Woe! It’s Wednesday: More than an Emotion

I heard someone say recently that our emotions do not define us.

You can be angry without being an angry person.

You can be brave without thinking of yourself as courageous.

You can find peace in the rocky places of life.

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You I can be kind to someone without forgiving them.

The point is that we are more than the sum of our emotions and actions.

Grief or feeling betrayed or hurt or angry is a fleeting thing. What matters is how we respond in the long run.

I’m trying to choose peace and kindness. Some days are better than others.

Book Talk Tuesday: When We Met

Summer’s coming so it must be time for another Susan Mallery Fool’s Gold trilogy.

book_april2014First up is When We Met.

Taryn Crawford was introduced to us in last year’s books when her PR firm partners decided to relocate to Fool’s Gold. Angel Whittaker is part of the bodyguard/security training school. We saw them eye each other in Three Little Words.

Taryn is a strong, independent woman, used to holding her own in a man’s world. She works with former professional football players but she’s all girl. Angel is scarred both physically and emotionally. He lost his family and blames himself. They embark on a fling because neither intends to fall in love. Since this is a) a romance, and b) a Susan Mallery romance, we know where it’s headed. But the fun is in the journey.

I love how each book follows the same formula outline, but Mallery makes it so enjoyable that we forgive the predictability and go along for the ride. We also touch bases with past book heroes and heroines, so it’s a nice way to keep up with favorite characters.

Next month will be event planner Dellina’s story with one of the football players, Sam the former kicker. Mallery has been dangling Dellina in front of fans for a while now and I’m thrilled she finally gets her story. I’ll let you know how it is!

If you enjoy fun, light romance, I recommend When We Met. I always add a caution, the sex is fairly graphic, so consider yourself forewarned. Although I think there was less sex in this book than in previous books and it definitely came later in the book than some of the others.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of When We Met in return for a fair review.

Media Monday: Heaven is For Real vs. God’s Not Dead

I blogged here about Heaven is For Real when Stud Muffin and I were invited to preview the movie.

Last week we went to see the other current faith-based movie, God’s Not Dead. I went in with pretty low expectations because, let’s face it, most “Christian” movies are … not great. But I’d heard good things about this one and was intrigued enough to plunk down some money and see it for myself.

godsnotdeadIt’s good. Quite good.

The acting is better than in many of its brethren. The biggest name is undoubtedly Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo. He plays an atheist college professor who posits that God is dead to his freshman class. One student objects and he offers the student three twenty-minute slots to present his case that God is not dead.

There are several interwoven stories that are loosely connected. The Gospel is clearly presented, unlike in Heaven is For Real, which gives God’s Not Dead the advantage in a head-to-head battle.

Heaven is For Real will appeal to people who like to believe there are many paths to heaven and Jesus is just one option. God’s Not Dead is for those who know what the entrance cost to heaven is and that Jesus already paid it.

There’s a place for both movies at the multi-plex. Neither one is going to convince anyone to become a Christian, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. But either movie may convince someone to open up a Bible and read it for themselves. That can only be good.

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Life is a Tweet!

I’m pretty good with most social media. I tweet occasionally. I check Facebook most days. I’m on email several times a day to keep on top of it. I can Instagram and Pinterest although I don’t spend hours on either. LinkedIn. Tumblr.

smheartSome days it seems that my social media is running me, instead of the other way around.

There are blogs to keep up with, friends and family to connect with, and other writers to wave at along our shared journey.

It seems as if the whole point of social media–being social–is forgotten. When someone would rather check in with their friends on Facebook instead of chatting with their friends who care enough to show up at their real life events, something is wrong.

I heard someone ask a question the other day about what Twitter could do for him/her in terms of marketing. The conversation zoomed by too fast for me to jump in but the thing to remember is that Twitter and all the social media platforms are not about what they can do for you, it’s about connecting. There’s a real person on the other end of that wifi, sitting at their keyboard, typing away.

When you move away from the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM or Whiffum) mentality, connecting is not as much about work as it is about making friends.

Those who are missed at the end of their lives aren’t those with the most followers, they are those with the most personal connections: family and friends.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Must Love Dogs: New Leash on Life

I’ve loved Claire Cook’s books since I picked up Must Love Dogs and read it before it was a movie. I’ve read most of her other books and loved them all.

new leash

This is book 2, a sequel to Must Love Dogs. We’re back with Sarah and her quirky and crazy family, and her new boyfriend John, all introduced in the original book.

I expected to love this one as I do everything else by Claire, but … I didn’t.

It was just … okay.

I’ve been mulling and thinking for a few days, trying to put my finger on the problem.

Part of it is the John character. He and Sarah are dating exclusively now. John has a dog, a cute and fluffy thing named Horatio who doesn’t really like Sarah much. John turned into a bit of a girl, the way he fawned over the dog, and put the dog ahead of Sarah. I didn’t like him for that. He seemed weak and not the alpha-male-hero I like in fiction.

Part of it was the plot. A lot of Claire Cook’s charm is in her quirky secondary characters and the crazy things they do. Nothing much happened until Sarah, two of her siblings, and dad hit Savannah for a brief vacation.

I’ll continue to read Claire Cook, but I’m hoping this one slipped past her usual editing team and the next ones will recover their customary glory.

Media Monday: Flight

I really wanted to see this movie when it came out, but the reviews, both from friends and professionals, said not to bother.

 

I wish I’d gone anyway. flight

We watched it a few days ago. Yes, it did have plenty of language that would normally turn me off. Yes, the character played by Denzel Washington did make plenty of bad choices that made it hard to root for him.

Those are the cons.

 

 

 

The pros:

  • The acting. Watching Denzel is a lesson in conveying pain and hubris in the same glance. John Goodman is so good he seems like he’s playing himself. You just know he’d walk into your home with his backpack full of drugs and cheerfully hand out samples to everyone, even Grandma over in the rocker.
  • A compelling story about when a bad person does something good. And can he ever overcome himself and his demons?

Whip Whittaker is an alcoholic and drug abuser and a pilot who often flies drunk. When a flight from Orlando to Atlanta goes very wrong, he saves the lives of most of the passengers by an extraordinary feat of piloting. Unfortunately, he’d just consumed vodka and his blood alcohol level is three times the legal limit for driving.

Probably everyone who wants to see it already has, but I won’t spoil the ending in case there are others like me who haven’t gotten to it yet.

I will say the ending satisfied me completely. This movie raised good questions and it answered them.

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Spring!

While the rest of the country was gripped by a polar vortex, here in California winter was over as soon as it began.

springWe had a few nights of frost but I dug out my flip-flops in February and got a pedicure. It seems churlish to complain about the temperatures to friends and family who were battling record-setting snowfalls.

We did have problems too.

No rain translates into water for farmers who grow the food I’ve become dependent on consuming three times a day.

The trees budded early, due to the warm temps. Who knows if we’ll get any fruit this year.

But that all seems like a worry for another day. Today I mowed. Of course, the lawn mower got a flat tire when I had one pass left to make, so our backyard has a mohawk. I weeded some of the flower beds.

It’s starting to look like spring around here. And it’s hard to be gloomy when the birds are busy building their nests and shoots are struggling through the soil toward the sun.

Come on, Spring!

Book Talk Tuesday: Waiting on You

Kristan Higgins is one of the few writers whose newest book always goes on top of my Mt. TBR.

She’s so good, my superlatives needs superlatives to adequately laud this new book.

WOYfcWaiting on You has everything I love. Even a great title! I’ve mentioned a few times that with one exception, all her titles were interchangeable and I couldn’t remember which story was which.

With her new Blue Heron series, she seems to have broken out of that mold a bit. The first book in the series, The Best Man, fit the name and plot well and made it instantly recognizable. The next, The Perfect Match, while still good, was not quite identifiable enough to me. This third one, Waiting on You, is again spot-on.

Colleen O’Rourke is a Manningsport, NY fixture. She owns the local hangout/bar/restaurant with her twin brother Connor. She plays for their baseball team. She visits her grandfather at the local rest home. She flirts with the customers and fixes up couples who have potential. Her first and only love, Lucas Campbell, has obviously moved on, so why doesn’t she?

Lucas returns to Manningsport to help take care of some family matters. He doesn’t plan to spend time with Colleen, his high school and college girlfriend. Yeah, he did a dumb thing years ago, but she blew up and they weren’t able to fix it.

I love how Higgins wove the backstory of these characters so perfectly. Things hinted at early on were explained in full later. No word, no character, no scene was wasted.

Being a romance, of course we know Colleen and Lucas will work it out and get to their happily ever after. But the fun is in the journey. I’m so glad I was invited along on this one.

Highly recommended!

Media Monday

I’m adding a new blogging day. Mondays is for my thoughts on what’s happening in the media. Television, news stuff, movies, whatever strikes my fancy.

Last night, Stud Muffin and I watched a movie and when it finished, the television was on the Food Network. The show airing was one I’d seen advertised (kinda, sorta. Since we DVR most of our viewing, I’d seen the name go by when I fast-forwarded through commercials) but had not watched yet.

Inertia had set in with the movie and I stayed on the couch. I discovered I was watching something called Kitchen Casino.

It was … well, it had a casino. And cooks. And a roulette wheel that would randomly turn so the cook who started making carne asada lettuce wraps had to work on someone else’s flank steak. And a deck of oversized cards with ingredients on them and the judges would also flip a card to reveal the score.

After a few minutes, I had to ask: Was this the product of a crazy brainstorming session and people were throwing out wild suggestions?

Poker! People love poker!

And crazy ingredients! People love a show with crazy stuff they’ve never cooked with or heard of.

In a casino! A competition show in a casino where poker cards are drawn to determine the ingredients!

High fives all around the room.

So Food Network: How many competition cooking shows do we need? Really?

We liked Iron Chef and Chopped. Then you drew us in with Cutthroat Kitchen. We’ll occasionally watch a Bobby Flay throwdown or an episode of Food Challenge.

But come on.

And, while I’m on a rant: Bill Rancic as host??? What are you thinking??

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backwards

I’ve been very hit and miss with blog posts for a couple of months now. I hope to get back to our regularly scheduled postings starting this week.

stressI’ve mentioned that our family is in a season of stress and testing right now.

Some days I feel like the stress ball, being squeezed and compressed. Some days I feel like the squeezer, angry and taking it out on an innocent little blob of rubber.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

My family is telling me I’m stressed.

My body is telling me I’m stressed.

My doctor is telling me I’m stressed. DSCN4579

I get it. I agree.

But where I’m at a loss is what to do about it. Just checking out isn’t an option.

A long trip would be nice but wouldn’t solve anything.

Well, it actually might. I’d come back relaxed, but the problems would still be here and nothing will have changed.  And I’d be poorer, both literally and emotionally for spending time in the land of denial.

So, we limp through the days and weeks, clinging to each other and God. Because when you I clear all the superfluous stuff, and just lean on God, He makes it possible to not just “get through” it, but to emerge with joy and peace and a confidence that surpasses all logic.

We’re  I’m not there yet.

But I have hope.