Oct 20

I reserve the third Monday of each month for book reviews. I love sharing and talking with you about my favorite books and stories. And when it comes to movies and TV, the Read & View (formerly Virtual Views) message board at The Republic of Pemberley has long been a favorite hangout. …Except during the fall season. Downton Abbey airs each autumn in the U.K. before it does here in the U.S., and I want no part of spoilers! [Rant over.]

photo by Christopher Cornelius

photo by Christopher Cornelius

This month I got to wondering…

What do you, my dear reader, want to talk about? If we were hanging out, cups of coffee, hot chocolate–or tea, if you like nasty stuff–warming our hands, what would we chat about? What would interest you most in this space each month?

Would you like to see discussion about:

  • Novels (if so, which genres)?
  • Non-fiction (any certain topics)?
  • Historical movies or TV series?
  • Something else?

Please, comment and share your thoughts. Thank you!

P.S.: And speaking of coffee, here’s a recent shot outside of one of my favorite coffee houses: Blue House


Oct 13

Confession: I hate running. Okay, “hate” is a strong word. I severely dislike running. If you read this blog regularly, you may remember that I do run. I just don’t like it. The strain, the boredom, the nasty sweating, the out-of-breathness. No, thanks.

It’s the having run that’s the good stuff. Sticking with it and crossing the finish line. …Perseverance, in the rearview mirror.

photo: U.S. Navy

photo: U.S. Navy

What does the concept of perseverance mean to you? For me, it conjures a picture of pressing on in the face of opposition or resistance.  Like someone trudging forward through a howling blizzard or a ship weathering a fierce hurricane.

But why does it matter? So what if we hang in there, not just in tangible things like exercise, but during life’s difficulties? Wouldn’t it be easier just to throw in the towel sometimes? To give in to discouragement?

I’ve wrestled with this while going through long-term challenges. Prayer, digging into the Bible, and being around godly people have been lifesavers. And through this God reminds me of good reasons for sticking it out.

1. Persevering develops our trust muscles. Just like running strengthens my fledgling muscles, there’s nothing like hard times to grow our faith and trust in God. Do you feel like life just doesn’t make sense in certain situations? And where is God’s direction, His voice evaporating the fog of mystery surrounding these circumstances?

Sometimes it’s just not going to make sense, as much as we can’t stand that reality. Sometimes we must choose to trust and simply be with God–abiding in Him–and follow Him through the storm of confusion. And He won’t let us down.  Psalm 32:8 (NIV) promises the teachable person this: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

2. Persevering reveals God’s strength in us. Does your own strength ever surprise you? Maybe you hike a steep hill or survive an unbelievably hectic season of life. You look back, amazed, and think, “Wow. I didn’t know I could do that.” Here’s a secret I’ll bet you know already: It’s not our strength, but God’s in us. If Jesus is your savior, then He empowers you to do everything He has planned.

But here’s the interesting (yet groan-worthy) part–often it’s the hard times that hold up a mirror to reflect God’s strength inside of us. In the middle of it weariness threatens to capsize us. Then we stagger onto the shores of the other side. Catching our breath, we turn around and see what God brought us through. And He supplies strength to help us not only now, but in future challenges. We carry that power as we march ahead.

3. Persevering gives hope This week I talked with an older woman who is precious to me. She’s had a rough year. Lots of change, lots of loss. It’s healthy for her to acknowledge her grief, and she doesn’t sweep it under the rug. But she’s practicing perseverance by counting her blessings. “I have a warm place to live, I’m fed, I have my family.” She added with emphasis, “And I have have God’s love. What more could I ask for?”

What a refreshing perspective! Her attitude and perseverance give me hope and challenge my own. The “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1-3 comes to mind. Countless Christians in heaven cheer us on. They pressed on, and they whisper, “You can, too. Keep going. Don’t stop. Persevere.”

I think I’ll keep those spiritual running shoes laced up.

What about you? What’s another benefit of persevering? On a different note, what’s something that you hate doing but like having done?

Oct 6

So, you step onto the flight line, ready to take the helm of a peppy, nimble war machine. Piloting it requires precision and skill. You’ll need full range of motion starting now, through pre-flight checks and hopping into the plane, during your flight, and back again.

But, wait. Before you charge ahead someone hands you a getup like this:

WASP zoot suits

What do you do? If you hope to graduate and serve as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), you climb into the tent of a uniform. And there’s more. You must hobble around in this not only today but throughout the entire training process.

But like every other hoop you jump through to graduate, you make the most of it. Someone has nicknamed them “zoot suits,” though they’re really Army surplus mechanics’ suits. The Army didn’t make suits to fit the likes of dames.

So you roll up your sleeves, literally. You cinch your belt as tight as it will go.

And you get on with it. After all, there’s a war to win.

What about you?  Think about what you do during a normal week. How difficult would it be to go through you day wearing a zoot suit or something else ridiculously ill-fitting? If you could make someone else wear a uniform that’s totally wrong for what they do, what would it be?

Want to know more?

Article on WASP uniform changes from Avenger newspaper

Photo and WASP quote


Sep 29

It’s a rare fifth Monday. I thought it would be fun to sift through the time capsule of old posts, polish one off, and present it again. This one hails from September 2008.

If you’ve been anywhere near civilization the last week or so (and if you’re reading this, I assume you are now) you’ve been bombarded with newscasters’ voices delivering unsavory news reports…financial crisis, candidates launching verbal darts, hurricane recovery…on and on.

It’s enough to rattle a person’s nerves if allowed. However, we can’t ignore these happenings. Sand was not meant as a home for our heads.

photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli

photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli

Instead I’ll suggest a momentary refuge. Have you noticed lately the sounds of the season? Anyone who knows me (or who reads this blog for long) knows that I love fall. The sounds around us right now aren’t all unique to fall, but humor me for now. As I tap out these words, a chorus of crickets sings my neighborhood to sleep. In the mountains, breezes play aspen leaves like nature’s wind chimes. Other trees surrender their leaves to tall piles in yards, laughing children crunching them with leaping cannon balls. Taking a moment to focus on small pleasures reminds me that our world still makes sense at times. I smile and thank God.

What about you? I could go on a lot longer, but I’d rather hear about your favorite seasonal sounds.

Sep 22

It’s a Grab Bag Monday! You never know what’s going show up here.

You’ve seen them before: those roadside historical markers that pop up at random places along the highway. It’s easy to keep the cruise control in gear and coast by, not giving the unassuming sign a second thought.

So, why stop?

historical marker Nicolas Henderson

photo by Nicolas Henderson

Maybe the better question is, why not?

Years ago my husband and I sailed north on Highway 83 in Texas. We were en route to the Oklahoma panhandle for a dear grandparent’s funeral. It was a long, emotional trip. We needed a break. We spotted a large iron bridge that spanned the Red River near Wellington. It broke up the horizon, and a “Historical Marker Ahead” sign teased us off of the road. The gravel shoulder crunched under our tires as we eased to a stop.

My expectations of the marker hovered on the low end despite being a fan of history and cool-looking bridges. I expected tidbits on the construction of the bridge or something similar. But check out what it said:

The Red River Plunge of Bonnie and Clyde

On June 10, 1933, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Pritchard and family saw from their home on the bluff (west) the plunge of an auto into the Red River. Rescuing the victims, unrecognized as Bonnie Parker and Clyde and Buck Barrow, they sent for help. Upon their arrival, the local sheriff and police chief were disarmed by Bonnie Parker. Buck Barrow shot Pritchard’s daughter while crippling the family car to halt pursuit. Kidnapping the officers, the gangsters fled. Bonnie and Clyde were fated to meet death in 1934. In this quiet region, the escapade is now legend.

Excerpted from Why Stop? A Guide to Texas Roadside Historical Markers by Betty Dooley Awbrey and Stuart Awbrey

Holy moly. What a surprise! If that didn’t make us glad we stopped, I don’t know what would. My eyes were as big as a getaway car’s tires as I gazed over the bridge and followed the bank that sank into the riverbed.  I could imagine it all happening.

Isn’t it amazing the things that pop up around you that you’d never guess? One moment you’re trudging along an endless highway, the next you’re seeing the scenery in a while new light. Taking a minute, taking a chance lets ordinary surroundings whisper their amazing secrets.

I’m so glad we stopped.

What about you? When/where have you been pleasantly surprised by a chance encounter or unplanned stop? Hypothetically, what would a historical marker in the future say (funny or serious) about where you live?

Want to know more?

Interview with son of eyewitnesses by A. Winston Woodward

The Historical Marker Database online and its Google/Android App

25+ Top Apps for iPhone/iPad

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