Friday, September 30, 2011
I have very mixed feelings about this book. The characters are not the cardboard Christian type - they're real and flawed and confused, much like any other human on this planet. For that reason, I was enthralled by the mystery in this story and couldn't wait to solve the case. I cheered Claudia for taking steps toward her healing even as I mourned the way she was often hurting those who loved her most. I wanted to like Casio as I could see great potential in him, but his flaws made him difficult to like. Ultimately, I would have liked to see more of Claudia's husband Victor as he seemed to have the best handle on what was happening. Without him, this would have been just another mystery - but his faithful influence made all the difference.
As much as I liked the authenticity of the characters, I disliked the ending. A sudden twist at the end kept me from predicting the ending entirely, but the conclusion came abruptly, and even though all loose ends were wrapped up, I felt at odds when the book ended. The major issues that kept Claudia suffering from PTSD for a decade seemed gone too quickly, and with faith issues on the peripheral of the main characters' vision for much of the book, the resolution just seemed too fast.
Ultimately, this book explored trauma and our reactions to it in several different ways. Many books pull you in and make you feel as if you've experienced what the characters have - and so you can see yourself taking similar actions if you're ever in that kind of situation. Not so with this story - I felt as if this was more of a "what not to do" than "here's how you do it."
I thoroughly enjoyed Jakes' writing style and am interested in reading more of her work for the realistic characters - but this story is not one I'll read over and over due to the negative feeling I was left with.
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.
To preview this story for yourself, go here to read an excerpt from the first chapter.
From reading other reviews of this book, I seem to be in the minority. Many others think that The Crossing presents a very positive view of dealing with PTSD.
Want to read it for yourself and see what YOU think? For a chance to win this book, ...
1. Rank this review. You will automatically be entered into a drawing from the publisher. They're giving away one copy to a reader who ranks a review.
2. For a chance to win a copy from me, leave a comment on this post.
3. For a third chance to win a copy, rank my review and leave a comment telling me that you did so.
I'll choose a winner randomly on October 26th. The winner will then have 24 hours to reply or a second winner will be chosen. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you.
* I can only ship packages to US addresses. Thanks for understanding!
** After putting the numbers 1 - 10 in a hat, My Little Man pulled out the number 4. Congratulations, Moneezzy!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Today we headed to Rogers Cattle Company to learn about raising animals for meat. Coming from a dairy farm background, I didn't expect this type of animal raising to be very different from what I'm familiar with, but it was.
Sharon and Johnny Rogers are the operators and sole workers of this operation, and they went the extra mile to show us how their farm functions - they drove us in a haywagon! It was a great way to tour the farm and visit with the animals.
The ewes were neat. Knowing that it was their normal eating time, they came running to greet us. A type of sheep that shed their hair naturally, they closely resembled the few goats sharing their pen.
We just happened to visit this one mid-shed. I've never seen sheep that didn't need to be sheared!
The rams seemed a bit antsy today. Perhaps, with the cooler weather, they knew that mating season will soon be arriving?
These young bulls were content to hang out under a large tree and watch us watching them. They seemed very calm and will not go out 'dating' for a while yet.
Of course, the heifers and the calves were my favorite.
Unfortunately, these are some of the animals that provide this farm with their livelihood - fresh beef. Mr. Rogers shared that in order to sell fresh meat, they had to be inspected by the Department of Agriculture and that the meat had to be processed in a USDA-approved facility.
The turkeys were another story. The first crop of turkeys for this farm, they arrived on site in mid-June and are growing quickly. Mr. Rogers farms with a type of plastic-polymer fencing that he moves around the farm to give the animals fresh pastureland. To keep the turkeys safe from predators, they remain inside their smaller enclosures except when there are people around.
They eat a type of crushed grain, which Mr. Rogers was happy to show us. The children decided that this was much like the chickens some of them have at home!
Immediately after commenting that the turkeys didn't resemble the ones we typically see displayed at Thanksgiving, this one decided to strut his stuff. After puffing out those tail feathers, he took off across the pen. I couldn't get a shot from any other angle!
These birds will be kept until early November, at which time they'll be available for purchase.
At the conclusion of the tour, the children enjoyed digging in this large pile of rocks. Why buy toys - they need only sticks and stones to be happy!
Of course, seeing a few hundred farm animals makes their day, too.
For more information about Rogers Cattle Company or to order meat, visit their website.
Where do you purchase your meat? Have you ever gone straight to the source?
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
This past weekend was Women of Faith Charlotte! This was truly a fantastic event.
If you've never attended a large women's conference, this is definitely the one to start with. All of the speakers and musicians were very professional and yet very authentic. You didn't leave with the impression that they didn't have issues or were somehow better than you; in fact, we left with a very good idea of what all of their issues are - but we also learned about how they deal with them Biblically.
Throughout this two day event, I laughed, I cried, and sometimes I laughed until I cried.
This year's theme is "Imagine." Here's how it went:
Sheila Walsh was up first, and she's brilliant. Her story is amazing and I love the way that she teaches from the Bible. She also had us all in stitches from her second sentence, and we pretty much stayed there for the rest of her sessions, despite the depth of her information.
Let me make one thing very clear, however: I would be happy to pay the WoF fee just to sit and listen to Sheila speak for two days. Her accent is amazing, her jokes are funny, and if she were the sum total of the conference, it would all be worth it.
That there's more is just icing on the cake.
Each guest left me with at least a few nuggets. Dr. Henry Cloud left me with many. I loved the format of the first day as Dr. Cloud and Sheila Walsh alternated speaking. They complemented each other well and provided great information.
The nugget I left this final session with, however, I think needs to be made into a t-shirt. Dr. Cloud told us about how humans are made for connection, both with God and with each other. How this type of close, trusting relationship lowers our stress levels, improves our overall emotional health, and is just a great thing. He told us about a study done with monkeys that proves this scientifically, and then asked us: "Who's your monkey?" I'm happy to report that I have several close monkeys whom I can call on in good times and bad - and I'm adding this new catchphrase to my everyday vocabulary.
The worship team had amazing voices and reminded me of Point of Grace. Through both familiar and unfamiliar songs, they opened each session and got me ready to worship and to learn.
After a break for dinner, Ken Davis reminded us that God is the author of joy. He inspired quite a lot of it with his stories that night - this man is funny!
Natalie Grant closed the evening with a concert. She sang "It Is Well With My Soul" a cappella as her final song, and her sweet voice just did wonders to those lyrics. I'll never hear it the same way again.
The entire Women of Faith team took the stage to end the evening. Seeing everyone together and dancing ended the night on a high note - and hearing 7000 female voices raised in song was inspiring!
The format of Day Two was more like the other conferences I've attended. Each speaker took turns sharing. Lisa Harper gave her testimony and somehow kept me laughing, all at the same time. She has a new book out called Stumbling into Grace, and I'll definitely be looking this one up.
Nicole Johnson did a few skits during the course of the event, and she also spoke about anger and how women typically deal with it. This was probably the most serious and heavy session of the entire conference. I could relate to much of her information.
Karen Kingsbury was the only speaker whom I had heard before coming to this conference. I fully expected to hear a repeat of what I'd heard before - after all, she's a busy lady - and while some of the information was the same, many of the illustrating stories were different.
Several of the authors and musicians did meet and greets and signed their work, and I tried several times to make it into Karen's line, but no matter how early I went, the line was always closed. This is my only regret from the conference - I would have loved to have met her!
Luci Swindoll was up next. Sharing a bit from her colorful life as well as the Gospel message, I loved Luci's outlook on life. If nobody tells you not to, do it! Think outside the box! Dream big! What a great philosophy - and a great way to try new things and put yourself out there creatively.
Mary Mary gave a concert on Saturday afternoon. Being unfamiliar with much of their music, this was a great introduction. They were high energy and funny and told great truths through their music.
Even the ceiling was pretty.
All in all, I was sad to leave the Women of Faith arena. Encouraged, inspired, and excited for more, my monkey and I headed home, already making plans for 2012.
Do you live within driving distance of Charlotte, NC? Women of Faith will be making a stop there on October 19-20, 2012, and tickets are on sale now! They're also stopping in Greensboro, NC, for a single-day event in March. All the details can be found at the Women of Faith website.
The thoughts and views expressed here are solely my own, but I was given a pair of tickets from Thomas Nelson in exchange for sharing my experience. Thanks, Thomas Nelson - I'll be back!
Have you been to a Women of Faith conference? How was your experience?
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
This past weekend I traveled with a friend to a Women of Faith conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. We got up super early on Friday and headed out into a dark and rainy morning, intent on making it to the Time Warner arena before the emcee took the stage at 10.
Despite a few stops and seriously heavy rain (it wasn't raining cats and dogs, it was more like elephants and giraffes), we drove past the arena at 8:59 and found parking. The clouds later cleared and allowed us to venture outside on our breaks.
During our dinner break we explored the Epicenter, a multi-story outdoor mall area full of eateries and shops. After eating, with time left, we took off to explore another area a block away.
While we weren't able to get to the recommended shops, we did find this:
and got to use this revolving door.
There's something fun about revolving doors - I can't help wanting to go around and around in them!
While we didn't get nearly enough sleep before or at the conference to be completely comfortable - it's hard for a woman to go away for her family! - it was a great time away. The city was as beautiful as all that concrete could be, and watching limos and valets changed up my people watching views from the usual kittens and squirrels.
I was sad to leave - though looking forward to a full night's sleep - when we spotted an IKEA as we drove out of the city. Like any self-respecting women, we crossed several lanes of traffic and drove all over until we figured out how to get to it. We didn't have nearly enough time to do that store justice.
I will never want to move to a city because I much prefer the sounds of birds and squirrels to that of car horns and braking buses, but it's a fun place to visit, and Charlotte was excellent. With lots to do packed in a small space, we were never bored - and could have used much more time. The benches by some of those fountains looked like great places to plop down with a slushy drink and my Bible. I hope my next trip there moves at a slower pace!
Today, I'm grateful for the ability to get away. For a husband who encourages my retreats and takes wonderful care of the kids while I'm gone. For the opportunity to visit a new place and see new sights. For a clean place to stay and free chocolate while there. For the ending of the rain and the appearance of the sun, for yummy dinners out and a Sheetz along the way. For safe travels and family waiting for my return. For Sunday afternoon naps and a slow re-entry to the real world.
I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Charlotte - and my next retreat, whatever and whenever that may be.
What are you grateful for today?
For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers!
Come back tomorrow for more about my Women of Faith Experience!
Monday, September 26, 2011
It has been such a good week here. Hectic and crazy busy, which is unusual for us, but good.
The highlight of the week came at the end for me - when I traveled with my morning walking buddy to Charlotte for Women of Faith. More about that later this week! (But not only did we have a fabulous time - but our tickets were free!)
In addition to the trip itself, two of my other friends stepped in and took care of my children on Friday so that I could go to the conference. They took care of meals and picking up the Big Helper from school and even arranged a play date for them. They had a wonderful time!
Often coming home from these types of trips is crazy because you never know what state you'll find your house in when you return. This time, however, I came home to a sleeping family and a full dish drainer - of clean dishes! The children were fed, bathed, ready for church the next morning - and the dishes were done, too. Thanks, Dave!
If you've ever read this blog before, you know my Little Man doesn't usually look like this. For several weeks we've been visiting doctors and trying to figure out what's going on. His nose and eyes swelled, turned reddish-purple, and he strongly resembled a sleepy raccoon who was too tired to eat sometimes. We finally have a diagnosis, though - and it's only fall allergies! Getting the right meds took time, as there were crazy insurance issues, but we have those, as well, and he's now on the mend. I'm so thankful that it's something simple and treatable and that we's getting well!
One day after school we found this snake on the deck. At first we were too scared to go near it, but after it stayed put for a while, I ventured closer and realized that it was only half of a snake. Eventually even that part disappeared. I think the cats are doing their thing - and I'm so grateful that they not only killed it, but even removed it for us.
Speaking of cats, we said goodbye to Tiger the kitten last night. She was fun and feisty and always up for an adventure, but someone called in response to our posters, and she has a new home with a little girl. Two more and mommy cat to go! Anybody want a free kitten?
My Big Helper called and talked to her grandparents one day last week - for quite some time. I love that they are responsible with the phone and are eager to talk with their family - and equally thankful that their family wants to talk with them!
What blessings did you receive this week?
Sunday, September 25, 2011
We're in the final stages of preparation for Disney! I'm centering our meal plans this week around foods that we already have on hand - and around foods that will be easy to prepare, giving me more time to pack and work on other preparations.
- Pumpkin pancakes x 3 (we really love these!)
- scrambled eggs, fruit
- cereal, bananas
- pumpkin bread - one for now and two to freeze for the trip
Lunches will be our usual assortment of leftovers or simple sandwiches, sliced fruits and veggies, and cheese or yogurt.
- Crispy southwest chicken wraps, cantaloupe
- Spaghetti with bolognese sauce, garlic bread, homemade applesauce
- baked chicken with pineapple salsa, rice, roasted carrots
- vegetable soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, sliced apples
- Grab it and growl - clean out the fridge night
- dinner out
- dinner with my in-laws (she's cooking!)
My last minute kitchen prep for our trip will include:
- some sort of whole wheat cookie
- no bake chocolate chip energy bites
- chocolate chip granola bars
- pumpkin brownies
For more meal plans, visit Orgjunkie!
Thursday, September 22, 2011
This week we ventured to Raleigh to go to the State Farmer's Market. This place is amazing - multiple huge shelters full of locally grown fruits and vegetables, plants, trees, meats, nuts, and crafty things like homemade soaps.
The place is enormous - this is only half of one shelter, and there are two others. With many farmers offering samples of watermelons, grapes, apples, and cantelope, we ate our way around the market.
Today was Apple Day, and free samples of apple products were advertised.
We were disappointed to learn that this apple crisp and some stickers was all they had - but the farmers more than made up for it.
This kind gentleman passed out samples of ice cold apple cider. It was fabulous!
Peaches were available, too, and we had to bring a few home.
There was an abundance of produce available, and we couldn't decide exactly what to bring home. These tomatoes - with their funny sign - were on the list!
We couldn't bring home nearly as much as we wanted to -but we met several nice people and had a nice picnic outside. We also found one farm willing to let us build our own box of apples - any varieties we wanted - and another who sold us two boxes of seconds at a great price.
Applesauce, here we come!
What are your favorite apple recipes??
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Who can study the UK without studying tea? We read about tea traditions online, and then we chose a date and time for our tea party.
My Big Helper created an invitation for her friend, and we delivered it to her mailbox that night.
We chose to have our tea party on an early release day from school - so the Big Helper and her friend were finished at noon. My Little Man and I picked them both up, and then they played while I added the finishing touches to our table.
I covered the table with a simple tablecloth and used a cake plate to arrange our treats. We planned our menu after studying the recipes on this site. We learned that it is standard to have a few sandwiches (usually with a cream cheese base), to have a few sweets, and to have something fruity.
We made our menu be a kid-friendly version of this. We served cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with the crusts cut off and in different shapes for easy identification. We also made simple cream puffs, brownies, blueberry muffins, and crumpets. We served everything with strawberry jelly and honey. Instead of tea (to avoid the caffeine and sugar), My Little Man chose to have sugar-free strawberry juice.
When the time arrived, our trio decided to "dress" for tea. I"m not quite sure how they think the Brits appear for tea, but they were having too much fun for me to rain on their parade.
My Big Helper took her role as hostess very seriously, and she practiced pouring for days leading up to the party with a miniature tea set.
All three children found this small set difficult to use, but they got a kick out of using it - and they loved holding onto the lid to keep it from flying off!
Tea didn't last long - the kids were too hungry and too excited to try everything to linger. They inhaled several pots of 'tea' and sampled everything on the platter - which I refilled several times. We decided that English crumpets are not quite for us, and they weren't fond of cream puffs, either, but they loved the idea of different sandwiches in shapes according to a certain identification 'code.'
While I thought they might have eaten enough to warrant a very small supper, they were true to the tea party spirit and were ready for another meal just a bit later.
I'm definitely seeing more tea parties in our future - and we'll be checking out the UK section of Epcot to see what tasty treats they might feature!
Do your kids have tea parties? How do their parties work?