Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon






Another book post to recommend this wonderful, poignant book: The Christmas Tree by Julie Salamon, with color illustrations by Jill Weber. It's an older book, published in 1996, and one that escaped my attention until I recently came across someone else recommending it.

It's short at 118 pages, but it is not a children's book, even though it may be categorized as such. It's a tender, sweet love story, but not between two people, but rather between an orphan girl and a Norway spruce tree. It's also a story about sacrificial giving.

I have a soft spot for nuns and convents, and the book has nuns and a convent. (I'm not Catholic, although I once worked at a convent.)

And I have a soft spot for all kinds of trees. My backyard has two majestic cedars, one of which lost its lovely, gracefully curved topknot in a tornado over ten years ago. But I still love it. I also have two large maple trees. 

Alas, trees are struggling here on the Plains because we don't receive enough rain anymore.

Anyway, there's still time to read this wonderful story before Christmas! I was able to get it within a few days from my library system. Or it's only $1.99 for Kindle (book photo is link to Amazon).

Have a blessed weekend,
Bess

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 12/12/17


Today I'm sharing a little about the book Having a Mary Spirit (book photos are links to Amazon) by Joanna Weaver. I just read this 2006 book in the last few days.






I must have read Ms. Weaver's first book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, probably around 2001. 




Both books were excellent. I don't recall terribly much from the first, so I hope to reread it someday.

I also hope to reread Having a Mary Spirit again ... but not right away. I want to mull it over awhile; put some of it into practice.

This book wasn't a quick read for me. As I read it, I often found myself stopping to ponder her words and think about my own life. 

Weaver refers to three Marys: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary, the sister of Martha; and Mary Magdalene. But she also writes about herself (and others), her failings, and how she has grown closer to Jesus by what she's been through in life and how she's reacted to various circumstances. In other words, how she has been moving towards acquiring a Mary Spirit.

She shares many excellent quotes and excerpts from other authors (all credited, of course), and provides a list of books in the appendices that have helped her.

There is an excellent chapter entitled Mind Control. And a chapter on forgiveness, and much of the book is about that arch nemesis of ours: Flesh Woman. From the book:

My choice to accept Christ as Savior was a single decision I made the day I gave my life to God. But my decision to follow Christ as Lord is made up of hundreds of smaller choices I make every day.

The book isn't a difficult read, but whereas, for example, Joyce Meyer writes for the Everyman, Joanna's writing is a little bit deeper. (The world needs both kinds of writing; the same thing said slightly differently impacts one and not the other, but also vice versa.)

I hope you'll read Having a Mary Spirit, reading slowly and savoring all the helpful morsels shared.



But now it's back to some Christmas fiction for me!
Bess
PS: I am an Amazon Associate.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Word for Us on 12/10/17



You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isaiah 26:3  NLT

This is one of my favorite Bible verses, although I have too many favorites to count!

I haven't mentioned lately, I don't think, singing to ourselves as a way to oust those bothersome, and for some of us—seemingly ever-present, negative thoughts.
 
Many of the books I read and programs I watch say to just stop thinking negative thoughts and to replace them with positive thoughts. But as I've said before, positive thoughts don't come easily to an extremely negative thinker such as I was.

The best way I've found to steer our minds away from negativity is to sing wholesome, preferably godly, songs ... and hymns. Out loud if possible, but usually silently in our heads to ourselves.

Songs are easily remembered, and as a plus, many worship songs and hymns are based on Bible verses, which are sometimes easier to sing than to bring to mind for reciting by rote. With a little effort, we can have a plentiful selection of songs to sing to ourselves. 

When we sing, those unwanted nagging thoughts flee. At the same time, with the right heart attitude, we can be worshiping the Lord. Before long we are engaged in constructive thinking and activity.

This is a great time to begin to form the habit of singing godly songs because almost everyone knows the tunes of many Christmas carols, and their lyrics can be found easily online. We can sing to ourselves while we do dishes, vacuum, do the filing at work, drive, or whatever, and especially as we drift off to sleep in our beds.

As today's verse says, the main way we learn to have the peace that comes from trusting God is to fix our thoughts on Him and His Son Jesus. I believe having hearts and minds full of worshipful singing makes fixing our thoughts on our Lord a simple and joyful habit ... that fixes our thoughts.

Have a blessed start to your week,
Bess


Friday, December 8, 2017

A Private World of Your Own

 

In Rosamunde Pilcher's short story "Weekend" from her book Flowers in the Rain and Other Stories, Mrs. Renwick tells Eleanor:

" ... I'm lucky, because when I was a child I was taught to play the piano. I was never very good. Not good enough to become a professional. But I used to play in our local orchestra, and sometimes for dancing classes and that sort of thing. My time on my own. Restoring when I was tired. Comforting when I was anxious. It has sustained me all my life, and will continue to do so, whatever happens."

Then Mrs. Renwick advises Eleanor to remember to have "a private world of your own."

Over the years, playing the piano has also been very comforting and cathartic for me, but I'm afraid I don't play nearly as often as I used to. I really need to remedy that.

What haven't you done in a while that brings you healing and peace? Treat yourself and do that something soon. Your own special mini-retreat.



Blessings for a great start to your weekend,
Bess

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 12/6/17


The original Victoria Magazine, by Hearst Publications, published a few Christmas books over the years. I haven't been successful in finding a complete list of these; however, I don't think there were very many.


But I assume their best-known is The Heart of Christmas, which I inherited from among my mother's books. (I think. It's getting difficult to recall exactly how I obtained some of my books.)


I'm not a collector of Christmas books, and I've donated most that have come my way. But I kept this lovely book because being published by Victoria, it's beautifully done. Plus, I do have a Victoria book collection. :O)

The Heart of Christmas is still available via third party on Amazon, here. (No affiliate link today.)


Hope you can take some time to look at your favorite Christmas books soon ... with a nice hot cuppa.

Blessings,
Bess

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Simple Christmas by Ray Pritchard




I interrupt my regularly scheduled posting to let my readers know about a currently FREE FOR KINDLE Christmas Advent devotional called Simple Christmas by Ray Pritchard. I was alerted to this book by Vickie at Vickie's Kitchen & Garden where she shares free and inexpensive Kindle books. Her blog has provided me with a heads up on many nice books that are available for no charge. Simple Christmas is listed on Vickie's December 1st post here. (Scroll down; also price may have changed.)

I encourage you to click on Vickie's link and go to Amazon and download this wonderful devotional. Today I played "catch-up" by reading from yesterday's through tomorrow's entries. If you hurry, you'll easily be able to get caught up on this Advent devotional.

Make sure to click on the youtube links Mr. Pritchard provides at the end of each devotion. I've listened to the first three Christmas songs (after reading each devotion) and have really enjoyed them.

Well done Ray Pritchard. And a big thank-you to Vickie.

Blessings,
Bess

Friday, December 1, 2017

Mrs. Scrooge


In No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read, Mr. Lamb, Mrs. Willett, and Mrs. Pringle have been visiting at the Post Office. After the latter's departure:

"That woman," said Mr. Lamb, "makes me come over prostrate with dismal when she shows that face of hers in here."

Don't you think that's priceless?! 

"Makes me come over prostrate with dismal." Thank you, Dora Jessie Saint (aka Miss Read), for being an incomparable wordsmith.

Yes, that Mrs. Pringle could easily be called Mrs. Scrooge. What a crusty old curmudgeon. And yet, she did have her soft spots and endearing moments.

I guess she shows us there's hope for all the Mrs. Scrooges out there. So when we find ourselves this blessed season in a foul mood, remember Mrs. Pringle and let us aspire to not make anyone "prostrate with dismal" when they see us.

But I know none of us are like that, are we?  :O)


Blessings and have a great weekend,
Bess

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

For Your Reading Pleasure 11/28/17





Christmas books galore! Which ones should I choose to read this lovely season? How many can I read by the New Year (when I will switch to winter themes)?





It seems many Christmas books are on the short side, which I think is a good thing because then I can read more books from more authors. That's why I especially like Christmas novellas. One has the satisfaction of a full novel, but without all the extra details (not that I don't enjoy longer novels also).





Last year and this year I've been reading Christmas novellas by Victoria Connelly and have enjoyed every one. So far she's written four, I think, and I have read three (photos are links to Amazon).

The books in order (but it's not necessary to read them in order) are Christmas at the Cove; Christmas at the Castle; and Christmas at the Cottage (the latter has a wonderful dog, Harley). Each book stands alone and the main similarity is that each involves sharing the said cove, castle, or cottage with another party, whether expected or unexpected. Naturally, romance ensues. Connelly writes this type of story to great effect. Her full-length novel Love in an English Garden is another example of the shared residence theme.





Finally, I will be reading her Christmas with the Book Lovers later this week. I have read the first book in the series, The Book Lovers, but not the next two yet. However, I peeked and the Christmas book appears to focus on the same couple as the first book, so I don't think I'll be too lost. This book sounds a bit different for Christmas. I am eager to read it.






You can check out Victoria Connelly's Amazon Author's Page here; her website here; Facebook here; and Instagram with lovely photos here. There's even a free novella when you sign up for her newsletter! I've also written a previous post re Ms. Connelly here. I have read over ten of her books now, and they all have been clean and gentle reads.

Hope you enjoy reading a good Christmas novella this week,
Bess
PS: I am an Amazon Associate; photos are links to Amazon. Thank you for visiting! (And mistakes happen, so double-check to make sure you are on the correct Amazon page for the book edition you want: Kindle, paperback, etc.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Word for Us on 11/26/17


The Rich Man and Lazarus (told by Jesus)

“There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from scraps off the rich man’s table. His best friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores.

“Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his lap. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I’m in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It’s not like that here. Here he’s consoled and you’re tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.’

“The rich man said, ‘Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won’t end up here in this place of torment.’

“Abraham answered, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them.’

“‘I know, Father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but they’re not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways.’

“Abraham replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they’re not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.’”

Luke 16:19-31  The Message

This is a story about Heaven and Hell and stubbornness. Are we going to let the Devil snatch away our eternal happiness? Are we adamantly refusing to discover God by refusing to read and study the Bible? Are we going to keep on letting the world and our flesh rule us ... and determine our destiny?

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! 

Open the door.

Blessings on you and yours,
Bess
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

7th Blog Anniversary


Lefton China.





I can remember how thrilled I was to be starting a blog. I walked on air for weeks, almost, I loved it so much! Now ... it's kind of an effort, but we'll see how much longer I can hang in there.




In the early years I did a lot of collages, so I thought I'd share some of them today. I stopped doing them because they are a lot of work for teeny individual photos put together that one can no longer enlarge enough to see well (there was a time when Blogger allowed that). I think collages are pretty, though, so I hope you enjoy the ones I'm sharing.




Antique books, some in Swedish.


Paste jewelry; it has since been sold.














EIT English Ironstone.


Unless it has started up again, I don't think La Vie Claire is being published anymore.

Mikasa dish.

Rose Chintz.







Very intricate and detailed 1960s stamp art, made from cancelled stamps.






Noritake Nippon Toki Kaisha.



I believe a break is in order until after Thanksgiving. That will give me a little more time to read! :O)



Blessings,
Bess