Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Midnight Mystery

This is the 4th book in the "Winnie The Horse Gentler" series by Dandi Daley Mackall.  Unlike previous books, this one actually does include a mystery, and the horse Winnie is helping doesn't board in her barn.  This time the circus is in town, and she's needing to help a circus horse who is jumpy, frightened, and even disobeying commands he's been taught.  But the Russian circus is going to be there to scout for new talent. . . can she figure out what is going on in time?

Sub-plots of the book are Catman's Grandfather "Colonel Coolidge" is in town.  He's gearing up for a reunion of army men -- but where are they?  Even more important is Winnie's mother's birthday is approaching.  Since her mother died, Winnie wants to put on a horse show for the family -- celebrate the birthday like they always did when her mother was alive which meant a movie in the morning, spaghetti for lunch, and a horse show in the afternoon.  Winnie wants to teach Nickers to bow because her mother always had her horses bow, but will Nickers learn in time?  And besides that, with Winnie's dad headed to the Invention Convention in Chicago, he's not going to be home on her mom's birthday.  Lizzie has a writing competition that day, so that leaves -- Winnie -- and Winnie alone to remember her mother's birthday -- or so she thinks!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: The Cause Within You

The Cause within You: Finding the One Great Thing You Were Created to Do in This World is a book where the title might not be as catchy as it could have been but the one thing that will catch in this book is inspiration.  Matthew Barnett was the youngest pastor of his denomination at age twenty, and he took a church that had about eight people in attendance to creating a huge center that reaches out to those in Los Angeles who are hurting and desperate -- the homeless, drug addicts, and anyone who feels hopeless.  People come to serve at his church and he stresses that serving will bring out the cause that is inside you, just serve and you will find that.  He says that true joy comes when we realize others are better off because of our investment in them.

This is a fascinating book.  He is certainly someone who hasn't thought traditionally.  A church that is open 24 hours a day?  There's always someone at the church serving.  Vans go out to feed the homeless.  He tells personal stories, too.  The story of taking the homeless children to Build-A-Bear was one I really enjoyed, but my favorite was one where he was telling of a woman who started a ministry in his church to pimps.  She even got invited to the Pimp of the Year award ceremony, and they all told her they would go to one function she wanted them to go to, and one Sunday morning there was a section of pimps in Matthew Barnett's congregation.

This book isn't a one-two-three to find your purpose in life.  Instead, it's a book of inspiration for you to discover that yourself -- or if you already know what your cause is, it's a book of encouragement to keep it up! 

I very much enjoyed this book, and will definitely be recommending it to others. 

FTC disclaimer:  I was sent a copy of this book free from the publisher as part of their summer reading program.  The thoughts and opinions of it are my own.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cricket 1. Kitchen Light 0.

I've heard crickets in the house are good luck.  However, I'm not sure the one we had in our house this week was.

It jumped from the counter, hit the kitchen light and this is what happened:

Hard to believe this cricket could do that!  Of course it is only a lightweight plastic, but still. . . and the light inside hasn't worked since.  An earthquake and a cricket this week. . . Hope next week is better!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


At  1:54 Eastern time I posted on Facebook:

Was that an earthquake?

Indeed it was an earthquake!  I know people from California are probably laughing at those of us who only felt the earthquake, but I never expected my first ever earthquake to happen while at home on my computer.  Isn't that something that is suppossed to happen when you are visiting California?

I was sitting at my computer, which is near the corner of the house.  I felt something, but my mind dismissed it as a gust of wind like sometimes happens in the winter.  Then I realized it was neither winter NOR blizzard conditions.

I turned around in my chair and just felt.  The floor was shaking.  I realized then it was an earthquake.  I started to get up to walk to a doorway.  No matter how slight an earthquake we have, I was going to use my earthquake preparation  learned 20 years ago when I was a college student in Tennessee and everyone was saying that there was going to be an earthquake in Missourri. 

I got sidetracked, though.  My closet door was open slightly, and my clothes were swaying.  I stopped and watched.  (So much for earthquake preparedness)

I stopped for a moment because it was just so strange to see the shaking, and then I walked to the doorway of my bedroom.  I called out to Mom, "Get in a doorway".  (Hey, who knew if it would continue to increase in magnitude?) 

She yelled, "What is going on?" and I felt like Chicken Little yelling "Earthquake".

Since when does West Virginia have an earthquake?  I guess since August 23, 2011!

I learned something important today -- Facebook is a much better than CNN, http://www.usgs.gov/ , or any other website in the first moments after something happens.  Report on my news feed started flowing in from Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Massachussettes.  Even our local once a week paper reported that was an earthquake before CNN or the United States Geological Survey.

A little shaking, but otherwise we're fine.  I saw someone on twitter say something to the effect that Californians are probably laughing at us, but let's send them two feet of snow and laugh at them.  (Two feet?  Why be easy on them? How about the snow we had Feb of 2010!)  :) 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five Minute Friday -- "New"

(This is a "new" thing I'm doing.  The details about it are below my blog entry.")

New.  This time of year, I think of new as school supplies.  New pencils.  New notebooks.  New whatever-that-half-round-thing is you use for a few days in math class.  New notebooks and writing instruments (pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, etc.) are my favorites, though.  I love wondering what might be contained in a notebook.  I don't have kids, but often use notebooks for journals, keeping notes, listing things.  When I start a new blank book at the beginning of the year for my contest wins, I always wonder what will be in it.  Will this year be the year I win that elusive car? What all will be filled in that book?  A new calendar at a new year.  What days will be significant?  Will the year be dull enough that there will not be much to look forward to?  You never know.  When the year starts -- a school year or a new year it's open to all kinds of possibilities.  Maybe something really great and life changing will happen.  Of course, maybe something not so great and life changing will happen.  Like a freshly sharpened pencil, a new year, new notebook, new journal all feel so fresh and clean.  By December, there's no surprises left to be had in the newness of a calendar, and it's all marked up, a tribute to one more year gone by and all the appointments that were jotted down so you wouldn't forget you had that haircut on April 8th.

Five minute Friday Linkup and rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here  The Gypsy Mama and invite others to join in.
3. Get a little crazy with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Bold Beauty

Bold Beauty is the third book in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series for tween girls.  It's a Christian series, and definately are wholesome books.

In this volume, Winnie is to gentle a jumper.  Only problem is, Winnie is thrown while jumping -- and starts telling lies about what happened to her so that her dad won't make her quit gentling horses.  But what about Bold Beauty?  She needs to be gentled enough so she can make the jumps at a competition.  Without Winnie having confidence, will she be able to make Bold Beauty have the confidence needed to make that highest jump?  Not only that, but she's being paid a nice sum of money to gentle this horse, and she'll only get paid if she accomplishes that.  If she can't get this done, she won't have money to keep Nickers since she lost her job mucking stalls!

I really am enjoying this series.  So many of the characters are so well developed.  The only thing I didn't like about this book is the abortion debate.  I realize this is an important issue, but I also don't like it thrown into books where it could as easily be left out, especially when it feels "tacked on" as it did in this book.   Also, for younger or more naive children, this might be a little more than their parents would care for them to know on this topic.

Other than that, this is a highly enjoyable series and this book doesn't disappoint.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Older, but are we wiser?

Saturday was my 20th high school reunion.  While I didn't actually graduate with my class, they are generous enough to include anyone who spent any time with us to our reunions.  I left after 9th grade to go to a Christian school, then graduated early, so by the time my class was finishing their senior year of high school, I had finished my sophomore year of college!  But having gone K-9 with the same group of people, it still feels like they were MY class.

There were 80 who graduated as well as a number of us who spent part of our time in school with the class.  Of those, only 14 of us were at the family day of the reunion.  (I skipped the BYOB party because I'm not into drinking and didn't know if high school days would repeat themselves.  As it turned out, I should have gone to that as well!)

Although most people will see fourteen classmates in this photo, there are really 15 of us.  You see, when we were in sixth grade we had an invisible classmate and it drove our teacher nuts.  :)  The things middle school kids do!  (We also had an invisible classroom dog named George after our teacher.  We were always warned the dog had to behave or his name would have to be changed.)  It's a wonder our teacher stayed sane after our class.

A couple of my favorite photos:

I had to ride the merry-go-round to get this one.  The kids thought I was a load of fun.  After the ride, I wondered how I used to be on that thing so long!  That was the only moment of the reunion that I felt my true age!

Jason used to sit in front of me in English class, and I must say that's the only class I ever was regularly asked what I was up to!  He would turn around when the teacher wasn't noticing, make a joke, turn back around and look innocent and I'd be there laughing.  I was always so good in every other class, so we know who the REAL troublemaker was, don't we?

My friend Mary and I are going to the Women of Faith conference in Pittsburgh in October.  You can read about that on my Women of Faith blog post.  I really like this photo of the two of us, although it highlights how short I am!  (Or does it highlight how tall she is?)  :)

The day was a lot of fun, I enjoyed seeing people I hadn't seen in years.  Although, as you can see in this photo it maybe was a bit more fun for others than me:

Randy (on the left) was always the class clown and class flirt and time didn't change that!  He gave all of us tons of laughs on Saturday!  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Instant Menace

I just finished reading Instance Menace by Jerry B Jenkins and Chris Fabry.  This is a mystery geared towards pre-teens and teenagers. 

Bryce and Ashley are twins, and they are Christian sleuths.  If there's a mystery, they are going to get to the bottom of it!  This is the first book of the series I have read, so it makes a great stand-alone book as well, although I'm sure the other books would be good as well.

In Instant Menace, Bryce and Ashley are separated at school by the new principal.  The last principal thought they would do well together after their dad died in a plane crash, but the new principal thinks it's best they are separated.  And why did the last principal, Mr. Forster, leave? 

First day of school brings enough changes, but then a teacher's prized coins go missing from a locked cabinet.  Who took those?  And does it have anything to do with Mr. Forster?

The 8th grade class is split into "teams" to come up with a community project.  The Red Team decides to create a secret chat room.  Bryce is turned into the principal because of threats he made to another student in the chat room.  Only Bryce says he didn't make them. 

Being the mystery-solvers they are, Bryce and Ashley find a clue which solves the entire mystery.

I really enjoyed this book.  I'm not the targeted age but it was a great read and I think anyone in the targeted age range, boy or girl, would enjoy this!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review and Givewaway: The Grace Card DVD

The Grace Card releases on DVD on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.  This is an inspirational Christian movie about Mac McDonald.  The movie opens as his small son is killed seventeen years ago.  Determined to keep that from happening to someone else, he becomes a police officer and is once again passed over for a promotion because of his attitude.  He's paired up with Sam, who he doesn't like.  For one reason, he got that promotion Mac wanted and secondly, he's not the "correct" skin color, and also he doesn't like his "preaching" at him.  During the movie Mac's son Blake gets kicked out of school, and as always, bad stuff in our lives is always relative because not long later in the movie, Blake's being expelled from school is the least of their worries. 

This movie focuses on unforgiveness.  It mentions slavery and shows the effects of unforgiveness towards a stranger who killed a child.  Not only for those involved themselves, but for those around them.  It mentions drugs briefly, and I believe this movie would be an excellent starting point for a discussion in families of some tough issues.  It would make a good movie to be shown at church events, as well. 

Everything can change in an instant … and take a lifetime to unravel. When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God … and just about everyone else. Mac’s rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he’s partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force—who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man.

Can they somehow join forces to help one another when it’s impossible for either of them to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one? Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD … and never underestimate the power of God’s love.

You can purchase The Grace Card on DVD starting Tuesday August 16th at most retailers, or you can purchase at Amazon: The Grace Card


You can watch the official movie trailer now:

I have one copy of The Grace Card DVD to give away to one of my readers.

Details of the giveaway:

Open to the USA, 18 and over. Please leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry you do. I use random.org to pick winners so a separate comment is needed for each entry. Please leave your e-mail address in your comment if it's not in your blogger profile. Winners will have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail before another winner is chosen.

Giveaway ends August 24th at 11:59 pm.

Tell me why you would like to win a copy of this movie.

Additional entries:
#Win a DVD of #TheGraceCard movie from @jenndiggy ends 8/24 http://bit.ly/q035Cb

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:
“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review and Giveaway: My Comfort Cross

I was in Bethlehem in 2006.  The difference between Israel and Palestine was amazing.  At Nativity Square there were children selling candy to try and make a little money with the backdrop of the site of one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:14

But unfortunately, there is little peace in the Palestinian Territory.  I had to remind myself that the angels in Luke 2 told the shepherds "Fear not".  There is fear.  I admit I breathed a sigh of relief when our taxi dropped us off in downtown Jerusalem after having been in Bethlehem.  Because of that fear, tourism is down.  I'm feel certain even more so now than when I visited in 2006.  I bought most of my souvenirs in Bethlehem.  I loved all the different items that were being sold made from Olive wood. 

To me Olive Wood seems so beautiful, and almost peaceful.  It reminds me of Israel, and not the Israel I saw with soldiers but a more peaceful place.

So when My Comfort Cross contacted me and said they would like me to do a review, I was excited to do so!  I received a "Comfort Cross" which is about four inches high and about 2 1/4 inches across.  It was in a velveteen bag with a Scripture card. 

At first I thought it looked a little strange because I am accustomed to seeing crosses with sharp edges.  However, this is made with actually USING it in mind.  Some people might want to hold it while praying.  The cross fits perfectly in the palm of my hand.  When I was younger, I used to sometimes have nightmares.  This would have been great for me to keep on a bedside table and hold when I woke from one of those.  Depending on your Bible cover, you may be able to tuck it in there if you would like it with you when you are doing Bible study.  I can imagine this being used with a child.  Not only for teaching about Jesus and the cross, but also showing what olive wood looks like, and helping calm a child's fear.  Think of when a child is afraid, placing this cross in her hands and relaying the story that it was made in Bethlehem and recalling the angels' words of "Fear not".  These would make a nice gift.  Something given at Christmas, to someone who is ill, the elderly, lonely, or a "thinking of you" gift.

Comfort Crosses are also affordable.  As a special to readers of my blog, you can CLICK HERE to order two crosses for $10.  This also includes shipping within the USA.  This is a $2 discount from the usual price.

If you are interested in ordering in quantity either for fundraising or to give multiples of these, you can order eight of these for $40 or fifty crosses for $165 (that includes shipping).

The crosses are made by Christian craftsmen in Bethlehem.  When you make a purchase, this helps a Christian make a living in a place where I saw children selling candy to make a little extra money.

My Comfort Cross has been generous enough to give TWO of my readers a Comfort Cross of their very own.

Details of the giveaway:
Open to the USA, 18 and over.  Please  leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry you do.  I use random.org to pick winners so a separate comment is needed for each entry.  Please leave your e-mail address in your comment if it's not in your blogger profile.   Winners will have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail before another winner is chosen.

Giveaway ends August 23th at 11:59 pm.

Mandatory Entry:
Tell me either why you would like this or who you would like to give this to.

Additional entries:
  • Visit http://www.mycomfortcross.com/ and tell me something you learned
  • Follow me Google Friend Connect
  • Tweet about this giveaway: (this may be done once a day) You may use the following:
#Win a #MyComfortCross made in Bethlehem from @jenndiggy  ends 8/23  http://bit.ly/p1BIRD TWO WINNERS

FTC disclaimer:  I received a MyComfortCross of my own to use and review.  The opinions are my own.