Monthly Archives: May 2013

Animal Response to OK Tornadoes

It’s old news now, yet still a story and event whose consequences will be felt for a long time.  I wanted to acknowledge the recent Oklahoma tornadoes of May 20th and do my own little plug to help out where you can.  I didn’t watch the whole program last night, Healing the Heartland, hosted by Blake Shelton (who I have become a huge fan of through The Voice!).  But I do have to mention the one part I did see and how much it moved me.  I was so impressed by Miranda Lambert, see her performance below of “The House that Built Me”, which she dedicated to the animals affected by the tornadoes.  The slide show alone could bring you to tears, but the fact that she broke down as well, I’m sure there was not a dry eye in the country.

Animals have a special place in my life and heart.  And it breaks my heart to think of the countless furry victims from natural disasters, but also warms it to see that there are so many people out there with the passion and drive to help animals.  Here are a few of the articles I found about different ways to help:

To donate to the victims: (I’m in no way related to any of these organizations or receiving anything in return – just simply providing information)

I’m sure I could go on for quite sometime – but I wanted to at least mention a few efforts – feel free to add more to my comments.  My research showed so many local charities and organizations across the country gathering supplies and sending in reinforcement to help animals.  It really warmed my heart and was so encouraging to me to see people so quickly and eagerly spring into action.  I hope someday I can do the same.  (I hate to say someday – but when kids are older and maybe when we have our RV – we can respond to situations like this.)  Thank you to everyone who helped and is helping – my prayers are with you.

My prayers are also with all the victims – human and animal in this time of unknowns and healing.

I’ll leave you with one video that seemed to be making the rounds last week of a woman reunited with her dog during a newscast.  This gets me each time and even more amazing that the women gives credit to God saying He answered both of her prayers by keeping her and her dog alive.  Truly amazing.

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
Psalm 107:6-9

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Lord, I need You. Happy Sunday!

Back home from vacation and back to the New Church of Peachtree City.  Great message from Pastor David today, about community, fellowship, and commitment.  The verse below from Romans pretty much sums it up.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Romans 12:9-16


I’ll keep this short and sweet today.  I heard the song below today on the way home from church and have been praying over it this afternoon.  I feel in order to be my best for everyone around me – I need God (not a new notion – just the message I need to hear today).  Lord – I need You, Your grace, Your hope, Your stay, Your rest, Your forgiveness, Your everlasting love.  I thank You for all these things and pray that You help me keep that of my forefront of my mind for everything and anything life throws at me.

May you have a great Memorial Day.  Remember and pray for those who serve/served our awesome country which allows us to freely and openly worship God who sets us free.  Amen and blessings for a great week ahead!

Lord, I Need You
Matt Maher

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

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Book Review: The Reverse Commute (by Sheila Blanchette)

By Sheila Blanchette (click book for description)

Downloaded free on 5/19/13.

Finish Time: 6 nights.  I have to admit I almost quit this book around 17% in, but I am not a quitter, so I stuck with it.  I have to say it very much improved after the rocky start.  The book just started off SO intense.  Strong language, lots of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and very strong liberal political views.  The politics were scattered throughout the book.  While I didn’t agree, it became easy to ignore as the book went on (nothing too deep), but I probably would not recommend for the more conservative minded reader.  And the language toned down as well as it really wasn’t necessary and I’m guessing the author figured that out as well.

The story went back and forth between the tales of two women.  One in her late 40’s, recent empty-nester, stuck going through her self-proclaimed mid-life crisis.  The other, 25, stuck in a dead-end relationship and job she wasn’t happy in, trying to figure out whether to take the safe route or begin taking chances.  The overall message is that life is too short to stick with the status quo and you are in control of your own destiny and happiness.

Again, not a very deep book.  Such potential to bring God into the picture and recognize the signs He puts right in front of you, but the author did not take that route.  I did find myself invested in the story and the characters and wanting to finish to find out what happens.  A little bit of a twist at the end, that answered a question I found myself asking about halfway into the book.  But otherwise a bit predictable with a nice ending.

Decent beach read, would recommend if free, otherwise I’d move along.  Now that I’m off vacation – I think I will dive into another historical fiction!

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Hilton Head Island Fun!

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School’s out, vacation time!  I cannot think of a better way to kick off summer than a week at the beach!  After much research (seriously for me to commit to a place is a LONG process) we decided on Hilton Head Island, SC.  I know most GA people swear by the Gulf Coast beaches.  Maybe the Atlantic isn’t as pretty as the Gulf, but let me tell you, I am sold on Hilton Head and plan on returning next year!  Thanks to Sarah (over at Small Town Love) and her hubby Ike – our fur babies were taken care of too – which is always a big plus knowing they are in good hands!

Once the location was picked, accommodations was the next challenge.  After even more research, we decided on a 2-bedroom villa in Harbour Town in the Sea Pines Plantation.  Due to a little bit of last-minute booking, this may not have been my first choice as it was a bottom floor unit with no view.  But the location was great and other than some loud upstairs neighbors and an uncooperative A/C unit, it suited our family well.  I seriously am thinking about looking for next year’s digs very soon!  Amenities of the area included a playground (which the kids loved), pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and a trolley to the beach.

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When I made our reservations, the booking agent asked if we wanted to reserve bikes.  Apparently that is the preferred method of transportation on the island.  I went ahead, still a bit skeptical, but after our first day there, that was a suggestion I am glad we took.  We rented 2 bikes, and Steven’s pulled a kiddie cart, which the kids loved!  The bike paths were very easily accessible and we took them every chance we had to meals, activities, and even just for fun/exercise.  And how did I almost forget the best part – the island is so FLAT – that even someone out-of-shape can manage a few mile bike ride without too much struggle!  It doesn’t hurt that the paths, like the streets, are all lined with big trees and Spanish moss (shaded and beautiful).IMG_3030

The island seems to boast a bunch of little “towns” or harbors, each with their own set of shops, restaurants, and activities.  As mentioned, we stayed in Harbour Town, home to the famous Harbour Town Lighthouse (which we all, even LL, walked 114 steps to the top).  While there we ate at The Crazy Crab, Harbour Town Grill, Lowcountry Produce, Guiseppi’s Pizza, and Harbour Town Bakery & Deli.  We also took an afternoon Dolphin Cruise on the Vagabond.  (Which I was SO excited there was a Living Social Deal for at the time we were there – saved us 50%!)  I also spent a nap-time or two wandering the many shops of Harbour Town and admiring the boats and view!

052213 (40)Aboard the Vagabond

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Top of the Lighthouse

South Beach Marina Village is another little town.  It was a 3.7 mile bike ride down.  Home of The Salty Dog Cafe.  We went down there twice.  The first night we were there, they had a Low Country Boil, live music, face painting, and a special appearance by Jake the Salty Dog, all to celebrate his 25th birthday!   Then we went back later in the week to buy our shirts (I think I saw somewhere this was required – haha!), presents for our pups, and to eat in the actual restaurant.

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The next little “town” we visited was Shelter Cove Harbor, home to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.  I had looked into this for lodging for a few minutes before moving along due to price (seriously like $500/night), I know LL would have loved it, as even seeing the Mickey logo brought a huge smile to her face.  Maybe someday…but this had another group of restaurants and shops and was home to the big Neptune statue.  We ate at Scott’s Fish Market, which was probably my favorite meal of the week.  It had an open-air patio on the harbor and had a guy with a guitar playing many enjoyable classics that had us all dancing and singing along!  As Steven pointed out – it was very fitting that the name was Scott’s (like my father) as the music came straight from his record collection, a nice little reminder/message to discover.

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I cannot forget to mention the beach!  We spent 4 mornings playing on the beach.  It was nice and flat and hard (perfect for riding bikes – which we’ll do next time), and had little shallow wading areas that were perfect for the kids to play in without waves.  Steven got the kite out and the kids really just had a blast digging, building, catching hermit crabs and various sea creatures (ok – maybe that one was me!), and watching for birds and dolphins.

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A few more activities to note were mini-golf.  Maybe not the best idea with a 1 & 3-year-old, as we had to throw our competitiveness out the window, but at least we tried!  The Sandbox: An Interactive Kid’s Museum, cute for the little ones with various sensory activities.  And Lawton Stables, where they had many animals to pet (goats, sheep, pigs, deer, llamas) and LL got to take a pony ride on Romeo the blue-eyed pony!

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We even made it to church on Sunday.  And I have to point out that they have a Publix there, which really makes shopping a pleasure in an unknown place as it feels like home to me!  Sounds silly, but with trying to eat breakfast and lunches in, I like to know and be comfortable with what I am buying and eating!  Speaking of eating, this week was a bit of a break from clean eating, but I am looking forward to jumping back in as I really have felt much better!

So overall – a wonderful week, now back to reality (not without posting a recap and some pictures first though!)  Next year, the dogs are coming along (or at least a few of them).  My research neglected to uncover just how dog-friendly the island is.  But we’ll check this off as a scouting trip and make next year’s even better!

052413 (15)LL bringing the dogs their presents!

Happy Memorial Day weekend and may you have a GREAT summer filled with special memories like ours!

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Sunday at the Beach!

Happy Sunday! We decided to explore Hilton Head Island a little this beautiful Sunday AM on vacation in search of a contemporary worship service. We found just that at Providence Presbyterian Church. It’s hard to compare to our beloved worship leaders Jay & Abby, but in their absence, the worship leader and band did a pretty good job.

No real deep thoughts for this Sunday. The scripture the pastor preached on was Romans 5:1-5 on hope and spreading the good news of God to people far and wide.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5

They also showed a brief video titled The Story of Pentacost that I really enjoyed and wanted to share here (in place of my usual song!) Enjoy!

Happy Sunday, and blessings to you for a great week!

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Book Review: Stretch Marks: A Novel (by Kimberly Stuart)

By Kimberly Stuart

Downloaded FREE on 5/14/13

Finish Time: 4 nights. Yep – I took a mental break from my historical fiction run. A big one. This is one of those books that I’ve become a bit more self-conscience about reading as I am now publicizing ALL my reads – good, bad, and ugly. But I will justify it by the last few “harder” books I read. AND I was preparing for vacation (which I am now on) – so cut me some slack!

It was an easy read with no real depth. I was hoping by the subtle mentions of God through various characters that it was going there. It didn’t. I wasn’t a big fan of the main character, Mia, although I did enjoy her interaction with her mother – Babs. Now that I could relate to (don’t worry Mom – not in a bad way!) She was just a quirky character that sometimes said inappropriate things, but added humor to the scenes she was in and wanted the best for her daughter.

The writing was fine and it was a cute story, with decent characters that I could picture in my head throughout the story. Basically Mia, the non-marriage believing, all natural, vegetarian, social worker, ends up pregnant. The father fleas, leaving her with a cast of friends, neighbors, family, co-workers, and some strangers as her support system. She seemed annoyed most of the time and not appreciative for the things/people she did have. Who knows – her situation wasn’t a good one – but she doesn’t make for a good main character. Maybe that is what the author was going for – I just didn’t care for it.

But for a free, easy, quick, read, go for it, but I think I’m moving on to something with a little more depth! (We’ll see – I am still at the beach!)

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Aaaa-choo! I’ve been accepted into Book Sneeze!

Very excited to be accepted into the book blogging site Book Sneeze!  And you should be too – you know why?  They send me free books and then I get to give them away to YOU – my readers – after I read and review!!

I review for BookSneeze®

So stay tuned – and share my blog with your friends as lots of exciting things will be coming 🙂

 

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Book Review: City of Light (City of Mystery: Book II)

By Kim Wright

Downloaded Free on 4/24/13

Finish time: 11 nights.  Not as good as the first book in this series.  This book started off really slow.  I had a hard time getting into the book and keeping track of characters.  Rayley Abrams is not a typical main character, but he was carried over from the previous book, and it brought the story from London to Paris. A few of the other characters came as well including Geraldine Bainbridge, a quirkly older socialite from London who always proves to be good company!

What started off as two separate investigations, came together as Detective Welles and Detective Abrams corresponded between London and Paris.  I enjoy a good crime show (Law & Order or CSI), so it was actually pretty interesting to see the advent of forensics (think CSI minus all technology) through early fingerprint analysis and blood testing (albeit on animals which I am NOT a fan of – but luckily we were spared details).  I also enjoyed the historical side of the book – the building of Eiffel’s Tower in preparation for the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889.  Reminded me a bit of Devil in the White City in pointing out what celebrities, inventions, etc were debuted at this event.  As pointed out in the notes at the end, the event was real as well as the “crime” being investigated.  All the characters were fictionalized.  Very typical historical fiction!  It did leave me wondering if there is really a secret room on top of the Eiffel tower?  According to Wikipedia – apparently there is (in case you were curious too!)

The investigation/crime was a bit of a disturbing one (think Law & Order SVU worthy).  Luckily gory details were spared, and as I got further into the book, it did get much better as you take the journey with the detectives, and the motley crew they have put together, to investigate and eventually solve this crime.  Takes a bit of an unexpected turn with an unlikely final hero(ine), but ends very well.

The author does another great job at setting the scene and characters so you can really feel like you are a part of the journey.  So if you can hang on through the first 20% or so (I have no idea how many pages are in books anymore!), the ending is worth it and it was an enjoyable read.

Now – whether to continue with this author’s 3rd book – City of Silence (City of Mystery Book III) or pick up something a little lighter, as we leave on vacation in just 4 days!?  Stay tuned and find out!

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What do I stand for?

I’m not sure I can really ever say I’ve been “in” on the latest music.  Usually I’m discovering new songs right about the time every commercial or TV show is picking them up.  It doesn’t really bother me, but I had to preface that as this post will discuss a song that has been out for almost a year now and is in a bazillion commercials.  Not only is it a catchy (great) song, the lyrics have really gotten me thinking.  What do I stand for?

In my typical Sunday fashion, at church this AM, the message seemed directly targeted at me.  Dr. David Miller, titled it “Foundations.”  In my attempt to want to discuss the song “Some Nights” by Fun.  I thought their verse “What do I stand for?” could really be asking – what is my foundation?  What are my core beliefs or attributes that I want everyone to know?  What defines me and my purpose in this world?  Hopefully not too far-fetched to follow – just a question Fun. has been asking me the last few weeks as I discovered this new song that is sure to be a hit!

I debated whether to google what the lyrics really meant, hoping to discover some deep theological connection.  I did, and I did not.  I didn’t look super hard, but as everyone has their theories, none were very deep or at least not how I have interpreted.  But that is why I love music.  Maybe it was just a simple song, maybe it was written to evoke emotions, maybe it was very specific to the writer.  Who knows, but it’s hit home with me and helped me answer the question of what do I stand for?  or rather what do I WANT to stand for?  What do I want others to say I stand for?

Tying back to today’s sermon, Foundations, Pastor David discussed how many occurrences in life are not “luck” as many people tend to attribute good things to, but because of God’s grace (a free pass from God).  Like avoiding that traffic ticket or being at the right place at the right time.  I firmly agree with the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” but feel it needs “because of God’s grace” attached to the end of it.  The verse below from Ephesians says it perfectly.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”  Ephesians 2:4-5

And because of this grace, along with mercy and love and all of the many gifts from God, we are called to walk in the light and share that light with others as Jesus did.  Especially in times of darkness, chaos, unknowns, and whatever trials you are facing.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:4-5

So what do I stand for? I stand for God/Jesus.  I stand to testify of the grace and mercy that has been shown me in my life and share it with others.  I stand for love, kindness, my family, my friends, my church, our planet.  I stand to be a light in a world that sometimes seems dark and tempting.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Happy Sunday.  Have a great week.  And what do you stand for?


Fun.
“Some Nights”

Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw
Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights I wish they’d just fall off
But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
Whoa oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Whoa oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Most nights I don’t know anymore…
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh,
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh
This is it, boys, this is war – what are we waiting for?
Why don’t we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype
Save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked,
But here they come again to jack my style
That’s alright (that’s alright)
I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I? Mmm… Mmm…

Well, some nights I wish that this all would end
‘Cause I could use some friends for a change.
And some nights I’m scared you’ll forget me again
Some nights I always win, I always win…

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh, Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for, oh
Whoa oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Whoa oh oh (What do I stand for?)
Most nights I don’t know… (oh, come on)

So this is it. I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?

(Come on)

No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that’s all they are
When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on.
Oh, come on. Oh, come on. Oh, come on!

Well, that is it guys, that is all – five minutes in and I’m bored again
Ten years of this, I’m not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home;
Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the f*** wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call “love”
When I look into my nephew’s eyes…
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from…
Some terrible nights… ah…

Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh,
Oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, whoa, oh, oh

The other night you wouldn’t believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up but we’d both agree

It’s for the best you didn’t listen
It’s for the best we get our distance… Oh…
It’s for the best you didn’t listen
It’s for the best we get our distance… Oh…

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We are made perfect through weakness – Your Grace is Enough!

“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Happy Sunday!  Today’s verse from Pastor David’s sermon at the New Church of Peachtree City (really ready for a new name!) is above.  Great verse, great message, God, Your grace is enough and I find strength in YOU through my weaknesses.  Your grace comforts us in times of abundance and of famine.  Again another song came to mind – you will see it below.  (Who knew so many songs came from scripture – haha – but really I love when I song pops into my head – really solidifies the message for me for the day/week as I keep singing it!)

Another PRAISE for today.  The New Church of Peachtree City, GA is has now been officially accepted into the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians as of May 1st 2013!  This marks the end of a ton of work by many and the BEGINNING of so much more!  Big thanks go out to all who made this possible and looking forward to the FUTURE more than ever!  A picture from the packed house at a celebratory brunch this AM!IMG_2846

Have a blessed week, Happy Cinco de Mayo, and God Bless!

Your Grace is Enough
Chris Tomlin

Great is Your faithfulness oh God
You wrestle with the sinner’s heart
You lead us by still waters in to mercy
And nothing can keep us apart

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

Great is Your love and justice God of Jacob
You use the weak to lead the strong
You lead us in the song of Your salvation
And all Your people sing along

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me [x2]

So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God

Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me

Your grace is enough
Heaven reaching down to us
Your grace is enough for me
God I see your grace is enough
I’m covered in your love
Your grace is enough for me
For me

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