A Year of Gratitude: Changing Seasons

The view from our porch February 17, 2021

I was standing in a long checkout line at the store the other day, directly in the path of cold wind blowing in through the sliding glass doors every time they opened. I was chilled to the bone. In my mind I was whining about the draft; I most likely even had a frown on my face.

And then I remembered that less than two weeks ago the entire state of Texas was blanketed in snow, complemented by temperatures well below the freezing mark. I scolded myself for complaining.

The odd, winter storm that caught everyone in my state off guard earlier this month also threw a wrench into my mojo. Cold winter months are challenging for me even in a mild season. I’m a warm weather, outdoors kind of gal. The plummeting temp grabbed hold of my emotions and dragged them right down too. The scary thing is that I didn’t realize until much later that the seasonal sadness had hit me. It snuck up on me this year and put me in a sour mood.

I rarely complain about anything, but that day I actually caught myself in the act – complaining about something I have no control over and letting it ruin the moment I was in, instead of praising God for everything and in all circumstances. I sat down today to write about being grateful that the winter storm is over. But instead – as so often happens when I write – the words have taken a life of their own, leading me to the lesson God is giving me this day.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes. 5:18 NKJV)

Offer praise and thanksgiving for everything. I am loved. I am made in His image. I am His child. His care and provision for me do not change with the seasons.

Yes, I am grateful that the winter storm has ended. But I am so much more grateful that God allowed me to experience it. I walked through snow ten inches deep – something I’ll probably never do again in this region of Texas. I watched kids sledding down a roadside hill. I found the opportunity to help others in need. I got to sleep late every day for a week – one of my favorite things! I spent hours cuddled up by the fire with the man that I love.

Most importantly, I saw the beauty and majesty of God’s creation in a whole new way. So thank you, Lord, for changes big and small, for hiccups in my routine that allow me to experience Your glory in new ways.

Thanks so much for stopping by MyWhateverBlogsite.
Please feel free to comment, share and connect with me, and have a wonderful day!

Success! You're on the list.

Book Review: Honeysuckle Season by Mary Ellen Taylor

Howdy everyone! I am back with my first review of 2021. I am so excited to share this book.

Honeysuckle Season was one of my Amazon Prime First Reads picks. I don’t know how long it’s been in my Kindle library, but I finally pulled up and read it this month. (Let me also tell you that I have yet to be disappointed by any of the Prime First Reads that I’ve selected. It’s a great perk to being a Prime member.)

This story alternates between early the 1940s and the present day. The historical parts tell the story of Olivia Carter and Sadie Thompson, two very different women who develop a bond through trying circumstances. The current section follows Libby McKenzie, a photographer, and Elaine Grant, the owner of Woodmont Estate, which both plots revolve around. Woodmont is a lavish property in Blue Stone, Virginia that has been in the Carter family for generations.

I really loved this book. It was difficult to limit my reading to only a few chapters per day. And when I got close to the end, I spent the entire weekend binge reading. (Forget streaming TV – who needs it when we’ve got so many great books to read!)

Anyway, back to Honeysuckle Season. This was my first time reading Mary Ellen Taylor; she has quite a few books out, so I will definitely read more of her work.

I am intrigued by historical fiction. Taylor’s depiction of a WWII era mountain town is very realistic. And Sadie is my favorite character in this story. She is written in a way that I think readers can really connect with, even if you’ve never run moonshine or hidden from the sheriff deep in the woods.

As for the present-day protagonist – Libby is emotional, neurotic, and endearing despite her tendency to overthink everything. Libby meets Elaine pretty early in the book, and then we tag along as secrets are revealed and we finally learn how these women are connected. I am trying not to spoil anything, but I was completely surprised at the end.

If you like family drama and history with a little bit of mystery thrown in, then you will probably enjoy this book too. I absolutely recommend it.

Thanks so much for stopping by MyWhateverBlogSite. I hope you found this book review helpful. If you’d like to see what else I’ve been up to lately, then click here to read my article on taking breaks from the chaos of life. I also hope you’ll check out my books page and see if anything there piques your interest. Happy reading!

Success! You're on the list.

A Year of Gratitude ~ Delivery Workers

Hello everyone, and a happy new year. Welcome to my first post of 2021.
I have decided this year will be my year of gratitude. I’ve started a wonderful gratitude journal for documenting all of the things I am thankful for as this new year rolls on.

This month I want to send a shout out to everyone in the shipping industry, delivery drivers, and the folks behind the scenes that help those couriers get where they need to be.

Post office, UPS, FedEx, DoorDash, Amazon, and any I’ve forgotten – I’m talking to all of you. You have made it possible for the rest of us to continue getting things we need. And also, a big thanks to the website and tech people working behind the scenes.

I’m sure I don’t need to remind any of you that 2020 was a tough year. Adjusting to the changes in the last 12 months has been challenging for the entire world. People are spending more time at home; social distancing has changed the way we work, shop, and even relax. Many of us think twice before running to the store for a gallon of milk. The postal service and shipping companies have stepped up and worked extra hard, especially through the holiday season, to make sure we can still get our stuff.

I know it’s easy to complain about shipping times and couriers who may seem careless, but who really are just stressed and behind schedule. Before you complain, take a moment to imagine a day in their shoes. Nine times out of ten, they are doing the best they can.

Now, let’s play a game. Remember what daily life was like way back in 1980. Close your eyes, think really hard. Are you with me? Remember – no home computers, no cell phones or tablets. Now imagine all of that lack of technology along with a pandemic. POW! (Millenials – you’ll have to get your parents to tell you about the dark ages that we grew up in!)

Now you get it, right? Web and app developers, tech support, the folks programming virtual assistants – those folks are rock stars in my book. I love the ease of shopping on my phone and having my goodies delivered within days. (For those of you that live in the city, I bet you can get deliveries within hours.)

And most of us have still been able to work. Thanks to technology, we can wake up and stroll to our home offices and continue to work and collect a paycheck. There are lots of industries and skillsets that don’t have that option, lots of folks out there in the world working like it was 2019 (with a mask, of course). This post is to let all of those people know they are appreciated.

So thank you, thank you to everyone that helps keep our world running smoothly with all of the changes.

Thanks again for stopping by MyWhateverBlogsite. I hope you have enjoyed it. Be sure to check out my ‘Books’ page and sign up for my e-mail list. Have a great day!

Success! You're on the list.

My Year in Books

I was just looking over my yearly summary on Goodreads, and it looks like I totally slacked off this year as far as reading is concerned. But that is not entirely accurate.

These are the five books I read this year according to Goodreads. What that fun, tracking website doesn’t know is that I also read a great collection of Jack London Stories, and I completed 4 Bible studies in 2020. So keep on reading for the rundown.

  1. Maybe I’m Flying to You by Diamaya Dawn is a poetic and deep and lovely short story.
  2. I finally finished Pilates and Yoga, an instructional home workout book that I have been reading for years. There is tons of information in this book.
  3. Circle of Seven by Clay Jacobsen is a Christian thriller that kept me on my toes right till the end.
  4. I found some great advice for fleshing out story ideas in Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Plot.
  5. And I tagged along on adventures with Baron Britpop Blastfurnace by Mark Starlin.

And what does Goodreads not know that I read this year? For starters, I finished a wonderful collection of stories by Jack London. You can read more about it here.

I also did several Bible studies in 2020: the books of Matthew, Colossians and Phillipians. Guided Bible studies are a great way to go deeper into the Word, if that’s something you are interested in. May I suggest Living By Design Ministries for some helpful resources.

And finally, I read J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on the book of Daniel. Here is a link if you want to know more about it.

So there you have it, my true year in reading. I will admit that I read less in 2020 than I did in 2019, which is strange. I think lots of people did more reading this year because of pandemic lockdowns. But not me. I tried to do more writing and crafting this year. All in all, I feel like my reading was very balanced this year.

How about all of you guys – did you read much more than usual in 2020 or spend time doing other activities? I’d love to read your comments, so please feel free to share.

Thanks for stopping by My Whatever Blogsite.

I wish all of you a late Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year. Until next time, happy reading.

Book Review: Jack London Stories

Photos by Andrea Cannon

Hello everyone and happy holidays. Today I am sharing my thoughts on Jack London Stories, a collection published by Platt & Munk Co, Inc. in 1960. This is another treasure that I hunted down in one of my local antique stores. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I have an affinity for old books. Just look at the cover. I couldn’t possibly resist.

It took me almost an entire year to read this book, partly because I set it aside for a while after finishing ‘The Call of the Wild’. My beloved hound dog died shortly after I began that story. My stubborn determination would not allow me to stop reading until I reached the end. I was already an emotional mess over my Duke, and ‘The Call of the Wild’ only made it worse. Time passed and I was finally able to revisit the story with some objectivity.

Now back to the collection as a whole. I did know anything about Jack London when I made this purchase. As I read through the stories, I did some digging into London’s biography. It turns out he was quite an adventurer. More on that in a bit.

Reading ‘The Cruise of the Dazzler’ was like listening to a ten-year-old kid recount an escapade from his imagination. I grew up with boys, all of my kids are boys – so this story was spot-on for me. I absolutely loved it.

Most of the other short stories in this collection felt like listening to a bunch of drunk, old-timers recall tales of their younger selves. Interesting doesn’t even begin to cover it. A lot of London’s stories take place in the Yukon region of Alaska. I believe they were born out of his own experience chasing gold. They are entertaining, but also very revealing.

Jack London lived in a different era and culture. Most of us alive today have no concept of the hardships faced in the late 1800’s and the turn of the century. He wrote tales that were rough around the edges and filled with weather-beaten characters.

London wrote and published for the sole purpose of earning money. In fact, he was one of the first authors to receive a monthly stipend from a magazine to travel and record his adventures in story form. He lived a life many writers dream of, and honestly, I’m a bit jealous. He didn’t worry about marketing or stats, followers or likes. He just wrote stories and sent them to the publisher. Ahh – the good old days.

But honestly, Jack London Stories is not for the faint of heart or those who are easily offended. So when you read this book remember it was written in a time and place that is foreign to many of us, and try to enjoy them for the entertainment and shock value they provide.

If you are interested in procuring your own copy of this wonderful collection, I found some available on Ebay. Just click the link to check out the listings for yourself. Or you can go on a scavenger hunt through your local antique and junk stores.

Thanks for visiting MyWhateverBlogsite today. I hope you enjoyed your visit. Please consider subscribing to my email list for updates on books I am working on. Merry Christmas and Happy Reading.

Success! You're on the list.

An Author Interview with – Little ol’ Me!

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Hi Everyone. I am so excited to share my very own author interview with Yvonne at bookeccentric.com. Yvonne was so gracious to invite me over for a quick Q&A session about my new book Climb. This was my first ever author interview, and I am a bit giddy to see it live on her wonderful website. I hope you will hop over to her site and check it out.

Here is the link again for bookeccentric.com.

Thanks for stopping by mywhateverblogsite and happy reading!

Success! You're on the list.

Book Review: Baron Britpop Blastfurnace by Mark Starlin

Hello all. I am finally back with a review of another great book. This is the wacky, ridiculous and hilarious adventure a blacksmith turned Baron in the days of yore.

Mark Starlin is an author that I follow on medium. As I thoroughly enjoy his short fiction, I knew I would love this book.

If you are looking for something fun and escapist, I can’t recommend this book enough. It is appropriate for all ages. If you have read it, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by MyWhateverBlogsite, and happy reading.

Success! You're on the list.

Painting for Fun – Turtle Shells

Hello friends. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe out there in the world. I have been working diligently on a new novel, but sometimes I need to take a break and express my creativity in different ways. This week I want to tell you about the turtle shells.

A brightly colored turtle shell marking my path through the woods.

I have about 30 acres of forest around my house. I love taking long walks through the woods to fuel my imagination. I find all sorts of interesting things on my walks, but my favorite treasure is the turtle shells. I’ve started collecting and decorating the shells and then returning them to the woods. I like to use them as trail markers as it’s very easy to get turned around when I am exploring.

cleaning the shells

The first thing I do is let the shell sit in a tub of soapy water for a day. As you can see from the picture above, sometimes the turtle shells are very dirty when I find them. After soaking, I scrub them with a stiff-bristled brush to get them really clean.

preparing to paint

Next I coat the shell in Acrylic Gesso. I believe this helps prep the surface to hold the paint better. Finally I paint the shells. I use a variety of mediums – water color, acrylic paint, permanent markers. Eventually I want to attempt to Mod Podge one of my shells, but I’m not sure if it will work.

finally finished

After the paint dries, I coat the entire shell in clear varnish. This is just to set and protect the paint, as well as help it hold up to the elements when I return the shell to the woods. The picture above is my handy work from this week. The picture at the top of this post is the first shell I painted, resting comfortably on a tree letting me know that I am still on the trail.

I painted this one a few weeks ago…looks very formal with its bow tie.

So there you have it…just another one of my creative endeavors. I like to read every day and do something creative every day, or as I tell my husband – doing activities keeps me sane.

As always, thanks for stopping by MyWhateverBlogsite. I hope you have enjoyed yourself. On a side note, I am looking for 3 people to read and review my latest book, Climb. Please click the link to read the description and message me in the comments below if you are interested. I will gift 3 copies in exchange for reviews. And don’t forget to subscribe to my monthly newsletter also. Thanks and happy reading.

Success! You're on the list.

Another Book Review – Cirlce of Seven by Clay Jacobsen

I finished reading this book last week, and it’s been sitting on my desk waiting to be reviewed. Circle of Seven is Christian suspense fiction. This is the story of a reporter researching how the media reports opinion polls and how those polls influence the public.

This is my first time reading anything by Clay Jacobsen. The premise caught me, and the story kept me all the way through to the end. (I do want to mention that the first chapter has several characters and the narrative seemed to be head-hopping a lot. I had to read it twice to get a good feel for what was going on. But after that, the writing was smooth sailing. So don’t let chapter 1 discourage you from continuing.)

The story is realistic, all of the main characters are well thought out and I genuinely cared about what was happening to them. I also really like the way Jacobsen weaved scripture into the story line and dialogue. It is informative without being overwhelming, and I feel like he did a good job of presenting the Gospel in a way that will be understandable to non-believers.

I recommend this book for readers who enjoy contemporary fiction, Christian fiction, and thrillers. Here is a link to the Amazon listing so you can get a copy for yourself.

Thanks for stopping by MyWhateverBlogsite. I hope you enjoyed your visit. If you’ve read Circle of Seven, please leave a comment below and let me know what your thought of the book. And I would be honored if you will subscribe to my monthly newsletter by clicking here. Happy reading everyone.

With Jesus in Your Boat

I love this post from Brit’s Nook. I hope you all will too.
Happy Reading. 🙂

Brit's Nook

During one of my years working at camp we learned a song (plus the hand motions) called With Jesus in Your Boat.

It goes like this…

With Jesus in your boat, You can smile through the storm
Smile through the storm
Smile through the storm
With Jesus in your boat you can smile through the storm
When your sailing home
Sailing, sailing home (Clap)
Sailing, sailing home (Clap)
With Jesus in your boat you can smile through the storm
When your sailing home
Cute song, right?
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking!
Life is hard…
It’s hard to smile through difficult times …
This is just a kid’s song…
Yeah, you may have a point on all of these, but it doesn’t mean that this simple kid’s song is telling us a lie of any kind.
With children it is easy to over complicate things.
They just stare as you!
They might nod their heads and…

View original post 581 more words