Monthly Archives: January 2015


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?

Review: Marvel’s Agent Carter

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

Marvel’s Agent Carter, an eight-part weekly series airing now on Tuesdays, takes the stage this month.


Rating: 4-1/2 mochas out of 5

What it’s about: Think post-World War II New York meets female super-spy. Moviegoers met Agent Peggy Carter in Marvel’s first Captain America movie (2011), where she played key roles in the Army’s war effort. With America settling into post-war life, she finds herself still a covert agent yet relegated to tasks viewed by her male counterparts as more befitting a woman. She’s bored, frustrated, and grieving the presumed-dead Steve Austin, a.k.a. Captain America.

Her boredom doesn’t last long. The Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), her employer, hunts a friend of Carter’s as an assumed traitor. He’s innocent and turns to Carter for help. She wants to clear his name but must do it undercover…as a double agent in her own organization.

With only the aid of her friend’s butler, the amiable and capable Jarvis, can Carter prove her friend’s innocence in the growing shadow of evil, keep her cover, and win the respect of her colleagues? Making new friends along the way won’t hurt, either. Usually.

You might like this if you like: 1940s adventure, post-World War II life, the Captain America storylines, spy stories in general and/or female spies such as Alias’ Sydney Bristow.

What I’ve liked: Three of the eight episodes have aired as of this writing (go to ABC’s website here to catch up on previous episodes). I’m a fan. Hayley Atwell deftly reprises the role of Agent Carter. The fast-paced show is equal parts thriller and mystery, with a glimpse of post-war society and dash of friendship mixed in.

At the risk of gushing, I’m loving the 1940s clothes and sets too. Some costumes, including a few of Atwell’s, are authentic vintage pieces.

I’m not crazy about: Let’s be honest: it wouldn’t be much of a thriller or spy storyline without danger. The three episodes so far have sprinkled in a tad too much violence (and brief suggestive elements) for my taste. It’s comparable to what we see in the Marvel movies, such as both Captain America installments, so if you were okay with those you’ll be okay here. It’s still cleaner that most of what’s on prime time these days.

And to nit-pick, the film noir-type soundtrack borders on kitschy at times. Not enough to turn the channel, though.

The bottom line: Agent Carter offers a breath of fresh air in today’s sea of TV sameness. It’s not the 266th NCIS series, a stale sitcom, or a mind-numbing reality show like Honey Boo Boo Meets the Real Dance Moms Plus Eight (no offense if you like those kinds of shows; I’m not completely immune).  The setting and engaging lead characters blend to create a story that’s entertaining and transporting. It’s fun and fascinating to dive into this era through the eyes of Carter. Rumors hint that we might see more Agent Carter if this eight-part series does well.

Godspeed, Agent. We hope to see you again.

What about you? Does a story like this have you from the get-go, or does this veer from your usual taste in TV shows or movies? If you’ve seen this show, what do you think of it?

Related Links:

Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter  – A 12-minute standalone story released in 2013

British sister-spies in World War II

Life with God: Today, I hope…

What do you hope for? In what do you put your hope, your trust, your life?

That’s different for everyone. For Christians, we say that Jesus is our hope. And that’s true. He paid the ultimate price, His life, to give us eternal life.

photo by Zbyslu

photo by Zbyslu

Day to day it’s easy to say that we don’t place our hope in anything else but God. But let’s be honest: when the challenges of life creep in, it can be easy to slide our trust and hope to whatever’s closer and, well, tangible.

Financial challenges today? We can catch ourselves trusting in our credit cards or extra hours at work.

Family troubles? Oprah or other self-help gurus seem to hold all the answers.

Health issues? It’s easy to retreat into ourselves instead of asking the Great Physician.

The list goes on and on. Before we know it, our hope can be in anything else but God.

Let’s take a moment for a breather. Listen to the words of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV) and release your problems to God:

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Right now we can take stock. Where are the weeds of fear and lack of hope in God sneaking into our hearts? Let God pick up the weed eater. Ask Him to focus your hope in Him… for today, for always.

Time Travel: Operation Carpetbagger

January 4th marked the seventy-first anniversary of the start of Operation Carpetbagger, in 1944. Maybe you’re not familiar with this World War II initiative of the Allies. Here’s a brief glimpse into that massive undertaking.

Photo from Carpetbagger Aviation Museum

Photo from Carpetbagger Aviation Museum

Imagine you’re a civilian resistance fighter working to rid your homeland of Nazi occupiers. You might live in France, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, or Holland (now the Netherlands).

But you need precious, scarce supplies to fight the highly skilled Nazi military and aid the Allied forces. What do you and your fellow patriots do?

Enter Operation Carpetbagger. Underground intelligence networks in these countries partnered with the resistance groups and communicated the needs to Operation headquarters in England. The resistance coveted supplies like guns, ammo, small explosives, clothing, medical supplies, and even blood plasma to help their wounded. Undercover agents made up part of the deliveries as well.

B-24 bombers morphed into specialized cargo delivery aircraft. Everything unnecessary on board got the heave-ho. Newly-developed containers, made to fit into the bombing holds and to withstand a low-altitude drop by parachute, replaced the bombs.

Deliveries were made directly to drop sites in each country, but only during about fourteen nights a month. They needed moonlight for navigation in order to made the flights as clandestine as possible. Crews made around fifty drops per night.

This huge operation demanded a group of people who worked like a well-oiled machine. Each day began with requests fielded from agents with the resistance groups. High-level officers plotted a map with the requests and decided which would get drops that night. The day went on with packing supplies, making parachutes, transporting the supplies in disguise to the airfield, loading the planes, briefing the crews, and navigation planning. Darkness fell and bombers arose.

The days ended at dawn, when crews returned and shared any intelligence gathered, before hitting the sack. And so another day of Operation Carpetbagger began.

As with any World War II innovation, I’m amazed by the ingenuity, efficiency, and heart with which these people helped win the war.

Your turn: If you had been part of Operation Carpetbagger, what role do you think you’d play?

I highly recommend visiting this site or watching this fifteen-minute video about the daily process if you want to know more: Operation Carpetbagger