Book Review: Sea Glass Sunrise by Donna Kauffman – Sweet and Engaging with a nice Plot Twist


Sea Glass Sunrise (The Brides of Blueberry Cove Series Book 1)

Ms. Kauffman hits another one out of the park. This story kept me engaged from beginning to end. If you liked her Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series, you’ll love the first of her Brides of Blueberry Cove. Sea Glass Sunrise revisits many familiar characters from the previous series, revealing some of their secrets while hinting at more to come. Although this is a standalone book, it will definitely whet your appetite for more Blueberry Cove stories.

Hannah’s personal life and successful career disastrously collide, leaving her an unfortunate victim to professional humiliation (oh, that double-standard). She hightails it home to Blueberry Cove for good, with her family thinking she’s just home for a visit. Calder appears to be visiting the town as a contractor hired to build a yacht club, but has other motives. Ms. Kauffman paints a meeting between these two that you won’t soon forget, and with a small town like Blueberry Cove, our hero and heroine keep crossing paths – reluctantly at first, of course.

Loved this book, and can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Cushions: Plenty of steam, strong and likeable heroine and hero with lots of chemistry, well-developed characters, good plot development with some nice plot twists, light on the cursing, a real page-turner with just the right amount of schmaltz.

Cautions: Some PG-rated cursing, one inappropriate relationship alluded to but not spelled out or proven.

I received my advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Not Too Much Trouble

angel-statue-23521292901589FE5_publicDomain_BingWhen you lose someone close to you, it leaves an awful gap in your life. I’ve recently lost an aunt who was like a second mother to me, and I find myself predictably working through the five stages of grief. I’ve passed Denial, Anger and Bargaining, and I’m finally at the point now where I’m somewhere between Depression and Acceptance. My auntie was a kind, generous, lovely lady with a ready smile and a quick wit. She also had style. I only mention that last because I have practically none. I’ve never had much of a fashion sense, opting instead for more of a relaxed, comfortable, occasionally classic style – on Saturdays that would equate to jeans or sweats. But each time we visited my auntie, she was always dressed to the nines, including matching jewelry and makeup. She always looked nice, but it was the grace and dignity with which she carried herself that always impressed me.

Having grown up the eldest daughter of six children, my mom being the youngest, and raised by her widowed mother who took on several jobs just to keep food on the table, was not an easy upbringing. She once shared with me that when she was young, they lived in a “shotgun” house, meaning you could walk in the front door and see straight back to the back door. They did not have an indoor restroom, but there was one added onto the house on the back porch. You basically went out the back door to get there, but didn’t have to leave the porch. This “modern” facility had no bath tub or shower. Instead, on Saturday nights, a large wash tub was brought out onto the back porch and filled with hot water with the girls bathing first, then the boys, for obvious reasons. I was blessed to hear many such stories of their upbringing which were so special to me.

A few years ago, I wrote my auntie a little something based on a phrase she always told us when she needed help with something but didn’t want to impose. I think it tickled her when I gave it to her. She never wanted to inconvenience anyone or be an imposition. We loved her so much and will miss her terribly. It’s in her honor, I post it here.

Not Too Much Trouble

Once there was a girl — well, not quite a girl, more of a middle-aged woman — who visited her auntie’s house. Her cousin from out of town was there, too. They began to talk about how hard it was for her auntie to get groceries since she didn’t drive. After one thing or another, someone came up with the idea that perhaps the niece could come down every now and then to take her auntie to get groceries, if it wasn’t too much trouble. It wasn’t too much trouble.

The first Saturday the niece prepared to come down, her auntie called her and said “What time will you be here?”

“Around noon,” replied the niece.

“All right,” agreed the auntie, “We’ll go to lunch when you get here.”

But the niece liked to be lazy on Saturdays and didn’t leave the house until one o’clock. When she got to her auntie’s house, she was afraid she was in trouble. But when her auntie greeted her at the door with a big hug and only a mild reprimand “You’re a little late. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry,” she knew that she wasn’t in too much trouble.

Some weeks later, the niece called her auntie to say she was on her way and her auntie asked “What time do you think you’ll be here?”

“Oh, about one-ish,” she replied.

By now, her auntie knew it would probably be closer to two-ish. But being the sweet polite auntie she was, she didn’t remark upon the discrepancy. Instead, she said “When you get down here, I might have something for you to do. If it’s not too much trouble,” she added.

“Of course it’s not too much trouble,” said the niece, “What is it?”

“Oh, we’ll see,” replied the auntie cryptically.

Later, after lunch and groceries, if she didn’t forget, the niece would ask her auntie what else she needed done. The auntie would get out her half of the grocery list and look it over carefully and say something like “Do you think you could pull the water hoses around the side of the house?” or “Do you think you could replace the batteries in my telephone?” Or maybe “Do you think you could get something buried in my closet?” Always coupled with the request was a gentle addendum “If it’s not too much trouble.”

It’s not too much trouble.

It’s never too much trouble, not for her sweetie-pie auntie. This is the auntie that won’t let her niece wash her dishes because she “doesn’t know how.” This is the auntie who makes her hot scrumptious lunches and, of course, the best burgers in the world. This is the auntie who gives her hugs and kisses and tells her she loves her. This is the auntie who filled the hole in her life that was left when her mama and sister were no longer there to fill it. She filled it with love and memories and yes, even laughter.

It wasn’t too much trouble.

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MRI = Must Run Immediately

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Following the removal of a precancerous growth, my Oncologist ordered an MRI for me. This way we could be sure there were no other cells left in there for removal. The idea of any further surgery was not a fun prospect. Leading up to the time for what was to be a lengthy test, I really wasn’t too worried. Really. After all, it’s just another MRI, and what’s one more MRI? I’d had one once before with last year’s concussion. Piece of cake.

A few day prior to the test, the imaging folks called me to remind me of my appointment, and to ask if I was claustrophobic. Well, yeah, sort of. I mean, does anyone really enjoy being shoved into a plastic tube with hugely loud noises suddenly bombarding your hearing for forty-five minutes? Get real. They recommended I get with my physician to prescribe something to relax me. Okay.

So, armed with the instructions to take my medication (one pill only) an hour prior to testing and to show up at 6:30 am at a location 45 miles away, I was all set. I activated an alarm for the appointment on my smart phone. On the night before, we set the alarm clock for 5 am (actually 4:45 because it runs fast), and tried to sleep. After some tossing and turning, I drifted off somewhere around 3 am or so. The next thing I knew, hubby was waking me up to get going. “What time is it?” I asked. “It’s 6:15,” he replied, “so we have to get going.” Holy moly. It seemed that someone kept hitting the snooze, and apparently I hadn’t heard a thing. Fortunately, the test itself wasn’t scheduled until 7:00, and 6:30 was for pre-work. However, I’d already missed out on taking my magic pill an hour ahead. Practically running out the door, I grabbed my meds and phone, barely remembering a sweater for the 45 degree weather.

We had a little trouble getting to the facility, having missed a couple of exits on our planned route, but finally got there a little after 7. It’s stressful enough to be here, and being late did not help. But, they were very nice about it and the only comment I got was that they’d have to “fast track” me since they were running behind. Not sure what they skipped on my procedure, but since I was already in “hurry” mode, I didn’t notice.

I was given the appropriate “attire” and led into the slightly scary imaging room, where I was asked to lie down, face down on what appeared to be a plastic plank. Fun. With my head resting on a cushioned donut hole, my claustrophobia was already kicking in. At this point, I was wishing I had taken two of those little calm-me-down pills instead of the one my doctor recommended. After mashing a pair of earplugs into my ear canals, I asked the attendant if they possibly had earphones with music. When I initially made my appointment, this option was mentioned to me as something that may help me relax a bit. After jamming the ear buds in my ears and directing me not to move for the duration of scanning, she asked if I had any quick questions. Yep. “Can I breathe during this procedure, or will I be asked to hold my breath?” (I had a test some time back where they asked me to hold my breath but never told me when I could release and breathe again – not fun.) “Also, could I swallow, cough, or talk?” I was told yes to breathing and swallowing, and no to coughing and talking. “Well, okie dokie,” I thought, “At least I could breathe. Now, if only I could get my breathing to calm down from panic attack-mode to slow and easy, maybe this would all be all right.” However, as she began to roll me into the capsule, my claustrophobia lit into full on “fight or flight”; only it felt more like: fight or flight? Flight! Flight! Flight! Also, although the radio idea didn’t work worth a flip, I’d still choose that option again since it provided a distracting sound for me to focus on, rather than the booming sounds the machine was emitting.

Luckily for me, instead of this crisp and efficient attendant, my actual technician turned out to be another young lady who spoke to me through the speakers periodically. She patiently described how long each imaging scan would run, when each began and ended, and then let me know when we were close to the end. It was her calm words that made the difference, and I made a point to let her know that when she pulled me out afterward.

After post-calm-me-down pill analysis, it turns out I panicked because I was placed into the same physical position as the very painful Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection I received a few months back. The result was sort of a muscle memory thing, anticipating a pain response that never came. So happy that’s over. Additionally, my hubby made sure to let me know he didn’t like how responded to my happy pill. It seems that when we kept missing our exits, I just chilled out and told him, “No worries,” as I checked the GPS, “We’ll just catch the next one.” Seems he was missing his type “A” wife, and his temporarily type “B” wife freaked him out. We are such creatures of habit.

A full week later, I phoned for my results and my doctor gave me the all clear, no cancer found, no more pre-cancer found. Feeling blessed.

In a last hurrah to my pre-surgery days, before I get rid of these gals my hubs suggested I send them off in style. Thanks for all the support ladies, but I’m glad to see you go.

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Book Review: Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor


Worth the Risk (The McKinney Brothers, Book 2)
This week’s Friday Fun Read is Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor, and this one is definitely worth the read.  The novel will be released on February 3, 2015, and the Kindle edition is currently going for $2.99 in Amazon.

After reading Ms. Connor’s Worth the Fall, I could hardly wait for the next book in this series.  I wasn’t disappointed. This story has heart warmth to spare. In Worth the Risk, Ms. Connor spins a romance of two scarred people who slowly find healing in each other. I liked that Hannah and Stephen first meet in a grocery store, a nice change from the bar introduction that you find in many other stories in this genre.

Although this is the second book in the McKinney Brothers series, it can be read as a standalone novel. However, if you’ve not already read it, I would encourage you grab a copy of Worth the Fall since it’s a really good story.

Synopsis
Hannah Walker is a physical therapist using horseback riding as a therapy tool for handicapped children, having developed a love for horses while healing from her own injuries some years earlier. Stephen McKinney is a high powered businessman who lost interest in love five years earlier due to a tragedy. They each carry some emotionally crippling secrets, afraid to open up to anyone other than their families. Each must take a huge risk if they want to find their way into the other’s heart.

Cautions: Kidnapping and violence recounted, some bad language

Cushions: Large caring families, a budding steamy romance, a little bit of faith thrown in, well-developed characters, well-paced.

Another winner for Claudia Connor. Can’t wait for the next one!

I received my advanced reading copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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If I Had It to Do All Over Again

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If I had it to do all over again,
I’d only use baby books as a guideline, instead of treating them like a bible.
Practically no child is textbook in their development, and trying to force them into that mold is so not a good idea.
Instead, I’d relax more and only refer to the “manual” to see what’s coming up next, and not stress if my child took a little longer to get there.

If I had it to do all over again,
I would be gentler with my children.
Even though names like “Silly goose” seem innocuous to me, I’d never say it my daughter, making her cry out “I’m not a silly goose!”
It’s hard to explain to a child that you never meant to hurt her, you only meant to laugh with her at whatever observation she just made…that it killed a part of your soul to know you had any part in making her sad.
Instead I’d learn better ways to show my joy, because what I really felt in those moments was a kind awe at how intelligent my child was, and the words she chose to express her thoughts delighted me.

If I had it to do all over again,
I wouldn’t use corporal punishment.
Oh a little spat on the hand to get their attention to keep them out of danger was all right,
But for the bigger stuff like disobedience and disrespectful bad-mouthing, I’d instead elect consequences that better fit the situation like removal of privileges, to better get the point across, having found that spanking never resulted in anything but further stubbornness and anger.
Thankful we learned this lesson in time for raising the last of our brood.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d pick up my first born more.
Instead of telling her she was too big or too old to be carried, I’d scoop her right up.
Although this taught her some independence, I really missed carrying her and holding her close more.
Affection should never be stingy.

If I had it to do all over again,
Instead of being wary of strangers around my children, I’d also be wary of friends.
I’d listen to my gut more, and if something seemed too good to be true, I would question it more, and be a better protector.
Protecting our children is everything.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be a little sweeter,
And not let my temper get the best of me, causing me to say hurtful things to my loved ones that were hard to take back once said.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be braver.
I’d speak out and be a better defender for my children, especially against school bullying – by both students and teachers.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be stronger.
Having always considered myself a strong individual with an aversion to weakness, of course that would be the one area I’d dislike within myself.
I’d draw more on my inner strength and believe in myself more.
I’d say things to loved ones that should be said and stand my ground, instead of worrying about hurting their feelings about something they really needed to hear (for example: smoking, alcoholism, abandonment of their children.)

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d be a better wife and mother by finding ways to help my husband learn to be a better father.
When you are not raised with a good role model but your spouse is, you may rely on your spouse to give you cues and clues for improving your role.
Instead of using anger and impatience, I would gently but firmly sit down and explain better possibilities, and share more stories about how my father raised me. Perhaps even get him connected with a good living role model that could mentor him.
And I’d do it much sooner rather than later.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d yell less.
Instead of a knee-jerk reaction in anger, I’d take a deep breath or put myself in time out (leave the room) in order to regroup and come back to approach the situation in a calm but firm fashion.
Yelling should only be reserved for ballgames and emergencies.
And it sure doesn’t sound pretty.

If I had it to do all over again,
I’d say I love you more and hug my family more.
Although I know I must have given plenty of hugs and I love you’s during their childhood, I know I didn’t give near as many as I should’ve until after all the grandparents passed.
Life is too short.
It’s important to give lots of hugs and I love you’s.
Each and every day.

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Singing at the Winspear

Rehearsal with The Gettys at the Winspear

Rehearsal at the Winspear

What an adventure I had the other day! Our church choir was one of several invited to sing carols and background vocals for a group from Northern Ireland called The Gettys, performing at the Winspear Opera House located in the arts district of downtown Dallas.

We were given the opportunity to attend one of two mandatory rehearsals if we intended to join the performance. The first was so fast paced it made our heads spin, doubly so for me since we were 15 minutes late, having had trouble finding our building on the campus. This put me behind in the ladies’ rehearsal which was scheduled first that day. Added to that was that everyone seemed to know about changes to the music that we’d never heard of. You know that dream where you end up in class in your pajamas or worse? That’s sure how I felt when the director started rattling off updates that were a total surprise, but everyone else already had them marked in their music. The lady next to me took mercy on me and attempted to indicate the updates as quickly and quietly as possible so I wouldn’t feel so lost.   It seemed like she and I were the only second sopranos at this first rehearsal so I was very grateful for the help.

When our time ended and the men’s rehearsal began, I discovered my kind section buddy arrived with the only two women I knew there.   During our break I also found that there was a mailing list whereby the director sent us modifications to the music or program, so I signed up and the amount of material they sent us was mind-boggling. Never having performed in such a venue, I didn’t realize all the details that went into making all this go well, and never before had I felt so out of my depth.

Deciding we both needed the extra rehearsal, my new friend and I braved it together the following Saturday. Thankfully, I was better prepared for the fast pace and ever-changing updates in what we would and would not sing, as well as all the updates to the arrangements. It was a fluid thing, a work in progress, at all times. Reminded me a bit of working at the bank for so many years, where you never knew when your job duties or managers would change, you just kind of went with the flow.

By this time, my better half decided the pressure of learning all this music without having any buddies in the bass section was too much for him and opted to stay home and watch the Mavericks play on TV. After the second rehearsal, my friend Linda forwarded me the latest changes (yes, more changes) since some of us were left off the email. At this point, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed myself and was seriously considering dropping out as well.   Folks who know me know I tend to be a Type A personality and since I’m taking a class this week that takes up a lot of my energy, I was wondering if this was going to be worth all the trouble. By Sunday night, I made my decision and told my friend I was not going to join them.

Two things changed my mind. My friend Linda came back with the response that they’d give me a ride (a very big incentive) and said those golden encouraging words “Oh come on, it’ll be fun.” When I mentioned all the modifications I hadn’t even looked at yet, she, with her wonderfully Type B personality, said, “I’m not even going to look at those until we get ready for the final rehearsal the day of the performance.”   Wow, that was a freeing thought. Could I really give myself permission not to go over those every day and obsess over them to make sure I got them right?   Yeah, I could do that. Nice. So I told her I’d reconsider and let her know.   It was two days prior to the performance, but of course I was already pretty convinced by this new thought process. The second thing that convinced me was something my new friend Melinda said after the previous rehearsal and that I totally stole later. She said “Now I can cross this off my bucket list.”   Okay, so maybe I wanted to be convinced.   I really wanted to do this but needed that nudge, that bit of encouragement that says “Hey, we are all in the same boat; we may be lost, but we’ll be lost together and have fun doing it.”

We met for our dress rehearsal at 4:30 pm at the Winspear and that place is just awesome. Luckily we were there early enough to take loads of pictures before going in.   The rehearsal was handled expertly by our rehearsing director and by the choir director that tours as a part of the Gettys’ band. Even at the rehearsal, all the band members and director were full of enthusiasm and put so much fun into their performance, while remaining totally professional at all times. It took me a while to realize that Keith Getty was playing the piano for us the whole time, until he stopped a moment to change something in our performance. During our break, we all by tacit agreement met in small groups to go over trouble spots as well as our memorization numbers.   Everyone worked so well together. Keith Getty came in just before we were to take the stage to give us a pep talk. Very thoughtful.

The performance itself was wonderful. I really love Irish music and this Irish Christmas performance was no exception. The band and dancers were flawless, our choir director was fantastic and we had absolutely no trouble following him. Kristyn Getty’s voice was just lovely, and it was a pretty magical evening.   No regrets, just wonderful memories.

On a side note, as we traveled home, I wasn’t paying attention to where we went, until I realized we found ourselves in the West End. My friend’s friend was driving and as he turned left to get us back on track, we suddenly found ourselves heading into oncoming traffic with four lanes of headlights coming straight for us.   Okay, not his fault, since the road we came off of gave us no warning.   Also, no judgment here since this was not my first oncoming-traffic-wrong-way-rodeo.  And as my cousins well know, at this point, had I been driving, I would have said “I’m so sorry and I’ll never do it again!”   (They won’t let me forget this.)   Luckily our driver had quick reactions and infinite patience with all our back seat and side seat “helpful” directions at this point and had us quickly out of danger’s path.

All in all, it was an evening to remember. And to borrow and tweak a phrase, I can now say “Perform on stage at the Winspear….check. On to the next item on my bucket list.”

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My Selfie with Keith Getty backstage after the performance.

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5 Things I’m Thankful for this Thanksgiving

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From Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post 1951

  1. My family and friends. I am thankful I have a hubby (aka Hunka Burnin’ Love), three great kids, a host of aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and bunches of friends, who are all pretty much loving and supportive.
  1. A roof over my head. Sometimes I see folks living on the street or under bridges and my heart goes out to them. I am thankful I get to live in a house in a decent neighborhood.
  1. Working vehicles. With all the problems we’ve experienced this past year, I am really thankful for our solid working cars.
  1. My faith. Without my faith I would be lost. I am thankful to God every day for giving me the strength I need to meet the challenges before me.
  1. My health. I am thankful I do not have to take radiation treatments. With the exception of just a few folks, most of my loved ones don’t know that hubby and I have been dealing with concerns about my health these past 4 weeks. My surgery was only supposed to alleviate neck and shoulder pain, but a week later we were told pathology found something called a DCIS or pre-cancer. We were sent to an Oncologist and told our possible options, then more tests were ordered, and we were sent to a Radiology Oncologist. Fortunately, he did not recommend radiation, and we were very thankful.   The hidden blessing in all this was that it was removed.

These days, sometimes it’s difficult to find anything to be thankful for, but I remain optimistic.   Someone once told me, if “God brings you to it, he’ll pull you through it.”   I’m hanging on to that.

Here’s hoping you remember all the good in your life, not only this Thanksgiving but every day.

Peace out.

 

 

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Seeing the Forest for the Trees

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Driving home from our trip to The Woodlands brought some introspection.   For one thing, there was plenty of nothing to do and plenty of time to do it. Also, we were traveling home from a memorial service that celebrated the life of someone that meant something in my life.

For our trip home, we were given a beautifully detailed, color-coded detour by our hostess and a somewhat different detour hastily sketched on a paper napkin by one of our table-mates. This was due to the fact that I45 had some intense construction going on, causing traffic congestion all around that area. Since we’d parked in a free covered garage down the block that no one else seemed aware of, neither of these maps gave us the right starting point. Added to all this was an unfortunate coincidence that there was some sort of children’s carnival going on adjacent to our parking garage and so the city forced us to take their own mandatory detour.   On the way in and on the way out, I kept saying to my hubby “Don’t hit a kid; don’t hit a kid,” like a mantra. But I’m getting to the end prematurely, let me go back a bit.

The morning of the service, the carnival was just opening and a man and woman were standing near our garage entrance/exit with bins full of plastic bags filled with who knows what to give out to parents as they entered. Just as we were leaving the garage to head out to the church, the woman suddenly dropped her arm full of plastic goody bags all across our exit path. My spouse slammed on his breaks just in time as she bent over to pick these up, one at a time, slowly, dropping a few more, and then picking those up.   Ever been someplace unfamiliar and worried you won’t be on time? To say we were a little frustrated is an understatement. Just as we were considering getting out to help, even with a line forming behind us, her partner turned and helped her out. I think sometimes God tests our patience with these little exercises, just to keep us sharp, you know?

Speaking of goody bags, did you know the family created goody bags for all of us staying at the hotel? I’ve never heard of that for a memorial service before, but I guess it makes as much sense as some of the laminated bookmark type souvenirs I’ve seen at other services – including my own sister’s. It was incredibly generous and creative. It’s easy to see these kids grew up as kind and inventive as their parents.   The bags contained a sampling of many of their father’s favorite things, special pens, spices, a book, etc. as well as bottles of water – all fun and thoughtful gifts.

We had to get to the church early since we were singing with their choir for the service and a rehearsal was called for 10:30. We were late of course.   Some folks say you should plan for the unexpected. I don’t think our family ever got that memo. We rushed in, gathered up our music and slipped into our places as the choir director continued his practice.   In between songs, everyone took the opportunity to look around and visit with folks we hadn’t seen in years, except on Facebook. As a choir we were a little chaotic at times with all our chatter, but that choir director had the patience of Job, so he thankfully ignored us during those times and kept us moving through each piece at an easy pace. Bless him.   And still we worried. Some of us worried our voices weren’t going to make it to the heights necessary for these familiar old songs. Some of us worried we wouldn’t be able to sight read the music on the songs we didn’t know. Some of us worried about losing her voice and had to be fed a steady supply of Cherry Honey throat lozenges (you know who you are).

The service itself was very moving.   Why is it that at these events you always find out things you never knew before about someone? Like I had no idea Jerry was into creating stained glass art and made several stained glass windows for a local church.   This was my youth choir director, and a teacher. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure.   But it seems like every service I’ve ever attended, I learn something about that person I didn’t know before.   Even at my own sister’s service I learned more about her youth than I remembered.   It seems like we are made up of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. We share a few little pieces with each person we know, but only a select few get to see the whole picture – the one with all the pieces. In that way, I suppose a memorial service is kind of magical, at least for me.   I am always amazed by what I learn, and unfailingly in awe of the person whose life we are celebrating.

Once it was all over, we were on our way home. After a 35 minute detour, we finally made it to the highway, and after a bit I looked out at all the lovely tall trees surrounding us on both sides of the road on such a pretty day and asked my hubby “Aren’t these beautiful?”   “Hmm,” was his reply.   It seems he was getting a little claustrophobic after a while and felt the trees were falling in on him. There were tons of pine trees and a bunch of others I couldn’t recognize. Turns out we were driving through the Sam Houston National Forest. Suddenly, after a turn in the road, we see this big honkin’ statue, taller than the trees. It was a statue of Sam Houston himself. Awesome to see, and I had to wonder how it was transported there. I was able to snap a few pictures (please pardon the window glare), and this break in the trees caused my hubby to feel a little less closed in.

That was a little like the whole trip. Funny how we sometimes get so bogged down in all the details, we forget to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The purpose of this trip was to celebrate the life of a man who made an important mark in all our lives. Despite all the details we all worried over, once the service began, we each relaxed into our roles and accomplished just that. And, as a result, we got to honor the memory of an old friend and mentor, honor his family, and reconnect with old friends.

Here’s hoping today you take some time to relax, enjoy, and reconnect.

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Fun Friday Reads: Sunrise, Sunset: 52 Weeks of Awe & Gratitude, Photography by Kim Weiss

These photos are, in a word, Wow. Sunrise, Sunset is filled with cherished memories, reflections, and poems by various authors, spiritual leaders, educators, and radio talk show hosts. The photographs are simply amazing. Some of us will, on occasion, take the time to watch a really beautiful sunset; but for those of us too busy or stressed to do so, the images Kim Weiss has captured really do justice to the awe-inspiring brushstrokes across the sky for both sunrise and sunset. She accompanies these with a wonderfully well-chosen assortment of reflections that match the imagery perfectly, designed to de-stress and relax the reader and inspire guess what? Awe and gratitude. 🙂

The book can be read straight through, but is probably best read as a daily thought or meditation.

Cushions: Gorgeous photography, cool inspirational messages to start or end your day.

Cautions: If you order the actual book, the photos beautifully spread across both pages; however, the ebook version is formatted a little differently so that the image is on one page and the sentiment on another.

Well done, Ms. Weiss.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, you can click on the image above and be taken directly to the book in Amazon. An excerpt is provided below.

Excerpt from Sunrise Sunset

Excerpt from Sunrise Sunset

Sunrise_Sunset_Amazon_Image

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Secrets

Secrets

Secrets. We all have them. Little secrets, big ones, and vast in-between ones. Some are family secrets, skeletons hidden in the closet, or maybe only whispered during family reunions or get-togethers. Some are secrets about our past exploits that we feel our loved ones would lose respect for us should they learn of them. Some are secrets we hold in trust for others, the ones we listen to with compassion, with empathy, and with infinite tenderness. Then there are the fun secrets – the ones that hold good news, like what I got you for Christmas, or a particular question we know our friend is about to pop to his gal, or that someone is expecting a special delivery – in about nine months.

The trouble with secrets is they are hard to hold onto. Most of us can usually carry them for a good long time if we have to, especially if someone else entrusted you with it. But if it’s our own secret, we eventually feel we have to share it with someone or bust – or maybe that’s just me.   Because secrets can become a really heavy burden. If you are lucky enough, you have someone in your life that you can spill the beans to who’s a better secret keeper than you.   Then your load becomes a little lighter and sometimes a little healing can begin if it’s that kind of a secret.   Or if it’s good news, like telling what Christmas presents you bought for the family, you just feel better, and still know the secret is safe because you just told your hubby and he couldn’t care less.

If you have a good support system in place, you are golden, because there’s always a friend, loved one, or even a pastor there for you when you need them.   If you don’t have that in your life, you need one, so get out there and start building one. It’s really not as hard as you think. Make a friend or reconnect with old friends, and talk regularly. Volunteer at someplace you care about. Join a support group, or join a group where you can practice your favorite hobby. Join a friendly church, where you’ll meet a lot of caring folks.   There are so many ways to build your support system. Everyone needs one, and building one for yourself can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

Feeling blessed today for my support system.

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