Quote of the Weekend

sleigh
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
-A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore

(My side of the family celebrates on Christmas Eve. Every year, before we open presents, we read this poem together!)

Advertisements

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Stockings

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Aunt Abby, did they have Christmas when you were a little girl like me?” Jules asked.

“Of course,” Aunt Abby sputtered almost choking on her eggnog.

“What part was your favorite part?” Constance asked climbing up on the couch next to Jules.

“Are we talking about Christmas?” Imogene yelled.

“YES,” Aunt Abby, Jules, and Constance yelled back.

Imogene ran in the room followed by Ellie and the boys: Bruce, Joshua, Jude, and Rook. They piled on the couch around Aunt Abby who had to help a few of the shorter ones up. As soon as they got all their fingers, toes, arms, noses, and legs sorted out and settled in, Aunt Abby shared a Christmas memory.


 

Once upon a time, Grammie and Grandpa didn’t have very much money. In fact, they were quite poor. While this caused no end of stress for Grammie and Grandpa, for their five kids—your mommies and daddies—life seemed magical and amazing. They lived on a farm with more land to roam than one could imagine. All their friends lived within walking distance, and they had so many animals.

“What kind of animals?” Constance asked.

“We had goats, chickens, geese, ducks, a cat, and a dog,” Aunt Abby said.

“You were there too?” Jude said, his blue eyes sparkling.

“Yes,” Jules said. “Remember, Grammie and Grandpa have five kids: Uncle Matt, Aunt Abby, Aunt Emily, Uncle Jason, my daddy, and Aunt Liz.”

“Oh . . .” Jude said still confused.

For the five kids, life was a perfect adventure. At Christmas time, they had to go cut down their own Christmas tree—

“Aunt Abby, you already told that story,” Ellie said.

“I know. I’m giving the context.”

They had to save up to buy little gifts for each other and often just had to make them. Aunt Liz was an expert in drawing pictures as gifts.

One of the five kids’ favorite things about Christmas was the stockings. Grammie, being the amazing Mom that she was, made each of the kids their own stocking. She cross-stitched a picture to go on front and then designed the body out of fabric. Matt and Jason’s stockings had matching snow scenes with sleders and skiers. One of their trees was only half-finished. Abby’s stocking originally had a girl with a sled full of puppies on it, but it didn’t work right. Grammie had to make her a girl in a green dress with a howling dog. Emily and Liz both had girls too.

But, the magical, most Christmas thing about the seven stockings hanging on the wall was their size. These were no little stockings meant to hold a few pieces of candy and tiny toys. No! These were giant stockings. Why you could fit a small child in one of them, they were so big.

“Would I fit in one?” Ellie said with a laugh.

“Nope, you’re too big.”

“What about me?” Joshua said, smiling his mischievous smile.

“Nope, you’re too big too. Rook might fit in one.”

Rook found this to be a delightful idea.

When Grammie and Grandpa were so poor, they had very little money to fill both the extra-large stockings and the empty spaces under the tree. That’s when the tradition was born. Grammie and Grandpa would only worry about the stockings. Everyone else worried about the tree. All the presents from grandparents, siblings, friends and especially Auntie Laurie covered the tree skirt in bright paper, ribbons, and bows. They never lacked for presents under the tree. But it was the stockings the five kids loved most.

And what did they find in those huge stockings, you ask? Oh, lots of amazing things. They found rope, calendars, their favorite chips, their favorite candy, fabric for new dresses or comforters, books, movies, hair clips, toys. Why, anything could fit in those stockings. Sometimes they even found socks.

“Socks? Jules said.

“Yep. When you’re poor you get socks for Christmas and you’re happy about it,” Aunt Abby said. “We also walked to school in the snow, up hills both ways.”

“What?” said Bruce. “I thought you were home schooled?”

“We were, Bruce. It’s an old family joke.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I know.”

Over the years, as the Lord blessed Grammie and Grandpa, the stockings held less socks and rope and more movies and video games and toys. But, no matter how old the five kids got, they never lost their love for those extra-large, magical stockings their Mama made by hand.


 

20141117_123233

“The End.”

“Aunt Abby!” Jules gasped. “Are those the same stockings hanging over the fireplace?”

She jumped up off the couch and darted for the front room. The seven other nieces and nephews charge after her. There, hanging in front of Grandpa’s fireplace, were two stockings—one with a snow-covered bridge and the other with a horse-drawn sleigh.

“Look, they are giant,” Bruce said.

“They’re the magical stockings,” Constance said. Imogene and Ellie echoed her.

The eight nieces and nephews gingerly fingered the stockings of such legend and lore.

Grammie and Grandpa came into the room and saw them all gently touching.

“Grammie, your stockings are amazing,” Jules said.

“And so pretty,” Imogene said.

“And perfect for holding rope and socks,” said Bruce.

“I want socks for Christmas,” Joshua said.

“Can we be poor?” Jude asked

“Oh yes,” Ellie said. “Let’s be poor.”

“My mom’s always giving me socks,” Rook said happily. “I think I am poor!”

Aunt Abby and Grammie both stared at the eight little cousins. Aunt Abby burst out laughing. “Oh my, no no, you don’t want to be poor. What have I done?”

“I guess you told a good story if they all want to be poor,” Grammie said with a chuckle.

“Well, since they want to be poor,” Grandpa said. “I guess we’ll just take all their presents back to the store.”

“No!” All eight cousins said. “We don’t want to be that poor.”

Aunt Abby gathered them all up in a big family hug. “Merry Christmas, everyone!”

The End

10801629_10205412873871223_4584408967729332710_n

Rook the Pumpkin!

10641027_10100337722969284_6058900744522463198_n

Jude the Puppy!

10710924_10205151925185688_7347892696080698411_n

Ellie the Fairy, Jules the Princess, Imogene the Owl, Bruce the Ghost, and Aunt Abby as Ichabod Crane.

Interview: Chaplain’s Wife Rhonda Joyner (Part 2)

Last month I posted Part 1 of Rhonda Joyner’s interview. Rhonda is the wife of Patrick, ARBCA’s Chaplain to the Navy. In part 2 we get learn more specifics about the life of a Chaplain wife, tours, future plans, persecution, and how ARBCA works to support them. Again, if you have any questions you’d like to ask Rhonda please comment below or on my FaceBook page. I will be finishing up with her in one more short interview probably after Christmas.


 

Rhonda Joyner

Rhonda Joyner

3) You use the term tour a lot, can you explain what that means for us civilians and how long a tour is?

Well, the term ‘tour’ is an old military term. It means several things. When someone says they served 3 tours in Iraq, that means they deployed there 3 times. When I say our next tour is in Texas, that means that’s our next duty station, and our whole family will move there.

For the Navy, you usually rotate back and forth between ‘sea duty’ and ‘shore duty’. This means the Marine or Sailor changes jobs every 2-3 years. This will involve moving to a different base, usually. Some bases are large enough to change jobs (billets or duty station) and stay at the same base. Sea duty is typically 2 years long (2 ½ years with marines) and means that the sailor is operational and can or will deploy (with Marines or on a ship/submarine). Shore duty is typically 3 years long and you would be in a non-operational billet. You might volunteer to deploy, but you would not expect to deploy on shore duty.

In Patrick’s case, he has had only 1 shore duty in his career, as most of the Marine billets are operational. (The Navy provides chaplains for the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.) A non-operational chaplain billet would often involve preaching at the base chapel or serving at the hospital or a training command like boot camp. When a Navy chaplain is in an operational billet, he goes where his unit goes. So a chaplain to the Marines, like Patrick, deploys with ‘his’ Marines, trains with ‘his’ Marines, stands duty, goes where they go and physically trains the same way. (65 pushups, 85 sit-ups, each event under 2 minutes, and a 1.5 mile run under 9 ½ min.) When we began this interview, he was serving with 2nd Marine Infantry Regiment here at Camp Lejuene. Patrick was promoted in September to Navy Commander, which is the equivalent to Lt. Colonel in the Marines. At that time he moved to 10th Marine Artillery Regiment here at Camp Lejeune. This was an example of changing billets (jobs) while still at the same base. This regiment has 2 battalions of about 1200 Marines. Patrick supervises, mentors, and provides support for the battalion chaplains, while counseling and ministering to his own regimental headquarters ‘flock’ of about 500 Marines and Sailors of all ranks. He just returned from 2 weeks out in the field on artillery and training exercises, in tents with MREs. (Meals Ready to Eat…yum…not)

Chaplain Joyner heading off to work or deployment.

Chaplain Joyner heading off to work on deployment.

4) How do you manage while Patrick is on tours that take him away from the family for extended periods of time?

By God’s grace and power! There would be no other way. God gives me His strength and I am so thankful. The times that I struggle, are the times when I have not made myself available to access His strength and power. I try daily to ask for wisdom and ask to be wrapped in His righteousness. God has apparently gifted me with a personality or attitude in life that allows me to help our family thrive in this expeditionary lifestyle. Like Paul in Philippians 4, I claim those verses and try always to practice being content and teach my children to choose contentment, realizing God puts us in a place or position for a reason and we should be about his Kingdom living while we are there. I have loved our lifestyle and expect to miss it!

Practically, some of the management while Patrick is away looks like holding him up in our family as still parenting, by asking, “What would Papa do or say?” Or with encouragement, “Papa will be so proud of you!” I talk of him constantly to our children to keep him daily ‘with us’.  I pray and read scripture even more when he is gone. We continue with our evening family worship. Email has been helpful to stay in daily contact. The children and I can still ‘talk’ to him, ask questions or even play chess by email. He calls when he can, and he tries to time those calls to be able to pray with us over the speaker phone to start our day or end our day. He sends updates that include the sermons he preaches so we can hear them too. (He offers worship services at different times and days when deployed, to help as many men be able to attend as possible.) Especially when we had toddlers we kept his picture scrolling on the computer screen and we also have tapes he made of himself reading all the Psalms and Proverbs so that we still have his voice reading us these daily scriptures. He also recorded himself reading books and would strum his guitar for us to turn the pages.

We have other deployed wives and children over during deployments and continue to practice hospitality regularly. I usually offer a time of fellowship and study for the Marine wives whose husbands are also deployed. We have more child/teenage hospitality during this time as well. We travel to see Grandparents. We carry on, and we embrace our family motto: HOLD FAST! (Phil 2:16, Rom 12:9, 1 Thess 5:21)

Home from Afghanistan!

Home from Afghanistan!

5) Was it difficult having him deployed during the 1st Gulf War? Did that change you and your relationship in any way when he came home? (If this is too personal a question, no problem.)

The most difficult part of Patrick’s deployment to the 1st Gulf War (as a nuclear submarine officer), was the strong, constant ‘out of the loop’ feeling he experienced and to deal with the desire he had to be physically present and caring for his family as our protector, yet not being able to.  It was very hard on him to hear on the phone (when we got to talk on the phone) about life going on back home without him. Phone calls, while encouraging to me, where less so for him for that reason. No personal computers back then!

For the deployed, there are no days off and no opportunity to be intimately involved in the lives of those loved ones closest to you. While often, for the wife or family left at home more opportunities open up for them to have fellowship with friends, family, church, or military unit as a way to make the time pass quickly and keep their spirits up. If a wife doesn’t think about it (which I didn’t the first time), it could unintentionally sound to the deployed husband like they are missing out, and that their absence has not made much impact.  Of course, this is far from the truth. But, it remains a difficult balance to communicate with the husband that on the one hand, their family is safe, healthy, strong and doing well, while on the other hand making sure they understand how much they are missed and loved, that nothing is ‘just right’ with them gone, and that they are loved more than ever.

One issue to deal with is during deployments the wife necessarily is the family leader and decision maker, and so in the days after the husband’s return, it is very important for her to hand that responsibility back to her husband and for him to accept it. With that said, the biggest development in mine and Patrick’s relationship through deployments and long work hours has been to make us very jealous of our time together, both as husband and wife back during those first deployments, and now as a family.  Patrick was originally a submarine officer and was gone more than he was home during our first 4-5 years of marriage. This caused us to consider very carefully any invitation or activity and weigh it against time spent together.

Another benefit of deployments and this expeditionary lifestyle has been to strengthen our marriage and family relationships. It can also break your marriage, but for us, clinging to God to use these times to grow us in him and with each other, we are definitely stronger. We’ve had many more homecomings and honeymoons than most people! For which I am most thankful! Our relationship stays more vibrant. We learn quickly not to take each other for granted, because we may only have today. Of course that is a lesson for everyone. We have passed this on to our children and they have mostly depended on each other for their best friendships. We do everything together as a family. We are the Joyner Crew and we move and act as a team, in ministry, in fun and in work. You will most often see us together. We enjoy each other immensely and cherish our time together.

6) Does Patrick plan to retire from the military? What are your plans after Patrick retires?

Yes, Patrick plans to retire from the military. Patrick’s heart is a pastor’s heart, and he wants to pastor a church again. This would be a good place to correct a possible misconception. Pastor friends or others have periodically responded to Patrick’s desire to pastor after the military, as, “so you will be getting back into ministry”. No. He has never left the ministry so how could he ‘get back into it’. He has spent 17 years of his life in ministry to the military and their families, counseling, sharing the gospel, planning and executing charitable humanitarian work of the ship’s crew along the west coast of Africa to orphans and schools, spoken and preached at countless memorial services and national day of prayer services, doing marriage counseling, funerals, doing casualty assistance calls to tell families their husband, son or father has been killed, prison visits, suicide prevention, preaching, leading countless bible studies and book studies, all as the parish pastor to the command with which he serves. He prayerfully hopes to continue this work in a local church and community of the Lord’s choosing.

7) Is it helpful to be an ARBCA Chaplain?

We have much more prayer support and are closer to congregations than many mission sending organizations and than we ever experienced before our ARBCA endorsement. We greatly appreciate the emphasis on church-sent missionaries and the personal relationship, accountability and prayer support that connection has fostered.  ARBCA represents us theologically and also provides protection and representation ecclesiastically concerning issues that arise in the chaplain ministry.

                Follow Up Question: Is there anything we as the churches can do to help you more?

We have been very pleased with the encouraging support we have received from churches. There is not typically much emphasis or interest in Chaplain ministry, but we have some very faithful ARBCA women’s missionary groups that are faithful prayer warriors for us, faithful to send us cards and care packages to our college students and we feel their love. Churches sometimes donate money to purchase books for the studies and for Patrick to give away. Patrick has preached and shared about his ministry periodically when churches have invited him to speak. Our family enjoys developing these relationships face to face and are thankful for these opportunities to thank congregations for their prayers and to include them in what Patrick and our family are doing. We have heard from many churches that they pray regularly for us through the prayer guides ARBCA provides, and we are very thankful for this support. Prayer is the work!

8) Do you deal with or face any persecution?

Patrick says, “It is professionally unpopular to be exclusive with the gospel, just like any pastor, particularly as regards trinitarian religion. All chaplains can still preach without restriction.  Praying in Christ’s name sometimes bothers chaplains more than others. They believe it is a sign of immaturity to pray in the name of Christ.  This has not been an issue in the Marines, like it sometimes is on the Navy side. Only about twice has someone voiced their offense at my prayers in Christ’s name. How it affects your career professionally depends on who is present and what they decide to do about it.  Much more often, people have said they appreciated that I actually prayed in the name of Christ.”

                Follow Up Question: How receptive is the typical Marine/Sailor to the Gospel?

Again from Patrick, “In the Marines, where I have spent all but one Chaplain tour, pride, machismo, and a pay check often make them less receptive to the gospel as they don’t perceive a need. Most have never heard the gospel. Most have had events in their lives that harden them, but there are certainly those who are receptive. I am there for them, and also invest much time and discipleship mentoring young men as well as younger chaplains. It is very rewarding to work in the trenches.”

9) Are any of your children planning on following in Patrick’s footsteps by joining the military?

Our oldest son, William, did look a bit into the military and our commanding general offered to nominate him for the Naval Academy but he really felt God calling him into missions, particularly in Mongolia.
So, “Yes” some of our children do expect to follow in their father’s footsteps, but in ministry rather than the military!

…For by my God I can leap over a wall… Ps 18:29

A new Joyner added to the Family.

A new Joyner added to the Family.


 

I appreciate Rhonda’s willingness to be open about her life, both the struggles and the beauties, in this interview. Getting to know both Rhonda and Sharon has helped me be better equipped to pray for them and their husbands. It has helped me to see that godly women are godly women in any setting the Lord puts them in. I’m encouraged to keep my own hand to the plow in my life by seeing them busy about their own.

December Books and Movies

Here are some of the books and movies I’ve enjoyed over the last month. I’m leaving out Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam because I want to do an article sometime early next year covering all the classic Vietnam movies. I also watched Band of Brothers for the fourth time and won’t write a new review for it.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451638590/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1451638590&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=3BBVO3XUMK7NQ5OF

Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles #2) by Larry Correia

The second book in this series is just as good as the first. Rewriting history to include magical Actives and using them to explain events like WWI, the dustbowl of the Midwest, and the growth of government power under FDR is so much fun. Due to his first hand knowledge of guns, Correia is exact with his weapons. If you’re a gun nut, you’ll enjoy these books. Correia is also very conservative. It’s nice to read a book you don’t argue with the entire time. He never gets preachy—his books are, after all, action flicks—but he does make a jab here and there at FDR. They are fairly clean with limited language and over the top violence. These books aren’t without heart. I did tear up a few times as the Grimnoir struggled to keep their friends and family safe while battling enemies on every front. Correia’s good like that. This is a book I have on Audible and I highly recommend it because Corriea got the perfect reader for his book. If you’re looking for a good weekend read, check out the Grimnoirs.

Rated: PG-13 (Language and Violence)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/143919260X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=143919260X&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=KHYW2Q4M6P2DF3V6

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

King offers up four unique, creepy, and down to earth stories in this book. They feature normal people in bad situations usually making them worse, though two of them aren’t without a semi-happy ending. The last one was my favorite. Based on the BTK killer, King explores what it would be like to find out after 30 years of marriage that you’re husband’s a serial killer. (Queue extra creepy music.) Thankfully, this was one of the stories with a happy ending, or at least as happy as King can get. Because he capture the simple habits of a long marriage so perfectly, the little things you know so well about each other, the special quirks, the chilling horror level ratcheted up quickly. If you like King you will enjoy this collection.

Rated: R (Language, Violence, Adult Situations, Rape, Serial Killers)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1416955070/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1416955070&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=HUD4XBTTOL2VJW33

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009AMAKWM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B009AMAKWM&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=TOMI323XEBTTNZLD

The City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare (Book and Movie)

Since I have switched to writing YA fantasy some of my YA friends have given me a few books to read in that genre. This might be a bad thing because neither the book, The City of Bones, nor the movie impressed me. When my husband and I finished the movie neither of us understood the overall plot. What was really going on? What world events swept this girl up? (I had this problem with Divergent for the first 2/3 of the movie, too.) At first, I enjoyed the book more than the movie because I felt like I had a better sense of what was going on. Then, I got bored and realized the movie was mashing things together because they were cutting out the long and pointless teen drama moments. The movie tried to fix the book. Sigh.

The writing style of the book was sub-par. Clare threw in large and odd words here and there like she closed her eyes and pointed at that section of the thesaurus with no sense of what worked in the voice of the story. Every time she did this, I got pulled out of the book. A reader should be able to tell by the context what the word means. In Clare’s case, I could not.

Ultimately, I only cared about one character in the whole book and found the story to be mostly uninteresting.

My main problems with this style of writing—normal human female drawn into supernatural world of hot men where she realizes she is beautiful and must beat said men away with a stick, oh and some plot going on over there, and of course the jerk is the guy who gets the girl—are I always feel on the outside of the world, and appealed to on my most basest level.

It wasn’t until the very end of the book, like the last chapter that I even felt connected to the world. Through this big thick volume, I felt like I had my nose pressed to a window and only got a truncated view of Clare’s fantasy world. When I read Harry Potter, Harry’s world was more real than mine. When you read Lord of the Rings, you are in Middle Earth. E. Nesbit, Neil Gaiman, Robin McKinley, Suzanne Collins, Larry Correia, Scott Lynch and so many other good fantasy writers want you in their world. That’s why you’re reading it. You’re not reading it to stand on the outside observing.

Driving the reader based solely on who is going to end up with who does not a good page turner make. I hate it when I realize the only reason I’m interested in a story is to see if these two people hook up. And even that wasn’t done well. I never really felt a strong connection between Clary and Jase. Their romance wasn’t memorable. Plus, it’s not that important to have a boyfriend when you’re 15. Clary had a tiny bit more personality than Belle in Twilight, but I never cared about her. I never cared about anyone other than Luke. (Side note, including a homosexual character made all the relationships questionable. Whenever two male characters were good friends, I never knew if they were friends or lovers. I enjoy some blurring of moral lines because life can have some very gray moments, but not smudging like this.)

Rated: PG-13 (Mostly because the worldview is one that needs lots of guiding. There are some YA sexual jokes, violence, and language. The love relationship is unrealistic and unhealthy. The lead male is a jerk through the entire story, yet she still falls for him. If you want to see magic, read Harry Potter. If you want confused brother/sister relationships watch the original Star Wars.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/147671746X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=147671746X&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=GSJ5VNRKFZASEWHQ

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

One would believe that this is a unique romantic comedy about a zombie who falls in love with a human girl based upon the preview for the movie. It’s not. I don’t even know if this is Young Adult. This book is beautifully written and filled with interesting tidbits to digest. It is a thinking book. Is it a commentary on a mid-life crises? Is it a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet? Is it a commentary on the pointless void the next generation faces due to their entitlement status? On this basis, I would say that this could be a great book to read with your Junior or Senior kids. It would need to be read and savored for its beauty and then picked apart for its philosophy. The joy of a well-written book is that you can do both. There were some moments I lost interest in the story and felt it dragged a bit. But since I read it at the same time I read City of Bones, it’s beauty was provided a stark contrast, so I never just gave up on it. Again, I was drawn right into the world, not forced to stand on the outside. While there was an important romantic relationship, the story was more than that. Their romance was the catalyst for the story not the only point.

Rated PG-13 (Violence, Language, Sexual Content: this book makes the common error of assuming Hate and Greed are sins but lust is not.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0425224368/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0425224368&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=7GT7HYFQIMT4WCZ2

Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends by William Guarnere, Edward Heffron, Robyn Post

I stumbled on this little treasure at Half-Price Bookstore and read it on Black Friday instead of going shopping. Anytime I watch Band of Brothers I tend to get a little obsessed. This is the third book I’ve read about Easy Company. There are also some interviews on YouTube that I’m working through. This book focuses on only two members of Easy Company: Wild Bill and Babe. They grew up only blocks from each other without ever meeting and served together in Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge where Wild Bill lost his leg. After the war was over Babe looked Wild Bill up and they’ve been best pals ever since, dying only months apart.

Because you get to see their lives from the beginning, you get a sense of why their generation was able to do what they did. They grew up hard and fast, but with strong families and close friends. Then they joined the unique training experiment of the 101st Airborne and . . . the rest is history.

Rated PG-13 (Young men at war, war)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1599253453/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1599253453&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=MVJCUPHHDW2XTJQN

Holding Communion Together by Tom Chantry and David Dykstra

After all the controversy, I was eager to read this book and see what all the hoopla was about. I came away from this book sad because sin tears us apart. As Chantry and Dykstra take us through the growth of Reformed Baptists in America in the last century, they also take us through the problems plaguing us even to this day. It is always helpful to get a historical perspective. It’s just not often that when I’m getting that perspective I know the people being talked about. That was just a bit surreal. So, my first reaction was sadness, sadness over the friendships destroyed, the churches torn apart, and the splits that fractured so many people. Continuing in the story, I was made aware of the need to pray for our leaders, pray they will be kept from the lies of the evil one, that they will stand under the pressures of other churches to bend and compromise, and pray that they will stand for truth. On a very personal level, I enjoyed reading about David Straub. He was very dear to me and I miss him even to today, though I was only a little girl when I knew him. God is good and I’m thankful for the work these men did. May it encourage us all in prayer and steadfastness.

Rated PG (Sinful men in a sinful world and church fracturing)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001HN694K/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001HN694K&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=I5RZQREN3DKAVWJ5

Alice in Wonderland

This movie is odd. In true Alice fashion, it’s odd. It would have helped if I had picked up earlier on that Alice was returning to Wonderland. For some reason I didn’t get that this was the continuing of the story not a remake of the story. There were several points where I just couldn’t follow what everyone was saying. But, the fight against the Queen of Hearts, the costuming, and setting were well done. Then the end just jumped on the feminist bandwagon and that was that. Of course, a woman who saves a kingdom would never settle for being a mother. What a waste of her life. She must go adventuring. Sigh. So overall, I’m glad that I watched it. The hatter was fun and so were the White Queen and all the little animals. It felt less frustrating than the original story, but I didn’t love it.

Rated: PG (Dragon fights, intense themes)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K7IPFSM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00K7IPFSM&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=FM2RQA76N5RJLL7I

X-men: Days of Future Past

I’m not a big comic book fan. I enjoyed Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy a lot, but most of the rest of them seem to lack heart. I just never really connect with the characters. Their struggles never seem real. I did love the first X-men movie where I did connect with Rouge and Wolverine as the outcasts in this world welcomed into Xavier’s school. But, I haven’t kept up with the franchise. Recently, I watched Days of Future Past. Surprise! I was on the edge of my seat! I think most of this is due to the acting chops of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and Jennifer Lawrence. They bring the heart and soul to the story. I was also pleasantly surprised by the plot twist brought by Magneto. I kept thinking everything was going just too smoothly for Wolverine. Well played. I don’t think I’ll buy this movie, but I’ll borrow it again from my sister. Also, for any of you comic book geeks, based on how this movie ends does Wolverine not have titanium on his skeleton now?

Rated PG-13 (Mystique has blue skin, not clothes. Brief Nudity, action, violence, some Mutants get torn apart, adult themes.)

Merry Christmas!

I’ll let everyone know what movies and books grace my stocking this year!