Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Missing Matisse - Book Review



I really enjoyed this book, and am tempted to give it 4 stars, but there are a few things that bring it below my normal 4-star rating, which I will touch on later.

There is a fresh and lively feel to the book, as it is written in the first-person (as you'd expect), but also in the present tense. There are tidbits about art and famous artists, making for interesting reading to this artist. There are stories about WWII that are written not in a heavy, deep way, but in a boyish sort of way, with adventure around each corner--though with some sadness and shock, as well. There are illustrations in each chapter, as well as a section of photographs in the middle, which add a whimsical flourish and familial intimacy.

The author, grandson of more well-known Henri Matisse, has quite a fascinating boyhood, with mysterious family ties and underground activity (and the occasional theft). He knows God exists, and prays to Him when in distress, but it isn't until near the end of the book that he actually develops a love for Jesus. He is baptized, interestingly enough, by Willie Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame. This is explained near the end of the book, too.

There are a couple of instances of the "h" swear word. The author marries (his fourth marriage) a woman without a ceremony at first, which I don't believe is a good example--plus she married him while she was a professed Christian and he was not. There is also a strange sort of dreaming and Spirit-led painting that makes me question a bit near the end of the book. Oh, and the talk of nude paintings/sculptures. These things are reality in his life, so I understand, but they need not be prominently or favorably included (and they aren't extremely so).

I received this book from the Tyndale Blog Network for my honest review.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Day!



Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone! One of our traditions is to read Psalm 100, which we did this morning:

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations."


Despite difficulties, slow progress, and anxieties, God is there to still us with His peace and love, to give us hope, to give us His strong and reliable arm to lean on. We are not alone, and we can never be shaken or separated from the love which is through Jesus Christ! Blessed be His name!

PSALM 40:5: “Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Day Before Thanksgiving


It was the day before Thanksgiving,
And all through the house
Everyone was stirring,
Even the odd mouse.

;)



Well, we did get naps in today after lunch, but otherwise it was
pretty busy, yet with a cozy and cheerful atmosphere. I made a
chalkboard sign for the mantel that says "Give Thanks unto the
Lord," (based on one I saw online) and we scattered gourds,
leaves, etc. up there along with it.
Mom had decided to have a simple Thanksgiving meal a day early.
We’ll have a dessert later in the week. We had a delicious turkey
that Mom cooked with a lemon and onion stuffed inside. And
mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans as sides. Oh, and the
old family treat: canned pears with peanut-butter, mayonnaise,
and maraschino cherry on lettuce leaf (I insisted on using cottage
cheese instead of mayo, and no cherry for me). We each said
something we were thankful for, which included Mom, food,
and children.
We're getting ready to watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes
for a relaxing (?) end to the day.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Revolt: A Novel in Wycliffe's England - Book Review


Five of five stars!

With vivid and tumultuous words, you are thrown into 14th century action. The story spans part of the life of John Wycliffe, but starts out with another character, a scribe, Hugh West'all, who is reporting on-location about the battle between France and England. He sees one of the archers with a father, worry creasing the son's brow, and the two young men's paths cross various times. Willard, the young archer, is full of bitterness and anger toward those of higher birth, and seeks revenge against greedy friars.

Hugh, meanwhile, becomes a scholar at Oxford. He and his friend Alfred are not much alike, but in one case Hugh and the new scholar, John of Wycliffe, turn the tables on prankster Alfred. The results are most humorous.

You get a slice of life as it might have been back then, with places, smells, characters, and jobs portrayed clearly, yet not ad infinitum. . . . It was not such a great thing that I happened to be eating while I read about the sheep being slaughtered. 

Hugh begins to hear of new things from John Wycliffe, of grace through Christ alone being able to save. Willard, also, hears the preacher and is amazed to hear him speaking against the friars who sell indulgences. 

The dreadful Bubonic plague spreads, and Willard's mother and sister are caught in its grip.

There is a bit of romance toward the end, but it is carefully done.

This is a story that teens and adults, male and female, will most likely enjoy--from battle to archery competition, from a woman tenderly caring for others (including a cat) to Wycliffe teaching and living out his gracious words with little fear of consequences.

Buy from bondbooks.net or amazon.com.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Weeds of the Soul

Our apple trees have weeds growing around the base like--well--weeds. Some are wiry grass, some are willowy. Even with wood chips put down last year, the weeds come. We are weeding and adding a heaping amount of wood chips this year.  While I was weeding I thought of some analogies of weeds to sins. I've thought of some of these before, and probably a million others have, too, but I think it is neat that God made His world--even the fallen world--to have correlations and lessons for our lives. Here are some possible correlations.
  1. Weeding takes strength, perseverance, and a desire to clean things up.
  2. Some weeds are more stubborn than others.
  3. Sometimes we have to dig deep.
  4. Some weeds are quite pretty . . . but sap strength and fruitfulness from the tree.
  5. Sometimes we have to use a sharp implement to cut or dig around the roots.
  6. Sometimes just a gentle wiggling and tug will get out a weed, especially if the weeds are surrounded by wood chips (like the Scriptures surrounding an individual).
  7. Sometimes our hands get dirty or we get hurt while weeding, especially if we aren't wearing gloves (prayer or Word of God to protect).
  8. Getting down closer to the roots helps in pulling out weeds.
  9. Pulling out just one weed or two at a time instead of a huge clump can be helpful, making others nearby come up more easily--the roots may be connected in ways we didn't realize!
  10. Weed control--constant upkeep--makes things easeasier.refreshing drink of water or encouraging word is always good.
  11. Sometimes we skip certain weeds because they are too hard or seemingly insignificant . . . but watch out--they will grow!
  12. The final results are beautiful and orderly, more pleasing to all around!
P.S. I don't always philosophize while doing yard work--usually I'm fuller of grumbling thoughts about the heat, bugs, or aching back. . . . There's one "weed" that needs to go!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Marry Wisely, Marry Well - Book Review


Coming from an ultra-conservative background, I had heard much of this before. I agreed with most of it, but didn't find a whole lot new.  But it was good, and helpful in that it made me take a deeper look at my heart and what I can do to help prepare for marriage now.

As someone pointed out on amazon.com, the statistics mentioned in the book may scare away someone from marrying unless they have a really good job, but as they were just facts stated from polls, and not harped on, I don't think this a big issue.

Each chapter ends with a set of questions to ponder/write out the answers to.

Overall it is a nice, concise book on marriage, wisdom, and loving God with all your heart.

Thanks to crossfocusedreviews.com for my free copy to review! My opinions stated here are in no way coerced.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Good & Angry - Blog Tour Book Review



I signed up for this book not knowing how helpful it would be. After all, I'm pretty even-keeled; I don't explode in anger like some people I know.  But, as I was soon impressed with, everyone has bad anger, whether it comes to the outside very much or not.  We all want our own way and complain at certain times.  Mr. Powlison helps us see the reasons for our anger, both good and bad anger, and how to direct it in the right way.  He helps us see that God is in control, and that our sinful anger is a slap in the face of God's sovereignty.  There is a correct anger--an anger at sin--and a proper desire for righting wrongs, but it more often goes bad and is founded in selfishness and pride.  I saw more clearly that my own lack of anger--my apathy--about certain things is wrong, as well.

There are many helpful examples in the book, and it is quite an easy to read--but convicting--book. 

One caveat: there are two or three uses of certain 4-letter words, one in a real-life example of an angry mother, the other a more legitimate use. 

I will likely be re-reading this book in the future--there is that much to take in and to apply at various times in life.

I'll leave you with a couple quotes:

"Think about this: mercy is not a nonreactive indifference--because it cares.  And it's the furthest thing from approval--because what's happening is wrong.  Mercy includes a component of forceful anger, but anger's typical hostility, vindictiveness, and destructiveness does not dominate."

"Major sins are only minor sins grown up. Complaining has the same DNA as violent rage."

Thanks to crossfocusedreviews.com for allowing me this book to review! My opinions are freely my own.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way - Book Review


The subtitle of the book is 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul. . . . I took two months or so longer at reading this than I should have, and I didn't fulfill all the cleaning assignments, but I gathered helpful tips, plugged along at my little jobs and a few unusual ones, and tackled my monster of a closet once or twice. I like the focus on grace, though at times it seemed almost too lax. It is a book geared toward mothers, with assignments for kids, so that's not currently applicable to me, but I like that concept, and have seen it help in my sister's family. I also liked that it had Bible reading assignments and questions for thought, though I would have appreciated a little more explanation and depth. Overall I really liked the book, in that it gives things to shoot for, but not so strictly that it overwhelms.

Thanks to Tyndale blog network for allowing me this book to review! My opinions are freely my own.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lines Based on Isaiah 25

I wrote a poem/lyrics based on the chapter we studied in church today (Isaiah 25). Thanks to Mr. Douglas Bond for inspiring me in his Mr. Pipes series, my pastor for bringing the message, and, as always, to my amazing God and His amazing Word!

I'll praise You, O my God,
For wonders You have done;
Your counsels and Your faithful truth
Shall last beyond the sun.

You tear down bricks and stone
Of enemies so strong;
The nations see and fear Your name;
Your people join in song.

You are a refuge sure,
A shade from blast and heat,
A strength to needy in distress--
Your vict'ry is complete.

The mountain of the LORD
Will bring good things to all.
His people will rejoice at last;
He'll drink up death and gall.

No more of death or tears--
We wait now for this day--
We wait for Him and He will save,
And we'll rejoice alway.

With His hand stretched out wide,
He knocks down all His foe;
He brings down pride and trickery,
And to the dust they go.

- M.A.M.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Short Story - "Man's Second-Best Friend" by Melissa M.

There were no potatoes left in the bin.  George lifted the last remaining onion, turning it in his gnarled hand as if it might suddenly turn brown and sprout eyes.  Onion soup would have to do, though his stomach voted for meat and potatoes.

His eyes flicked toward the portrait of Phoebe--the copper frame was worn to a greenish hue on either side.  His wife didn't smile at him from the wall, but her eyes did, and he remembered the smiles of yore: her lopsided smile when she tricked him into thinking there was a skunk in the parlor; her full, heart-shaped smile when she laughed; her soft, barely-there smile when she viewed the flames of sunset. . . . An ache born not of hunger enveloped him, and he let out the breath he hadn't known he had been holding.

Phoebe knew how to peel a potato in ten seconds, how to chop an onion in perfect, tiny squares, all while her soup broth bubbled with aromas better than expensive town restaurants.

He dashed moisture away with the back of a knuckle.  "Can't blame it on the onion, now can I?"  He chuckled at the cat, a tabby with green eyes.  Phoebe had called the feline Sydney, after the sad Dickens character who'd given his life for a friend.  More often she had referred to the tabby as Syd or Syddy.  How he had scoffed at those names!

George and Phoebe did not have children, marrying after the time for such things was likely.  The cats were Phoebe's children, and last of all they'd had Sydney.

After slowly turning to the chopping board, he then impaled the onion.  His eyes were soon flooding in earnest.

~~~

A ball landed inches in front of George's feet.  He stooped and picked it up, his hands trembling, his joints popping like fragile strings breaking.

A snicker sounded.

"Good day, young man," said George, smiling at the boy who slouched amid the bushes.  "Your ball?"

"Yeah.  See if you can throw it here, old man."

Pressing his lips and brows together, George pulled his arm back to throw the pigskin.  His hand muscles gave a sharp tug and he felt the ball slip from his fingers.

The boy laughed, slapping his hand on his thigh.

Why do you even try?  George sighed.  You're not the athlete you once were.  Only the trophy in his bedroom evidenced that he had ever been able to play football.

George trudged the way he had come from.  He made sure he held his head high, even if his shoulders could not stay as tall as they once could.

To town he must go, but he would take the longer way around.  The pinch in his toes went unnoticed.

At the general store, he smiled at a little girl, who hid behind her mother's skirt.  The mother gripped the girl close and turned away abruptly.

Did he look like a killer, a madman?  George ran a hand over his bushy white beard.  It should make him look like Jolly St. Nick--all right, maybe not so jolly--but more often people seemed to think he was a shifty no-good, or worse, a disgusting piece of humanity.  He knew he was old, going on ninety-three, and his skin lined like the wagon-ruts to town, but was there no hope for human friendship at his age?

~~~

George set down the paper sack with a groan.  "Too heavy, Syddy.  But then, you wouldn't know about that."

The cat stared up at him, confirming the words as it remained sprawled out on the chair.

When George thumped a tin on the counter, Sydney sat up with a meow.  The meows grew more insistent when George pried the can open and the smell of tuna permeated the room.

"Just a minute, you vulture," George said with a chuckle.  Sydney was winding back and forth between George's legs.

The cabin was lantern-lit, the glow just enough to see by as dusk came on.  George sat against the quilted pillow on the couch and leaned his head back on the seat.  "I'll just rest here a minute, Syd.  Mebbe I don't need supper . . ."

A questioning meow from Sydney drew his gaze.  "Yeah, I know I should eat, like you, buddy--but this old body is tired."

Sydney jumped up on George's lap and began grooming his paws, rubbing them across his face--first one side, then the other, over and over.  George ran a hand over Sydney's fur, silkiest fur he'd ever felt, except maybe when Sydney had been a kitten.

The cat purred a raspy purr and closed his eyes.

A smile played about George's lips and his eyelids took the same downward direction; images of frolicking kittens and Phoebe's smile blurred and brightened.

~~~

Something woke him--probably Sydney's wild meow.  He never sounded like that.  What was it?  George sniffed, still groggy.  Did he burn supper?  And that crackling, that heat . . .  His eyes flew open.  Flames!  Big, larger than people, and performing a drunken dance.  George pushed himself to his half-numb feet, limping to the front door.  "Sydney!" he called.  The roof was about to cave in--there was no going back in.  He left the door open in case Sydney could come out.

George wrung his hands and squinted into the blinding flames.  "Sydney, come!  Come on, buddy--"  He choked on his words, on the smoke, on more than he could fathom.

Soon the whole cabin resembled a monstrous bonfire.  Boards fell and formed a twisted, fiery mountain.  The land was wet from recent rain, so there was no likelihood of the fire spreading.  But it had done its damage.  George fell to the ground, moaning.  "Sydney, my Sydney."

He bit his knuckle to keep from crying out.  But who would hear?  The owl?  No one cared, even if they did hear!  They had shown that time and again.  A howl escaped his lips.  He rocked back and forth, like when he was a child.

"No use.  No use."

~~~

A businessman and his wife found the body, cold and still next to the charred house.

The woman stared, not moving.  Only her skirt rippled in the cool breeze.

"Old Man George."  The businessman stooped and put a finger on the cold wrist, not expecting, or finding, a pulse.  "I wonder what happened."

The woman touched the pin at her throat.  "Why didn't I do it?  Ask him to our house?"

The man blinked at her.  "That may have done nothing.  You can't blame yourself."

A blackbird flew overhead.  "Can't I?"