Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Reviews

I love books. In fact, I think I could live in a bookstore and be quite content, especially if the store had one of those wonderfully smelling coffee shops in it. Ahhhh.

I don't have as much time to read as I'd like so don't expect too much, but here you will find my opinion of books I've read. I'll let you know if I like a book or not, and why. Some books I might recommend and others I might tell you to avoid. But keep in mind this just my opinion.

I'd love for you to leave comments and let me know if you read the same book and what you thought about it. If you know of a book you think I should read and review, leave a comment and let me know.


Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God
By Sheila Walsh

Life is hard, sometimes cruel, and often disappointing. Even if we are lucky enough to have great beginning, circumstances happen all along the way which are intended for our destruction.

In this book, Sheila gives biblical accounts of people like David, Paul, Joseph, and others to remind us that we are not the first to face such life changing circumstances, and that overcoming those circumstances then moving on into a place of victory is possible.  Her personal testimony is proof that even today, God brings hope, healing, and beauty into the messed up lives of people who choose to trust Him with everything.

In the introduction of the book, Sheila writes, “I trust that you will find yourself in the pages of this book…” I did. Is there a woman alive who has not, to some degree, been wounded or made fearful?

Many chapters, made me cry, and every chapter inspired me to pray. I was encouraged to trust God with the big stuff as well as with the smallest details of my life.

The in-depth Bible study at the end of the book is helpful. I wish I would have done the study concurrently with each corresponding chapter instead of waiting until I was finished reading to begin the study.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday drive

If all you did today was sit around and watch TV, then I feel sad for you. Life has so much more to offer. I don't care where you are, there is always something to see if you just get out and look. Today was my "get out and look" day.

Rick was caught up on his paper work (this assignment has been lighter duty than most) so we planned to get out and see a little of the countryside. Even before we left this morning, a pair of cardinals, a few chickadees, and a tufted titmouse had breakfast at our feeder. I watched a couple of geese taking a walk on the snowy bank of the creek below the camper, and I saw some deer wandering around down there as well. The beautiful wildlife, along with the pancakes I fixed for breakfast, started my day out great.

 We took the back, less traveled roads just to see what we might see. I was amazed. I was able to get a few photos of some of our sights, but some really cool stuff I missed. Like the huge snowman (at least two stories tall), suffering badly because the last few days have been sunny, but still large enough for his 55 gallon drum hat to stay perched firmly on the top of his head. We whizzed past the cemetery where the grandmother of Ulysses S. Grant is buried, and I saw some Ohio icicles. Oh how I wished I'd begged hubby to turn around and go back so I could get a picture. Those suckers hung from the eaves and ended in perfect points only a few inches above the ground. You're just going to have to take my word for it. They are nothing like our Texas variety.

We saw some crazy people...well, I think you'd have to be crazy to do fishing. (Most of the lakes around here are frozen over, and some of the "cricks" are too.)  I saw a great big wild turkey in an open field getting a drink from a puddle made by melting snow. Somewhere along the way we ate lunch at a nice place decorated with handmade Amish quilts and wood furnishings. And did I mention the one antique shop we found open?  So much eye candy, and all we did was drive and observe.

We were not the only folks that took a Sunday drive.

Our drive took us through the center of Amish country. I think my heart rate slowed just from watching the horses trot down the highway.

We couldn't resist driving on over to check out Resort A. Remember? And yes, It IS a resort. We know where we want to stay if we ever come back to Ohio on vacation and don't mind shelling out the big bucks. But for this time, we are happy with our choice of campgrounds. Our time here is going to be short and not very profitable, so we are glad we were able to save a few dollars.

At Resort A, there is on display a taxidermic bear, hunted and killed in Alaska. It stands 10' 3" tall. It holds some kind of large game record. Why didn't I take a picture? I don't know. All I could do was just stand there with my mouth hanging open and stare. I knew the thing was dead and I still found it hard to breath as I stood only a few feet from it with its huge mouth open, it's teeth showing, and it's claws ready to turn me into julienne slices. I thought it was funny that the bear was right beside the treadmills in the workout area. Talk about a way to get the heart rate up!
Heading back to the camper we enjoyed more snow covered hills and narrow roads, passed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and stopped at a Camping World where we poked our heads into some new campers. How nice it was to decide we are content with what we have.

Then, as we continued on, low and behold, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
One of the Goodyear blimps lives in the area and it was coming in for a landing. I've never seen the thing from far away, so to get this up-close look was really cool.
Back at the camper, with birds on the feeder, a deer in the creek bed, and a setting sun, I sigh deeply. This and every "adventure" adds to the fullness of our lives and experiences and memories, but oh how I miss my kids, grandchildren, and the rest of our extended family. I always look forward to seeing them again. If I let myself, I can get very sad and moody about being so far from them all. But that would do no good for no one. So I thank the Lord that He allowed me to enjoy this day, where I am.

The next time you get a little down about where you are or life's circumstances, try turning off the TV and taking a long Sunday drive along the back roads just to see what you can see. You might be amazed!

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's all relative

Excuse me if I sound like I am still ranting about this resort campground. I'm not. Really! I have a point to ponder. But the circumstantial path that leads me to my point might seem to have a rant or two along the way, and maybe a bunny trail too. (You've been warned.)

The dreaded day came a couple days ago. As hubby dressed for work, he lingered in front of his sock drawer. I didn't have to ask, but I did anyway. "What's wrong?" I already knew he was about to put on his last pair of clean socks but for some reason I just needed him to confirm the fact. And he did, with a mumble and a wave of the socks in the air.

Now see that red building WAAAY over there through the trees? 

That's where the laundry/club house is. I have two choices in how to get there. 
  1. I can take the long way around on the ice packed road.
  2. I can take the shorter route and cut through the perfectly spaced woods and deep snow.
I'll save you the suspense and tell you I tried both routes because I couldn't carry all our dirty clothes in one trip. I made several trips actually. I preferred the deep snow to the ice. Lately I've had more sudden meetings with the ground than I'm comfortable with, and I don't heal as quickly as I used to. (My leg still hurts a bit from my visit to the winery last spring.)

I tried to look on the bright side as I tromped through the snow--I was "upping" my heart rate and burning more calories than if I'd had an easy, short trip. Dodging the occasional fallen pine branches and piles of deer turds made my day even more dashing! With every high marching step I took, I chanted. This - IS - a - re - sort! This - IS - a - re - sort!

Here is the laundry area inside the club house/arcade/pool shower house.  
 Only two washers and two dryers.
This place gets a prize for "multifunctional building." Actually, it kind of resembles the place where garage sale rejects go to retire.

We are still dealing with the ice packed slope where we are supposed to park the truck. Once we slide in, we still can't get back out so Rick has been parking on the ice packed road and carrying his stuff (file box, computer, camera, GPS, lunch, appointment book, etc.) up and down the hill every day. We use two long extension cords to plug his truck in every night for an easy start and a quick warm up. This does, I have to admit, add to the adventure.

I asked the guy who seems to be the caretaker around here if he thought he could do something to help get some of the ice cleared away so hubby wouldn't have to walk so far up an icy hill to the truck every morning. Basically I was told...No.

Yesterday they cleared off the spot next to ours and here is what that drive looks like.

Here is ours still covered with ice and snow anywhere from 1/2 to 3 inches packed hard.

So today with a bag of rock salt and a square shovel, I started to do what I could to bless my hubby. (I have to climb this icy slope too when I carry out trash or do laundry, so my labor was not totally selfless, but don't tell him that.)

After several minutes of whacking and banging and chopping at the thick ice with the shovel, I decided what I really needed was an ax. Where is Jack and his ax when you need him? 

About that time a truck pulled up in the cleared drive on the other side of us and four big, burly men got out and headed into the camper parked next to ours. Two of them stopped to watch me. "What are your trying to do?" one bellowed.

Sometimes I'm too quick with the wit for my own good. All these answers popped in my head at once.
  1. Shape up and slim down.
  2. Make you ask stupid questions and I'm succeeding.
  3. Look like a fool.
  4. Rid the world of winter.
You'll be happy to know that, because this guy didn't know me, I decided to contain my wonderful wit, and I gave him the straight up answer--trying to clear the drive enough that hubby can get in and out without getting stuck. I didn't add the part about wanting to be a blessing to my husband. I figured it might sound a little mushy to this guy who looked like he might be a bouncer.

"If you'll wait til Tuesday, it should warm up enough to melt all that off."
Okay, so maybe answer #3 would have been more fitting.
I tried to explain that I knew it was supposed to warm up some, but since our spot is so heavily shaded I felt like the melting process should be helped along. And hubby wants to park near the camper TODAY!

After a little small talk and more advice from him, I could tell that he thought I was really wasting my time. I could contain my wise cracks no longer. "I thought about doing this the female way and use my blow dryer on it."

He let out a scoff, "I don't think you'd make much progress."

The rest of the men came back, they all got in the truck, and as they drove away, I thought, Buddy, you just don't know my blow dryer when the turbo button is pushed!

I went back to attacking the ice and all the while thinking about how far from a resort I think this place is, and how the owner seems proud to advertise it as a year-round resort. It's all relative.

I had a chat with the manager and caretaker the other day, and I learned that we are in "Hicksville." (Their word, not mine.) No wonder I thought I could hear Loretta Lynn's voice singing "I'm proud to be a coal miner's daughter" echoing off the hills as we drove along the Ohio River the day we arrived!

This area has many little towns--rural towns--but DSL has not even found its way here. Dial-up is the norm. The campground manager told me that for this area, this campground resort is a high-end place. She compared it to the nearby state parks, which few have any hook-ups at all, and none have 50 amp electrical service. So, as far as these people know, when they look around and compare this establishment to their neighbors, so to speak, this is a really nice place with its limited but fast wi-fi, its 50 amp service, its you-keep-it-from-freezing water, its outdoor pool, its two washers and dryers, and its ONE site with concrete slab that has no electrical hook-up.

This kind of relative thinking works great doesn't it? As long as we compare ourselves to something or someone less than we are, we will always look pretty good--high-end!

Jesus talked about this kind of relative thinking. We can read about it in the book of Luke, chapter 18.
10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
 13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
 14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
And what happens when someone comes along that we perceive to have more or be more than we are? (I've stayed in some RV resorts that make this place look like a dump, relatively speaking.) What a way to cheat yourself out of all life's joys, and forever be labeled a lifelong looser. That's not good either. Relative thinking can be deceptive thinking, depending upon your object of comparison.

Thankfully there is a standard against which we can measure our condition--sin and short comings. That standard is the holiness of God. I don't know about you, but when compared to that, I'm humbled and definitely not up-scale or high-end.

Once I accept that accurate assessment of my sad condition, then I can measure my worth against the one and only worthy standard--the sacrifice--Jesus Christ. Would the King of kings and Lord of lords have died for anyone of no value? A dump? A loser? I don't think so.

So I ponder this point where I'm camped. Somewhere between a dump and a resort, condemnation and glory, this blood bought saint finds hope, peace, and...well, you A dashing and bold adventure!