by Alison

Annual Pause

It’s a Grab Bag Monday! I have a loose tradition to re-post this each January. 

Which is your favorite month of the year? Of course, January is everyone’s best-loved month, right?

Okay, probably not.

Years ago January was last on my list. Back then I didn’t like cold weather, and January just seemed like a bleak, blustery, colorless month that had to be endured. I wondered if a person could get in on the bears’ hibernation deal.

What changed? Maybe it was when I got married in a January wedding. Suddenly there was a permanent bright spot on the calendar that time every year. Also around that time I launched into my transition from a hot-weather loving/cold-weather shunning girl into quite the opposite.

Whatever the reason, I now like the first month of the year. While not my absolute favorite, it does have its charms. Yes, after Christmas and New Year’s, life resumes with the hustle and bustle of daily routines. …But overall, there seems to be a quiet simplicity that hushes the land. A brisk stillness that can be seen in bare tree branches and blankets of snow. It’s as if nature has paused for a moment.

It’s a welcome chance for me to pause as well, reminiscing with a smile about the holidays, being grateful for countless blessings, and feeling hopeful about the time ahead. Maybe that’s also why I’m drinking hot chocolate more often–it’s a chance to warm up and take a moment to stop and just think…often a rarity in our busy days.

What about you? Is there anything you like about January? What’s your favorite month?

Dancing with the Unseen Partner

Does your neighborhood have a lot of trees?

photo by ECP

photo by ECP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees cover our part of town. Tall ones, short ones, and in between. I love it. From where I write green fills my view of our backyard.

Birds chatter and chirp. When there’s a breeze, they sing while grasping the swaying limbs where they perch.

It’s those breezes that capture my gaze today.

Well, not the wind itself. Can’t see that, of course.

It’s the leaves. And those branches that wave to each other with grace, like neighbors calling to neighbors over the backyard fence.

My imagination takes over, and I’m almost convinced that the leaves and branches move themselves. But my common sense knows better.

…And I’m back to the breeze. Without that, the trees have no movement. No dance. It’s what brings them to life and makes them graceful.

The dancing trees give visual testimony to the invisible wind.

So it is with our God. Without Him, we stand solitary and motionless. We exist, but there’s no dance.

Yet when we give Him our life, He breathes His Holy Spirit over us and into us. We move. We sway. We reach out to others who’ve joined the dance.

We’re full of grace, and the world sees the evidence of the invisible God.

 

 

 

Time Travel: Adjusting to life after WASP

February, 1946. Seventy years ago this month.

postwar_073_v115

Post-war life settles into a steadier rhythm. Couple marry and forge a new life. Newborn babies greet the world. Veterans have returned, and America marches–scars and all–into a peaceful future.

But what about the WASP? How did each of them adjust?

Newsletters by and for WASP, archived by Texas Woman’s University, give us a glimpse. See the full newsletter here.

Pages are filled with snippets of highlights that hit the major points. Ann had a baby boy, Julia and her husband have settled in Chicago.

An impressive number kept flying with aviation-related careers–flight instructors, work at aviation companies. One WASP did double-duty as a WAVE.

But each page of the newsletter is soaked in longing for the skies. The WASP missed their adventures, if this publication is any indication.

One WASP had trouble letting go. “All you do is live in the past,” her admiring but concerned younger brother said. Her solution after that wake-up call? In a nutshell: keep busy, keep flying, and keep remembering to be grateful for the experiences she was fortunate to have.

Sounds like a good way to adjust to today’s life, too…keep busy, keep up our talents, and remember to be grateful.

 

Review: Autumn Brides

Once a month I review a book – usually fiction, sometimes non-fiction. Grab your favorite hot beverage (mine’s a mocha), and let’s talk books!

Are you a fan of seasonal novels? I’ve become a sucker for Christmas fiction the last couple of years. And when I spied a novella collection celebrating my favorite season, fall, I could resist as much as I can a comfy sweater and a day of pumpkin carving.

This month, like a big ol’ pile of leaves, we jump into Autumn Brides (Zondervan, 2015), by Kathryn Springer, Katie, Ganshert, and Beth K. Vogt. You get three novellas in one volume.

Autumn BridesFrom the cover:

Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three autumn weddings . . .

A September Bride by Kathryn Springer

When Annie moves to Red Leaf, she’s ready to call the little town home, but Deputy Jesse Kent can’t believe his mother has handed the keys to her bookshop over to a woman she met on the internet. Jesse has seen his mother taken advantage of before, and he decides to keep a close eye on this Annie Price. But when a close eye turns into a historical wedding reenactment with Jesse and Annie as the couple, make-believe nuptials quickly give way to real-life emotions.

An October Bride by Katie Ganshert

No one but Jake and Emma know the true reason they’re getting married—so Emma’s dying father can walk her down the aisle. While Jake and Emma plan an autumn wedding together, it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications—the biggest being their true feelings for each other.

A November Bride by Beth K. Vogt

Having celebrated the big 3–0 by ending a relationship, Sadie is tired of romantic relationships-by-text. The only man she knows willing to put down his iPhone and have face-to-face conversations with her is Erik. It’s time to put a 21st-century twist on the Sadie Hawkins’ tradition of a woman going after her man. But when he realizes he’s fallen for her, can Erik convince Sadie his just-for-fun dates were the prelude to “’til death do us part”?

Rating: 4 mochas out of 5 for the set

You might like this if you like: Seasonal fiction, contemporary romances, Hallmark movies, Runaway Bride

I liked:

A September Bride – Kathryn Springer’s story evoked the charm of small-town America. The fictional burg of Red Leaf beckons the reader like a cozy throw blanket. I wanted to step into the pages and stroll past the quaint businesses and chat with the locals. The writing style is top-notch and tight.

An October Bride – Confession: When I realized the premise included terminal illness, I was tempted to skip it. My day job deals with this topic, so it didn’t seem to fit the bill for escapism fiction. But this story won the 2015 Carol Award in the novella category, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

Ganshert deftly balances a weighty topic with a lighter tone that engages. The characters prove likable and believable. And the setting–a big draw in any fiction I choose–showcases the glory of fall.

A November Bride – The characters pop off the page. Sadie and Erik made me grin and were just plain fun to watch. This friendship-to-love tale weaves backstory into the fabric in a way that adds more depth than most novellas.

I wasn’t crazy about: Once or twice, potentially major plot points get resolved too easily. I chalk this up to the limitations of the novella format, but it did irk to a mild degree. And the authors made a few of the secondary characters too interesting! I want to see the brother and best friend pair from An October Bride get their own story.

The Bottom Line:  Want a cozy read for a crisp autumn day? Autumn Brides steps up to the plate. I recommend with no reservations.

Questions for you: Do you ever indulge in seasonal novellas, or do you stick with full-length novels?