Monday, April 30, 2012

Trauma Plan - A Book Review

Back of the Book:  Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to her former duties as an ER nurse. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.

Synopsis: Trauma Plan centers around Riley Hale, a nurse who is currently serving as and ER chaplain, and Jack Travis, a maverick, rough around the edges ER physician.  Riley isn't happy she's sidelined after a vicious assault leaves her without full use of one of her arms.  Jack is fighting community activists trying to shut his free community clinic.  These two are both thrown together during ER shifts and it isn't exactly love at first sight.  Over time, however, both start to drop their defenses and work together.  Jack reaches out to Riley, offering her shifts in his clinic to try and help her resurrect her nursing career.  As the novel continues, a relationship begins to develop between the two.  Jack's not an easy man to love and Riley isn't sure she can fully trust him.  So what happens?  Read the book to find out. :-)

Review:  In the interest of full disclosure, let me say up front that I love Candace Calvert's work and this one was no exception.  Just like her other books, I loved Trauma Plan!  I appreciate the fact that Calvert's works are usually complex - more than one storyline and not your typical romance.  Trauma Plan is no different.  There are multiple plot lines (Jack's clinic, relationship between Jack and Riley, Riley's famous family, secrets of minor characters) that keep the story moving at a brisk pace.  I also liked the fact that there are social justice needs like poverty, homelessness, and health care needs interspersed throughout the novel.  (Hopefully it will make people think about these issues.)  If you like a good story with a romance thrown in, this is the book for you.  It's also a quick read, I finished it in a day and a half.  I will say that you will get sucked into the storyline so plan accordingly. ;-)

Score: 4.5 bookmarks out of 5.

Tyndale House Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week Seventeen in Review

One more week down...had writer's block yesterday so I didn't get a post written.  May be short today because I'm not sure exactly what to write.  I had a typical week - work, teach one night, home.  My life is a giant bore right now and quite honestly, I LOVE it!  Even if it doesn't  make for good blog fodder, I enjoy the down time.  I've been able to relax, read, and just chill.

I've been pondering a few things about my Bible reading but I'm still not 100% sure how to write it down yet.  I'm reading through the Bible chronologically so right now, it's a mix of Chronicles, 2 Samuel and various Psalms.  My thoughts are rambling about God's plan being seen all through history but I haven't yet figured out what I want to say.  One thing I have been pondering lately is related to what we've been studying on Sunday mornings at Renovation.  Three weeks ago we started a verse-by-verse trip through John.  Heavy on the exegesis and I like it.  We've only made it through the first 8 verses (at this rate we'll finish about 2020 :-)).  The first three verses are such a mind-blowing display of God's greatness that you can get a headache if you think too hard.  Chew on this...the eternal (God), became temporal (Jesus) so the temporal (us) could relate to the eternal (God).  Wow!  Talk about an amazing picture of the Trinity and how it works for our salvation.  Then today we focused on John 1:6-8 talking about why John the Baptist was sent - he was the witness for the saving work Jesus would do.  Since we've witnessed the light, we should witness the light.  We have a responsibility to share the light we've experienced with others.  Talk about a heavy responsibility.  Easy to say, not so easy to live out!

I am looking forward to this week - not too many meetings (only 2 I know of) and time in my office to get things prepared for the next week. Then on Friday, I get to head to Birmingham to see friends and top it off with a commissioning service for my sweet friend Lisa who leaves for Niger in late May.  It's more travel but at least this time there's no work involved.  Friday can't get here fast enough!

More next week - probably on Sunday again since I'll be spending time with friends on Saturday instead of blogging.  I also have a book review I need to post.  Hope to do that tomorrow evening.  It's a great book I highly recommend.  Can't wait to share my thoughts.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week Sixteen in Review

I can't believe it's already past the midway point in April.  I feel like just yesterday was January.  Man, time is flying.  It flew so fast I forgot to post over the weekend.  I do have a good excuse though.  My friend Liz was in from Birmingham and we were having too much fun catching up and enjoying the Dogwood Festival to bother posting on the blog. 

Last week was fairly tame.  I finished the first second fifteenth draft of a curriculum I've been working on practically since I started at the Coalition.  Of course, no one else has seen the full thing yet so there may be fifteen more drafts before it's finished. :-)  It does feel good having that accomplished though.  Now I can focus on the smaller pieces of the project that will accompany the larger curriculum.  Yay for productivity!!

In other work related news, I applied for a new job last Monday.  My current job knows and is supportive.  The project I am working on is funded through a grant that ends the end of November.  There is not another grant looming on the horizon that will take its place so I'm at a crossroads.  I don't want to mention any specifics yet since I've just applied but it would mean stability for at least 5 years (assuming no crazy budget slashing in Congress), less travel, and slightly more money.  While I hate to leave work in the field of violence against women,  I have to take care of myself. 

Spiritually I was struck by a couple of things last week.  First, I absolutely LOVE the schizophrenic nature of the Psalms.  I love that I worship and serve a God big enough to handle my mad rantings one minute and my loving adoration the next.  Every single person can find something in the Psalms that resonates.  I always recommend the Psalms for new believers (and non-Christians too) because they are so honest.  If anyone's interested, I have a great 30 day reading plan for the Psalms that my momma shared with me many, many years ago.  Great way to ease into daily Bible reading.  Read the selected psalms each day and by the end of the month, you have a new habit formed. ;-)

Eating-wise it was a mixed bag.  I made healthy choices most of the week but will admit not paying attention to food choices over the weekend.  Got back on the healthier bandwagon last night and will attempt to stay on it this week.  I realized again while visiting with my friend Liz that for me, eating healthy is a matter of obedience and making poor food choices is a sin - it's just like someone else struggling with obsessive shopping or gossip.  I have come to the realization that it isn't about a diet, willpower or even a lifestyle.  It's a spiritual battle that must be fought the same way any other battle is fought, with prayer and submission to God's desire for my life.  The lower body weight and healthier overall body are bonuses. :-)

You know, I have no idea who reads these posts or if anyone reads them.  I do know however that I enjoy writing them and that's what matters.  Hopefully something I say will encourage you somewhere along the way.  Until next week or  my next post...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Week Fifteen in Review

Wow, the end of another busy week.  At least this week I had a nice change of scenery and got to visit a state I had previously on been through on a train.  And the meetings I went up there for were productive.  All round good week in my opinion. :-)  Pictures of Rhode Island are at the end.

Spiritually this week I spent a good bit of time dwelling on God as refuge.  I've been reading in I Samuel and in Psalms when David is being pursued by Saul (among others) and identified God as his source of help in times of need.  The word imagery of the Psalms is absolutely amazing with the number of ways God is described as a refuge - a strong tower, wings for shelter, a mighty fortress, etc.  While you can sense the psalmist's fear, you can also sense the feeling of peace experienced by recognizing God's presence.  I have been attempting to build that into my day-to-day life lately; really taking to heart the idea that God is my refuge and has already seen the outcome of whatever I am going through.  That's an easy thought on the surface for a Christ-follower, it's much, MUCH harder to live out day to day.  Fortunately, God is also interested in seeing His children continue to learn and grow so He continues to give us ways/reasons we need to trust Him.  If it was all easy, faith wouldn't be necessary now would it?

Of course, food-wise, I didn't do so hot this week.  Again, travel makes life difficult.  But, when I was in control of what food choices I made, I tried to pick healthy versions most of the time.  To my benefit, I am done traveling for 4 weeks so I can focus on eating healthy and hopefully adding in some exercise. 

Here are the promised pictures.  The first few are from the plane at 30,000 feet.  Not Rhode Island but I thought they were cool.  They aren't necessarily the most interesting since other than the airport, I was never able to go more than 1.5 miles from my hotel.  I will say Providence is a beautiful city and I would love to go back and explore more.

Interesting body of water - no idea where

Pretty view of horizon
Pretty clouds

Looks almost like a pillow

View from the hotel - love the homes in the background

Grilled portabello caps with crab meat between layers - YUM!

Downtown Providence at night

MLK Bridge - Providence

Rhode Island State House

Again, a crazy busy week but productive and I like that.  I will enjoy time without travel since I have a lot of work to do in the office and of course lots of meetings.  Hoping and praying for productivity in the office.  I am also looking forward to having friends coming from Birmingham next weekend and the first weekend in May.  Yay for friends' visits.  More next week.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week Fourteen in Review

Wow, this was a busy but productive week.  If nothing else, I got both book reviews blogged!  That in and of itself is amazing.  Fortunately, I was also very productive at work.  I presented four trainings and managed to squeeze in finishing a project I've been working on for three months.  Of course there are still edits to be done but the bulk of the work is completed on the project.  Woo-hoo, praise the Lord for productivity at work!  Hopefully I can squeeze in some productivity this week.  It may be kind of hard since I spend half of tomorrow's workday traveling to Providence, RI and then Tuesday through Thursday in day-long meetings on a national project.  But, after that, I am done with travel for almost a month.  Since most of  March and into April has been here a week, gone a week, here a week, gone a week, I'm ready for the break.  I think Booger the cat is ready for the break as well.  She stalked off when I got the suitcase out of the closet this evening.

Spiritually this week I've been focusing on Easter and what it means to me as a Christ-follower.  I don't have any new revelations to share but thinking about Easter while reading about Israelite disobedience and the misdeeds of the kings made me more and more thankful for Christ's saving work on the cross.  Then to have two great worship services at Renovation Church today just made my week.  I realized on Friday (while watching tweets about Secret Church) that I don't necessarily miss Brook Hills anymore as a church.  I miss the camaraderie I had with my co-workers and friends while working big events like Secret Church and Easter but that I am "home" at Renovation.  If you've been on this journey with me over the last almost two years, you know that's HUGE.  I love my faith family and the work God is allowing us to do in this city.  ATL WILL see racial reconciliation and it WILL be through the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Okay, I'm keeping this kind of short this week.  I still have a few things to do before bed and I have to head out early in the morning.  Next week's post will hopefully have thoughts and maybe even pictures of Providence.  Til next time...

Beatuy for Ashes - A Book Review

Book Description:  After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly is scared she will never have the family she longs for. Eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, but Carrie has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn't quite ready to set a wedding date with Nate Chastain.

Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He's determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.

Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff's kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God's promise to give beauty for ashes.

Synopsis:  Carrie Daly is a Civil War Widow living in Hickory Ridge, TN.  Sh has shed her widow's black but isn't convinced she's found love in her new fiance Nate Chastain.  When Nate betrays her by marrying someone else, Carrie is forced to make some difficult decisions.  The hardest one is moving in with her sister-in-law and her sons while her brother moves to Chicago for work.  Carrie begins to build a relationship with Griff Rutledge, a man new to Hickory Ridge that most people in town view with suspicion.  Not caring what people think, Carrie begins to fall in love with Griff.  The feeling is mutual, much to Griff's surprise.  As the novel continues, Griff and Carrie's relationship continues to blossom.  Could both Carrie and Griff have found love?  Read the book to find out...:-)

Review:  Dorothy Love is another new author I'm glad to have found.  I loved her way with words - I could picture her characters in my head and disliked certain characters based almost entirely on their descriptions.  The story is a sweet tale of love triumphing over tragedy.  Dorothy Love keeps the story moving with several twists I didn't see coming.  I found myself rooting for Griff and Carrie.  I wanted things to work out for them.  This book definitely kept me intrigued and toward the end I just wanted to be left alone to finish it.  I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction and/or loves a good love story.

Score:  3.5 bookmarks out of 5.

Note:  Thomas Nelson Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Just a Minute - Book Review

I have been eagerly awaiting "Just a Minute" by Wess Stafford, the President of Compassion International since I heard it was coming out.  This book is snapshot of "minutes" in the lives of children both famous and not-so-famous.  It is interspersed with stories from Stafford's own childhood.  Some I remembered from his other book, "Too Small to Ignore" but others were brand new.

Every single person who has a child, works with children or has ever been a child needs to read this book. Stafford repeatedly shows the importance of our interactions with kids. We lament quite often about how horrible "this generation of kids are turning out to be" yet we do nothing to pour into their lives. Stafford reminds us that any interaction with a child is an important moment in that child's life. Many of the encounters the book recounts weren't even remembered by the adult who was pouring into the child but spoke volumes into the life of the person retelling the story.  It was a sharp reminder that children are sponges - they remember the good we do and say but they remember the negative things said or done to them far longer.  Ever since I finished the book, I've looked at interactions with children differently - even though I love children, this book changed my heart a bit.  I've made a conscious effort to smile at each child I've seen over the last two weeks or so.  They don't know why I'm smiling but I do and that's what matters.

I will say the book is a little disjointed in some of the stories but I got over that little quirk. Stafford's writing style makes you feel like he's sitting across from you telling the stories.  This is easily one of the most important books I have read in a long time.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

Note: C. Grant and Company (Moody Publishers) gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Score:  5 bookmarks out of 5.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week Thirteen in Review

So I got behind a bit - that's what losing a weekend to work will do for you.  I wrote this post on the airplane yesterday but was too tired to email it to myself and the post when I got home. :-)

This was a weird week for me. Lots of business to attend to before hitting the road for work. Monday and Tuesday were quite productive so I didn't feel frazzled leaving town. That was such an answer to prayer. The pre-conference session was a bit of a waste of time but the rest of the conference was beneficial. I got to hear about a lot of research that was downright fascinating and will be things that could possibly be implemented in Ga. I was impressed with the number of young investigators whose research was highlighted at the sessions. That doesn't happen often at professional conferences so it was quite refreshing.

Food wise it wasn't a great week - being out of town doesn't always bode well for healthy eating. Gotta get back on the serious bandwagon both seriously eating healthy and exercising. My Wii is on the fritz so I am looking for some good exercise DVD recommendations that I might be able to pick up on the sale rack at Amazon or Target. Jillian Michaels is probably a little much but other ideas are welcome.  I'd love to walk outdoors in my neighborhood but until the pollen lets up, breathing wins over exercise.  Feel free to leave comments on any DVDs you would recommend.

Spiritually, I got a little bit behind but managed to catch up this morning before my flight. Of course, it helped that the last bit if catching up to do was second favorite book of the Bible. I want to do more reading on the concept of kinsmen redeemer but something struck me this morning. Boaz was a part of Naomi's lineage, not necessarily Ruth's. Maybe it doesn't matter, but if it does, that make the story even more precious. Yet another example of God taking care of widows. Of course it also reminds me of Mandi Mapes' music. That's always a bonus!  If you are not familiar with Mandi, you must check her out on iTunes.  She is one fantastic musician!

I also have two book reviews to get posted. One was good, one was excellent (a must read for anyone working with kids).  I have one completely written, I just can't find where the piece of paper is.  I had hoped to post it while out of town but the slow Internet at my hotel prevented that.  On that note, why do really expensive hotels make you pay for Internet?  I'm paying over $150/night for a bed and a shower and I have to pay $7.95/night for Internet.  It's free down the street at the Comfort Inn.  I just don't get it and I have yet to hear a good explanation from anyone in the business.

I did have two pretty good flights. Stayed relatively calm even through a good bit of turbulence.  On my next flight in a week, I may try to cut my meds dosage. Of course I ran into some stupid people who felt the need to bring everything they own with them. Seriously, unless you are connecting to Africa, you can leave that junk at home. Also got behind lady with not one but TWO water bottles she sent through her bag at TSA. Seriously!?  Where have you been living the past five years?  Under a rock?  She actually got testy with the agent saying she could take them last time she flew. To his credit, the TSA agent didn't embarrass her, he just seized them. One of Airtran's flight attendants told me that a few weeks ago she had an gentleman ask if he could go see the cockpit after the plane was in the air. He told her he'd done it as a kid. She politely told him it was against FAA regs. These are examples of reasons I could never do either of those jobs, stupidity annoys me greatly and sarcasm is frowned    upon :-)

More next week...should be on regular Saturday posting schedule for at least two weeks.