Back To Mitford

2017-12-11 hexagon flower pillowcases

It’s that time of the year – the Christmas season – when many people totally abandon reading. Not enough time, they say. Too much to do. Can’t concentrate when I have so many things on the mind. My suggestion: listen to audio-books while you work!

I’ve been listening to the latest Mitford novel in the kitchen while I work on hand-sewing projects. It feels like visiting with an old friend. Most of the characters from Jan Karon’s earlier novels are in the book (some have died over the years). There’s Father Tim, who is fully retired now, his artistic wife, and their grown son Dooley, who has married and is now a licensed veterinarian. The small town of Mitford has the same favorite places – the diner, local grocery store, the Cavanaugh house, etc. The book makes you feel like you’re back home after being away for a while.

I also listen while making supper and folding laundry. There’s just nothing like having a good book read to you while you do your hands-on work. You can listen on an old-fashioned CD player (yes, they are still sold) with library CDs, listen on your computer, or download books to your phone through apps like Overdrive or Hoopla. The advantage to listening on your phone is that you can just tuck it in your pocket and the story follows you wherever you go.

Give audio-books a try, and see if they keep your love of books going until things slow down enough to sit down with a physical book to read.


Scholastic Books Evolving

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When I was a kid, one of my favorite things at school was to get a Scholastic book flier. (Yes, I was a book geek even then.) My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but we would pore over the selection of books, and pick something. Then there was the anticipation of that book being sent, and excitement on the day when the teacher got her class’s book order in and passed out the books.

Scholastic is still around, and this week my grandkids showed me their fliers. Now instead of one flier, there are multiple fliers – four of them this month. Wow, I said, and I was once again like a kid in a candy shop. I was surprised to see that Scholastic is now carrying a good variety of books with moral or faith-based themes. Among the fliers were:

Jesus Always: 365 Devotions For Kids
An 8-pack of Bible story books
The Berenstain Bears And The Joy Of Giving
Who Was Jesus?
The Plot To Kill Hitler (a biography about Pastor Bonhoeffer in Germany during WWII)
National Geographic Kids: Mother Teresa
Why Should I Share?
Why Should I Help?
Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler
Pass It On (about sharing happiness)
The Kindness Value Pack
The 7 Habits Of Happy Kids Pack
Building Faith Block By Block
The Little Flowers Of Saint Francis Of Assisi
God Gave Us Angels
Five-Minute Bible Devotions

Kudos to Scholastic for expanding their selection of books for kids! This is especially important since so many walk-in bookstores have closed over the past decade. If ever there was a time that we need to be focused on living moral and giving lives, it is now.

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A Blessed Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

I love Norman Rockwell pictures. The classic Rockwell Thanksgiving picture is the one with a large family gathered around a table with an abundance of food. But I prefer this alternate depiction of Thanksgiving Day. It is of a man and a woman peeling potatoes together. The man is obviously home from war, judging by his uniform. As the woman gazes at the man, you can see the gratitude in her eyes. The one she loves is home again, and that is more important to her than anything else.

The Season Of Thankfulness, Day 10

1940s Howard and Adeline's house on Crofton St

Today is the day many people will be loading up their cars and making the trip to spend Thanksgiving Day with friends or relatives who are far away. In our family, they are driving in from three different directions, entailing a 7-hour drive, an 8-hour drive, and a 5-hour drive. Just so that we can be together to thank God for His blessings.

This is possible because of the invention of cars. I’ve never been terribly fond of driving (think crazy drivers, icy roads, traffic jams, etc). But it sure beats walking or riding a horse to your destination! The world has completely changed since the appearance of cars, and I for one am grateful for the gift of cars.


The Season Of Thankfulness, Day 9

2017-09-04 homemade chocolate chip pancakes

It’s something people all over the globe love – chocolate! Can you imagine a child’s birthday cake without it? Or chocolate chip cookies without the chips? Then there’s hot cocoa or coffee with chocolate-flavored creamer to warm you when it’s cold outside. You can even make it part of your breakfast, if you have either Cocoa Wheats cereal, or homemade pancakes with chips dropped into the batter.

While some would say this is a trivial thing to be thankful for, remember this:
There is nothing too small to thank God for. God is the Giver of gifts both great and small. So today I am grateful for a food that sweetens our lives and brings a smile to so many faces.

The Season Of Thankfulness, Day 8

Photo by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Yahoo News, Public Domain,

This morning, as I am reading the news, there are two stories about prison. The first is about Charles Manson, the man who orchestrated the brutal slaughter of seven Californians back in the 1960s. I think most people would agree that this was a rightful imprisonment, as he would likely have continued to kill (or have his followers kill) if he had not been stopped by imprisonment. Manson died yesterday of natural causes.

The second story was about the three U.S. basketball players that shoplifted from three different stores while they were in China. The young men were arrested, and were facing a possible ten year sentence in a foreign prison. President Trump spoke with President Xi Jinping, who intervened in the case. The basketball players were released from prison and allowed to go home.

I think we can all agree that incarcerating someone for ten years for petty theft is a punishment that does NOT fit the crime. But I was troubled by the nonchalance of the father of one of the young men. Here is a quote from the CNN article:

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses.”

I read this and thought: What on earth is the matter with you, Mr. Ball?! “A big deal out of nothing?” Your son has just been spared ten years in a foreign prison (which I’m pretty sure would have been far worse than one of our prisons). He would have been too far away for you to even visit, and who knows if you would have been allowed to correspond by letter? Your son was a guest in another country, and he stole from his host. I know, I know, you don’t think it’s any big deal to steal, but the theft showed a total disrespect for a country that welcomed him in to play sports. To make it even worse, when your son was allowed to come home, you weren’t even really grateful to the Chinese president for sparing him the imprisonment. It seems that your disdain for President Trump and the country of China is more important to you than the fact that your son is FREE. You should be down on your knees, thanking God that you still have your son.

Today I am thankful to not be in prison. No, I have not committed a crime. But in many countries, my belief that Jesus Christ is the Savior would be enough to land me in prison for a long time. There are many people imprisoned for no reason other than they hold the “wrong” religious affiliation. In this season of thankfulness, I am very grateful to be living where I am living, in freedom.


The Season Of Thankfulness, Day 7

photo credit:

This picture says it all. I am thankful to have clean drinking water. Yes, there are occasional news stories about a community with contaminated water, but at least they can buy bottled water to avoid getting dysentery, cholera, e coli, or parasites. Every time we drink a glass of water without wondering if it’s clean, it is a gift.