Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review of Tandem by Tracey Bateman

Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

This book is NOT what I was expecting at all. I thought it was a murder type mystery from reading the back. In a sense, it was. But with a twist. It was a terrific plot line, a suck-you-in read (no pun intended). Why a pun you say? Because it was a story about vampires. Yes, vampires. A Christian book about vampires? Yes, it's true.

There was blood and murder and yes, it was a bit dark, but good in a different sort of way. I was thoroughly confused at the beginning as it felt like there were a bunch a pieces scattered around but nothing connecting them. In the end though, I was surprised that I just read an entire book about vampires. And enjoyed it. I now know probably more than I ever need to about vampire life.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eyes opened

Last evening was a night like no other. A night I will never forget and a night that opened my eyes.

The kids and I changed into nice, dressy clothes and made our way down to the Union Gospel Mission to meet Ed. We were spending the evening with him and the guys he lives life with every day of his internship at the Men's Shelter.

It was graduation night. A night that is celebrated every month. Honoring the men who have completed their 13 months in the Mission's year program. Ed interns with the Blue Badge group which are the men who are in their last months of the program before graduating.

Ed asked if we would come celebrate graduation with him by having dinner with the guys then heading over to the ceremony at the Town Hall.

I was a bit reserved and hesitant to go. I know some of the guys' stories through Ed. Being beaten as kids. Severe drug and alcohol addictions. Witnessing shootings. Homelessness. Loss of family members. Unsafe homes growing up. Jail. If you can even begin to imagine the worst scenario, it has more than likely happened to one of the guys that Ed sits with every day. I had it all pictured in my head how they would look. Act. Be. Rough. Dirty. Torn clothes. Scary. Not all there mentally. And it made me a bit nervous.

And I was way off the mark.

These are some of the most sincere, kindest, humblest, friendliest, sound-minded, men I have ever met. And well dressed! Suits. Ties. Sport coats even.

Sitting talking with a man from Iowa about snowstorms and his love for photography. I was cracking up at his humor and jokes. He was hilarious!

Listening to a guy from Indiana talk about how much he doesn't miss the ice.

One man showing me the scar on his forehead from when he slipped and fell on the rocks down by the sound while hanging with some sea otters and had to have 40+ stitches.

Shaking hand after countless hand.

They were so glad to meet Ed's family. I lost count of how many guys told me they appreciate Ed and are so thankful for him. They doted over the kids. I had to tell the guys no more candy canes at the dinner table. My purse was already full from the ones they kept giving!

Being in my husbands daily environment was amazing. Seeing him joke with the guys, giving hugs, hearing how much they appreciate him and meeting guys my heart has broken over in the safe confines of my home.

I wanted to squeeze them all in my mini van, bring them home and have a meal around the table with them. Young and old. The one's in the early 20's and the men in their 50's and 60's. Their faith is so much stronger and deeper than my own. They have seen, been a part of and lived horrid things. Things I can not even begin to imagine. But there they were. Living. Growing. Loving. And my husband is a part of them. And he loves them. And they love him.

I told Ed I can now understand why he loves working there so much. It's far from glamorous. But he could care less. They have changed him. How could they not?

Thank you my love for inviting us. For introducing me to some amazing guys. It opened my eyes to what you live every day. And you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

looking back

As December starts and will quickly end, just as every month has this year, I wanted to write a "looking back" post.

I must say that I have loved this past year of my life. When the year started, I was staring at the mid-30's coming at full speed and wasn't quite sure what exactly to expect.

January was Ed's 40th. Surprising him at school with his best sherpa in tow was the way to start out the year with a big bang. Seeing Ed smile and be able to rest in his friend and have life breathed into him couldn't have been more pure.

On my birthday in February, I went and got my haircut. I decided that this was going to be a memorable year. 10 days later I was on a plane to MI to surprise a friend for her 30th and stay with another friend. A very quick trip, but a very memorable one.

I found myself the day before I came back to WA at a tattoo place with my friend Anne. Inwardly rocking back and forth trying not to let the needle sounds get to me. I was escorted into a room, had a mark put on my nose, said yes, and narrowly escaping passing out, got my nose pierced.

Two weeks later I started going to therapy. I hit a place in life where I was feeling stuck. For years I had felt this way. I had no words, no emotions, not a whole lot going on inside of me. It was one of the best choices I made for myself and even a ways to go yet before I can be done, I have met myself and have gotten to know me, of whom I like.

April found me in a running store, buying a pair of running shoes. Why in the world would I want to do something that gave me shin splints and exploding lungs? With the right kind of shoes and a slow pace, I had met a new love. I'd tie the shoes on after work, pop my ear buds in and hike it down to the lake, run around it and collapse back at my car feeling wonderful. It's a time where I don't think. I can't. I've tried and it's impossible. I just be. It's cathartic. Exfoliating. Cleansing.

The summer sped by with working long hours and then September hit. Ed began his last year. The kids are in school full time, me at work full time and between school and internship, Ed's schedule is a 4 day regular work week. I've had to learn to plan for the following week on my day off and have succeeded and failed. I'm still getting into the groove of this crazy routine knowing that it's going to change again next month.

November was an exciting month knowing we were headed to MI for Thanksgiving for the holiday and my dad's 80th birthday surprise. Keeping that secret was excruciatingly hard. We stayed with friends for two days then headed to my parents to surprise my dad. That Saturday my mom threw him a party and had lots 'o people show up. Even my Uncles from Northern Ireland and my youngest brother from FL. My family was all together for the first time in 10+ years. It was magical.

December 4th. Today. I ran a 5K. Never in my life did I think I would do such a thing. It was A. Mazing. The feel of accomplishing something on this level was unbelievable. It was only 3+ miles, but a grand 3+ miles. Seeing my family all bundled up at the finish line was the cherry on top. I pushed myself (with being sick I had only been able to run twice in the past two months) very hard. It's such a mind over matter sport. And it was worth every single step.

So I look forward to the next year. It's going to be a big one. Ed graduates in less than 7 months (29 weeks to be exact) and what then? Another move? New jobs, schools, area? Back to MI? Stay here? Only time will tell. And I'm so thankful that I don't have to worry about it. We have been praying from day one that we will end up exactly where God wants us and believe we will.