December 5, 2013

A Book Lover’s Christmas Gift

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Favorite Quotes, WWII tagged , , , , , at 6:49 pm by catsinboxes

Looking for a good Christmas gift for a history, aviation, and/or WWII lover?  Look no farther, for I have a perfect suggestion!

A Higher Call: The Incredible Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World   War II, by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander, 2012, 371 pages

This has made the New York Times bestseller list for good reason.  On December 20, 1943, a  remarkable incident occurred in the skies over Oldenburg, Germany.  It was an event that would not be told to the public until decades after the war.

A Higher Call traces the lives of the two men who ultimately would encounter each other that day.  The book is highly readable and incredibly interesting.    Unlike many books, it focuses more on the German side of the war.  Through the eyes of Franz Stigler, readers will learn about Germany’s elite class of fighter pilots.  The perspective is fascinating and well-researched.  It is also a poignant reminder of a nation’s folly:

“When Franz looked at Mellman [young pilot], he knew he was looking at Germany’s great tragedy –a generation of innocents too young to have seen the rise of Hitler or The Party who now were forced to pay for their leaders’ sins.”

November 20, 2013

When in Doubt . . .

Posted in Blogging, Humor, Just Life at 9:50 pm by catsinboxes

About how to get back into blogging . . .

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Post a guinea pig picture!

August 24, 2013

City of Bones

Posted in Blogging, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Movie Reviews tagged , , , at 9:21 pm by catsinboxes

I might not be blogging here, but I am doing some work over at Redeemed Reader. Here’s my latest post: a movie review of City of Bones. If you aren’t familiar with this fantasy series, I can’t say that you are missing out, but the movie was quite fun!

http://www.redeemedreader.com/2013/08/city-of-bones-movie-review/

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August 1, 2013

A Story

Posted in Blogging, Faith, Just Life, Ukraine at 9:11 pm by catsinboxes

Let me tell you a story: once upon a time, 16 years ago, a baby boy was born in Ukraine. Remember him, he is important. At that time, on this side of the world, there was young family with 3 children. Well that family grew. They grew and they grew and they grew. They were a happy family, and they loved God, and they knew they had been blessed, blessed with 7 beautiful children. And that was good, but it was not all. No, not the end of the story in the least but only the beginning.

You see, this family loved people, and they loved bringing people into their home. They had one exchange student, and then another, and then another, until soon they had hosted a dozen times. And that was good, but it was not all. Because God had a plan for that family, a special plan. He slowly opened their eyes, and He showed them a need: a need written in the faces and names and lives of thousands of children around the globe, a need for love.

They heard it, and their hearts broke a little, and they knew that they must do something. So they prayed, and they helped others bring children home. Then they brought two brothers into their home for a month during Christmas. This was a different kind of hosting, a Christian hosting program for orphans from Eastern Europe. And their hearts broke some more. They loved these boys, and learned more about God’s strength during that month than they could ever have imagined. It was grueling, it was draining, but at the end of it, they were ready for more.

Then God directed their hearts toward another country in Eastern Europe. And he showed them a 16 year-old boy. Remember him? I told you he was important. They decided to host him for 5 weeks in the summer. They looked forward to his arrival, and they prayed for him every day. When it was time for him to arrive, they were so excited. They didn’t know what it would be like, but they knew that God was good and sovereign over all.

Five weeks passed. God showed himself good and loving and sovereign in more ways than the family could ever have imagined. When it came time to say goodbye, it was one of the hardest things they had ever done. But they knew that God was good.

They know that God has an amazing plan for this 16-year-old, and they know that one way or another they will see him again. They trust in that. They are a happy family, and they praise God, and they know they have been blessed, blessed with a bunch of beautiful children.

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I don’t know what the next chapter of this story holds, but I’m excited to see it unfold.

June 10, 2013

Mention it Monday, Mississippi Version

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Fantasy, Favorite Quotes, Fiction, Freebies, Just Life, Theology/Christian life, Travel at 10:10 am by catsinboxes

Greetings from Mississippi!

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Though to be more accurate, it looks a bit more like this today:

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I woke up this morning to thunder rumbling and pretty soon a torrential downpour was ensuring that 1) I didn’t take the dog out for a walk and 2) Bible time on the porch was out of the question!

I must admit that I had hoped to do more blogging on this vacation, but that is not how it worked out, and that’s okay. Still, no reason I can’t do some before I head home. So, here’s another Mention-it Monday!

Red to Black -by Alex Dryen

After reading World Magazine’s review of Dryden’s latest novel, I checked out all three of his books to date and started reading the first. I’m not usually one to read thrillers; Joel Rosenburg’s Last Jihad and Last Days are the extent of my reading in this genre! Still, having just travelled to Eastern Europe, I was intrigued by the Russian side of this novel. So, I started to read. And I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a thriller, but it’s also a fascinating look at modern Russia that is written by an author who knows his facts. The book is told in a series of flashbacks which I normally find annoying, but this time it absolutely worked! The story was engaging and kept me interested and reading. The main storyteller, Anna, –a Russian KGB agent caught up in an intricate plot involving a British spy– is interesting and well-developed. What’s more, she is likable, and you definitely find yourself pulling for her! There is occasional language, but I appreciated the fact that it was used sparingly and wasn’t gratuitous. There are also some sexual references: the KGB is happy to use Anna’s sexuality in getting what they want, but nothing was explicit. All in all, it was quite a fun book, and I look forward to reading more by Alex Dryden.

Merlin’s Blade -by Robert Treskillard

I won’t say much here because this book deserves a whole review and post in itself. In fact, I probably will be reviewing it for Redeemed Reader this summer. I started this book on the plane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Arthurian aficionados, you should read this! Right now it’s only $2.99, Kindle version, on Amazon. What’s it about? I love how the cover puts it:

Before the Round Table . . . Before Arthur was Crowned . . . There was Merlin.

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The Explicit Gospel -by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

This is my theological vacation read, and so far, I haven’t made much progress though I have enjoyed everything that I’ve read.  Having heard Matt Chandler speak, I appreciate that his unique voice is very clear in this book.  Chandler is passionate about the gospel; that is very evident.  From a mere evangelistic point, I love the title of this book.  It’s eye-catching: a good book to read at the airport!  (If you’re like me, you do your best, via casual glances, to figure out what your fellow passengers are reading . . . This title is provocative enough to get more than one glance.  They’re reading the explicit what???)  As it happens, The Explicit Gospel is Christian Audio’s free audiobook of the month, so I might be finishing it via audiobook.  If you’re looking for a theological read or audiobook this summer, I’d highly recommend this.  (And you can get the audiobook for free this month, remember!)  In closing, here is a quote from The Explicit Gospel that I quite enjoyed and is very applicable to this post:

How deep is the wisdom and the knowledge of God?  God knows every word in every language in every sentence in every paragraph in every chapter of every book ever written.

June 5, 2013

What’s So Great About Aaron?

Posted in Bible, Faith, Just Life at 9:54 am by catsinboxes

Currently in my Bible reading, I am moving chapter by chapter through several books of the Bible including Leviticus.  And in the past few days, I was really anticipating getting to Leviticus 10 though I couldn’t quite explain why.  It definitely has action and conflict, and it’s shocking to say the least.  Yesterday, I finally reached it, and ended up spending my whole Bible time focused on that chapter!  As I finished up my Bible time, I thought “I should write a blog post with some of the notes I’ve made”, so here it is!

Something I didn’t realize until today is that Nadab and Abihu were probably drunk when they offered profane/unauthorized fire.  I inferred that while reading and confirmed it in the footnotes.  The point here though is that God is jealous for His glory, and “will not allow his holiness to be violated, not even by members of the high priest’s family.”  (ESV notes)  Their installation not even complete yet, and two of the priests –in the vernacular– screw-up with deadly results.

You know, I don’t know why people like the name Aaron so much!  He could speak, sure, but he succumbed easily to peer pressure, he lied, he didn’t always support Moses and he had 2 sons who couldn’t even make it through the priestly installation process!  You can’t judge a man by his offspring, but a look at them will tell you a lot about that man, and I think this holds true for Aaron.   His sons had seen their father not always follow the rules; goodness he heard the 10 commandments and then made a golden calf!  Why shouldn’t they try something different, too???  Being drunk surely wouldn’t have helped their logic either!

What can we learn from Aaron?  In God’s words to Aaron (v.8-11) we see the “three major rules” of the priesthood.  –And this is the only time God speaks directly to Aaron.–

The priests were (courtesy of the ESV footnotes for the breakdown)

  1. To distinguish between the holy and the profane
  2. To separate the clean from the unclean
  3. To teach the people the laws of God

It was a holy calling and one that no Levite could fulfill perfectly.  Aaron couldn’t, his sons couldn’t, none of their children, or children’s children could, until one day a child was born with Levite blood from his mother’s side.  He was the Christ, the anointed one, perfectly fulfilling the roles of prophet, priest, and king.

And that is why I could like the name Aaron, because Aaron, in all his fallibility, pointed toward something –rather, someone– so much greater.  Aaron stands for me, for you, for each of us as we live and sin and screw things up.  We can’t make it on our own, but by God’s grace, there is a way.  A way though the ultimate, perfect priest whose sacrifice made it possible for all of us Aarons to come to God.  Because of Him we can draw close without fear to a most Holy LORD and even call Him, “Father.”  How great is our God!

June 2, 2013

I’ll Be Back Soon!

Posted in Blogging, Just Life, Travel at 9:35 pm by catsinboxes

May 24, 2013

Forget Pinterest

Posted in Blogging, Books, Culture, Humor, Just Life at 7:58 pm by catsinboxes

Until two weeks ago, I held aloof.  I watched others get involved with Pinterest.  I chuckled over Facebook laments by husbands who had lost their wives to its charms.  I did sometimes look at it, but the looks never went farther than a few clicks.  Simply put, I didn’t want to get sucked in.  I like my time, thank you, and I already don’t have enough of it!  There might have been a pride factor too, that I hadn’t hopped on that bandwagon.

But, considering I work with a blog –not this one, Redeemed Reader– that is seeking to grow via social media, and because I wouldn’t mind my own blog growing, I thought it would be good to get a little more connected.  So, I first rekindled my Twitter account and then took the plunge for Pinterest.

And you know what?  I haven’t spent much time on it!  Sure, it’s nice.  Sure, it’s full of neat ideas.  But aside from using it to hunt up an occasional image for my blog, I’m not hooked.  Trust me, I like it that way!

Then, today, I discovered something.  It’s not Pinterest, but it’s something else, something that I’ve accessed before, something that I’ve enjoyed.  Occasionally, I thought about getting an account, getting official, but I never got around to it . . . until today.

In a few simple steps, I got an account.  And oh, joy, it was amazing!  I loved every moment of the set-up, I got absorbed in building my profile, I could have spent all morning, but I realized it and conquered the urge.  The laptop was closed and stowed downstairs –beyond temptation’s reach.

What is it, you ask, that is better than Pinterest?  I would argue right now –and I think into the foreseeable future– that goodreads is much, much better than Pinterest!

As I write, the browser tab is open, and it is calling me.  I’ll probably succumb to a little more by the end of evening.

A picture on Pinterest might be worth a thousand words, but not in my book!

Do you have a favorite social media site –beyond the biggies?  And which would you rather have: Twitter or Facebook?   I love the social connection on Facebook, but as a writer I really like Twitter.  There’s a lot less room for rambling and more opportunity for cleverness.  #andhashtagsaregreat     

May 23, 2013

Hello, I Must Be Going . . .

Posted in Blogging, Culture, Humor, Just Life at 8:32 am by catsinboxes

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I know I’m not a slave to my laptop, or the internet, when I lose internet connection for almost a day and do not go insane.  Note, I didn’t say that I did not become annoyed and irritable to the point of –sometimes– snapping.  Maybe that happened, a little.  Mostly, I had to see the humor in how much our culture has become enslaved to technology!  We just can’t function properly without multiple browser tabs running and our iTouch always handy and ready to give us the latest news, weather, FB messages, Twitter feeds, and more.

Now the internet is back –conditionally–, so I’m going to try to post this.  Then I’m going to get off the laptop and write some letters the old fashioned way and clean some dishes the new-fangled way.  –Gotta love dishwashers!–                             

          

May 21, 2013

This is so true!

Posted in Books, Favorite Quotes at 9:08 pm by catsinboxes

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