Monday, February 27, 2017

Musings On Life...By Gracie the Cat

A Few Catly Ideas About Life

Well finally!!  It's been quite awhile since I have been able to wrestle....errr.....ask politely for use of the computer from Fur Mama. You know how much she loves her blog! From morning to night she's either typing on the computer, or planning a post or checking emails for comments. A cat can't hardly get a chance to surf the web, if you know what I mean! But, I finally was able to use my "poor kitty" look to get my paws on the mouse again! And just in the nick of time, because I have a lot I want to get off of my furry chest.

Funny, my paws are moving a little slow these days. Frankly, I've been a bit under the weather lately. My mouth feels funny and...well, this is a bit embarrassing....but I haven't been able to keep up with my catly hygiene in the manner to which I have become accustomed these last 16 1/2 years. Hygiene is something I feel quite strongly about. Have you ever been around a smelly human? Pee----yew!!!  How hard can it be to lick yourself about 150 times so you don't smell bad?! But, that's just the point. Lately, I can't seem to get my tongue to work quite right. It's upsetting I can tell you. And, I want to sleep a lot. Y--a--w--n-- I can't believe how tired I am these days. I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep....when I'm not working as an Ace Cat Reporter, of course!

I'm worried about Fur Mama and Fur Papa. They seem to go around feeling sad all the time. Cats can sense these things, you know. We are highly tuned to human emotion. Fur Mama insisted (against my better judgment, mind you) on putting me into that plastic cage contraption and dragging me to that smelly, noisy place I hate. I hear all sorts of other cats meowing and the dogs....oh that place reeks of dogs... and their barking hurts my ears! But, the worse part is that man that always has to pick me up and poke and prod at me. I do not like him one bit! And he said something that upset Fur Mama. And while he was saying it he was prying my mouth open to show my mouth to Fur Mama. And then Fur Mama began to look sad. She tried to hide it, but I am a cat and I know these things. I could feel her upset and...well, she hasn't really been the same since. I tried to help her feel better by not meowing as loudly going back home as I had meowed going. But, it didn't seem to help much. A part of me wants to bite that man for making Fur Mama sad....but, I know I should turn the other whisker whenever possible and keep my paws...and myself. 

I wonder what has made her and Fur Papa sad? And they have been giving me the strangest food! Tuna and chicken all smashed up with liquid on it that smells like either chicken or clams. I do my best to lap it ....but my's hard to make my tongue work right. Strange.....

Since I have so many cat naps these days, I have been having numerous dreams about my sister, Groucho. You know she came up missing, right? It is a mystery that I haven't been able to solve yet, even as great of an Ace Cat Reporter as I am. One day she was here, then she wasn't, and I haven't been able to find her. Fur Mama and Fur Papa looked very sad when this all happened, also. Hmmm....I just thought of that. Very similar to how they are acting now.

I go upstairs and downstairs on a daily basis meowing for her. I can still smell her scent on the corners so she must be around somewhere....but where? She was always good to touch noses with me when I was frightened, and, well, I'm feeling a bit frightened lately what with my tongue acting so strangely and all. Perhaps that's why I dreamed of her. In my last dream she was lying in a beautiful green field with lots of other cats. The sun was shining down on her and warming her sleek, black fur. There were sweet smelling flowers growing next to a stream and I do believe there were even dogs nearby....but the cats didn't seem to mind. Groucho seemed to be calling to me, meowing to me to come be with her. Did you know that cats could dream? In another dream I had, Groucho was more of a shadowy figure in the background next to the stream. But, get this....the cat who was meowing to me to come was my arch nemesis also known as my Cousin Annie! Why on earth would she be meowing for me to come be with her?! We were sworn cat enemies you know!

Oh yes, I remember the days when she made my life, and Groucho's, a living he......well, let's just say she made our life "unpleasant" and leave it at that, shall we? It all started so innocently at first. Grandma Nana would go out of town and Cousin Annie would come to our territory for a few days to stay. Fur Mama called it "Cat Sitting" of all things. How silly! Why would a cat need to be sat on? This happened quite a few times, this cat sitting business. (Although, I never witnessed Fur Mama actually sitting on Annie. It was quite the opposite. Cousin Annie would sit on Fur Mama and get petted.....I ask you!) But then, one day, Cousin Annie came and NEVER LEFT! Oh it was a time of sore trial, my friends. You see, Cousin Annie thought she knew EVERYTHING about our territory and she proceeded to swiftly take over. least she TRIED to take over. But, oh Groucho and I were equally swift to put her in her place, I tell you that! My friends, the fur would fly some days. First, she demurred to sleep on the dresser like a proper cat OUTSIDE of her territory should, leaving Groucho and I to our well deserved places between Fur Mama and Fur Papa. But, then...she started sleeping on the bookcase next to the family bed and THEN...plopped her paws right on the bed next to Fur Mama! I saw her beady eyes looking greedily at the family bed from the first day she came. Who did she think she was, anyway? And worst of all, friends.....well, I am hesitant to say this....actually a bit embarrassed at this point over the whole thing.....but, well, I may as well come out and say it. Cousin Annie! There, I said it, yes, I admit that I was prejudice against her fur color. And envious of the fact that she got so much attention from the Fur Humans....especially Fur Mama. 

Y-A-W-N.....oh, here I go getting sleepy again. Must be time for another cat nap. I have a few more things I want to say, though, before my big sleep comes and I may only have a few more minutes before Fur Mama takes back her computer so I had best complete this post. Hmmmm...big sleep....those words seem a bit poignant today. In fact, everything about life seems poignant now. I've even begun thinking of Cousin Annie a bit differently...somehow the fur on my neck doesn't stand up when I think of her the way it used to....before.....

You know, she came up missing, also. What is it about cats coming up missing in this territory? Like Groucho, I still catch a scent of Cousin Annie from time to time and I actually admit that....well...that I kind of miss the scraps we used to get into. She wasn't so bad, I guess. She may have been orange and bossy, but she had four paws and a tail just like Groucho and me. And she acted a little kinder to me once Groucho went missing. She would even sometimes curl up on the bed close to me sometimes. She seemed to sleep a lot, too, before she went missing, just like I am doing now. And a few times, she would awaken from a cat nap and tell me about strange dreams she had...of seeing Groucho next to a stream meowing to her to come. I didn't really understand it at the time, wonder.....

A cat's life is not an easy one, my friends. Even when a cat is loved and petted on by their fur humans. Groucho and I were lucky to be brought home by Fur Mama and Fur Papa and not left to fend for ourselves like we had to in our earliest days. We were just kittens when we picked out our humans. They have shown me love and I have done my best to teach them what they should learn from me. It is the duty of every cat to do this, even though humans can be stubborn and willful and want their own way rather than doing what is best. But, cats understand this. We are infinitely patient and willing to wait, if need be, until our humans get the point. I heard Fur Papa tell Fur Mama once that "animals have a direct line to God." I am glad that he knows this, for I have known this from kittenhood. That is why, although I am puzzled and uncertain by not knowing exactly where Groucho and, even Annie, are, I know that they are safe. For God loves and takes care of all of His creatures. Of that I am certain.....Perhaps my humans knowing this means that I have completed my teaching of them. Mission accomplished.

I end this post with what I will call my "pithy cat commentary" on life......don't let the hairballs in life get you down. 

OK, Fur Mama....I'm done with my, here, I want you to take the computer back....I think I'm ready for my big sleep....

Signing Off,
Gracie, Ace Cat Reporter

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #7-It's All In The Details

Implications Of The Spirit In The Details Of Our Life


Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Galatians 5:24 (The Message)

I'm a details person. Planning things is an important part of everything I do. So much satisfaction comes from making a list of chores or items to do and then crossing out each task as it is accomplished. For me, lists are a way to make sure I'm not missing any of the details. 

Today's scripture speaks to this idea of details. But these details are not items to cross off on a to-do list, but rather the details of our lives that speak to how we are living the life of following Christ. The use of the word "implications" fascinated me as I read this scripture and really caused me to ponder its meaning in light of the scripture. Here are the Google definitions for the word:


  1. 1.
    the conclusion that can be drawn from something, although it is not explicitly stated.

    "the implication is that no one person at the bank is responsible"

    synonyms:suggestioninsinuationinnuendohintintimation, imputation
    "he was smarting at their implication"
  2. 2.
    the action or state of being involved in something.
    "our implication in the problems"
    synonyms:incrimination, involvementconnectionentanglementassociation;
    "his implication in the murder case"

    It appears that this scripture is reminding us that living the life of faith involves looking at each aspect of our lives in terms of how the Spirit is moving and directing us to act or to be. As I have reflected on this scripture this week I've been trying to truly listen for God's leading in my life in an intentional way. It takes a lot of listening in order to discern the implications of the Spirit. As the definition says, these implications are sometimes quite subtle and come as suggestions, hints, innuendo. I especially love the definition of implication as an "entanglement." Life can sometimes feel like an entanglement. But, even within the tangles, God's Spirit is leading and guiding us, if we listen for that still small whisper. 
    And this is a detail in my life that I don't want to miss. And it will never be checked off of my to do list. I am not done learning from this scripture that reminds us that each of us in an original...a work of art sculpted and guided by the Lord's hand. 

    After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (I Kings 19:12 NIV)


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Meeting Author Helen Simonson at Malaprop's Bookstore

An Evening To Remember

Guess what famous author came to Asheville last evening? If you guessed Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, then you guessed correctly. You will remember that I recently reviewed Major Pettigrew in a recent post. If you missed that post, you can read it here. It was an evening to remember as my friend, Sharon, and I got to hear Helen Simonson speak. The author was then gracious in signing my copy of Major Pettigrew and also posing for pictures with Sharon and me!

In my post about Major Pettigrew, I mentioned that Helen had written another book called, The Summer Before the War. Yesterday was the release day of the paperback version of this book and that was the book Ms. Simonson was promoting and talking about during her presentation. It was lovely to hear her soft British accent and humorous stories of getting started "late" in life as a writer. Having been a stay at home mom, after a career in advertising, Helen decided to work on an MFA in writing.  Major Pettigrew began as a short story written for one of her classes and then developed over a five year period into her final Master's thesis for her degree. When her husband lost his job, Helen thought she would be re-entering the world of advertising rather than continuing on as a writer. She was surprised (and thrilled) when an agent contacted her via email telling her that she wanted to work with Helen to promote Major Pettigrew which was then published by Random House. 

I found Helen to be inspiring as she shared her story of her early forays into writing. Using humor and honesty in a self-deprecating style, Helen spoke of going to a writing class at a local Y in Brooklyn in order to further enrich her life beyond diapers and baby classes. Although she had loved writing as a teenager, she did not "see" herself as a writer and was in awe of others who did pursue the craft. This first writing class gave her the "permission" she needed to see herself as a writer and to go forward with the whole process of becoming an accomplished author. Her stories of critiques from writer's groups and editors as well as all of the challenging and interesting research needed to write books such as Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Summer Before the War gave an honest account of the joy, work ethic and tenaciousness needed to be a writer.  

It was an evening to remember, for sure, and one that gave me further inspiration to continue to work hard at my own writing goals. Thanks, Sharon, for finding out about this event! Helen Simonson shared that she is in the first steps of writing another book right now, so we can look forward to hearing more from this talented author!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #6-Desert Times of Faith in Prayer

Pray Without Ceasing

Praying Hands
Public Domain Image

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.  I Timothy 2:1 
                                    (The Message)

Do you ever feel like your prayers stop at the ceiling? Or that you pray and pray and pray about a personal matter or for a situation that involves someone you love or care about and the situation never seems to change? At times like these, believers in prayer can get discouraged and wonder, "what's the use?" It is like trudging through a dry desert with hot sands underfoot. Our mouths are dry and dusty and each step seems to take more energy than we have available. We long for the healing of cool water on our tongue but there is none to drink. We wonder where the strength will come to continue onward. It would be so much easier to just lay down and give in to the hot desert around us than to keep on going. 

I've heard many thoughts about these "desert times" of faith over the years. Many people say that there are three answers to prayer: "Yes, No and Not now."  Others have added a little humor by saying the answers to prayer are: "Yes, No and You've Got To Be Kidding!" When a believer is hurting or watching someone they love and care about struggle, though, there is sometimes no humor to be found in why a prayer is perceived to not be answered. The worries and hurt can be too great. 

I believe that Jesus knew about these "desert times" of prayer when He walked on this Earth. Scriptures tell us that on the night before he was sent to the cross He suffered great despair in prayer. In Luke 22, we read that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray asking God to, "remove this cup from me." As Jesus continued to pray, His prayers became so intense that "Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face." (The Message). Now, I have often struggled with prayer, but at no time have I sweat like drops of blood in prayer! Such intensity is hard to imagine. 

In reading about prayer over the years, I have been interested in learning about prayer as a conversation. So much of my prayer can be "asking" but there are so many other facets to prayer. Asking is certainly a part of prayer and we want to take our concerns to the Lord. But, I am learning that prayer is also about praise and thanksgiving and gratitude and joy. And, the most important aspect of prayer to me...and one that I have often missed over the listening in prayer. If prayer is a conversation, and conversations tend to be two-way interactions, then I must quiet myself enough to listen. What is God wanting to say back to me? How is He answering my thoughts and questions and concerns and doubts and, yes, anger? 

I'm not certain that prayer is meant to be easy. It certainly wasn't for Jesus. I'm not certain that we are meant to get all of our answers right away. Perhaps some answers will not come until we meet the Lord. But, just like the comfort of a friend who sits with us, prayer is a time of companionship. A time to know that we don't walk alone is this world, even when times are hard and even when it doesn't feel like our prayers go past the ceiling. There is companionship even in silence. And what feels like silence to us....does not mean there is silence on God's end of things. Let's go back to when Jesus was sweating in prayer. From a human perspective, it might seem that Jesus was alone in His misery. But scriptures tell us that, "At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him." And what came next? "He prayed on all the harder." 

Friends, we are never alone in prayer. Even when it feels that way. Our desert times of faith are not unknown to the Lord, for He has experienced them as well. In Jan Karon's books, Father Tim and his wife, Cynthia, would often pray what they called, "the prayer that never fails." It is a prayer that Jesus himself prayed that night on the Mount of Olives. And it is a prayer that removes the worry away from waiting for answers of "yes, no, not now or, even, you've got to be kidding!" It may sound a bit simplistic when we are worried or hurting or doubting....but there is great wisdom in simplicity. The "prayer that never fails" goes like this: "Lord, not my will but thine be done." The Message translates it this way as Jesus prayed:

        "But please, not what I want. What do you want?"

Truly a prayer that never fails.....even during the dry desert times of faith.


Hills And Desert
Public Domain Image

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Accessories Make The Look

Accessories Take Your Look To The Next Level

Hello everyone!  Today, I am sharing with you my thoughts on how accessories can take a look to a whole new level. The accessories I am using are a scarf, necklace and purse.

I love when serendipitous things happen with fashion. Take this purse for instance. When I saw the beautiful stripes of colors and fun silver handles of this thrifted purse, I knew that it was a style I would really enjoy carrying. See how the handles hang down into the curve when not being used? Little things like this add to the style factor of a piece, whether it is a handbag or a piece of jewelry. It's that "different" factor that can add a touch of "panache" to a look. 

Then, I held the purse next to this sweater and I thought, "Oh my...this is a perfect match!" I really didn't plan it this way. It just happened! 

I also like to have fun with adding colors together that are a bit unexpected. The paisley scarf I am wearing has a variety of colors and designs in it against a mainly red background. My turtleneck under the sweater is pink. There is some pink in the scarf. So, all of these shades work together to provide an unexpected melody of color that, I believe, adds to the outfit and takes the look to the next level of style. Using the paisley scarf and striped purse against the solid backgrounds of the sweater and jeans also adds some interesting pattern mixing. I typically don't wear a necklace with a scarf, but I liked the way this silver heart necklace added yet another layer of style to the look. 

So, let's do a comparison and you tell me if you think the accessories take this look to the next level. Here I am with no accessories (other than earrings).

Here, I have added only the necklace. 

And here I have added the scarf with the necklace.

And, one final look at the whole ensemble. 

Do you think accessories add to the look?  Do you ever wear necklaces with a scarf?  How about pattern mixing--are you for or against?  Hope you'll take a moment to share. I enjoy hearing from you!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love Is In The Air Magazine Challenge

Magazine Cover Creativity

Happy Valentines Day! I hope your day is filled with joy, love and sweet treats that bring you happiness! Today, I am having some fun with my creative side by joining in with Katherine of Katherine's Corner to do a magazine challenge. 

The challenge she gave us was to create a magazine cover about Valentine's Day. The cover could be one that was inspired by a magazine that we like or we could create a magazine exactly as we would if we had a magazine of our own. I decided to go with the latter. This is a "tour" challenge so make sure to visit the other blogs on the tour to see all of the great ideas everyone came up with. There is no voting for this challenge. But Katherine is drawing a name at random (via and the winner will receive a hard copy or kindle copy of the book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by MyQuillyn Smith.  

Always up for a challenge, I decided to join the festivities and give it a try! First off, I needed to figure out just how one goes about creating a magazine cover? Luckily, I had recently completed an online writing and publishing course which had introduced me to a free publishing site called I searched the possibilities on this site and voila...they did indeed provide the graphics for magazine covers. If you have never heard of Canva, you may want to check it out. The choices for graphics are wonderful and can be used for all types of designs and presentations from social media to ebooks and online book publications. I'm not receiving any compensation from Canva to promote them, I just have enjoyed using their graphics and am still in process with learning all of what they offer. There are certain graphics which involve a small cost, but I stuck with the free choices of which there are many. If you enjoy blogging, writing or just designing creative posters, business cards or flyers, you might want to check Canva for great ideas!

For my magazine cover, I used lots of pinks and reds and incorporated a tablescape vignette from last year's Valentines post. If you missed that post you can check it out here. I hope you enjoy the magazine cover I created and please make sure to hop on over to Katherine's Corner to check out all the other folks who joined in the challenge! Have a great day everyone!

Until Next Time,


An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Southwestern Style Vest and Corduroy Pants

Southwestern Style

I decided to get one more style post in before Valentines Day in which I am wearing red. 

This outfit could actually be worn anytime. It doesn't have to be for Valentines. I love the look and comfort of this Southwestern style long vest with fringe by Studio JPR. I just picked this vest out a couple days ago at Stein Mart. 

I had been given a gift card to Stein Mart for my retirement and I decided to do some shopping. I actually tried on another long style vest in blue shades and decided against it. Then, I spied this vest and I knew it was the one. When I got it home and hung it in my closet next to my tan corduroy pants by Basic Edition, I knew it was a great choice and a great match! Plus, the vest was on sale. Win, win!!

There is just a hint of gray in the vest that matches well with the gray booties. And the red mock turtleneck by White Stag brings out the red stripes in the vest. Most vests don't have the longer sleeve length that this one does. So, it is more of a sweater vest in my opinion. Soft, warm and cozy. 

When I walked into the kitchen this morning dressed in this outfit, my husband wanted to know if this was my "Clint Eastwood look." Ha! Critics everywhere!! I like the look, though, so I do believe this will be an outfit on repeat! Oddly enough, however,  I'm suddenly craving spaghetti......

Be sure to check out my blog on February 14th---Valentines Day! I'm expanding my creativity in a new way. (It's a secret for now, you'll have to tune in Tuesday to see what it is!)  Also, have you noticed my link to my online course coming up in March through  If you click on my picture at the top of my sidebar, you will be taken to the info page about my course. I'm teaching a course on Finding Serenity using a book on the Serenity Prayer by Trevor Hudson. It's a great book and I would absolutely love for you to join the course! The class begins March 13th for two weeks so sign up soon!

Do you wear clothing with a southwestern flair? Hope you'll take a moment to share your thoughts! 

Until Next Time,

*No compensation has been given for this post or for brand names mentioned in this post. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #5-Puzzle Pieces of Life

Is Your Life Puzzle Missing A Piece?

puzzle piece

God made my life life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways;
I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
(Psalm 18:20-24  The Message)

One of the great pleasures of retirement is the freedom of the early morning hours. Rather than rushing about dressing, eating a hurried breakfast and gathering necessities for the day before dashing out the door, I can enjoy the comforts of my living room while enjoying a second cup of fragrant hot tea. I find that my mind wanders during this time, often to events of the past. There is usually no set pattern for this. My thoughts often begin roaming with a school memory which leads to thoughts of a particular person who then connects with another event of my life and so it goes. Sometimes it's a family memory or a church memory or some long forgotten memory from my youth. This morning, it was actually thinking about books I have read that started my brain twisting and turning through a thousand random thoughts. Sometimes my thinking brings me pleasure and a smile as I recall a happy event of my life. Other times, the memories carry an ache of embarrassment or bring a pang of discomfort at the remembrance. At times, I can dwell too much in memory, rather than focusing on the present. I wonder about the "whys" of how things happened....or didn't my life. At times like this, I "worry" the pieces of my life trying to make it all fit together and make sense.....much the same way that I try to fit a puzzle piece in the wrong spot of a puzzle. No matter how hard I try, I just can't make the missing piece fit. 

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman who lived with her widowed father, Casper, and sister, Betsie, in The Netherlands during World War II. Her father was a watch maker and Corrie assisted him in his shop while Betsie took care of the household chores. They were a devoutly Christian family and during the Holocaust the family made the decision to hide Jews in a secret room in their home to protect them from the Nazis. Corrie and her family paid dearly for this act of compassion as they were "turned in" to the authorities by a neighbor and sent to a prison where Casper, age 84 died. Later, Corrie and Betsie were then transferred to the notorious death camp, Ravensbruck. Life there was extremely hard. Forced to perform hard labor, the sisters cared for one another and those around them the best they could encouraging each other and serving as a source of spiritual encouragement to those around them. Betsie did not survive the ravages of the camp and died there, while Corrie was eventually released and went on to write several books about her experience including,"The Hiding Place," which was also turned into a movie. It is estimated that this family helped to save over 800 Jewish people. As I recall, from reading her many books, Corrie enjoyed doing needlepoint work. And she often compared life to a tapestry. She explained that when you look at the back of a tapestry it often looks messy with many strings hanging loose and dark colors. But, when the tapestry is turned over, a beautiful picture emerges. No strings hang loose and what looked messy is a truly beautiful image. She put these thoughts into a poem which I will share at the end of this post. 

I think about this image of a tapestry when I am trying to make the puzzles pieces of my life fit together. Even though the pieces may not make sense to me....they do make sense to God. In His infinite wisdom, God is working out the tapestry of my life in just the way it should be. I may not understand the ways the pieces fit together. But God does. And when the final piece of my life puzzle slides into place, God will be there to show me just how perfectly formed my life puzzle really was. You see, I really don't need to spend time "worrying" the pieces of my life together. I just need to place all of the puzzle pieces before God and let Him do the work. Lord, help me to be willing to do this. 

Until Next Time,

Corrie ten Boom Quote:
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."

"Weaving" poem by Corrie ten Boom:

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

― Corrie ten Boom
        Source of poem

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Red Dress for Valentines Day

Feeling Like A Princess

In honor of Valentines Day, I'm styling a beautiful red dress that I picked up for a song at a local Goodwill store. 

What caught my eye with this dress is the beautiful embellished flowers on the bodice. The white against the red is stunning. I also like the longer length of the dress.

Since wearing this dress makes me feel like a princess, I decided to wear my Princess Diana ring by Avon. There was a time when these replicas of Diana's engagement ring were available everywhere. I love seeing Prince William's wife, Katherine, wearing the ring now. I'm a huge Princess Diana fan and equally besotted with everything Katherine, as well. 

I decided to wear my hair up for elegance and added some "blingy" Paparazzi earrings for extra glitz factor.

You've seen these shoes on the blog before, but they bear mentioning again. To have such a high heel, these shoes are surprisingly comfortable! The material is more like a bootie and it wraps around my foot to give really good stability. There is a zipper in back for ease of putting on and taking off the shoe. 

Since this is a short sleeved dress I want more covering on my arms. It is February after all! So, I added this pretty shawl that was a Christmas gift to me from my oldest sister. I just love it and tossing one end over my shoulder gives quite the "regal" look don't you think? When my husband came home tonight, after a late night school meeting, he found me all dressed up. I asked him if he remembered he was taking me out to dinner. Ha! I told him I thought he might like to see me in something other than jeans a sweater and tennis shoes which is my normal uniform since retiring!

Here is the back of the shawl. It hangs nicely with the dress and is a good length.

I also like the ruffled edging on the shawl. I have noticed more and more ladies wearing short sleeves or even sleeveless dresses during the winter. Notice this if you are watching television. Aren't they cold in the studios? Even though we've had a fairly mild winter so far in my part of the world, I still like a longer sleeve or at least something to cover my arms. 

So, I'm ready for a Valentines date with Mr.thisandthat.  Of course, his favorite restaurant is always Subway. Do you think I'll look overdressed?!  I wonder if Katherine has these issues with William......

Until Next Time,

Dress: Thrifted from Goodwill, tag says "Sarah Elizabeth."  Same dress on *Ebay here
Shoes: Impo Stretch Similar *here
Ring: *Avon
Earrings: *Paparazzi Similar here
*Site links given for information purposes only. I do not vouch for the shopping experience on any of these sites. No compensation was given for mentioning brand names in this post. All writing/opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #4-Peering Through The Mist

What Do You See Beyond the Fog?

Public Domain Image

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
I Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

I'm not a great traveler. While some people look forward to packing and planning trips and enjoy spending weeks and months pouring over travel brochures or searching on the Internet for the best prices for hotels and car rentals, I look at travel with trepidation. It's not that I don't enjoy the trip once I'm on it. And I enjoy seeing my family and visiting new places. But, I like travel more in hindsight. After the trip is over and I am safely back at home, I can look back and think of all the new adventures I experienced and then....only I really "enjoy" the traveling. After all, there are a lot of "what ifs" that come with travel, especially these days. What if I didn't bring the right items that I might need? How will I sleep without my favorite pillow? What if something happens driving to the airport and we miss our plane? What if the TSA attendant isn't friendly? What if I have a flat tire on the interstate? What if, what if , what if.......?  And, of all the "what ifs" that I worry about with travel, probably the biggest worry by far, for me, is the weather. In winter it is the issue of snow. I absolutely detest driving in snow. And, because of that, I have pretty severely limited my winter time travel. But, that doesn't leave out the other seasons as far as weather. There are the Spring and Summer thunderstorms to worry about and the winds and heavy rains of Fall. Bad weather can make a flight or a car trip turn miserable quickly. Not to mention, the weather can curtail fun events that were planned along the way. And, then,  there is the issue of fog. 

I remember one trip my husband and I went on in which we departed early in the morning. The sky was still semi-dark as we started out heading West on I-26. Gradually, the sky began to lighten with shimmers of pink and silver skirting the sky as the sun began to filter through the clouds. We crested first one hill and then another as we drove along, making small talk and listening to the radio. One large mountain loomed in front of us and my husband shifted gears to begin the climb. We were familiar with this route and knew that at the top of the mountain we would be crossing over the state line. But, as we ascended, the scenery began to be shrouded in mist. A heavy fog met us at the top so thick that the state line boundary sign was hidden from view. Scenery, once so familiar to us, looked different, only vaguely familiar and sometimes totally obscured as we drove cautiously through the pea soup that was now surrounding us on the interstate. My husband adjusted his relaxed driving posture to sit up tall and peer intently through the windshield in order to see as much of the roadway, and other hidden cars, as possible. I too sat tall and rigid, peering carefully ahead saying silent prayers for safety. Our conversation stopped except for a few terse comments back and forth about the conditions. Minutes seemed like hours as we continued onward.....and then, the fog lifted. We drove out of the cloud that had surrounded us into brilliant sunlight and the views opened around us and we were able to see! Such relief!

I'm sure by now you know where I'm going with this. Life can be like the fog. We can be traveling along swimmingly, enjoying the sunshine, or at least the early morning shimmers of light when, without warning, we suddenly find ourselves surrounded by fog. Unable to see clearly, confused by the lack of clarity in the scenery around us, we peer ahead anxiously hoping for a glimmer of something that feels familiar.....a landmark that we can hang onto.....a beacon that will alert us that we are still on the correct route and not running off the road or into other travelers. For such events are scary, provoke anxiety and discourage travelers, like me, from going forward. 

Thankfully, God is our beacon in the fog. The message of 
I Corinthians 13:12 is one of hope. A hope that assures us that even if we can't see through the mist and fog, God can see us! And He is our guide through the fog and will bring us safely through the clouds to the other side where the sun shines brightly and we will know Him just as He knows us! For a timid traveler such as myself, this is good news indeed. The fog won't last forever. And it is clear sailing on the other side. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Until Next Time,

*As always, comments  are welcomed and appreciated.
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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Love and Some Blogging Business

Raise Your Hand If You Love Books!

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Today's post is an exciting one, because I'm going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects....namely, reading! If you are a bibliophile like me, then stick around because I'm going to be sharing some good reads with you. But first......a little blog business. Be patient. This shouldn't take too long. Just relax. 

cat leaning on purple pillow

A few days ago, I decided it would be a good idea to switch my comments from Blogger to Google+. I thought I understood what it meant to do this, but, alas, I did not. So, some folks were not able to leave comments. And others probably noticed that the comment section looked really different. I then decided that I wanted to put things back the way it was and switched back to Blogger comments. But, then I discovered that I have lost the comments that were sent during the two days I was using Google+ commenting. Sigh. So, if you are checking back to see if I responded to your comment or not and you notice that your comment is missing, this explains why. I definitely did not delete your comments on purpose!! I guess as a blogger, I still know just enough to be dangerous! Some of the navigation still confuses me. And since we are talking about leaving comments.....I love each and every comment that is left on my blog! You all are so kind and supportive. I have not been able to figure out a way to respond to your comments on my posts other than to leave a comment on the same post responding to you there. That means if you want to read my response to you, you have to revisit my post and go through the comments until you find what I have said back to you. I know that with some blogs I comment on, the blogger's response to me comes right to my email. I will be honest in saying that I do not know how to make this happen. So, if you would like a more "personal" response you would need to use the email function on my blog from your email address and I can respond to you that way. If you are still OK with just leaving a comment on my post and then coming back to check for my response later, that is OK too. Please, just keep leaving comments, because they make my day!! OK....enough blog business, let's get to the books!

The first of three books I'm going to share with you today is, "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand," by Helen Simonson. To say I loved this book is putting it mildly! From the moment I opened its pages to the final closing of the book, I was mesmerized by the widowed Major Ernest Pettigrew and the gentle yet brave Mrs. Jasmina Ali. This story, which takes place in the British village of Edgecombe St. Mary, has it all. From loneliness in widowhood and the challenges of family relationships to race relations and class systems this book will hold you spellbound from beginning to end and leave you wanting to read more about the characters found within its covers. 

I happened upon this book on a Saturday afternoon spent happily digging through books at a local used bookstore. Although I had never heard of the author before, the storyline seemed appealing and I bought the book only to have it sit on my bookshelf for almost two years! Does that ever happen to you? With my newfound freedom of more time in retirement, I finally pulled it off my shelf and I am so glad I did! Helen Simonson has a way with words and I have already put another book by her on order at our library. If you are interested in that title, it is "The Summer Before the War." 

In much the same way that I was held spellbound by Major Pettigrew, I found "Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman" by Elizabeth Buchan to also be a page turner. The story of Rose Lloyd, who after twenty five years of marriage suddenly finds herself in the throes of a divorce from her unfaithful husband, will keep you riveted to the page as the story flashes back and forth from Rose's present day life to her life as a young woman in love with a restless traveler by the name of Hal. It is a story of love, betrayal, youth, middle age, family relationships and the trials as well as joys that each can bring to life. 

While Major Pettigrew left me wanting more at the end, I have to say that I was glad to finally turn the last page of this book to the end. Not because the writing was poor, because it wasn't at all. Just like Helen Simonson, I found Elizabeth Buchan to have a "way" with words. Her writing and the story itself were excellent. But, I found this book to be somewhat depressing. Although the back cover billed the story as, "A thoughtful, intelligent, funny, coming-of-middle-age story," I didn't find much humor in how Rose was treated in the story....both in her early life with Hal and during her marriage and subsequent divorce from Nathan. I also found many of the family relationships, such as those between Rose's son and daughter with their love interests as well as the relationship between Rose and her mother to be vaguely troubling. Because of this, I recommend this book with some trepidation. The writing is excellent, the story is riveting, but, if you are like me, you may find that when you close its final page that rather than cheering for Rose you are left with a sadness that this kind of thing happens to people in real life. And you hope it never happens to you or to those you love. 

The final book I'll be sharing with you today is a bit different. While Major Pettigrew and Revenge are books that leave you thinking about life....what I call "tea and crumpets" books, "Hazardous Holiday" by Liz Johnson is more of a "Coke and cookies" book. This book was a stocking stuffer gift from my oldest sister for Christmas and is part of the Love Inspired Suspense series from Harlequin. I truly enjoyed this story which features Navy SEAL Zack McCloud and his wife, Kristi and their quest to save their young son from dying. I was surprised at the intense level of adventure found within this story and it truly kept me at the edge of my seat as I read. If you are unfamiliar with the Love Inspired Harlequin series, they are books that are romances with a Christian emphasis within the story. I found Liz Johnson's writing to be very good and the romance and spiritual part of the story was very natural and not "forced" within the story line. I enjoyed this book so much that I went looking for more titles in the series. I couldn't find any of the Navy Seal titles, but I did find three other titles under the Love Inspired Suspense heading and I look forward to reading them. There are LOTS of titles under the Love Inspired Series that are available if you do a search for this series. And please don't think that my terminology of "tea and crumpets" books versus "Coke and cookies" books is a put down of an author's writing or someone's choice of reading material. I happen to LOVE tea, crumpets, Coke and cookies (well, Diet Coke and/or Coke Zero) all the same. It's just some days my taste buds go for one over the other. How about you?!

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I hope you enjoy hearing about some new ideas for good reads. Let me know if you choose to read any of these titles. And do share...what have you been reading lately? I can't wait to hear!

Until Next Time,

*Both cat images courtesy of Public Domain Images.