Monday, September 28, 2009

Some BIG News (Hint: Involving a Job and a Ring)

Well everyone, I have two big pieces of news, one of which I saved until the other happened.

First off, Justin got a call a couple of weeks ago from a NOAA weather office which he'd applied to, asking for an interview the very same day. He interviewed a couple of hours later, and they told him right off he had the job.

Getting a job so quickly is rather unusual--one of Justin's weather-buddies told him to expect about a year to get a job and half a dozen to a dozen interviews. So that was truly good, good news!!! :0)

And this weather office is somewhere, admittedly, I never thought about moving--Michigan! The Upper Peninsula, on the shores of Lake Superior, to be exact!!!

It's going to be soooo cold--and soooo much fun! The UP gets enough snow for snowmobiling (which neither of us have done), skiing (which I have never done) and outdoor iceskating! In the summer there are tons of bicycle and four-wheeler trails, plus some good hiking and camping spots. Plenty of stuff for outdoorsy people!! :0)

I think I'm reading y'alls' minds here; you're asking, "So, when are you getting married?" Which brings us to the second big piece of news....

Justin and I are now engaged!!!!!

He proposed last Thursday night (September 24th) at a pretty little park near Springfield. He'd mentioned that he wanted to go on a date, and my parents offered to chaperone us. And then Justin mentioned that we should go to Ritter Springs Park, since my parents had never been there (we'd gone out there once with Hannah).

So we went out there, and as we're walking down to the bridge Justin was talking about all the stuff he needed to get done before Michigan, and how he hoped we'd get engaged before he left but he wasn't sure, he needed to talk to his parents....and when we stopped on the bridge, I looked away for one second. Then I felt this tap on my shoulder.

I turned around and there was Justin on one knee, holding up a ring, asking me to marry him!!! It was SO COOL!!! And so sweet...He's the world's most amazing guy and I love him so, so much!

It truly has been an amazing summer, with our courtship bringing us closer together through hardships, and now we're engaged! Even though I knew it would happen sometime, it was so wonderful to actually have the ring on my finger and to be able to hold hands and to call Justin my fiance.

Love you, Justin...thank you for asking me to share your wonderful, adventurous life with you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Gripe About the Paranormal Fiction Craze

I am so sick of hearing about "paranormal" YA books. Especially vampire books, fluttering and flopping along in the wake of the highly successful Twilight series.

 

First off, why can't people be original? Feature something other than vampires, if paranormal fiction is necessary to write at all?

 

And secondly, I'm sickened that Christians are sucked into the mire of these books. No matter that they advocate sanctity of life or whatever. The first I ever heard of the Twilight series was last summer, when a girl in my cabin at Camp Barnabas was reading...I think it was the second one in the series. Anyway. A Christian camp! To say I was mildly shocked is a gross understatement.

 

What is it about these books that have appeal to Christians? I doubt that most Christians wouldn't be caught dead reading earlier authors of the genre (such as Ann Rice). Just because they happen to advocate something that Christians agree with...gag. It doesn't mean we have to give our whole-hearted support!

 

The whole idea to me of vampires existing and being "good" is ludicrous. Is our Christian culture so sunken as that?

 

Back in the days of silent and black and white film, there were the Dracula movies--and books--that portrayed vampires as evil. These were secular horror films that still recognized the evilness of vampires.

 

"Everything is permissible--but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible--but not everything is constructive." ~1st Corinthians 10:23

 

In my Bible (NIV), that verse is under the heading "The Believer's Freedom." Yes, the Bible doesn't specifically mention vampire or paranormal fiction. Yes, since we are Believers in Christ, and Christ has cleansed us, "everything is permissible." Christ can cover everything we've ever done and will do.

 

But "not everything is beneficial" or "constructive." How might you be harming yourself by reading these books? Where will it lead? What will it look like to non-believers who see you reading something like the Twilight series and think, "Oh, these Christians, they're just like me"?

 

The fact is, we're NOT "just like them." We're different, called to be different, marked to be different. We're to be in the world but not of the world.

 

Don't let yourselves be fooled by this trend. I truly believe that vampires are evil, witches are evil...and so is paranormal fiction, because it focuses on them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exposure by Brandilyn Collins

Storyline: Kaycee Raye is paranoid about multiple things. Rollercoasters. Bees. Darkness. Most of all, she’s frightened with the thought that someone is watching her every single instant.

 

She’d begun to conquer the fear, then her best friend died, leaving a young child behind. For the past year, Kaycee’s fears have taken on a life of their own. Her coping skills no longer help.

 

And it all starts one evening when she walks into her house and a camera goes off—with no one to press the button. Every one of her fears begin to stack up, paralyzing her. The local police think she’s crazy. Kaycee also has her doubts—until too many things happen too conveniently.

 

My Take: Wow! I read this book in three hours. Suspense is always difficult for me to put down (and obviously I had way too much time on my hands that day).

 

This book was well done. Even though it was somewhat short, I connected to the characters, especially the main character Kaycee, well. Kudos to Brandilyn Collins’ ingenious character building schemes!

 

It was also tense. I don’t think I relaxed a single bit while I was reading it. Definitely not a book I’ll revisit if I’m ever at home by myself right before bedtime.

 

I think everyone could connect to Kaycee well because she represents the fearful part of us. I mean, I connected with her fears of darkness and bees. And it made me examine why I particularly feared those things—both of mine are pretty tame compared to Kaycee’s. (I dislike darkness because I have poor night vision, and not being able to see things makes me jumpy. I dislike bees because they sting and hurt! Duh! :0) ) And I cheered happily at the end when Kaycee is well on her way to defeating those fears.

 

A couple of dislikes: description of lots of blood at a couple of points. I know this won’t be a problem for most people. I just happen to get sick at the sight of a lot of blood (and my imagination works too well to read that kind of description). And, it's definitely edgy Christian fiction.

On the whole, though, I really enjoyed this book. If you can handle heart-pounding suspense, go for it!

 

Rating: four and a half stars

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Favorite Summer Books

One of my goals this summer was to read 25 new books. I made it to 22. Out of all of those, my favorite were The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul, Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark, and 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie.

 

Here are summaries:

 

Shadows of Lancaster County: Anna Bailey is not her real name, and California is not her real home. She moved from Pennsylvania following a tragedy within the Amish community she lived close to. She hoped to never go back.

But her brother has disappeared, and his wife frantically calls Anna, unsure of who else to turn to. Anna finds herself embroiled in a tangle of DNA experiments, family secrets, and the loving arms of God's mercy as she fights for her life. 

Genre: Modern-day United States, suspense

 

4:50 From Paddington: Elspeth McGillicudy did not have hallucinations. Ever. So the sight of seeing a woman strangled in the window of a passing train turns her to her old friend Jane Marple for help. But Miss Marple is far too old to go tottering about the English countryside by herself, so she enlists a young friend Lucy Eyelesbarrow to be her eyes as she sets her mind to solve the mystery.

Genre: Late 1940s England, murder mystery

 

The Vanishing Sculptor: Tipper Schope manages her parents' estate since her father disappeared several years ago and her mother has a fuzzy mind. Her guardian, a Grand Parrot named Sir Beccaroon, is always trying to help her, but sometimes Tipper just wishes she didn't have so many worries. Then her father reappears with a problem--Tipper sold three of his statues that were made from on of Wulder's Foundation Stones, and because of that all the portals in the world are becoming unstable.

Genre: Fantasy, same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles (Dragonspell, Dragonquest, Dragonknight, Dragonfire, Dragonlight).

 

Check out these books if you have the chance, especially Shadows of Lancaster County, even if suspense isn't your normal genre. It is an amazing book!!

 

PS-Sorry for not posting on Monday--being a holiday it completely skipped my mind.

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