Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge Update

It's been several weeks since I last posted an update on this. I've only read nine titles so far (35%), putting me six books behind at this point. My reading efforts have picked up speed in the last couple of months, but it hasn't been enough (though I'm one book ahead in my overall reading goal of 78 titles). 

Anyway, below in green are the titles I've read so far for this challenge (two of which I didn't actually complete), and in pink are the titles I've changed from my original list. I am currently reading Your Own Jesus. What are you reading?
All In: You are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life
Mark Batterson
The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
Peter Enns
Cold-case Christianity: a Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels
Wallace J. Warner
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life
Louis Zamperini
Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey  from North Korea to Freedom in the West
Blaine Harden
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
Francis Chan
Girl Meets God
Lauren F. Winner
How Christianity Changed the World
Alvin J. Schmidt
If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life
Alister McGrath
Joni & Ken: an Untold Love Story
Ken Tada
Kisses from Katie: a Story of Relentless Love and Redemption
Katie J. Davis
Living in the Spirit: Drawing Us to God, Sending Us to the World
George O. Wood
Miracles from Heaven: a Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing
Christy Beam
Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence
Jonathan Sacks
One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity
Debbie Macomber
Put on the Armour of Light
Catherine MacDonald
Quiet Strength: the Principles, Practices and Priorities of a Winning Life
Tony Dungy
Reverend Mother’s Daughter: a Real Life Story
Mary Haskett
Jim Cymbala
Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God
Bill Hybels
Unstoppable: the Incredible Power of Faith in Action
Nic Vujicic
Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision
Andy Stanley
Why We’re Not Emergent
Kevin DeYoung
Edith Wharton
Your Own Jesus: a God Insistent on Making it Personal
Mark Hall
Orson Scott Card

Friday, 21 July 2017


Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Life itself. Too many of my friends have lost close relatives in the past ten months - people from 52 to 102 years old. We never know when we will lose someone we love or when our own time will end. Each day, each breath is a gift.

2. Time with my husband, family and friends. A couple of days ago a friend was lamenting that we hardly ever see the friends we're geographically closest to. I may be seeing her Monday! This last week or so my husband and I have been trying to spend more time together in our sunroom. We added it to the house a couple of years ago but have spent little time there. It's just like a cottage in the city - you hear very little apart from the sounds of nature.  My daughter and I had breakfast together yesterday and are having lunch with a mutual friend this afternoon. Tomorrow my husband and I get together with his cousin and his wife. 

3. Literacy. So glad to have grown up in a country where going to school was a basic right and reading, writing and math were foundational learning skills. While math has never been my strong suit, I can't imagine my life without books and I'm thankful for the gift of creativity.

4. The blogosphere. Though technology can be all time-consuming and frustrating when it doesn't work the way you expect it to, I'm thankful for the connections I've made through the web. It has opened up the world to many who would otherwise be more isolated, and revealed the hearts and minds of those in far away places. While there's no denying the moral and spiritual darkness in some, for the most part we have much in common with people of different backgrounds, races and creeds. We are all human. We're all in this together. 

5. This is less profound, but my car. I take it for granted until something goes awry. In the last week the Elantra's developed a loud hum that plays when I go above 60 kilometers an hour (at first it was 90, but then it began initiating sooner). Seems like a wheel bearing needs to be replaced. Thankfully, it's still under warranty and the dealership can fix it Tuesday afternoon. In the meantime I'm advised not to drive it more than necessary. Boo.
#FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Right Now

Drinking: Two cups of coffee so far. That's usually the most I have in a day, but there may be one more to come depending on how I fare. Otherwise, the usual water and herbal teas.

Eating: Had the early bird breakfast at Cora's this morning with my daughter. I had two scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon (haven't had bacon in ages), and two blueberry pancakes. Did not feel stuffed afterwards, and barely satisfied, even though that's a lot more than I usually eat. I saved my two slices of rye bread, tomatoes and lettuce to make a sandwich for lunch. Supper will probably be leftover lentil loaf, potatoes and veggies.

Reading: Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall and Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley.

Watching: Nothing. No time.

Listening: Wonder by Hillsong United. Awesome CD.

Creating: I haven't done much on the photo album project in the last week. I need to get some more of the 2006 Florida trip pictures printed off first.

Buying: Pampered Chef. I had an online party and qualify for some free and half price product. What's your favourite?

Anticipating: Lunch with my daughter and a friend tomorrow, seeing my husband's cousin and his wife on the weekend (we haven't seen them in years!), tea on Sunday with a new couple from church. How about you?

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Right Now

This is what's happening right now:
Drinking: Working on my first cup of coffee of the day. Planning on one more at some point, then water and herbal teas for the rest.

Eating: I've had a bowl of original Shreddies with almond milk. Figuring on a slice of D'Italiano white bread, toasted (only other choices are an English muffin or cinnamon waffle, both of which are higher in calories). Lunch will be some leftover pizza my son baked, but is apparently not going to finish. Someone at work is celebrating a milestone birthday and has invited us to stop by her desk this afternoon for an ice cream treat. Not sure if I'll partake since I don't really need it. On the other hand - ice cream!! I made a Greek barley salad for supper last night and there's still lots, so plan to serve it again tonight along with vegetables.

Reading: The Sayers Swindle, a mystery by Victoria Abbott. I need something light after Escape from Camp 14. Also starting Your Own Jesus by Mark Hall (of Casting Crowns fame).

Watching: Nothing. I'm working on a photo organization project these days and have no time for movies or television.

Listening: The radio, to and from work.

Creating: Traditional photo albums. Never got into the scrapbook craze. First I had to interfile loose photos from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s; now I am picking up from 2006. I actually took a photo of our dining room table, where everything is spread out, but my husband objected to me sharing it, even with my friends on Facebook. I guess that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the job. It's going to take a while.

Buying: Just the essentials, Gromit. (You know that's a Wallace and Gromit reference, right?)

Anticipating: Visiting my mom in Toronto this weekend. I haven't seen her since the end of May. She was visiting her sister for a while, then her sister visited her, so this is the first chance I've had for some one-on-one. Usually I'm there about every 2-3 weeks.

See you tomorrow for #FridayFive. What are you up to today?

Friday, 7 July 2017


Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week:

1. Good neighbours. On the weekend we got together to celebrate Canada Day. One of our neighbours gave us lettuce from their garden. Tuesday and Wednesday some of us went to a visitation and funeral for a neighbour whose mother passed away.

2. Good sermons. We were reminded that God requires us to walk humbly with Him, to love mercy, and to act justly (Micah 6:8). We should know this, but sometimes we forget.

3. Good books. I enjoyed Linda Hall's Black Ice and am enjoying Elizabeth Thompson's When God Says Wait. So many books to read and so little time!

4. Good conversation. My friend Lisa and I haven't seen each other independently of book club for a couple of months. It was nice to have her over for French toast and fruit salad this morning so we could catch up. There was lots to share!

5. Good food. I've been watching what I eat more carefully lately (yes, I know - didn't I just mention French toast?!). The intermittent fasting seems to be working well, and I've been trying some new healthful recipes and getting more exercise. Thankful to see some progress, and hopeful that I'll lose another three or four pounds by the end of the month.

#FridayFive was started by Lauren at Milly's Guide. What are you thankful for? Leave your reply in the comments or in your own blog post.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Right Now

Drinking: I've had coffee and water so far today. Pretty hot and humid out there so plan to stay hydrated and drink more water.

Eating: Breakfast - plain Shreddies with almond milk, poppyseed rye toasted with peanut butter. Lunch - a bean and cheese burrito, oatmeal muffin with flax and dried cranberries, gala apple. Dinner - to be determined.

Reading: Working my way through Elizabeth Thompson's When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, Or Your Mind. Also started Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden

Watching: We watched Florence Foster Jenkins on the weekend. What a horrible singing voice she had - but what a story! Meryl Streep does an excellent job of portraying her. And Hugh Grant is wonderful as her supportive husband. I wasn't happy with some of his choices, but could understand why he made them. Sometimes life is complicated and when you don't have faith to guide you...

Listening: Mostly the radio, but this morning on my way to work we listened to Wow Hits 2017: the Deluxe edition.

Creating: Organization! I decided to tackle my photographs. Went through those that were still in pouches from the developers, sorted them out according to the dates I'd written on the back, and started getting them into traditional albums. Some of them dated back to the 1990s!

Buying: Only the essentials (i.e. food/pharmacy/fuel).

Anticipating: Having my friend Lisa over tomorrow. It's been a good couple of months since we've had a chance to catch up. We'll be making French Toast and talking about life and writing.

What are you up to right now?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hello, Summer!

I know it was officially summer on June 21, but for us the real kick-off was July 1, Canada Day. If you're American, perhaps summer really begins for you on July the 4th. Regardless of when it starts, the season usually brings a change (or changes) in routine, and that's certainly true for me.

Some bloggers give themselves a two month break at this time of year. I'm not going to do that, but my blogging will become a little more sporadic. I'll try to keep up with some 'right now' posts and many #FridayFives. I'll also pen the odd book review. Hopefully that will be enough to keep us connected through July and August.

Have a wonderful summer and I hope you'll check in here now and again. I'll try to do the same and visit your blog posts!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Crossing the Sea

 You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. - Rabindranath Tagore

Having goals and dreams is great, but no one is coming to your door to offer that dream job, ideal life partner, perfect house, trip around the world. If it's a true desire, you have to go after it. You have to plan, you have to engage. You may have to stumble and fall a few times before you find the best approach. In other words, you can't just stand there. You need to do something!

In the example above, if standing and staring at the water isn't enough, how do you cross the sea? You could try swimming (though rather foolhardy), paddling a canoe, sailing, rafting, etc. Clearly, some form of movement is required, otherwise you'll only end up with a sunburn or sand in your shorts.

What secret goal or dream is yours alone? What are you going to do about it? Or, what are you doing already...?

Friday, 30 June 2017

#Friday Five, Canada Day edition

I'm sure we all have things we could grump about, but the fact is complaining leads to the opposite of joy. Want to increase positivity and happiness in your life? Make a list of things you are thankful for to develop an attitude of gratitude! Here's what I'm thankful for this week. I call it the Canada Day edition - tomorrow we celebrate 150 years as a country!

1. Clearly, I'm grateful to have been born and raised in Canada. I have a heritage here that dates back to the 1700s, and while that's not as distant as the First Nations, I'm proud of my Canadian roots. My Irish ancestors made good decisions in settling here.

2. Everyone in Canada has the right to an education. In Ontario, students are required to stay in school until they are eighteen. The most successful countries recognize the importance of education and ensure it's available and of good quality. 

3. We have a pretty decent health care system. 

4. We have the ability to choose our leaders and make our voices heard.

5. We enjoy many freedoms. 

6. When we travel, we are generally well received wherever we go. Canadians are known as polite, respectful, well-behaved. And apparently, people like our "accent". How aboot that, eh? (We actually don't say "aboot," but others seem to hear so!)

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow citizens and expats. May we never lose sight of who we are and who we want to become as a nation. May we choose leaders who seek godly, rather than man-made, wisdom. (See this excellent post for more on that subject).

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Right Now

Apologies for not posting more regularly lately. Just been busy! And yesterday there was no Hodgepodge. But for all those who are interested, here's what I'm up to right now:

Drinking: Had French vanilla flavoured coffee this morning, and a kefir-based smoothie. I think I found the recipe online. It was pretty simple: 1/2 cup kefir (mine was strawberry and banana), 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1 cup of frozen berries (I used strawberries). It was pretty tangy at first sip so I added a teaspoon of maple syrup. It could have used more, but I managed. The naturopath says fermented foods may be beneficial for me, so I'm trying...

Eating: I had a small bowl of plain Cheerios for breakfast, and the smoothie. For lunch I have a garden salad, raspberry dressing, a plain dinner roll, and an oatmeal muffin with flax and dried cranberries. Still not sure what I'm having for supper, but I'm leaning toward quinoa.

Reading: Just started a couple of new books - Black Ice by Linda Hall and When God Says Wait by Elizabeth Thompson. Enjoying both so far.

Watching: Been too busy for movies lately, but I'll probably watch something this weekend. Should probably choose something quintessentially Canadian seeing as we celebrate our 150th on Saturday!

Listening: Just the radio, when I'm driving to and from work.

Creating: The odd blog post, the odd novel revision.

Buying: Nothing but the essentials; the bank account is struggling to keep up with the bills these days.

Anticipating: Canada Day weekend! A get-together with neighbours on Saturday and the church picnic Sunday. And friends over tonight for dessert and games!

What are you anticipating?

Monday, 26 June 2017

On Leadership

My grandfather used to have an expression for not being in a hurry: "there's no place to go." This is fine in that circumstance, but when it comes to being a leader, if you have no destination in mind it shows in the results.

Friday night my husband and I watched the 1983 movie Rumble Fish. Based on the book by S.E. Hinton, when Motorcycle Boy returns to New York after a long absence, he offers his brother Rusty James all the wisdom he's gleaned, including this gem:

Rusty James looks up to his brother and, I think, is puzzled by this statement. Motorcycle Boy seems a born leader but he doesn't seek leadership, recognizing that he has little to offer. His ability to show "courage" in a fight is no more than a response to feeling scared spitless and his "charisma" is based on a sense of mystery about him. He doesn't speak or think like the rest of the crowd.

If we want to be leaders, we should ask ourselves why. Do we have something valuable to offer or is our desire more about selfish ambition and ego gratification? If others are following us, are they wise to do so? Are we leading them down a garden path to destruction or up a mountainside to glory?

When we follow others, we should do so wisely. Are they taking us into a fight where we may get killed? If so, is it a cause worth dying for? Is the end goal worthwhile? Will we change the world, or be changed, in a positive way? Rusty James identifies Motorcycle Boy as a modern-day Pied Piper. Who remembers whether or not that story has a happy ending?

We are all either leaders or followers. Wherever you land, make sure you're heading in a good direction.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Right Now

Drinking: I've had one of my son's very strong coffees and that may be it for coffee for the rest of the day. That boy's had negative symptoms in the past and had to eliminate coffee and I sadly expect he'll have to go through this again before he gets wise. Not at a stage where he listens to the wisdom of his parents, unfortunately.

I have a litre of water available to drink for the rest of the day, and will try to drink it all, and more.

Eating: For breakfast I had the heel off a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread spread with coconut oil. Also a serving of Honey Shreddies with almond milk. I bought the honey version at my son's behest and didn't realize I wasn't opening original Shreddies this morning. A difference of 7 grams of sugar - pah!
I think this is actually 'Life' cereal, but close enough!
Not sure what I'm having for lunch yet. I'll be at work and I'm sort of bored of brown-bagging it. I brought some "dollars" that we can use at any local business, so I imagine it'll either be a wrap or a salad.

Not sure about supper either. Tired of making those too and aiming for variety. I bought some tofu at the end of last week, so I may try to find a recipe and hope it passes as better than edible to the rest of the family. My son is unlikely to try it. He'll eat sushi and try eel, but forget about Mama's home cooking experiments!

Reading: Just finished reading Francis Chan's Forgotten God. An excellent book; highly recommend it to the Christ-follower who wants a richer spiritual life. It's on my re-read list; as always, it's one thing to have knowledge, another to apply it. Also finished historical mystery, Death Comes to Pemberley, which I reviewed on Tuesday. Today I'm starting one of Debbie Macomber's non-fiction books, One Simple Act, about the power of generosity.

Watching: Saw Rogue One on DVD on the weekend, ane enjoyed it. Brought a few more DVDs home from the library: Rumble Fish, Olympus Has Fallen, and Moonlight. Not sure which one we'll watch first. Suggestions?

Listening: Sirius XM, the Message. Subscription runs out this coming Monday.

Creating: Working on revisions to the novel and on blog posts. In other words, the usual.

Buying: Not much. Trying to avoid big credit card bills at the end of the month. But - massage, today's lunch, groceries... We still have to eat! And we still have to order shower doors, a robe hook and toilet paper holder for the bathroom reno.

Anticipating: Reunion with my husband's side of the family Saturday. My brother-in-law owns a large acreage up north so we usually meet there. Hoping for nice weather; it's been a little cooler this week and today we're expecting thunderstorms. Would be crummy if it's like that Saturday and we have to be cooped up in the house. The house is nice but it's not big and there are a lot of us now.

Anything new with you? What are you reading, watching, creating, anticipating?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Summer Hodgepodge

1.The first day of summer rolls in later this week. What are ten things you'd put on your list of quintessential summer activities? Will you try to manage all ten this summer?

Summer vacation – this summer I’m going east to Newfoundland with my mom and my aunt. Growing up, if we didn’t go to Newfoundland we were usually camping more locally.
Getting together with family – for the last several years, we’ve had family reunions with my husband’s side of the family and less frequent gatherings with mine. We’re trying to up the latter going forward. No one’s getting any younger.
Enjoying summer foods – watermelon, fresh berries, corn on the cob. Yes, yes, yes!
Going for walks in nature – I hope to, though time is at a bit of a premium.

Chilling outside – we have a lovely sunroom in the back and a sitting area out front. Unfortunately, we don’t get as much time as we’d like in either place.
Barbecues – but not often, and three out of four of us eat plant strong. Our barbecuing efforts are fairly simple.

Taking more pictures – for sure when I go east I will be taking lots of photos.
Going to the beach – quintessential but not something we do often.

Camping – also quintessential but we sold our trailer a few years ago and are traveling a little differently now.
Gazing up at the stars – looking forward to seeing them in Newfoundland – otherwise, I don’t think we’ll be out that much late at night or away from a lit-up city.

2. Do you collect seashells when you're at the beach? What do you do with them once you get them home? What's your favorite place to comb for seashells? How many of these '
best beaches for hunting seashells' have you visited? Which one would you most like to visit?

Calvert Cliffs State Park (Maryland), Jeffrey's Bay (South Africa), Sanibel Island (Florida), Shipwreck Beach (Lanai Hawaii), Ocracoke Island (North Carolina), Galveston Island (Texas) and The Bahamas
I do comb the beach for seashells and other treasures. I display some when I get home, but often do nothing with the rest. Note to self: only bring back the most spectacular to show off. I actually haven't visited any of those beaches, but would most like to visit Sanibel Island. It sounds lovely.

3. At a snail's pace, shell out money, come out of your shell, go back into your shell, drop a bombshell, happy as a clam, clam up...which 'shell' phrase could most recently be applied to some event or circumstance in your life? Explain.

Definitely shelling out money. Bathroom renovations don’t come cheap!

4. What summer activity do you dislike? Why?

Tanning – while we need vitamin D and get it naturally from the sun, it’s not healthy to spend too much time soaking up its rays. Too many people getting melanoma.

5. What's something you see as quickly becoming obsolete? Does that bother you?
Manners, and it bothers me a lot!! I still haven't received a thank you note or e-mail for a wedding gift I gave three years ago.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Finally got around to reading Francis Chan’s Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Best 97 cents I ever spent at Goodwill. Highly recommend it to readers who identify as Christian and desire a more healthy spiritual life.
Please join us for the Wednesday Hodgepodge by clicking here!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book Review

Title: Death Comes to Pemberley
Author: P.D. James
Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2011
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery

First Lines:
It was generally agreed by the female residents of Meryton that Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of Longbourn had been fortunate in the disposal in marriage of four of their five daughters. Meryton, a small market town in Hertfordshire, is not on the route of any tours of pleasure, having neither beauty of setting nor a distinguished history, while its only great house, Netherfield Park, although impressive, is not mentioned in books about the county's notable architecture. (From the Prologue)
Goodreads Description:
The world is classic Jane Austen. The mystery is vintage P.D. James.

The year is 1803, and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth's beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball, the guests are preparing to retire for the night when a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham - Elizabeth Bennet's younger, unreliable sister - stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.

Two great literary minds - master of suspense P.D. James and literary icon Jane Austen - come together in Death Comes to Pemberley, a bestselling historical crime fiction tribute to Pride and Prejudice. Conjuring the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mark Darcy and combining the trappings of Regency British society with a classic murder mystery, James creates a delightful mash-up that will intrigue any Janeite.

From the bestselling author of The Murder Room, Children of Men and A Certain Justice, comes a wonderful mixture of the nation's greatest romance and best-loved crime fiction. In 2013, this novel was adapted as a miniseries by the BBC, starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet and Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham.

My Review:

P.D. James picks up Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice six years after Mr. Darcy's marriage to Elizabeth Bennett. Those of you who have read Austen's book will be familiar with these beloved characters. 

Here's the book trailer to give you a gist of the storyline:

Our book club is discussing this title on Monday. It took me a little while to get into the story since the language is a bit antiquated in keeping with the writing style of Austen's time. Once I was drawn in though, I found the plot intriguing and was challenged to uncover the identity of the murderer as well as the truth behind some underlying questions. Was there a woman in the woodland? If so, who was she? What was Colonel Fitzwilliam really up to on his nighttime ride? Is he or Mr. Alveston the most suitable choice of a husband for Darcy's sister Georgiana? Is the accused guilty or innocent of the crime with which he's charged?

James does a skillful job of handling Austen's characters, keeping them consistent with the original narrative. Austen fans will have nothing to complain about with this continuation and will likely be quite satisfied with the story's conclusion.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Book Club Aids:

Globe and Mail Review
New York Times Review
P.D. James article
Book discussion questions 
Reading group guide