Book Review – Love on the Line

The most recent book on my Kindle was Love on the Line by Deanne Gist. The story takes place in the early 1900s and centers around Georgie Gail, a telephone operator in a small Texas town, and Luke Palmer, an undercover Texas Ranger trying to infiltrate the local gang. Georgie unknowingly provokes the gang, prompting Luke to jump to her aid. Sparks fly, of course. The process is highly amusing! Several other amusing and highly individual characters add to the journey.

This story was a lot of fun! It’s light and funny with just a touch of drama and action, the perfect little mental break from work, research, and all the other more taxing thoughts.

The process of using an early phone was interesting. Who knew it was so complicated? I’d heard of party lines and how conversations could be listened to, but to read about how that might have worked in reality was very interesting. I think I’ll be Googling that one soon!

I’ve read several of Deanne Gist’s other books and this one is certainly lives up to the quality of the others. The faith of the characters isn’t a major theme in this book, no more so than it would be in any secular historical fiction story. Church attendance and faith held a higher priority in the 1900s than they do now. There are a few pieces of Scripture quoted toward the mid to end of the book and that’s about it. Also, the chemistry between the two main characters is strong and they certainly do their share of kissing – I would say it’s probably a PG rating. If you’re looking for something completely chaste with a strong Gospel message, this isn’t it.

Another great Christian fiction series centered on Texas Rangers are Lori Wick’s Yellow Rose Trilogy. The male protagonists in the first two books are Texas Rangers – one former and one current. I can’t remember about the second book, but the first does place a heavier emphasis on the faith of the characters.

Remember, opinions are mine. If you’ve read this book or decide to read it, I’d love to know your thoughts. Happy reading!

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Grieving…a House?

It’s a time of change for my roommate and myself. After four years in our current apartment, we are looking for a new home. Our current place has been great, but we’re ready for something larger. You know those months of winter when all you can do is spend time inside and your house seems to shrink in size? We’re tired of living on top of each other.

We’ve spent the last few weeks scouring online listings, working with a realtor, and counting square feet. We’ve seen places on highly desirable areas and places in not-so-desirable areas.  We’ve seen some very odd things… like a kitchen with one row of laminate wood over vinyl. And lots of bad wallpaper. It’s amazing how many listings there can be but how few actually livable floor plans there are. Who designs some of these? It’s something we’ve often wondered.

Last week, we found the perfect place! Larger than we could have hoped, airy, updated, not too far from our current location. Great floor plan! We walked in and could see ourselves living there. So we put in our applications and waited hopefully, trying not to get too excited, just in case.

And we waited some more.

For a week, we waited to hear back. And then we did: the owner went with someone else. A male someone else. Someone who made six figures a year (side note: the single men were supposed to live NEXT DOOR! Just kidding J).

That is so disappointing. We’re just bummed out now. Nothing else looks appealing; they’re all too small, too smelly, or in a bad location (note to landlords: curry does not rent a place. No offense to anyone who frequently cooks with curry, but you just can’t get it to go away once it’s permeated the walls and carpet). Our realtor is on vacation which, as inconvenient as it is, is probably a good thing. We need to mourn!

It got me to thinking: if this is painful and we’re renting, how much harder must it be when you’re looking to buy! That’s a huge decision involving so many different factors (taxes, location, schools, resale value). You’ve got to really like a place to put in an offer. If you happen to enter a bidding war and end up on the losing end, the disappointment must be intense.

Have you ever been in that situation? How does one recover from that and keep looking?

Book Review – Dancing in the Desert

Last fall when my mentor and I sat down to choose a study book, she recommended Dancing in the Desert by Marsha Crockett. I hadn’t heard of this book before, so of course I had to Google it. Turns out it’s out of print, but pretty easy to get on Amazon. It’s all about what God can teach us when we feel like we’re in a spiritual desert, and Marsha specifically address different types of deserts, like loneliness, loss, and even routine.

After spending about five months working through it a chapter at a time, I can say it was a very good recommendation! There were some things I agreed with more than others, but Marsha looked at some things in a way I hadn’t ever thought of. It was very thought-provoking.

Each chapter focuses on a specific desert and what we can learn while we’re in it. They begin with short sections that are meant to prepare the reader for the lessons to follow. These sections usually include a passage of scripture and something to meditate or pray on. There are little “Rest Stops” along the way, with thought-provoking questions to answer – very helpful if you’re studying the book and need a good place to break up a chapter over several days. Chapters end with a paraphrased Bible story, usually from the point of view of a character in the story. It’s really not meant to be done in one sitting; there were a few times when I didn’t keep up on the lessons and had to finish a chapter quickly. I didn’t get nearly as much out of it that way.

The book even includes a guide to journaling in the back. This is something I’ve always found helpful in life, not just when it comes to Bible study or book studies, but I can see how the guide would be great for someone who hasn’t done that before.

Spiritual deserts have always seemed to me to be miserable places. Marsha does a wonderful job of pointing out how they don’t have to be. There’s a lot to be learned even when we feel like things are parched and dry. I can see myself going back to this book frequently and recommending it to others. My mentor even mentioned a few times that she’s had the book for years and gone back to several of the chapters more than once. I’ve already purchased one for my sister!

The next book on our agenda is Fearless by Max Lucado. We just started so it will be a while before I have a review on it, but it’s looking great so far!

One Small Step

The Internet is addicting. You start off reading on article and – low and behold! – it links to another interesting article full of all kinds of interesting and sometimes useful information which links to another, and another, and another… at least, that’s how it works for me. Please tell me I’m not the only one?

I was recently browsing LearnVest’s website when I followed a link to another article, and another, and finally followed a link to an author’s blog. The blog intrigued me so I kept reading until I got to this article.

What great advice! It could apply to so many things, just like the author takes it. But, even if applied to only blogging, what a difference that could make. No rushing to get an article out once a week – you’ve been working on it all week! Plus, if you know you’re going to sit down and write something for 5-10 minutes every day, you’re much more likely to find inspiration in something. Maybe it’s mundane and you edit it out later – highly likely if you’re writing every day – but the writing development and improvement would be invaluable!

Even more important, how would we grow if we committed to spending at least ten minutes every day reading the Bible? Now, I realize that many people already do this. But for the rest of us, this could be a very important goal. Even spending ten minutes in prayer every day has impacted me. And when I get into the habit of doing something for at least ten minutes a day, slowly the time I spend lengthens until it’s considerably more. It also becomes a higher priority. I know that this would have a huge impact on my relationship with Jesus.

These will be my new goals: to write something – anything – for ten minutes a day. And to spend at least ten minutes reading the Bible every day. That’s just twenty minutes out of the day, something even very busy people can manage. What else could we apply this to? What could you do?

Lifestyle at the Cost of Health

Don’t you just love when things you’re learning in one area of your life agree and compliment things you’re learning in another area of your life?

Well, I do, anyway!

It’s always nice when two completely separate books come at the same lesson from different angles and then relate to something I’m learning at church. That is awesome.

Today I had one of those moments.

I’ve been a bit obsessed lately with the blog 100 Days of Real Food. This blog is about a family who pledged to eat only natural, non-processed foods for 100 days in response to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. That was two years ago, and they’re still sticking with it. I’m intrigued by their dedication and the efforts they had to take for it. And I’m seriously considering trying it – probably for less than 100 days, but still. My life has been moving this direction for over a year with the help of my chiropractor, who firmly believes in natural eating, and several other books and films that scared me to death about our food supply. Food, Inc, anyone? In response to that, I started reading food labels and cut out meat nearly completely. When I can afford it, I buy organic which unfortunately isn’t nearly often enough.

There are a few things that concern me: mostly the cost, time, and the availability of local foods. The author of this blog, Lisa Leake, is a stay-at-home mom. Well, I work 40+ hours a week, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage there. I do not have the time to make all the things she talks about. So I’m going to be scouring her blog for her answer to that question because I’m sure I’m not the only person to ask it in the last two years! As a follow up to their 100-day pledge, they did another 100-days on a budget. I haven’t read that one yet, but will soon so hopefully I will have all the answers to my questions before I try this. Oh, and I ordered In Defense of Food tonight and will start reading it shortly!

My roommate and I are planning to move soon, which seems like a great time to clean on my cabinets of things that don’t follow the rules. Plus, we’ll have more space (a pantry! What a novelty!) so I can make and store things or buy them in bulk if necessary, to help with the time issue. We might even get an extra freezer!

All of this is percolating in my head while I’m browsing Facebook and catching up on people’s lives. I ran across a post talking about how the doctor says this person are pre-diabetic. They go on to say that they knew it was coming but there won’t be any lifestyle changes.

Wait, what?

You KNOW that diabetes is coming but you won’t be making any lifestyle changes? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Wouldn’t you be in a hurry to make changes so that you can be healthy? Does your lifestyle mean that much to you that it’s more important than your health?

And that’s when it hit me. By eating all the stuff we eat because it’s convenient that is exactly what we are doing. What I am doing. I am living a convenient lifestyle at the expense of my health. There may not be symptoms now, but who knows what is happening in my body. With a family history of cancer and a grandmother who was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s, this should concern me. And it does. Isn’t my health worth the inconvenience and the possible embarrassment? Packing my own food for family gatherings? They already think I’m nuts for not eating meat! What’s a little more?

I may not be ready for the big plunge yet, but I am going to take the steps that I can! Reducing sugar and increasing fruits and veggies are all things I can do now, on my budget, to get ready for the jump. So here goes nothing!

Has anyone else made the switch to real food? How was it?

Everyday Opportunities to Invest In Your Network

Not long ago I had the opportunity to spend time with friends. What are long weekends for? We enjoyed a holiday weekend, caught up on each others’ lives, made dinner, drank beer… and wrote resumes.

At some point, nearly everyone will look for a new job and, when they do, they will need a current resume. If their tenure with their current company has been longer than a year or so, odds are they will need to update their resume. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to have at least one other person (preferably someone in HR!) look over my resume.

Enter the HR friend.

We’ve all heard about people asking doctors for medical advice and lawyers for legal advice. HR professionals get asked for resume advice. Many of us look at them all day, nearly every day, so why not use that to build your network? By doing a friend a favor and helping out with their resume today, you are investing in that relationship.

Who knows, the next time you need a hand and they have the ability to help out, they may be more inclined to invest the time in return. It never hurts to help out a friend. And, if not, you’re still building social capital. That friend may know someone else who needs a hand and can recommend you as a resource.

(As a side note, if you really enjoy being a “pro bono” HR resource, this can be a great way to earn PHR recertification credits! HRCI allows up to 10 credit hours for being the HR expect for a non-profit group and several other leadership opportunities. For details, visit their webpage on recertification here.)

Book Review – The Doctor’s Lady

Reading has long been a love of mine and, fortunately for me, I’ve been able to do a lot more of it lately. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on a few of the books I’ve been reading. All comments represent my opinion alone.

I stumbled across The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund completely on accident while browsing the library’s selection of ebooks. It was featured on their website as a new acquisition. It looked good, so I put it on hold and was very surprised by it! For some odd reason, stories of arranged marriages and marriages of convenience have always fascinated me and this one was no exception.

The main characters, Priscilla White and Dr. Ernest, both seek to become missionaries but the Mission Board won’t support unmarried men or women. They enter into a marriage of convenience in order to travel to Oregon Territory to reach the Nez Perce Indian tribe. It’s a treacherous journey not completely by a white woman before. They encounter many dangers and learn lessons about themselves and each other.

I’ve never read Jody Hedlund’s books before and found it to be gripping. These characters really drew me in. They are both so flawed and yet willing to learn. Sometimes I wanted to hit one or both of them upside the head, but I’m sure there are times when God would like to do that to me too! (I’ve been watching too much NCIS…).

What was really interesting about this story came at the end of the book. In her endnotes, Jody Hedlund explains that the story is loosely based on missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. That really intrigued me and made the story so much more real. It’s absolutely a “what-if?” story.

This is definitely a piece of historical Christian fiction. After all, the characters are missionaries. While their faith isn’t the point of the book, it certainly plays a large part. There is also a good amount of chemistry between the two characters as well as some minor descriptions of illness and medical situations. After all, he is a doctor.

I would highly recommend this story – in fact, I’m going to see if I can find more of Jody Hedlund’s books to borrow!