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When Feeling Thankful is Hard

What the World Needs Now

Sure, the world needs love, but seriously what the world needs now is more people with grateful attitudes. I’m afraid we’ve become complainers, at least in this country. I’m challenging myself to look for the good no matter what. I’ve faced some tough situations, and am currently facing some, but they aren’t things I can change, so I try to talk myself into focusing on what’s good about these things. Or at least, what good can be found.

The World Needs More Thankfulness Click To Tweet

Making the Decision

“If we think that impressive food, decorations, and presents constitute celebration, we will miss out on an important spiritual practice that will draw us toward the joyful heart of God.”~Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent

I took way more than 40 days to finish a 40 day devotional called Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent. But the important thing is I did finish it, today, two days before Thanksgiving. The last  chapter was titled Celebration and she spoke about Thanksgiving. I wrote down in my journal a couple of things she said that spoke to me. (I started this post a few days before I read this chapter. A coincidence that I was thinking about these things and then read this? Probably not.)

“…celebration is not restricted to times when everything is going perfectly.”

The quote above reminds me of The Grinch.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

So the celebration will come, how I respond is up to me. Keri drove that point home in Deeply Loved when she wrote:

“By choosing to be grateful, to celebrate and be joyful, we begin to feel thankful for what we do have, and to transform our attitude about life’s challenges. The discipline of celebration ushers in joy.”

#Feelinggrateful!

Books Read in 2015

Cindy Thomson's reading list 2015Thanks, Goodreads

I’ve found it helpful to keep track of the books I’ve read using Goodreads. I also do a challenge, which I did not meet this year. It was too optimistic. I would have loved to have read 55 books this year, but I only made it to 35. Goodreads also tells you the shortest and longest books you read. For me, the shortest was an ebook called How To Make a Living With Your Writing by Joanna Penn and the longest, Ulyssess by James Joyce. My average length was 370 pages. The book I read that was the most popular with Goodread users was, no surprise, To Kill a Mockingbird. Surely I’ve read it before. I watched the movie, but I thought I should re-read it. I wanted to be ready for Go Set a Watchman.

A Few of My Favorite Books

Secrets She Kept by Cathy GohlkeNot all of what I read was released in 2015. But some were. I loved Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept! Another favorite: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Actually 2014, but it still seemed new.) I Read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins just to see what all the fuss was about. It was a very good book. For the same reason I read Go Set a Watchman, the controversial book that was kind of a new story, kind of not. And actually, for me, both of those books by Harper Lee had disappointing endings. Kind of like no ending at all. But I’m still glad I read the “new” one. She was a talented author.

And I read some oldies. Like Ulyssess. I listened to that one or I surely never would have finished it. What an odd book. Still, I can say I’ve read it now!

A surprise was Jane Kirkpatrick’s The Daughter’s Walk, published four years ago. Very good historical fiction. I love how Jane makes people who lived long ago seem like someone you’d like to know today.The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

Another oldie was Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, published in 1994. Very good, but really, really liked Sophia’s Secret, 2008. Very clever plot, and of course I’d love a story about a novelist. I read these because on the advice of my friend Rebecca I went to hear Susanna speak.

Thomas MertonIt Was a Good Reading Year

As usual I read a variety of things from a biography of C.S.Lewis, a work from Thomas Merton, and Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker, to a few baseball books, more clever, enjoyable novels, and few I didn’t care for all that much. I liked all of them somewhat, however, or I would not have finished them. There were some of those this year. I’ve decided life is too short, there is too much out there to read to settle for an uninteresting book.

I’m going to set my 2016 goal for 35.

What Good Books Did You Read in 2016?

 

It’s Advent, Not Christmas

The Lost Season

Christmas Carolers

photo by wolfgangfoto


There’s Christmas, and then there’s the Twelve Days of Christmas, and then Epiphany. But, not yet. First, it’s Advent. The meaning of that season seems to be getting buried. Anyone else feel that way?

We once had a pastor who insisted that the music in the service be Advent music. No Away in a Manager or Joy to the World, because Advent leads up to that. Don’t get ahead of things. The hymns that we should be singing are O Come O Come Emanuel and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. And the Baby Jesus in the manager? Nope. Not until Christmas Eve.

Who Likes to Wait?

I understand that patience is a virtue. It’s hard to wait, especially for Christmas. After all, I know what’s coming. I know the story. It’s no surprise. Let’s just celebrate! Many people are complaining about how early Christmas is observed these days. When I was a kid, we put up our Christmas tree the week before Christmas. Who does that now? No one I know, including me.

The Gift of Preparation

Christmas cookiesMost people do, however, feel a need to prepare when an event is coming up. That includes Christmas, at least the way most people usually prepare: shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, planning meals, inviting guests…

But that’s not the kind of preparation I’m talking about. Advent is a season the church recognizes as a time to prepare our hearts for Jesus. True, he has already been born, died, crucified, buried,  risen, and ascended into heaven. And yet by observing the religious tradition of remembrance, I find I am able to receive him anew in my heart each Christmas, IF I observe Advent and don’t rush right to the prize. By taking the time to reflect, pray, and ask myself if I were one of the people in the Biblical Christmas story, how would I respond, I am preparing myself. I think that’s a gift.

Mary and Jesus

photo by PROWaiting For The Word

“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.”
― Mother TeresaLove: A Fruit Always in Season

Slow Down

What’s the hurry? Maybe I’m just getting old, but the pace that life seems to want to push everyone along on bothers me. I’m going to make an effort to slow down, listen, watch, and enjoy more.

silent night

What about you? Do you feel that the season rushes by faster than you’d like? What will you do differently this year?

“God is here. This truth should fill our lives, and every Christmas should be for us a new and special meeting with God, when we allow his light and grace to enter deep into our soul.”
― Josemaría EscriváChrist Is Passing by

Puppy Tales

Let’s see if a cute puppy gets me more comments. 😉

My Puppy Tales

The Grand Puppy

The latest grand puppy is a Short Haired Pointer named Gibbs who belongs to my son Jeff.

Who puts their dog on their family tree? Click To Tweet

The first puppy I had was a family dog named Boots. I remember going with my parents and sisters to pick out a puppy from someone who had a litter. I must have been about five. We played with them for a while and someone said it’s decided, and I remember being annoyed that no one asked my opinion. I had been interested in a different puppy. Well, such is the life of the baby in the family! And it continued. My sister Sharon really took over and Boots, while I enjoyed her, never really was MY puppy.

Later we added a dog (not a puppy) that my oldest sister Regena rescued off someone’s clothesline chain. Then a cat that Sharon rescued (after the dogs were gone.)

When I got married, I did not want a dog. Boots had turned out to be a neurotic mess in her old age during thunderstorms and the 4th of July. Boots and the rescued dog fought terribly. I just didn’t want that. We got cats.

Whose Dog?

Later we did get a dog for our boys, and he turned out to be my dog. A sheltie named Cody who was so sweet and loyal. He’s been gone a few years now. Then we had Jeff’s dog Mia while he was in the army, but she left to move in with him when he returned. She was my husband’s dog second after Jeff. A boxer that was well trained and trailed Jeff obediently, hanging on to his every word. We all miss her.

Then our son Kyle and his wife Kelsey got two dogs. They visit and romp and play at granny’s house.

Gibbs. He's bigger now.

Gibbs. He’s bigger now.

And now Gibbs. Jeff got his dream job working for the National Park Service for the season so we have his puppy while he’s away. Gibbs loves everybody, but since I’m spending the most time with him, I think I’ve adopted him. He’s very sweet, but yeah, he’s a puppy, so there are puppy problems sometimes, but mostly he’s a great puppy to have around.

Which Got Me Thinking About Pets As Family

When people do genealogy, they rarely include pets. You don’t put them on your tree. But they are an important part of people’s lives. I wonder if there should be a secondary page in the family record for pets. What do think?

10 Irish Books: Reading Your Way Through St. Patrick’s Day

10 Irish Books for St. Patrick's Day! Click To Tweet

About St. Patrick

There are many history books and some fiction choices. If you really want to know the man, start with his writings. Two exist: St. Patrick’s Confession

Book of Armagh page

A facsimile page from the Book of Armagh where St. Patrick’s Confession is found. Held at Trinity College in Dublin

and his Letters to the Soldiers of Coroticus. The letter is shorter and meant as an excommunication for Coroticus whose men struck down new converts. The Confession is much longer and is a bit of a biography where we learn about the man.

“I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts.”

But of course his story does not end there. Here are some reading suggestions, in no particular order.

Fiction About St. Patrick

I read this many years ago.

1. Patrick, Son of Ireland by Stephen R. LawheadPatrick by Stephen Lawed

 

I haven’t found much out there. If you know of any St. Patrick’s novels, please leave them in the comments.

2. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola

Patrick post by Cindy Thomson

Learn About Ireland

Of course you can read many books about leprechauns, if you choose. But if you are like me and want more history, here some suggestions.

3. Celtic Wisdom, Treasures From Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Even though it’s short, I’m still proud of the early history squeezed into these page with color photographs. If you’d like an autographed copy, let me know. Click on the picture.

 

About Ireland in General

4. Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookDid you know there are three patron saints of Ireland? (If you’ve read Celtic Wisdom, you do know that!) I still have print copies of Brigid of Ireland, or you can get one on your Kindle (or the Kindle app on your computer) for just a few bucks.

But there are plenty more choices than just my books!

5. How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

 

How the Irish Saved Civilization, top Irish books Cindy Thomson

 

A condensed, but still useful, overview of Irish history according to the influence of the Christian monks.

6. Ireland, a Novel, by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Featuring a seanchai, said to be the last of the itinerant storytellers, I really enjoyed this one.

7. Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford

 Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Rutherford writes Sagas, spanning generations of characters. No one offers so much history in a  500 or so pages like he does.

8. The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House by Sharon Owens, Irish Books Cindy Thomson

For a different pace and a great glimpse into modern Ireland. Funny and entertaining. Owens has others as well.

9. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Barry is a gifted writer so you should check out all his books. I enjoy these types of stories where an elderly character tells about her past.

10. In Search of Ancient Ireland by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton, companion to the PBS Series

In Search of Ancient Ireland by McCaffrey and Eaton/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Truly, if you want to know about Ancient Ireland, read this book. Excellent!

 

Of course there are many more. What Irish books would you recommend for St. Patrick’s Day reading?

A Giveaway to Prepare for St. Brigid’s Day!

In honor of the upcoming St. Brigid’s Day, I thought I’d host a Goodreads giveaway for a print copy of Brigid of Ireland. Please share!

Get ready for St. Brigid's Day with this Goodreads giveaway: http://wp.me/p5bkeC-iR Click To Tweet

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland

by Cindy Thomson

Giveaway ends February 04, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Loving Books That Read to Me!

Audiobooks to Love

Audiobooks, a blog post by Cindy Thomson

Photo by Sascha Kohlmann

I get my reading done in several ways. I’m not one of those that proclaim ebooks as the only way to go these days or one of those who insist on having a real paper book in their hands. I do it all, including audio, because they each offer their own conveniences. Long car trips call for audiobooks, especially if I’m driving. But I also like to listen while I do the laundry or clean the house or take a walk. You would be surprised how much time there is to read if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Narrators, the Good and the Bad

The quality of audiobooks vary, but I get mine from the library so I don’t mind giving up on them if I don’t care for either the book itself or the narration. Recently I gave up on one because I liked neither. The narrator was so sing-song sweet it made me nauseous. I dislike when the narrator swallows loudly on tape or forgets which character he is voicing and gets it mixed up. Just my own personal pet peeves.

The All-Girl FillingHowever, some are wonderful. Like Fannie Flagg. Oh. My. Goodness. You have to listen to her and her southern drawl. Another author narrator I thought did an excellent job is James Rubart. Some folks just have the voice for it. (Not me!)

I have listened to enough Irish books that I began to recognize the narrator. She has just enough Irish lilt to her voice to add flavor but not so much that we Americans can’t understand her. Her name is Sile Bermingham (Sile is pronounced Sheila.) She narrated Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd and some Maeve Binchy books.

I think Adam Verner does a wonderful job with Stephen Lawhead’s novels. He’s done other work too, but Lawhead is my experience with him. Nice, non irritating voice. Want to have a listen?

Top Honors: My Favorite Narration So Far

Goes to….

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.The Help Different voices for different characters. It was like listening to a play. Of course, it’s a wonderful book as well.

What’s your favorite audiobook?

6 Novels Genealogists Will Love

But wait, might there be more than six novels genbuffs will enjoy?

First, don’t shoot the messenger. There are surely more than six novels someone researching their genealogy will enjoy, but these are some that come to mind for me, and in case you haven’t read them, I hope I’ll be introducing you to some new reading enjoyment. And go ahead and suggest more in the comments section! (These are in no particular order.)

 

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  • Why?ATreeGrows
    • Not only will the reader come away with a sense of time and space so accurate because the writer lived it, but he/she will also embrace this coming of age story because of course all our ancestors had to face growing up. Some themes are universal and this novel helps us realize that struggles and disadvantages can be learned from and moved past.

2. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

  • afallofmarigoldsWhy?
    • Because so many Americans had ancestors who came through Ellis Island, some having to stay for a while like the character in this novel. Because some lessons are learned over and over again. Susan’s novel explores that concept by using a parallel modern story relating to 9-11 in New York City.

 

3. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

  • Why?
    • Because we arresized_her_mothers_hopee a product of our genes and upbringing, not doomed to be shackled but destined to grow through our disadvantages and become our own. Rivers explores this theme with an immigrant main character who is determined to fulfill her mother’s hope for her without repeating what she sees as her mother’s faults. Only the strong survive, and she’s determined to make sure her own daughter realizes this. A powerful message of what our ancestors probably experienced a the effect this determination had on their children.

4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

  •  Why?
  • Hotel_on_the_Corner_of_Bitter_and_Sweet_cover
  • This is another generation story illustrating the divide between the immigrant parents and their children who grew up in America. It also examines the prejudices prevalent during WWII on the west coast.

5. Galway Bay by Mary Pat KellyGalwayBay

  • Why?
    • Because millions of Americans have ancestors who migrated from Ireland during the Potato Famine. This is the fictionalized story of Kelly’s ancestors, but it could be yours.

6. whenwewereWhen We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt

  • Why?
    • Because I know many of you have Italian roots and will love this story. While it’s another story of struggle (our ancestors surely did overcome obstacles) it explores the American-Italian culture in the Midwest and explores how friendships could become family. The character finds her purpose in the end, and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?