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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

V.V.B.C.-Friends' Book Suggestions-March 2011, List 2

Vicarious Virtual Book Club Suggestions
V.V.B.C.-Friends' Book Suggestions-March 2011, List 2

Here's part two of the list of book suggestions from friends, posted March 16th. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments!

Babette Wald: I'm reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". About 200 pages in...and good so far. (Jamie's Note: This was a Sisterchick Book Club selection before I joined, and from what I recall, most everyone thought the story was riveting, albeit somewhat sexually graphic. I agree. Several members said they'd read the sequel, and liked it.)

Annelle Trigg Johnson: Loved My Reading Life so much that I've downloaded two of his recommendations: War and Peace, and Anna Karenina. Slowly working through the first one. Expect to get lots of reading done on flights to/from China over spring break. Thank heavens for the Kindle. Love it, love it, love it. (Jamie's Note: the April Book Selection for my regular and online book clubs! Online Vicarious Virtual Book Club right here on my blog!
Search my archives for post titles starting with V.V.B.C.) 

Sheron Craig Womack: I'm reading a dumb mystery and A Secret Gift in which a man traces his father's monetary gifts during the great depression. He finds as many people as possible to see how these gifts might have changed them and their families. Non-fiction. (Jamie's note: I read A Secret Gift. I thought it was interesting and inspirational.)A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression

Karen Carbonneau: Pillars of the Earth...very good. (Jamie's Note: I loved Pillars of the Earth and the Sequel: World Without End. There is a tv series on Pillars of the Earth (on Starz) that was VERY well done!)Ken Follett

Peggy Perry: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) ....incredible story, I couldn't put it down...

Samuel A. Waters: ‎'The Bostonians.' The Bostonians

Cathie Lopez Breath....the autobiography is the woman who lived in an iron lung. What a writer! Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung: A Memoir (Jamie's Note: There is a book club review of this book in my archives.)

Julie Lasserre The Lotus Eaters by Tatiana Soli Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, and on my future list: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, any cookbook Sarah's Key, The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean The Secret Lives of Dresses, another cookbook, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel, The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok The Memory Palace, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer The Invisible Bridge (Vintage Contemporaries), Room by Emma Donaghue Room: A Novel, and did I mention cookbooks? Seriously, I think this list will last for quite a while!

Laurye Campbell Ray ‎"Breaking Night" book by a young woman who went from tragic childhood to homeless teenager to Harvard.Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

Jana Graf getting ready to read Jodi Picoults new book that came out this week..."Sing You Home"...Sing You Home: A Novel
recently read "The Kitchen House"by Kathleen Grissom, excellent...The Kitchen House: A Novel

Julie Taylor Fitzgerald Just read "Homer's Odyssey", sweet story of a blind cat (Valentine's Day present from my sweetie ♥)Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, Julia Child's "My Life in France" My Life in France (Movie Tie-In Edition) (Random House Movie Tie-In Books) and a new cookbook - Dorie Greenspan's "Around My French Table". Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours Would like to read the Stig Larson mystery/thriller trilogy next.Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy Deluxe Boxed Set: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Plus On Stieg Larsson

Mona McChesney Williams ‎"How to SELL a House FAST in a SLOW Real Estate Market" William Bronchick & Ray Cooper, 2009.How to Sell a House Fast in a Slow Real Estate Market: A 30-Day Plan for Motivated Sellers

I'll be adding lots of these books to my "To Read" list! Comments?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Choosing our Attitudes!

Choosing our Attitudes!

UPDATE: I am in the process of launching a new website that will be a resource for finding and sharing family traditions. Please sign up to be notified when it launches!
Thank you!

As I'm closing in on sixty, I'm finding that more of my friends are experiencing significant medical issues. I'm becoming increasingly aware of the need to take care of, and pay attention to, my body. I'm acutely aware that we shouldn't take our health for granted. It doesn't take much to throw bodily functions out of whack! I am trying to watch what I eat, and am making an intentional effort to exercise more, in order to postpone all the ailments I can! I recently saw this quote: 

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. 
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it." 

This quote reminds me that our attitude determines how we experience everything, and we CHOOSE our own attitudes! It also reminds me that sometimes our trials are meant to shape us and "prune" us. If we don't have some trials, we'll miss out on a lot of lessons! I'm trying to approach every situation with humor, and I'm finding that I'm laughing at myself a lot!

Praying to be fearless, and to conquer pain, are bold and scary prayers! I'm sure we'd all rather pray for protection and no pain, instead of praying about how to face danger and deal with pain! However, once we find ourselves in situations we cannot change quickly, we will be better served by considering how to deal with our circumstances, instead of whining, or railing against them!

I shared the Tagore's quote with my friend, Sheila, who is facing her FOURTH bout of cancer. The quote spoke to her, too. Sheila wrote of the quote, "I like this.  Let me be FEARLESS!!!" 

Although we can't control everything that happens to us, we can decide that we won't allow negative circumstances to cause us to react negatively! We need to determine positive steps we can take, in every situation, and move forward, one step at a time. 

My high school classmate, Steve, had a heart attack, which required a stent, last week. When I reached him by phone 4 days later, his attitude epitomized what I hope mine would be, should I find myself facing similar circumstances! 

Steve was positive, optimistic, and doing what he could to get better. He accepted his temporary restrictions, and physical limitations, as necessary for his progress. I felt confident enough about Steve's decisiveness, and prognosis of a complete recovery, that I jokingly told him he'd "better not die on me, because we're having our class reunion at your place in September." 

He replied, "If I die, just prop me up by the juke box, and party on!" That seemed fearless to me as well! He was extremely grateful that his wife had recognized that the severity of his symptoms required immediate help. Steve was marveling that he'd been transported by "Life Flight" to have emergency surgery for a stent, when he'd been feeling "perfectly fine," and eating lunch, just prior to the episode. Steve was facing all kinds of restrictions on his activities, but Steve was not focusing on anything negative. He was remaining positive, and looking forward!

Over and over, I've seen friends overcome dire prognoses, to live longer, healthier, and happier lives than anyone could imagine, because of their faith in God's Sovereignty over their situations. My friends didn't let the way things appeared affect their faith that their circumstances were part of God's plans. Those optimistic friends believed that regardless of how bleak things seemed, God could turn things around! Time and again, God performed miracles! Even in situations when no miracles were forthcoming, my positive and "fearless" friends experienced more peace and less pain, than less positive friends.  

Let's start practicing for our "old age," as well as for Eternity! Let's live each day with a sense of gratitude for our blessings, and let's look for the blessings in every circumstance! Let's approach our "problems" with ideas for solutions, instead of letting our problems overwhelm us. Let's try to always have hope! Let's be sure we follow Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer, to "Accept the things !/we cannot change, and change the things I/we can!" 

Let's take it a step beyond choosing to have attitudes that are positive and grateful. Let's purposefully pursue, and spread, joy and laughter! After all, laughter is purportedly great medicine, and, it's contagious! May our upbeat attitudes create an epidemic of joy and laughter, that infects everyone around us! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cultural Immersion Week!

Cultural Immersion Week!

I am feeling well-cultured this week! When it rains, it pours! I'm not sure if I've ever had such a cultural feast! In the last 7 days, I've been to one "art film," two plays, and my book club! I also watched "Dancing With the Stars" and "American Idol!" (O.K., so maybe those last two don't FULLY count as cultural dance and concert experiences, but they were fun, too!)

My childhood friend, Cindy Gass Fetch, sent an e-mail recommending the movie "Barney's Version," starring Dustin Hoffman. Knowing Ed was going to be out of town, I asked my long-time friend, and hairdresser of 26 years, Robert Vento, to go to the movie with me, after my hair appointment!

After I was "colored and trimmed," (I hope I didn't shock anyone too much with the revelation that I color my hair!) Robert and I successfully navigated rush hour traffic, and made it to the movie with a few minutes to spare! Although I enjoyed the 60's and 70's music, and the scenes shot in Italy, I found the movie to be "unsettling." It's the kind of movie you find yourself contemplating, long after it's over. The aging issues presented in the movie are not fun to think about! Enough said.

Book Club met Monday. I've already blogged about that! Always a good time. I'm looking forward to discussing Pat Conroy's My Reading Life next month. (I've issued an invitation to Pat Conroy, via his blog, to come to book club! I'll let you know if he responds!)

Robert mentioned that he'd heard from two different clients, that the play, "Superior Donuts," at the Horizon theater, was really good. I asked Ed if he wanted to go to the play with Robert on Wednesday, and Ed said, "Why not!"

We joined Robert for a very interesting (and delicious) dinner, with New Orleans undertones, at Parish, in Inman Park. I had a veggie plate over some great grits. Ed tried the stuffed catfish, and Robert had a HUGE fried boneless chicken breast with collards. The bluesy keyboard player added just the right touch of atmosphere, without being so loud we couldn't enjoy our conversations.

We moved on to the theater, and got good seats, to the right of center stage. (We were across the aisle from Atlanta's Frugal Guru, Clarke Howard!)

While we were waiting for the play to start, we had some YUMMY giant cookies for dessert. (And I MEAN G-I-A-N-T! Butter Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin.) During intermission, we also sampled some OH-MY-GOODNESS-GREAT doughnuts from Sublime Doughnuts! We had a "S'more" doughnut and a STAR SHAPED "Orange Dream" doughnut! (I had never seen a star shaped doughnut before!)

When I got the cookies, I saw 4 PERFECT doughnuts in a clear cake stand, on the counter, which I thought were wax decorations,  setting the mood for the play! Later, the director told us that there would be doughnuts for sale during intermission. That's when I "got a clue" that the doughnuts I'd seen on the counter were REAL!

"Superior Donuts" lived up to its hype. The entire play took place in the doughnut shop. The actors were exceptional. We pulled for the underdogs, disliked the jerks, and empathized where appropriate! None of us wanted the play to end. Best play I've seen in a long time!

Lastly, last night, Ed and I took Brittany, her friend Caitlin, Blake, and Faith to see Peter Pan, in 360 degrees! (Pemberton Place, between the World of Coca Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.) The flying scenes reminded me of standing in the old Disney "America the Beautiful" attraction, where everyone felt like they were flying!

The flying scenes were breathtaking, the sets were creative, and the circular projections enhanced both. The dog and two-person-rolling-ticking crocodile were scene stealers. When the audience chanted together to revive Tinkerbell, even the most hardened skeptics must have felt a smidgeon of the magic!

What a great production! What a great week! And now, after all the excitement I've had, I have a whole WEEKEND to enjoy! Y'all have a great weekend, too!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

V.V.B.C.--Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

Caution: This review contains "spoilers." If you have not read the book, and intend to, stop reading now!

There were 14 Sisterchicks at Book Club tonight, and, since the book was nominated by Pam, she led the discussion. Everyone liked the book--although 2 of the girls said they were "mad" the whole way through the book! They said Marta's mistreatment by her father, Hildemara's mistreatment by her teacher, and some of the other situations in the book, kept them "stirred up!"

It was pretty much universally agreed that one of Francine Rivers' strengths is her character development. In the epilogue, Ms. Rivers revealed that she based some of the characters in Her Mother's Hope, loosely, on members of her own family. (Since I listened to the book, I had not read that commentary, or seen the accompanying pictures, until tonight.)

We all felt like we got to know the characters. We continued to think about them, long after finishing the book. Alice made everyone laugh when she said, "What's bad is when you find yourself praying for these people. Well, almost!" We knew what Alice meant. Francine Rivers has a real gift for bringing her characters to life! 

Several people shared that, based on their own pasts, the scenarios were very believable. They identified so much with the beatings, abuse, comparison between siblings, and other situations, they were uncomfortable while reading. 

Everyone agreed that this book was a departure from Francine Rivers other books. Her Mother's Hope had good moral lessons, and the Bible was mentioned, but was not a prevailing theme. 

One of the strongest discussions about prayer was when Niclas counseled Hildemara to pray for the teacher who continued to demean her. Hildemara did so, very conscientiously. Even though the prayers didn't noticeably change Hildemara's teacher's behavior,  Hildemara realized that her prayers had changed her own attitude, and given her empathy toward her teacher, because of the loss of her son during World War II. 

The first part of the book was told from Marta's point of view. We started out with a discussion about how Marta's childhood difficulties affected her life. We agreed they gave her skills and taught her to be independent. Several of us had also read the sequel, which made us have trouble remembering what happened in which book, and several others had read the book long enough ago (2 weeks, one said), that the details were sketchy. Trying to remember character names sent us to the book, looking for the name of Marta's mother. 

After a couple of minutes scanning the beginning of the book, it was determined, and announced, that Marta's mother's name was "Mama." That brought a fresh round of giggles as one of our members declared in mock astonishment, "That was MY Mother's Name!" and another chimed in, "Mine, too!" 

We have a lot of laughs and fun in our book club! (I won't reveal ALL of the funny stories, private revelations, and prayer concerns about our children, and other family members and friends, though. What goes on at Book Club, stays at Book Club, you know! LOL!) 

We discussed how Marta's relationship with her father colored how she saw God. We decided that Marta's mother was the more devout parent, and that Marta's father taught her that church was a only place to see people, and be seen.  By forcing Marta to go to church with her eyes blackened from beatings, and making Marta sit on the back row, Marta's father gave Marta the message that she was only good enough to sit on the back row, "far away" from God. 

Marta internalized the message that there was no hope of her ever pleasing God, the Heavenly Father, if she couldn't even please her earthly father. When Marta's husband was terminally ill, Marta finally started talking to God--even yelling at Him, while walking in the orchard to which Marta's husband had devoted so much of his time. 

Marta's "Mama" wanted Marta to soar, while Marta's father wanted to control Marta. His primary objective was to collect the money Marta could contribute to the family. Marta epitomized her own Mother's "Hope" to escape, hence the title. OOPS! We were wrong! Hildemara was HER mother, Marta's "Hope!" Read the comments for more explanation!

Marta's "Mama" wanted her daughter to be freed from enslavement in the tailor shop, which "Mama" knew would be inevitable, especially after her death, if Marta did not leave. After Marta endured her father's hiring her out as a hotel assistant, then his exiling her to a school for maids, "Mama" sent Marta away, with a little bit of money, to fend for herself. "Mama" unselfishly released Marta, with the blessing to "Fly, Liebling!" 

Marta showed great resourcefulness, and was to be admired, for making her dream of owning a boarding house come true. We were all glad Marta fell in love with Niclas. We understood that Marta had a hard time trusting Niclas, because of her own Father. 

We all agreed that Niclas had pride, and that Marta wasn't "the best wife," but we weren't impressed with his passive aggressive actions, (for example: leaving Marta and making decisions to move and enter contracts, without consulting Marta.) There was much discussion about how we would have reacted, had we been put in the situation to abandon our hard-earned dreams, and follow our husbands to a farm!

The story continues, and changes at some point to the perspective of Marta's daughter, Hildemara. It was almost universally agreed that Marta really believed that she was helping Hildemara by being extra tough on her, because Marta did not want Hildemara to grow up weak and dependent, as Marta's sister, Elise, had been. (We all thought it was peculiar that Marta never once told Hildemara about Elise. The only reason we came up with, that Hildemara didn't tell, was the shame of unmarried pregnancy and suicide.)

Then, we were forced to rethink Marta's actions. One member raised the possibility that Marta was jealous of Hildemara. Even though Marta's motives for "toughening up" Hildemara were in many ways sound, Marta may have been jealous of Hildemara's tender, servant's heart. Hildemara may have irritated Marta, as Marta, maybe even subconsciously, compared the differences between her Hildemara's and her own personalities.

It was ironic that Marta longed for a college degree, and continually read and tried to better her education, while Niclas had a degree in Engineering, and only aspired to be a farmer. She always read her son's text books, and asked what he was learning in college. 

Marta's mother's applying to college for Hildemara was an example of everyone's frustration that none of the characters in the book TALKED to each other! Sisterchicks kept saying, throughout our entire book discussion, "if they'd just had ONE conversation!" At least Hildemara's decision to be a nurse finally gave her the courage to stand up to her mother!

Marta said she didn't want her daughter to be a nurse, which was simply, in Marta's mind, a glorified maid. We thought that was interesting, especially since Marta had started out the same way, as a servant, by training, and by owning a boarding house. 

Somebody pointed out that Hildemara had the most honorable and "normal" career out of Marta's three daughters, except that, for the times, nursing was probably less highly esteemed. The other two sisters' careers were artist and costume designer. 

Lack of communication allowed so many misconceptions to flourish. Lack of communication sentenced several generations to  unnecessarily troubled relationships. Hurtful secrets sentenced people to years of unnecessary torment. Kind words, gentle questions, and thoughtful explanations--efforts at communication--would have changed the course of Marta's family's history. 

There was discussion about how "times have changed." Most everyone had stories about how our grandparents and parents were not as vocal or demonstrative as people are now. I think we all interpreted the book as an example of how NOT to interact with our own families! 

We went down a few interesting rabbit trails as we were concluding our discussion! Pam signaled the end of our formal discussion after nobody had any more comments or questions. 

Alice brought in information about a fundraising bookmark project, in support of the tsunami victims in Japan, which some local Japanese women are organizing. The bookmarks will have "Hope" written in Japanese on one side, and a name of your choice, in Japanese characters, on the other side, for $2.00. Alice collected money and order details from everyone at book club. If you're local, and interested in a bookmark, please leave contact information in the comment section, or e-mail or call me, and I will get the details to you. 

The April Book Club Selection (which I nominated) is Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. I'm really enjoying it. I love Pat Conroy's vocabulary, and command of the English language. (I am reading the book AND listening to Pat Conroy read it!)

Sister Chicks: Did I miss anything you'd like to comment on, about My Reading Life? Anyone else have any comments? It's your turn!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

55+ March JOY Trip-Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum

55+ March JOY Trip
Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum

As some of y'all know, I'm the new "program planner," for our church's monthly 55+ luncheons and trips. For our March trip, this past Thursday, we went to the Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum in Fayetteville. 

The city bought and rescued the house in 1999. The Fayetteville Development Authority, (on whose board I serve,) and Fayetteville Main Street, worked together to restore the house, and opened the museum in 2003. 

The Greek-revival, antebellum home, was built in 1855. It has ties to a number of prominent Georgians, including Governor Dorsey, "Doc" Holliday, and Margaret Mitchell, among others. 

The museum has an impressive collection of Gone With the Wind memorabilia from the 1936 novel, and the 1939 movie. There are reproductions of several costumes, including Scarlett's curtain dress, shown below with members of our group!

Most of the 55+ JOY group--Note all the Green for St. Patrick's Day! 

Jim Garner-Youth Pastor (for "kids" of all ages)--and bus driver, kneeling in front. 

Some of "the girls" with Scarlett's Curtain Dress.

Ed and me with Scarlett's dress. 
There are other diverse exhibits, including a room devoted to two of Fayetteville's "native son" authors, Robert Burch and Ferrol Sams, a room of Civil War documents and artifacts, a bedroom furnished in period furniture, and other rotating exhibits. Special "Living History" programs are presented throughout the year, and there are walking tours, and other tours available by request. 

The museum is one of Fayette County's "hidden treasures." John Lynch, the house manager, has family history in Fayetteville that goes back 175 years. John is full of stories! There are a number of knowledgeable docents who will make your visit memorable and entertaining. Admission for groups is a bargain at only $3 per person! Check it out! 

P.S. I'm always on the lookout for ideas and recommendations for interesting speakers, unusual "field trip" locations, local "treasures," and fun travel destinations, for our 55+ group. (Free and low cost speakers and destinations are always good!) If anyone has any input, please let me know! Thanks so much! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Help Wellspring Living Help Atlanta's Child Victims of Sex Trafficking

Help Wellspring Living Help Atlanta's Child Victims of Sex Trafficking

Help Jamie White Wyatt make a difference!

Please join me by celebrating 10 years of Wellspring Living through my
virtual birthday party. Help me build a gift of healing that will be extended
to a girl waiting to be rescued from a life of sex-trafficking.
Please consider giving $10, $25, $50, $100 or $1000.
My goal is to raise $1,700, which will provide one month of education
and therapeutic services for one girl.
With your help we can make a difference!
Please contribute toward our goal of $1700!
Wellspring Living is celebrating 10 Years of helping Rescue, Renew, and Restore girls victimized by childhood sexual trauma!
I serve on the Wellspring Living Board, and am blessed to have been involved since the very beginning! I have seen hundreds of lives transformed, families restored, and girls who’ve been through the program giving back to Wellspring Living, financially, and through volunteering! Miracles are regular occurrences in the Wellspring Living “family!”
Consider these facts:
100 girls under the age of 18 are raped for profit nightly in Georgia
23% of Georgia men have paid for sex with females
Girls in forced prostitution die in an average of 7 years from HIV/AIDS or homicide.
1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18
Stop and consider: Each of these girls is someone’s daughter, sister, niece, or grand-daughter. She could be yours….
There are almost 200 girls in Atlanta, (and thousands of others in the United States,) who have been identified as trafficking victims in need of a place to “start over!” I hope you will consider a gift with the capacity to make a real difference in the life of a girl coming out of sex trafficking.
Please join me in celebrating 10 years of Wellspring Living, through my “Virtual Birthday Party.” My goal is to raise $1,700 by April 30th, which will provide a month of education and therapeutic services for one girl! With your help we can make a difference to girls like those mentioned in the following video. Click here for the donation page, and look for the "donate" button under the thermometer on the right side of the page. 
To create your own Virtual Birthday Party for Wellspring, click on link at the bottom of the donation page, from the above link. 

For more information, please contact me,, or

V.V.B.C.-Friends' Book Suggestions-March 2011, List 1

Vicarious Virtual Book Club-
Friends' Book Suggestions-March 2011, List 1

For those of you new to my blog, I started a "Vicarious Virtual Book Club" several months ago, as a place to share the books I'm reading in my "real" book club. I'd talked to friends who'd like to read books others are reading, and maybe participate in discussions, online. There are posts for each book club selection, through June, listed under post names starting with V.V.B.C. in my archives (on the left of my blog), so people can add to the comments for a particular book, at any time. I don't post any reviews with "spoilers," until after our actual book club discussions.

Several people have asked me for additional book suggestions, besides those from my Sisterchicks Book Club lists. I put two posts on my facebook page, requesting suggestions, and got a variety of interesting books. First, I'm listing a couple of my own suggestions, then, my friends' picks! (I'll post the second batch of suggestions in a couple of days!)

The Bible! Here's my blog about reading the Bible through in a year, which I am doing again. There are many ways to do it, as my blog mentions. Be sure to look at the links at the bottom of my blog, to Judy Reamer's website, which give you great reasons to read the Bible through, OFTEN! (Claudia Eisenburg shared that she is reading through the Bible in 150 days!)

Twice a year, members of my book club nominate, and lobby for, books to be chosen for our "official list." In December, my suggestion, My Reading Life, by Pat Conroy, was chosen as our Sisterchick Book Club's April selection! It's the best book I've read in a long time, because of Pat Conroy's incredible vocabulary, and command of the English language! Here's the link to the V.V.B.C. page for your comments!
Hope you'll read it, and join in the discussion, after our April 21st book club meeting!

My Reading Life

Katie Lewis: Radical by David Platt. AMAZING (Jamie's Note: I found this blog link about this book Katie recommended. Reading the blog about the book's One Year Challenge will give you a new perspective on authentic Christianity! Caution from several friends: this book WILL change your life!) 

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Marianne Hudatz: The Reason for God by Tim Keller--a wonderful book and tool to assist believers to stand their ground against the onslaught of unbelievers and agnostics . I've read it twice--I need all the help and guidance I can get in this arena!

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Cathie Lopez: I just read How Starbucks Saved My Life by MIchael Gates Gill and Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. Loved them both!

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table (Random House Reader's Circle)

Robertine Mitchely: "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt", by Beth Hoffman, (her first novel). From the book jacket: "Laugh-out-loud funy and deeply touching. Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, a book of feminine wisdom--one to cherish, remember, and share."

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Feel free to leave additional book suggestions, comments, etc., below!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"South in my Mouth" then a "Blast from the Past!"

"South in my Mouth," 

then a "Blast from the Past!"

I just spent a great weekend with four friends from my college days at Georgia College in Milledgeville. We were long overdue for a visit, but our primary objective for this trip was a Merle Haggard/Kris Kristofferson concert! 

Before the concert, we enjoyed a late lunch at Paula Deen's new North Carolina restaurant.
Sharon, Jamie, Gail, Paula, Kaye and Jane

Paula's menu was a veritable feast of traditional Southern-fried fare! Paula's cheesy biscuits, yeast rolls, fried chicken livers with flash fried collards, fried green tomatoes with spicy red sauce, chicken salad croissant, crab cakes, fried oyster "Po Bubba" sandwich, homemade chicken noodle soup, triple chocolate cheesecake, and all the tasty accompaniments, were lusciously "South in our Mouths!" 
Getting ready to order our food
The restaurant was really "plugged in." The hostess scanned her wristwatch-like device over an electronic box, when we were seated. Our waitress "checked in" at the device on our table as well. The small electronic box, consisted of an interactive screen with menu buttons, which accessed photos of menu items, trivia, and other information!

The event center concert venue seemed intimate, even though there were over 2,000 seats. Our seats were row twelve, center stage, two rows above the floor level seats. We probably weren't 40 feet from the stage. 

The long anticipated concert did not disappoint! Merle and Kris proved that, at 73 and 74, respectively, they can still "bring it!" 
They performed for an hour and forty minutes without a break! Two of "The Hag's" sons are on the tour. The steel guitarist, fiddle player, and other musicians, all enhanced the performances.
Merle Haggard, with his son on guitar to the left.
Merle and Kris basically took turns playing their hits, and sang along with each other. They enjoyed bantering with their audience. Some of the more "enthusiastic" fans got a little obnoxious with their constant yelling. However, for the most part, people were good-naturedly calling out requests, and declaring their love for two performers who've "been around the block" and are proud they've lived to tell about it! 

Merle sang "Pancho and Lefty," with Kris singing Willie Nelson's part. Kris sang lots of his oldies--including two of my favorites, "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," and "Help Me Make It Through the Night." I found a video from 1971, of Kris, with no facial hair, singing "Loving Her Was Easier," and I put a portion of my video, from 40 years later, after that one! (I was capturing images from the "big screen.")

Merle Haggard has a new album titled "I AM WHAT I AM." He sang the title song, (some of the lyrics are excerpted below,) to cheers and enthusiastic clapping. I imbedded a video of the song, as well.


I won't be a slave, and I won't be a prisoner
And I'm just a nephew to today's Uncle Sam
I believe Jesus is God, and a pig is just ham,
I'm just a seeker, I'm just a sinner,
And I'll be what I am.

This was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I've been to in a long time!  There were lots of oldies, and other songs with upbeat, feel-good music. I couldn't help but bounce in my seat, clapping and singing along--as were my neighbors! As you can see, by the video I posted, I got a couple of great clips by filming the big screens! 

We got quite a kick out of observing how old most of the crowd was--It was kind of disconcerting when we realized they were mostly our contemporaries! LOL! What a great trip down "Memory Lane!" Good times--great friends! 

Amazon's Kris Kristofferson Page
Gail Googled on her phone, and read some of Merle's and Kris' biographical information to us, while we were driving back from the concert. It seems that both men have similar histories, in many respects, and quite colorful pasts! Google for yourself, if you're interested! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Counting My Blessings!

Counting My Blessings!

As I see so many friends struggling with cancer, aging, and other issues, I'm finding myself increasingly mindful--and thankful--for my health. Gratitude helps keep my chronic "pains" in perspective! 

When my children were little, we used to write down things we were thankful for, and put them in our Blessing Box. We most often recorded our blessings on holidays. However, sometimes, I'd find messages that had been secretly placed in the box at other times. The blessing box is still in my kitchen, as a reminder to count my blessings. Some of the old notes are still in it. I read them periodically. Needless to say, "I'm thankful for Mommy and Daddy" still warms my heart!

Our Blessing Box. The star is the drawer pull. 

I saw this Do-it-Yourself blessing board project, on a blog, and wanted to share it with y'all! I thought somebody might be inspired to come up with their own way to "count blessings." With different fabric, you could match any decor. The ways this project can be personalized are limitless! This would be a great gift, and it can be made without breaking the bank, especially if you have an old frame you can repurpose!

Click link below for directions on making this Blessing Board

Click for directions for the "Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss" Blessing Board!

I'll close with the lyrics to a hymn from my childhood, "Count Your Blessings," written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. May it inspire you, too. 

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

P.S. I'd love to hear how you and your family count your blessings! Comment or e-mail me!