Saturday, November 27, 2010

a picture's worth ...

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Since I haven't been writing much lately, I thought I'd throw up a few pictures to catch you up with my life!

I got Mom tickets to Straight No Chaser's Omaha concert for her birthday. As you can see, we were quite happy to be there! My favorite part was, surprisingly, this Lady Gaga medley.

In early October, my sisters and I ran/walked a 5K. The experience made me want to do another!
Thanks to a facebook friend, I've become obsessed with this bread. It's so easy and absolutely delicious!
In early November, I accompanied a group of students on a trip to DC. This is one of my favorite shots.
My cousin Shawna was on the trip, and I enjoyed spending time with her. Here we are outside Lee's Mansion in Arlington National Cemetery.
On the way home from DC, we stopped at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, where I "got" to hold this snake. Pretty brave, if I do say so myself!
This picture serves two purposes: 1) To show off my new hair color. 2) To thank cousin Bethie for the Sleepy Monk coffee and Cannon Beach mug she brought me when she visited for Thanksgiving.
Yesterday, Blendy and her friend Janelle came over to help me decorate. Then we watched You've Got Mail while I wrapped all the presents I've bought so far.

"then sings my soul" by robert j. morgan

Then Sings My Soul (Special Edition) by Robert J. Morgan is a delightful collection of 150 hymns and the stories behind them. This book is a joy to read. Morgan's writing style is welcoming, at times humorous, and certain entries reminded me of Paul Harvey's The Rest of the Story. Each hymn gets two pages--one for the sheet music and the other for the hymn's background. In addition to the table of contents at the front, the hymns are indexed alphabetically, by author, and by first line, making it very easy to find whatever hymn you're looking for.

Prior to reading this book, I knew the story behind only two of the hymns: "It Is Well with My Soul" (thanks, Adventures in Odyssey!) and "Silent Night." Now, I know lots of fun facts. For example:
  • Handel wrote Messiah in twenty-three days.
  • The tune to "Jesus Loves the Little Children" was written as a Civil War battle song. 
  • Martin Luther, a monk, married his wife, a nun, because he couldn't find anyone else to marry her!
I thoroughly enjoyed paging through this book. It would make a great Christmas gift for the hymn lover on your list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from BookSneeze. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 19, 2010

a fairy tale

Once upon a time, I married Shane West. I suddenly remembered this while watching a recent episode of Nikita, my new "guilty pleasure" show. He was on screen, and I literally shouted, "I MARRIED HIM!" Fortunately, I was alone at the time.

Of course, I didn't actually marry West. Rather, I married him in my obituary. In my college news writing class, one of the assignments was to write our own obituaries. I had fun with mine, and it became even better when my sister Val got her hands on it and embellished it a bit more. So I present, for your reading pleasure, my obituary. (Val's additions are in italics. I also just realized that I probably shouldn't put all this personally identifying information out there, so I'm changing and/or leaving out a few things.)
Rebecca West, known as the "Christian Entertainment Voice," died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Central City. She was 85. Because her entire estate was left to one relative, her daughter, Cassandra Kilers, it was at first believed that she had been "done in" in another tragic case of greed by a cold-hearted relative who just couldn't wait. However, because Cassandra was already well-off thanks to the untimely death of her husband, Michael Kilers of Chicago, on whom she had a $1,000,000 life insurance policy, it was decided that she did not need the money and, therefore, did not "buy the farm" for her mother.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Swiss Church in Whitewater, Kansas. Pastor Jason McCullogh will officiate. Burial will be in the Whitewater Cemetery. 
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lion Funeral Home. Family will be present from 6 to 8 p.m. Memorials are suggested to Nebraska Christian Schools and CAM International.
Mrs. West was born in Kansas to Robert and Susan R. She graduated from Nebraska Christian High School in Central City, attended Central Community College in Grand Island, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She received a Masters of Education degree from Northwestern University in Chicago in 2008.
On July 19, 2006, she married Dean Cain in Central City. They had three children. Mr. Cain was killed in a skiing accident in 2012. Cassandra was again a suspect early on in the investigation, but it was later determined that it was the malicious ski lodge owner who was jealous of Cain's fabulous abs who spiked the hot cocoa on that fateful day. Because of the influence of the alcohol, Mr. Cain "Just call me Dean" skiied into a tree. On November 25, 2015, she married Shane West of Los Angeles in Whitewater, Kansas. They had one child. 
Mrs. West's great loves were family, education, and entertainment. She combined these loves in her work as the "Christian Entertainment Voice." While doing her graduate work at Northwestern, she wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times which reviewed television programs in light of traditional moral values. This column spawned a weekly syndicated television show, "Family Entertainment," which also included movie reviews and interviews with members of the entertainment industry. Critics dubbed her the "Christian Entertainment Voice" due to her family-friendly reviews and her push for morality in Hollywood. 
Mrs. West also had a great love for romance novels, which she read daily. Upon the suggestion of her rustic husband Shane, she decided to try her hand at this "art." Her first book, "Love in Kansas," was based entirely on the exploits of her mother's teens and early twenties. Her second book, "You Skiied into a Tree, and Now I'm All Alone, Unless I Find Someone Else," was based upon the tragedy and triumph of her first husband's death. This was a bestselling book on the "Literature of Kansas" reading list.
 Mrs. West also taught high school English at Puebla Christian School in Mexico and Berean Academy in Elbing, Kansas; served as Chair of the Journalism Department at Multnomah Bible College in Portland; worked on the staff of "Plugged-In Magazine;" and founded and served as editor-in-chief of "Christian Entertainment Quarterly," which she continued to be involved with until her untimely death.
Survivors include her husband of Central City; two daughters, Jennifer Jensen of Whitewater, Kansas, and Cassandra Kilers of Chicago; two sons, Christopher Cain of Winona Lake, Indiana, and Jeremy West of Puebla, Mexico; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by an infant son, Jesse West; two grandchildren, Sydney Jensen and Jessica Cain; and one great-grandchild, Alec Hernandez. Her favorite saying was, "For all the saiiints who from their labors reeest to Thee by faith before the world confeeeeeeeeeessed." While she lived a seemingly full life, she never fulfilled two dreams; to become Michelle Kwan, and to personally meet the entire cast of the show "Full House."
After reading that, who here thinks Val should blog? Also, according to my timetable, I still have time to marry Shane West. Just sayin'.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"uncertain heart" by andrea boeshaar

Sarah McCabe yearns for independence. As the youngest in her family, she feels smothered, so she accepts a position at a music school in Chicago. Upon arriving, she learns the position was given to someone else. Desperate to maintain her independence, she agrees to become a governess in Milwaukee. Sarah immediately falls for the children under her care, and she finds herself attracted to their father, widower Brian Sinclair. However, she is also drawn to Richard Navis, another of Sinclair's employees. Richard shares her faith, but his desire to become a farmer stands in stark contrast to Sarah's dreams of a life of grandeur.

Uncertain Heart is book two in Boeshaar's "Seasons of Redemption" series. It functions well as a stand-alone title, though, and I had no trouble following the plot even though I hadn't read the first book. I was afraid the story would be a bit too predictable and The Sound of Music-ish, but Boeshaar crafted a unique plot. A twist near the end took me completely off guard and seemed a little too convenient; however, after reading the preview to book three, this twist makes sense, and I'd like to read the next book to learn how everything turns out. My major critique is that the story is a bit too slow-moving for my taste. I wasn't hooked until at least halfway through the book, and if I hadn't been reading this in order to review it, I probably would have stopped. But if you enjoy straight-up historical romance (without a hint of suspense), you'll probably enjoy this book.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Glass Road Public Relations. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

leavin' on a coach bus

Early tomorrow morning, I and 45 or so others will climb onto a bus, where we'll remain until we arrive in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, early Tuesday morning. From there, we'll continue on to Washington, D.C. I'm going along as a sponsor for my school's annual sophomore trip. If you think of me in the next week, pray for me: bus rides and I are not friends, as I have an extremely difficult time sleeping while traveling. Bus ride aside, I'm very excited about this trip, as I've never been to DC before. To make it even better, my cousin Shawna will be on the trip, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with her! I'm not taking my laptop, so I won't be blogging along the way like I did on my last several road trips, but I promise to update you when I get home!