems the little things strikes you the most! In this case visiting 'Outback' blog posts yielded a name I had never heard before... and all because of a recipe!


So for a bit of History for those of us who did not know...

'When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for 13 years.

In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers became part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. But when the Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, they met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Sadly, by the end of 1915, over 8000 soldiers had given their life for freedom.

News of the landing on Gallipoli  made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
The “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

ANZAC Day became established as a national day of commemoration for the 60,000 Australians who had died during the First World War.
Since then, the meaning of the day has been further broadened to include Australians killed in all the military operations in which Australia has been involved.

Ceremonies of remembrance includes a reading of an appropriate poem not unlike 'In Flanders Fields'.
One traditional recitation on ANZAC Day is the Ode, the fourth stanza of a poem by Laurence Binyon (1869–1943) called 'For the Fallen'.

Here are a few lines...

'They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.'

Always remembered, Never forgotten!

As I tried to find out about 'Anzac Day' I noticed the poppies and since it is a favourite of mine, the rest is...history!

Thank you Tania at Outback! Your post was indeed very special! I immediately baked the cake to the dismay of our ex RAF flyboy...Golden syrup is hard to come here by but we still had a couple of bottles...(and he agreed the cake was deicious!)

Blessings to all,

11 August 2011

Musings, Faith And A Bit Of Wisdom

Today was a day for reflection...

 Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
-Robert Brault-

Be the master of your fate, be the captain of your soul, but do not hesitate, should the chance befall you, to be the slave of your heart. 
-Robert Brault-

What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.  
-Helen Keller-

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
-Mark Twain- 

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the inheritance of generations and nations.
-H. D. Thoreau-

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. 
-H. D. Thoreau-

Music gives soul to the universe wings to the mind flight to the imagination and life to everything

Blessings to all,