Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Report: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

(image from

I wanted to badly to like this book.... but I can't go on. The writing style is not for me, it's incredibly boring and drawn out. I am actually extremely surprised this has received such high ratings! I really enjoy reading WWII/holocaust books but this one didn't do anything for me. Part of me wanted to push on because I've had two people tell me how amazing it is, but when I asked another friend if I should waste my time finishing, she said "I wouldn't". There was my answer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fredrik Meijer Gardens Chihuly Exhibit

Last month, my friend Amy and I went to Fredrik Meijer Gardens to see the super sweet Chihuly blown glass exhibit! Just her and I and our cameras... it was delightful! The fall colors coupled perfectly with the beautiful colors of the glass! It was relaxing and such a joy! Here is a sampling of the photos I took:

Amy photographing the Koi fish...

Love this red tree.... take a guess at how big it is!

Do you have your guess????? :) It's huge! This is a picture of Amy standing next to it. She's probably in the 5'4" range. Crazy, huh?

And I'll finish off with a fun picture that Amy took of me in the cute little playhouse in the children's garden!

Overdue book report!

I'm pretty sure I'd get a failing grade because I've been so bad about blogging! :) Actually, I've done very little reading in the last few months because of the college course I was taking, but since that's been done... I've been able to read a couple and start some more! I actually have quite a few books going right now! Eeek!!!

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I had conferences for both Michael and Grace on the same night!! This was both a blessing and a pain! They are both in middle school this year so that meant we had to tackle seeing 12 teachers... but it was mighty nice to get them all done in one evening. Jeff and I met at the school after work which was the most PERFECT idea... this allowed me to visit the Scholastic book fair while he went home (he doesn't care to sit and look at bookshelves for long periods of time)! :) This is such a great place to get books for a great price all the while helping with fundraising for the school! I left with 6 books... yikes! Kinda fun though... I've been really interested in Young Adult fiction lately. I love the great storylines and the easy reading factor is a bonus!

(Photo from Barnes and Noble)

I just finished one that was really good!!! It's called Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris. It's a story based in New Orleans! I LOVE all things New Orleans and cannot wait to visit there some day!! This book was great at making me visualize everything... from the Mardi Gras floats, the above-ground tombs in Lafayette Cemetery and the gorgeous mansions in the Garden District! I even felt like I could smell that damp New Orleans fragrance. The storyline was super fun! Here's the synopsis from Publisher's Weekly:

With this haunting love letter to New Orleans, Morris makes her YA debut, telling the story of 15-year-old Rebecca Brown, a proud New Yorker sent to live with a family friend while her father travels overseas. Ostracized as an outsider, Rebecca struggles to fit in and cope with her new surroundings. When she befriends Lisette, a ghost who has haunted the cemetery ever since her mysterious death 155 years earlier, Rebecca is drawn into an eerie story of betrayal, loss, old curses and family secrets. As Mardi Gras approaches, so does the culmination of something dark and angry that has been brewing for decades. This moody tale thoroughly embraces the rich history, occult lore and complex issues of race, ethnicity, class and culture that have defined New Orleans for centuries, turning the city into a character in its own right. Rather than shy away from the shameful or tragic moments of the past, Morris uses them to capture the city's essence. From Mardi Gras rituals to voodoo spells, Hurricane Katrina to jazz, this is a story that could only be told in New Orleans.

I've read a few other books that are worth mentioning, so check them out!
(Photos from Barnes and Noble)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone." Titus 3:1-2 (NLT)

"Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor." 1 Peter 2:13-17 (NIV)

Friday, October 22, 2010

What have I been up to??

This picture about sums it up! For the last eight weeks, I have been taking the first of many college courses. This past summer, I decided to finally go back to college to finish my bachelor's degree. The last class I had was back when I found out I was pregnant with Grace. Needless to say, raising two young children doesn't allow extra time to complete degrees! :) I am so blessed to have had 69 credits that transferred into Central Michigan University from so long ago! Last week, I successfully finished my first class back. Although grades aren't yet out, I do think I'll end up with a B. I am very happy with that grade. It was a tough, time-consuming class and with being a wife, mom and working full-time... well, a B is pretty good in my opinion!

I did take a little bit of time from school-work to play. The above picture was taken at Frederik Meijer Gardens. My friend Amy and I went to shoot photos of the amazing Chihuly blown glass that was exhibited at the gardens (pictures to come)! This picture actually does have a story, other than it looking like I'm pulling my "hair" out! I LOVE willow trees. Jeff doesn't want a willow tree because they are too messy. This is me "hugging" the branches of the willow tree because I was so excited to see such a big and beautiful one! :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

(Photo taken 8.18.10 - Sixth Street Park, Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan)

The Twenty-First Time by Monk & Neagle

Nowhere to live
Nowhere to fall
He used to have money
But he’s wasted it all
His face is a photograph burned in mind
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He sleeps under stars, it’s all he can afford
His blanket’s an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

He may be a drifter who’s grown old and gray
But what if it’s Jesus and I walk away
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

She’s 29 but she feels 48
She can’t raise three kids on minimum wage
She’s crying in back of the welfare line
But I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

She may be a stranger trying to get through the day
But what if it’s Jesus and I walk away
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
But I pretend not to see her for the twenty-first time

This is a call for a change in my heart
I realize that I’ve not been doing my part
When I needed a Savior, I found it in Him
He gave to me, now I’ll give back to them

Drifter or stranger, daughter or son
I’ll look for Jesus in everyone
‘Cause I am the body and drink of the wine
And I’m thankful there’s more than the twenty-first time

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

(Photo taken 8.18.10 - Downtown Grand Rapids)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:2

Thursday, September 2, 2010

(Picture taken August 2007 - Sartell, Minnesota)

When Your Hut's On Fire

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, 'God! How could you do this to me?'

Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island! It had come to rescue him! 'How did you know I was here?' asked the weary man of his rescuers. 'We saw your smoke signal,' they replied.

The Moral of This Story: It's easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground. It just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vacation Photos

Sorry I haven't posted in so long... This past Saturday, we got back from vacation! We spent an entire week at a cottage on Gun Lake and it was WONDERFUL!!!! It was so relaxing and very much needed! I had an amazing time with my camera! I have yet to go through all the pictures but I'll share some with you in this post..... and there'll be more to come! I hope you enjoy!

This first one.... I am still in awe of it. Thanks to my best friend, Google, for helping me figure out the manual settings to get this amazing shot of the moon!

LOVED how the sun was shining on the water in the morning. I thought these boats looked so cool... just a few cottages down from where we were staying. I used the free Orton action from CoffeeShop Free Actions to give it this wonderful effect.

Sunrise with sweet ducks swimming by....

Chilly morning with the warmth rising off the lake....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Photoshop Elements 8 Fun!

I am having SO much fun playing on photoshop elements!!! Tonight I learned how to do textures, clipping masks, frames, selective coloring and more!!!!! I am SO in love!

This is my friend Amy.... this is a before and after picture that I did after a fun little photo walk we went on. The before was with some basic PSE edits and the after has three different textures and a scuffy-edged clipping mask! FUN!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No one can build ultimate security on things or people.
Real strength comes from relying on God.

(photo taken in September 2009 - Grand Haven, Michigan)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Worry is like a rocking chair.
You may feel like you are doing something,
But it won't get you anywhere.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A week ago, Grace and I went on the third annual World Wide Photo Walk with some friends. Essentially, everyone around the world walks around taking photos on the same day. You can then enter photos into the world wide contest and/or local contests. A couple friends own The Memory Boutique and they sponsored a walk in beautiful downtown Rockford, Michigan. It was a great time!!! We got some beautiful scenic photos (which I'll share with you in another blog post) and made some new friends! As we were coming back from walking along the Rogue River, we came upon a man walking his two dogs - both were sweet husky-mixes. And one of the poor honeys had a cast on her leg!! :( She got hit by a car but was walking around like a champ.... except that it was hot out, so she decided lay down a bit (reminds me totally of my Lady Isabelle) while we chatted with her owner. Of course I asked if I could take a picture of her and her owner was more than happy to let me click away! :) This beautiful dog's photo reminded me of a beautiful verse in the book of Psalms.

The Lord heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Report: The Diary by Eileen Goudge

(Book Image from Barnes and Noble)

I was so excited when this book arrived from PaperBack Swap because each time I'd go to a bookstore, I'd eye it up! THE DIARY ended up being just as good as I hoped it would be!

The story is about two sisters who find their mother's diary while cleaning out her house as she lay dying in a nursing home. In the pages of the diary, they discover that their mother's true love was not Bob, their father who passed away the previous year, but some boy named AJ and the sister's can't understand how this could possibly be because their parents seemed so happy and genuinely in love! There are plenty of twists and turns in this book and keeps your attention completely the whole way through. Is everything always as it seems to be? Are people who we really think they are? The author did a great job of describing the settings and characters without overdoing it. The ending was an amazing with a surprising twist that made this book all the more exciting!!!

Even though this gem of a book is a short and easy read, it didn't lack anything at all. I'll definitely be adding some more of Eileen Goudge's books to my list. I highly recommend THE DIARY (and I think it would make a great movie)! Grab a blanket and some coffee and enjoy!!