"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, February 3, 2017

January Books

We were in Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia, from the end of January until today so I'm a bit late posting this!  Wow, February already!  Christmas will be here before we know it. :)
Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse by Janice Hudson -- I have read a few books in the last couple of years by doctors or EMS workers. This one was similar, but different because of the flight aspect.  It was a fairly easy read in that you could read it quickly, but the material wasn't always easy especially when children die. Still, it was a good book which my mom had read last year and passed along to me when I saw her on New Year's Eve.

Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader by Matthew Qvortrup -- I certainly learned a lot about German politics!  And some personal things about Mrs. Merkel's upbringing and life.  This was in the new books section at the library and I figured I needed to read a biography instead of more fiction. Right?

Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island. by Ed Stafford -- I read his book about walking the Amazon so I decided to read this one where he was left on an island for sixty days.  Pretty interesting read if you enjoy this sort of thing. 

Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- When an Old Order Mennonite man arrives in their hometown with news about a favorite aunt's death and her inheritance, Marie and Beth have to decide whether or not to go back to Marie's former hometown in Sommerfeld where she left twenty years prior.  Because Aunt Lisbeth's business and home can be Beth's, but only if she agrees to run the café for three months before selling it.

Beginnings by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- This book continues the story of Marie and Beth with more of the focus on Beth's new stained-glass window business in Sommerfeld. 

Blessings by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- This is the last book in the Sommerfeld trilogy.  While Beth plays an influential role in this book, the main character is the café owner's daughter Trina who wishes to pursue a career as a veterinarian because she feels God put that desire and love for animals in her.  The only problem is her Old Order Mennonite district has never approved of higher education.  No one has done schooling above grade nine.  Also, her boyfriend Graham is wanting to marry.

Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler -- I've read a couple of his earlier books, and added this one to my Amazon Wishlist.  I always enjoy his tales about people he meets in China.  I like that he told about the Chinese language and characters in this book.  Lots of interesting stuff!

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen -- A great novel about Charlotte and her time in a lying-in manor, her experiences in a foundling hospital and as a wet nurse in England. I enjoyed this book, and will look for others from this author.

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander -- I read a few books from this author last year, and enjoyed them.  This one takes place at Belle Meade, a plantation in Nashville, Tennessee, not long after the Civil War.  It's about horse racing, and confronting stereotypes, and an arranged marriage in order to save the family farm.  The story of Maggie, the Southern horsewoman, and Cullen, the Irishman trying to make a new life in a prejudiced South. 

Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist -- a bit more lighthearted than the other books of hers that I've read, this one takes place in the oil cities of Texas back when bloomer-wearing women on bikes was gaining popularity (or not.)  Tony Bryant comes to town after he is disinherited by his father.  He wants to work for another oil company and comes to find out Judge Spreckelmeyer's daughter, Essie, runs things.

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander -- another Belle Meade Plantation novel; This one focuses on Olivia Aberdeen a young widow who comes to the plantation as a personal assistant to the lady of the house.  She meets Ridley Cooper a South Carolinian who fought with the Federal Army...though she and no one else on the plantation - save one - knows this until much later.

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen -- The story of two brothers Wesley, the artistic brother who travels to Italy on a whim, and Stephen, the duty-bound younger brother,  and Sophie, the painter's daughter, who somehow comes between them. 

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell  -- a biography about the French teenager who came to the US to help fight in the Revolutionary War.  I only chose this book because of the author!   Soon after reading this, Andrew and I were in Savannah and saw Lafayette Square in the historic district. 

The Sister Circle by Vonette Bright and Nancy Moser -- I was at the library the other day picking up a Zoom pass for the Durham Museum, and grabbed a few books. This was one of them.  A recently widowed lady realizes her husband left her with little insurance money so she decides to take in boarders.  These ladies and their friends form a friendship - or a sisterhood of sorts.  In this book you meet Evelyn the lady taking in tenants, and Mae, Tessa, Audra and her little girl, Summer. Also, friend Piper and Gillie. 

Rekindled by Tamera Alexander -- I've enjoyed her other books so I figured I'd read the Fountain Creek Chronicles; this is about Kathryn Jennings whose husband leaves one Christmas morning saying he'd be back at the end of the week. Only he doesn't come back.  And folks speculate on whether or not he survived the feet of snow that blew through that day.  What happened to Larson?  As Kathryn goes on with her life, she meets a kind ranch hand Gabe and later the disfigured Jacob who works at the big-time ranch owner's place.  A good tale.

No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan -- a book I picked up while gathering several books; I like to try new authors, but this one wasn't that good. It was OK, but a bit too silly and predictable.  Still, I may read more in the Heart of the West series since it was an easy read. We'll see.  This was about Crystal Clark, the Southern belle from Georgia, who visits her Aunt Kate in the Rocky Mountains.  She does her best to fit it.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Books

The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- another in the Lancaster County Secrets; it had a couple of characters from the second book, but not in a major way.  This book is about Lainey who made a "split-second decision" when just a ten year old child.  Now she has come back to the town where her choice impacted so many.  She meets up with Bertha, Jonah, and Bess Reihl, some Amish folks, and the story goes from there.  

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist -- Did you know back in the colonial days (I'm talking the 1640s) that women from England went to the United States to marry men in order to make the men more likely to stay?  First volunteers went - widows, spinsters - but when they ran out, felons were sent. And occasionally a kidnapped young lady which is what this book is about.  You can imagine why Lady Colleen would be a most begrudging bride, eh?  

A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas -- the story of Ella an almost-thirty-year old who goes back home to help after her grandmother has a stroke.  It's also the story of Perla (the grandmother) who wants to communicate some important news, but is not able due to her stroke.

The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist -- Orphaned on their way to San Francisco, siblings Rachel, Lissa, and Michael work hard to make a life in this land catering to gold miners.  Rachel must come to grips with her judgmental ways in this area of the country where things that matter back East, don't matter so much.  A good story.

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson -- A sequel of sorts of Mark's book (the first one I read) which came out ten years ago.  He challenges and encourages and informs as is typical of him.

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin -- Such an interesting way to learn more about Dutch Separatists who came to the US and settled Holland, Michigan.  Two stories in one by Anna as she visits the shore of Lake Michigan to get over a broken engagement, and one by Geesje de Jonge as she writes her memoirs.  Great book!  I'm so glad I saw this on the online library catalog. 

The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- part of The Bishop's Family series which I read a couple of earlier in the year. This one picks up with Bishop David's daughter Ruthie, and also more from other regulars.  But a newcomer, Patrick, joins the crew. He's a Canadian Catholic interested in becoming Amish.

The Africans by David Lamb -- this book is so old that AIDS wasn't mentioned until the epilogue which the author wrote about five years after the first publication.  I would love to read an updated version of how things have changed for the better (I hope!) in these many countries. I enjoyed reading some of the history of Africa and about a few of the leaders who shaped it.

Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander -- book two in the Timber Ridge series.  I realized my library had paper copies of books 1 and 3, but book two was an audio book so I requested this one for Christmas.  I received it at our family party, and read it within two days.  I really enjoyed this story about Dr. Molly Whitcomb who leaves a professorship at a college in Georgia to teach children in a one-room schoolhouse in the Colorado territory.  What in the world?  Well, Molly comes with her secrets and reasons for fleeing her hometown.  She meets Sheriff James McPherson - who was a character in book one - and finds it difficult to keep her secrets.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult -- A story about bullying and a school shooting, and how people do whatever they can in order to be part of the popular crowd.  Good book!

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander -- book three in the Timber Ridge series; this one dealt with Sheriff McPherson's widowed sister, Rachel, and her struggles in raising her two son while keeping the ranch going.  Also, this has more about Dr. Rand Brookston and his efforts to prolong the lives of various characters in Timber Ridge. 

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah -- I heard a brief interview with this author on an NPR program, and his story (growing up in South Africa) sounded really interesting. And someone sent it to me for Christmas even though I never requested it!  Yay for thoughtful friends!   I read it while on the way to the beach after Christmas, and enjoyed learning more about Trevor's childhood and family, and life in S.A. under apartheid. 

I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark -- I got this awhile back at a book exchange, and took it along to the beach.  A pretty good mystery about a lady who married into a filthy rich family.  Only her husband was arrested soon after their marriage for a murder that happened 22 years prior.   I finished it on the way home from the beach today (12/29) and it kept me entertained. 

The Juggler's Children by Carolyn Abraham -- "a journey into family, legend and the genes that bind us."  This book was recommended to me by a blogger friend, Chiara, whom I emailed when my surprising DNA results came in a few months ago.    I was trying to think of someone with Italian roots and she came to mind!  Ha!  This was an interesting read especially if you enjoy genealogy and DNA tests and trying to solve mysteries through science and paper trails!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Younger Days

Recently I was at my parents' house and found a few old pictures of my dad literally lying on the floor. Apparently he'd been looking through some things and a folder slid off a shelf or something.  Not sure how they ended up there, but I quickly rescued them, photographed them, and decided to share them here.

I think he told me he was about 20, and stationed in Alabama when these pictures were taken.  His USAF training and service took place in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Goose Bay.

My dad grew up on a dairy farm in Caswell County in northern North Carolina.  He spent many hours working for local tobacco farmers, making a few dollars to buy school clothes and supplies.  Many of his peers were drafted into the service during the Vietnam War era so my dad joined the United States Air Force expecting he'd be drafted eventually.

Interestingly enough (to me anyway), instead of being sent overseas to fight, he was sent to Goose Bay way up in Canada.  He's mentioned tunnels in the snow as if this was definitely something that made a huge impression.   I should find out more stories about his time there.

Here is a clipping from the paper when a General visited Goose Air Base.  My dad is the one grinning. 

And another picture that was in that group I found recently.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Books

The Wish by Beverly Lewis -- When Gloria's Amish family moves away and becomes fancy, she leaves behind a sister-friend, Leona, who grieves for the abrupt ending of their relationship.  After not hearing from Gloria for years, Leona is surprised to receive a letter inviting Leona back into Gloria's life.

Summer of Joy by Ann H. Gabhart -- I wasn't sure I was going to stick with this one because I felt I was beginning a book which jumped into a family I was unfamiliar with.  Later I realized there was an earlier book which would have helped introduce the characters, but it worked out.  This is a story about Pastor David Brooke and his children, Jocie and Tabitha, and David's girlfriend Leigh whom he decides to marry. Stuff like that, but more to it, too.

From a Distance by Tamera Alexander -- This book combines characters like a Yankee photographer lady who journeys to the West in order to compete for a job, a former Confederate sharpshooter, and a former enslaved person. I enjoyed it. It's somewhat predictable, yeah, but it's better than many.  Book one of the Timber Ridge Reflections series. I'm going to look for the others.

The Moment Between by Nicole Baart -- Abigail follows the trail of her sister's ex-boyfriend to confront him about some things pertaining to Hailey. At first I wasn't sure about this book, but grew to like it pretty well. 

The Breaking Point by Karen Ball -- A husband and wife have an accident on the way home, and the book deals with their marriage issues. 

Grave Risk by Hannah Alexander -- kind of a medical mystery story, but not super-interesting; but an OK easy-read

Discovering North Carolina edited by Jack Claiborne and William Price -- a collection of stories about people, events, the environment, and social fabric of NC.  I wrote a bit more about it in a previous post

A State of Grace by Trace Depree -- an easy-read about a small town in the Tennessee mountains; the pastor's wife involves herself helping a widow and her daughter who has leukemia

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist -- I like that this took place at Biltmore in Western NC.  This is the story of a young girl who had been trained to become the top lady's maid.  One requirement though: don't get involved with a man!

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd -- A book based on the lives of Sarah and Nina Grimké from Charleston, South Carolina.  Mostly the book focused on Sarah with a second story from Handful (Hetty) the slave given to Sarah when Sarah turned 11.  Handful was ten.  A great book. My mom read it first, and highly recommended it. 

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- Lancaster County Secrets series; Carrie was anticipating following her Amish boyfriend into the English world as Sol plays baseball, but when her father dies, she has a choice to make regarding staying or leaving for the sake of her little brother, Andy.

Comrades by Stephen E. Ambrose -- a short book about friendships - some historical figures, and some of the authors' own close friends. One chapter was about Richard Nixon and how he didn't have any really close friends.  I felt I identified much with Nixon because I don't really share my inner thoughts and secrets with anyone, either.

All The Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy In The Lives of America's First Families by Doug Wead  -- I bought this for twenty-five cents, and it was a really good way to learn more about the presidents' families.  It made me want to learn even more about certain individuals.

The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- book two in the Lancaster County Secrets series, but it has nothing to do with the previous book's characters; this one dealt with Jorie and her waiting for her boyfriend to come back from Vietnam...stuff like that

If by Mark Batterson -- "Trading your 'if only' regrets for God's 'what if' possibilities"  -- lots of good reminders for me!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Catherine's Journal

One of the essays in Discovering North Carolina (see more here) contains excerpts from the journal of Catherine Ann Devereaux Edmondston.   There are entries from Election Day 1860 when she was sure Lincoln wouldn't be elected.  Then there is the grievous disappointment expressed nearly three weeks later.  The diary entries give glimpses of the home front from the perspective of a lady from the planter class in Halifax County.  

After Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865, Mrs. Edmondston writes that she had "reduced [her]self, to an utterly paperless condition."  Except for her journal which she must have hidden pretty well.

She writes:
"Every letter I possessed, letters which I had cherished as my heart's blood, mementos of those I had loved & lost years ago, literary memoranda, excerpts, abstracts, records of my own private self examinations, poetry - all, all destroyed..."


"...the thought of seeing them in Yankee hands, of hearing them read in vile Yankee drawl amidst peals of vulgar Yankee laughter, or worse still, of knowing them heralded abroad in Yankee sensational newspapers, restrained me!" [She had thought of snatching out one letter from the packet that contained letters to and from her husband.]

"This has been the fate of thousands of my fellow countrywomen, for the Northern journals teem with private papers stolen from Southern Households & published to a vulgar curious world as specimens of Southern thought, Southern feeling, & Southern composition."   (pg. 50)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


A friend shared this on Facebook two days ago.  I thought it was clever, and planned yesterday how I would post it here after a woman made history in becoming the President of the United States of America!  What a day!

Not this time

But, I hadn't counted on the pre-election headlines and polls that came across my Facebook news feed being so wrong.  I should have learned from Brexit and the Colombian vote a few months ago.

Someone shared this on Facebook a few days ago, too.  The language is terrible, but it helped me understand the rural vs. city divide a bit more.  Also, a friend in Scotland read it, and she saw parallels to the Brexit vote.  

I stayed up until just after one this morning.  Trump was poised to take Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and possibly Michigan, and with the recent time change making it feel more like 2 A.M. (and I am not a night owl at all), I was beat.  And stunned.

Oh, wow.

How are you feeling?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Refusing to Feed Others

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I'm reading a book Discovering North Carolina which has dozens of stories, newspaper articles, and accounts about the state in which I've lived most of my life.  I found it at the twenty-five cent sale at Fifth Street Books in September, and started reading it in mid-October.  

It's divided into four sections: Environment (which includes things like how NC got its name, sailors' impressions, a visit by President Monroe, the Civil War on the Home Front, and so forth), People (an explorer-historian's description of "a well-shaped, clean-made people" i.e., the "Indians in colonial North Carolina"; Daniel Boone "who lived in North Carolina longer than he lived anywhere else"; several governors, Andy Griffith, Buck Duke, etc.), Events (the hanging of Tom Dula, visits from George Washington and Robert E. Lee, Walter Hines' attack on the "mummies" in the NC legislature, "The Camels Are Coming," and so forth), and Social Fabric ("Quarrels among the Baptists," life in the cotton mills, descriptions of a country church service, etc.)

Yesterday I was reading the latter part of the Events section about Greensboro, NC, where "The Sit-Ins Begin."  I grew up and still live about 30 minutes from Greensboro. I was there just last week when I took Zach to the Science Center where he likes seeing the aquarium, and we were able to see the tiger before his afternoon snooze.  We travel through Greensboro nearly every time we go to the North Carolina mountains, and our "local" news stations are from out that way.

I read this line in this Events story: "Still others pointed to a December 1959 episode when McNeil returned from a trip to New York and was refused food service at the Greensboro Trailways Bus Terminal." (pg. 275)

That made me so sad!  I want to think if I were a white Southerner back in those days (pre-Civil War, during the Civil War, and in 1959!) that I would treat people with respect and kindness despite the fact that they were black.  I don't see how people justified this racism. How some perhaps had the audacity to use the Bible to justify this.  Yes, quote me those verses about servants and masters. Whatever. But refusing to feed a paying customer? Making black people use separate water fountains?  Sit at the back of buses and theaters and churches?  Why?  Do you think they will give you cooties

Why do people who often say they love "the good Lord," go to church, think they are going to heaven because they are basically good or said a prayer, do these things? Do you just ignore all those teachings about loving others as you love yourself?  In honor preferring one another? washing others' feet as Jesus showed us? even loving your enemies (if you consider them such..guess what? you gotta love them if you follow Christ.)

I don't get it.

I had a very small taste of this when I went to Syria in early 2009.  We'd had a wonderful visit there, and were treated exceptionally well.  But one person - one friend who had joined us several days to walk us through Damascus neighborhoods - said something that hurt me. Even his Syrian friends looked at him like he said the wrong thing and somewhat scolded him.  I really don't think he meant to hurt us.

We'd met with several Syrians that week.  A couple had had us over to their houses or taken us out to eat. This particular guy had joined us many times, but unlike a couple of others, he'd not had us meet anyone in his family.  Apparently his parents were super-pious and American Christians would have contaminated them because one day towards the end of our visit B commented, "My parents would have liked to meet you...if you were only Muslim." 

On the other hand, I remember one specific instance where I know I hurt someone because he was different than I so I know I've hurt others, too.  Probably many more than I want to admit - or even realize.

Have you ever been shunned or hurt because you weren't the right gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, or _______?  Even though you tell yourself so and so might not have meant it quite the way it came out, it still hurts a little (or a lot.) 

Anyway, this was just something I'd been thinking about.  I know we are in an election time when people are dividing and sometimes telling how stupid the other side is, but let's remember to be known for loving and serving others, fellow Christians, even if they differ from us.   Yes, even if they vote for that candidate you really, really don't like!