Book review

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Title: Sagebrush Knights
Author: Erica Vetsch
Publish Date: December 1, 2012
Post Date: November 15, 2012
Blog url: http://www.sweetpea0944.wordpress.com
Review link:

Sagebrush Knights is a set of four novellas about the Gerhard sisters who have recently lost their father and find themselves homeless because the home they live in belongs to the University where their father was employed. Desperate to stay together they decide to advertise as mail order brides in the Wyoming Territory.

I liked how each novella primarily focused on one sister while building on the overall story of all four. The setting was interesting and the individual struggles and personalities of each sister made for a very enjoyable read. I particularly liked the way each sister learned to face her difficulties with determination and honor.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way. The opinions stated in this review are my own and I give them freely without bias.

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You Can Only Sit on the Fence For So Long

Today has been a turning point for me. My pastor has been preaching a series on the book of Nehemiah over the last few weeks which he finished up today. Through these sermons God has shown me that I have allowed some of my protective walls to decay. I have let things come between me and my relationship with Christ. I have gradually become desensitized to sin in my life and those around me.

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from the movie Remember the Titans. When the team captain sees that one of his best friends purposefully stepped aside and refused to block for one
of his teammates he goes to the coach. One of this coach’s rules is that nobody who wants to play will be cut. When Gary, the team captain, speaks to the coach about cutting his friend Ray from the team the coach reminds Gary of his rule. Gary replies to Coach Boone, “Sometimes you gotta cut a man loose.” The coach replies, “You are the team captain. You make the call but remember you’ve got to stand behind your decision.”

I have had a lot of difficult decisions to make. I had to decide whether I was still playing on my old team or on my Daddy’s team. (the new coach calls himself that early in the movie) I struggled with trying to remain loyal to the old team while at the same time being loyal to my Daddy’s team. Jesus warned us that we would have to face tough choices sometimes. I have been straddling the fence for a while now and just decided it is past time I jump onto one side or the other. I found a photo that perfectly exemplifies how I have felt for a long time. Here it is, I hope you get a laugh out of it.
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35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[a]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

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Doc: A Novel

DocDoc by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found the story of Doc Holliday very interesting. Since he was a native to my home state of Georgia and became a famous man I was interested in learning more about his life. I was surprised by my reaction to John Holliday and often found myself wondering how different his life might have turned out if life had been kinder to him. The hardship of losing his beloved mother at a young age, the dreadful consequences of suffering from tuberculosis, and the political and economic hardships of the country had to have huge impacts on the man he became. I think the author did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life and helped me see John Holliday as more than a sick, drunken, gambling gunslinger. It was refreshing to read more about his life than the typical focus on his short time in Tombstone, Arizona and the fight at the O. K. Corral.

View all my reviews

Fifty Cents a Day

Tonight as we drove to my parents house we were discussing many controversial topics in our society but had come around to discussing adoption and how so many people will take in many animals and worry and fret over the pet population without giving a second thought to the many children in need of adoption. As we arrive at my parents house and are getting out of the car Sweet G (who is adopted and is very aware of that fact) pipes up from the backseat, “Now I just don’t believe in adoption but I’d give fifty cents a day so a hungry child could have food to eat.” I think he was afraid we were in negotiations on whether we wanted to add to our family again. LOL He wants to make sure the kids get fed as long as they aren’t sharing his mom and dad. I’m afraid he felt like his place as the baby in the family might be in jeopardy.

The House in the Middle of Ruff Street on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

Halfway down a dead-end street a tiny two bedroom house sits on its overgrown lot. Hundreds of tiny feet pounded the soil, preventing anything from growing in the red clay that surrounded the small structure, but now grass grows with abandon. Hickory bushes are overgrown where they were once kept well pruned by the many mothers who ripped the tender shoots to discipline their children. Ladderback chairs are missing from the front corner beneath the branches of the Mimosa tree, where mother and daughters once gathered to share the news of the family. The distinct smell of Juicy fruit gum given by Granddaddy no longer floats on the air as it is shared by the grandchildren.

No more cornbread and pinto beans will be cooked or served in the kitchen. The slamming screen door has ceased. Cucumbers and tomatoes that once provided food for many families no longer grow along the railroad tracks. Linoleum worn through to the subfloor no longer feels the many feet that once tramped past Granddaddy’s green recliner in the living room.

An eerie silence has replaced the sound of Braves baseball blaring from a television set. The strum of guitars and harmonious voices of brothers and sisters arbitrarily joining in random songs have evaporated, leaving a void where there once was life and excitement. Baying coonhounds and crowing roosters are a faint memory. Winter’s chill permeates the rooms that were once overheated by a red-hot wood heater crammed into the corner of the living room. There are no more crying babies being passed from aunt to uncle or grandmother to grandfather. No snores will fill the rooms tonight as the moon shines down on the multicolored roof covered by layer upon layer of cheap rolled roofing.

The bent nails on the front porch, a poor mans substitute for a hook, hang empty of the flowers that once decorated the entryway. Windows and doors once stayed propped open. forever closed. A majestic oak tree stands guard over the old house providing the backyard with shade. Children once surrounded its base, escaping imaginary alligators by climbing on gnarly roots. Life and love that once abounded in and around this old house has vanished but the memories that were made and the love shared lives on in my heart forever.

A Monitored Life

The biggest challenge a new parent faces typically involves dealing with the lack of sleep that comes with having a newborn. “If they will just sleep through the night,” is the cry of countless young parents.

New mommies check and recheck the baby monitor fearing that it might malfunction and cause their precious baby’s cries to go unheard during the night. As the months pass by the moms begin to become more comfortable and life starts to level out as that sweet baby begins to need them less and less in the middle of the night.

Around age two most parents transition their child into a big boy/girl bed and once again the obsession with the baby monitor rears its ugly head. Fearful that the child might become afraid in their new bed the mom and dad once again begin their ritual of holding the monitor to their ear to try to determine if it is functioning properly.

After a couple of non-eventful months the parents settle into a comfortable confidence that everything is going to be okay. Around this time the child masters the use of the doorknob and many times the parents wake to find a toddler face pressed against theirs saying, “You sleep Mommy?” Maybe they can’t sleep, need to go potty, or want to cuddle up in bed with their parents but I think it’s pretty safe to say that most parents can relate to the scenario of being wakened by the pitter patter of little feet running across the floor in the middle of the night. Once again the parents’ plea is “If they would just sleep through the night!”

The three scenarios I described are pretty much universal to all parents except for a few. The ones that don’t fit into that category have a special category all their own. It is called Special Needs Parenting. I have been blessed to live both scenarios.

My oldest son went through all the stages I described until there was finally no need for the coveted, sometimes hated baby monitor. My youngest son’s experience has been totally different. Instead of ditching the baby bed between 18 months and two years, he stayed in his baby bed around four or five years. I was terrified he would roll off a big boy bed so he stayed in a crib until it just wasn’t possible anymore. Ditching the crib was a big deal and we actually switched him from the crib to a mattress in the floor so that his fall was much shorter when he DID roll off.

Another big difference in the experiences was the obsession with the baby monitor. I really don’t remember using a monitor for long with my oldest son. As soon as he learned to get out of bed and run into my room I suppose the monitor was ditched. My experience with Sweet G’s monitor is totally different. I have been obsessed with G’s monitor from birth until the present. We are on our second or third set of monitors. I still hold the monitor close to my ear almost every night listening for the slight sound of a sigh or grunt as Sweet G moves around in his bed.

My child is ten and a half years old and I still live in terror of a malfunctioning monitor. I have good cause to worry because we have had several mishaps after the monitor failed to alert me to my child’s calls in the night. Sweet G is totally dependent on others to see to his midnight runs to the bathroom. He is unable to get out of his bed and make it to the bathroom and back independently. I have been awakened by his screams from the other end of the house on more than one occasion and several times I’ve woken in the morning to find him lying cold and wet after spending the night in the floor soaked in his own urine because I was unable to hear his requests for help during the night. He calls to us in fear of falling off the bed or sometimes because the covers have become tangled around his legs.

I’m not telling this story to get sympathy or admiration. I don’t write it out of the regret of being a special needs parent. I would not trade my experience as G’s mom for anything in this world. His disability is a part of who he is and if I hate it then I basically hate him and that could never be possible. He has the sweetest spirit, the quickest wit, and the determination of an Olympian. He loves deep, he is faithful to the end, and he is my inspiration. I simply want others to understand that each persons path is different. You never know what its like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. But maybe if you stop and think about it you might understand a little more about the people around you.

So, for the tenth year, fourth month, and 19th day I will lay in my bed listening to the hum of a baby monitor. I strain to listen, hoping that it will be reliable and provide me with that connection to my child as he sleeps.

Climbing Out On the Crashing Waves

A little boy sits crying because he can’t be in the sack race. Tears create streaks down his dirty little cheeks as the wash away the dust from a hot summer day. “Why can’t I be in the race?” he sobs.

“Buddy, you just can’t be in the race,” his mother answers.

“But why can’t I Momma? I can do it! Just watch me! I’ll show you I can do it!”

“It’s too hard. You just can’t do it. You have to be able to jump to play that game.”

“I CAN jump! Let me show you that I can,” he pleads.

“I wish that you could but you just can’t. You have CP. Your body just won’t do that.”

Through sobs he manages to say, “I wish CP didn’t exist! I wish I hadn’t been born with CP!”

I’ve dreaded hearing those words for over 10 years. I knew that someday I’d hear them. It was inevitable. The surprising part is that they haven’t been said before. Most kids realize their limitations much younger but Sweet G is different. There is nothing average about my Sweet G. He looks at life through a different window than most of us. His spirit is strong and true. He is kind and good. Anything is possible in his eyes.

As a small baby his favorite song was Dream Big by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. I remember thinking how cool it was that he loved that song so much because with his disability he was going to need to be able to Dream Big. I began to think of the words as a prayer for him.

When you cry be sure to dry your eyes
‘Cause better days are sure to come
And when you smile be sure to smile wide
Don’t let them know that they have won
And when you walk, walk with pride
Don’t show the hurt inside
Because the pain will soon be gone

And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
‘Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big

When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
‘Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
And it’ll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way

And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
‘Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big

As he got a little older his favorite song changed to The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns. That song gave me so much hope and peace and again I prayed those words as we sang them together.

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
To the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. ‘Boy, you’ll never win!’
“You’ll never win”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a Sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again “boy, you’ll never win!
“You’ll never win”

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

For the most part we have Dreamed Big and listened to the Voice of Truth but every now and then I have forgotten to have big dreams and sometimes I’ve listened as the giant says, “He’ll never win.” But not Sweet G, that is, not until today. Today he realized that dreams aren’t always enough and in his weakness he took his eyes off of Jesus, focused on the waves crashing all around him, and listened as the giant laughed and said, “Boy, you’ll never win.”

One thing I know is that although Sweet G had a moment of weakness tonight, tomorrow will be a different story. Tomorrow we will stop and listen to the sound of Jesus singing over G as He says, “Do not be afraid. This is for My glory,” and out of all the voices calling out we will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth!