Saturday, March 28, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Happy (March) Birthday Grandson

Some "cool" cats driving by to say "hi"

Just wanted to wish my grandson a Very Happy Birthday this month. 


With two younger brothers, he works really hard at being 
the #1 son. We are all so proud of you, Elisha.

Have fun today!

Didn't post on time for the Celebrate post yesterday, but I think this works. 
I'm gardening and still getting ready for the A-Z next week. How about you?

Have a great weekend everyone! 

Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting one of the 
best Blog Hops ever; And co-hosts:
 L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge  
and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Click on Lexa's link to join this hop. You will love it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Battle Heroes: Voices from Afghanistan by Allan Zullo: Book Review

Battle Heroes 
“10 True Tales” series
Battle Heroes: Voices from Afghanistan

Author: Allan Zullo 
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2010
Age: 10-13, Middle Grade
Pages: 159


U.S. air strikes on the Taliban and al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan began in October 2001, following the September terrorist attack on American soil that killed 3000 innocent people. Called Operation Enduring Freedom, the search was on for the main perpetrator, al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden. Zullo tells the stories of ten (male) brave American war heroes who fought in Afghanistan during the period 2001 to 2006. 

Told in vivid, action-packed language, readers are taken into the battlefield where they witness firsthand the events. Dialogue is interspersed throughout to keep the pace lively and real, and readers are not spared learning about the injuries the soldiers endured (some fatal) and the hand to hand combat they encountered. Zullo emphasizes the loyalty of the troops in supporting each other, and also the Afghan soldiers and innocent bystanders who were sometimes injured in battles. 

There is the story of Captain Jason Amerine and his fellow Green Berets, who along with untrained Afghans, made a daring stand against the Taliban when outnumbered ten to one. There is Master Sergeant Sarun Sar, who as a boy had endured living in Cambodia under the Communist Khmer Rouge. He lost his family and later immigrated to the U.S., where he joined the military and became the leader of a twelve-man Special Forces team in Afghanistan. He was known for his agility and bravery in battle. There is the story of Brendan O’Connor, who survived a two-day battle and fought bravely, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his service. 

Readers learn that many Afghans fought alongside the Americans, even though they could not speak English. Other Afghans supported the Taliban, who were known for their oppression and cruelty to the locals, when fundamentalist teachings were disobeyed. There are interesting descriptions of Afghan scenery and other conditions as well. A timeline would have been helpful in understanding the war itself, but a glossary at the end helps with war terminology. 

Much has happened in Afghanistan since 2006, in particular, the capture of Osama bin Laden, but Battle Heroes is more of a soldier's story. Readers interested (boys especially) in finding out what modern day warfare is like, will take away a new understanding of the risks and hardships involved, and a respect for the heroes portrayed. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway"He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees. The mountainside sloped gently where he lay; but below it was steep and he could see the dark of the oiled road winding through the pass." 
(Published 1940)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A-Z Challenge Theme Reveal - Something Inventive

Well, I almost backed out of the now famous A-Z April Challenge, but it's kind of like a fever. The more you think about it, the more affected you feel, only in a good way. It's just plain fun to participate, and was a burnout last year, and yes....I had to take time off to recover. But in the end I had this pretty cool collection that I was proud of and people seemed to enjoy. 

So, what to do, what to do? What could I possibly write again that would keep bloggers interested? I did what I always do when I write a post (and for the last two A-Zs). I chose a topic I was personally interested in and wanted to explore.

So, TA-DA.....Inventions by Women A-Z

Now, before some of you guys do an about face and run (or you non-history buffs :) thinking . . . ~B-O-R-I-N-G~, "I'm out of here," think again. 

You might be surprised at some of the inventions women made that have had a huge impact on your life, and you couldn't live without if you tried. 

How about Engine Mufflers and Windshield Wipers? And ladies, how about Barbie Dolls, Rolling Pins and Disposal Diapers? I try to keep it light, short, informative, and fun, and selected only one invention per post for the A-Z. There were many to choose from!

Here's the lineup:

A - Alphabet Blocks
B - Barbie Doll
C - Chocolate Chip Cookies
D - Disposable Diapers
E - Engine Muffler
F - Fire Escape
G - Globes
H - Home Security System
I - Invisible Glass
J - Jerky
K - Kevlar
L - Life Raft
M - Monopoly
N - Nystatin
O - Optical Analysis System
P - Paper Bags
Q - Q-tips
R - Rolling Pin
S - Spread Spectrum Technology
T - Telephone Switching System
U - Unknown Inventors
V - Vacuum Pack Canning
W - Windshield Wipers
X - Roentgen's X-ray
Y - Yellow Mustard
Z - Zucchini Bread

  Click here for more A-Z Theme Reveals

Friday, March 20, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Behind the Lens

Dog reads book Stock ImagesWhat did you celebrate this week?

How about good eyesight? I wear reading glasses with a little correction in the mid and top range of my glasses (we call them progressives), but to be honest, if I were to lose them in the wilderness and get lost, I could probably read a map in the daylight and possibly find my way home (barring also being somewhat directionally impaired). Has anyone actually experienced this?

But my main point here is I try not to take vision for granted. At my last exam I had the beginning of a cataract in one eye, and my husband has worn glasses most of his life. He has dealt with more eye issues than I likely will ever have.

And here's another thought. What we see behind the lens of an eye is not all we see in life. We also see with our hearts, our minds and our souls, but the vision gets foggy sometimes and out of whack. When I get too busy and attempt to do more than I should to maintain a healthy balance physically, mentally and spiritually, that sometimes happens to me, and I forget the beauty of the moment. I have to slow down . . . and you should too if that happens to you.

Some food for thought by the famous:

"Eyes for Invisibles"

"I have walked with people whose eyes are full
of light but who see nothing in sea or sky,
nothing in city streets, nothing in books. It
were far better to sail forever in the night of
blindness with sense, and feeling, and mind,
than to be content with the mere act of seeing.
The only lightless dark is the night of darkness 
in ignorance an insensibility."   --Helen Keller

 "The man who cannot wonder is but a pair of
spectacles behind which there is no eye"  --Thomas Carlyle

"Auguries of Innocence"

 "To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, 
And Eternity in an hour."  --William Blake 
Happy Weekend Everyone! 

Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting one of the 
best Blog Hops ever; And co-hosts:
 L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge  
and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Africa Mercy - It's Over Now: One Nurse's Journey

Hi....this is Marilyn's parting post, ending her service as a volunteer nurse on the Africa Mercy, which takes place a week from now. Thank you for stopping by when you could and for all your comments. I for one will miss her adventure but look forward to seeing her again. Hopefully she'll wander up my way from Boise after she gets settled. I include her email at the end in case any of you wish to send a personal message.

"It's Over Now"
14 March 2015

Yesterday, we did our last cataract surgeries for the year. Next field service, the ship will return to Madagascar, but they won't be doing cataract surgeries. For Madagascar, the program is finished. It has been a difficult year, trying to find the patients that God would bring to us, but somehow, more than 300 people received the gift of sight. I am pleased for them, and only wish we could have done more.

My patient for the week, the one that lingers in my mind, is a diminutive 72 year old lady who had light perception, but no vision, in both eyes. Usually, we only operate on one eye at a time, but for her, the surgeon did both eyes at the same time. Coming out of surgery with both eyes patched and eye shields in place, she looked like a very happy bumblebee, or one of those insects with big, multi-faceted, protruding eyes. Being completely blind for the day was not a big change for her, though, and the anticipation of vision to come lit her face with smiles.

When the patches came off the next day, she could see 6/12 in both eyes--almost perfect vision. Can you imagine what that would be like, after years of blindness?

I will be headed home a little over a week from now. We'll spend this last work week doing data entry, pack-up, and whatever we can to leave the eye program neat and tidy for the next team, in whatever country comes after Madagascar in the fall of 2016. It feels a little like writing your last will and testament, leaving your treasures to your successors, whoever they might be. I want to do a good job--but it is a little sad, this letting go of something so precious that I have been doing for two years.

What lies ahead for me personally? I don't know. I plan to move to Boise to live with my friends Deb and Dave. I'll need to buy a car, pay my taxes, sort through a year's worth of mail, and...well, I don't know what I'll find to do to stay out of mischief. I've faced these times of "the great abyss" before, and eventually, the Lord opens another door to a new adventure...or at least, he has, so far. What will it be this time?

It has been a wonderful two years, working with Mercy Ships--not
always easy, but wonderful. This past week was pretty stressful for
various reasons, and I had some days of discouragement and feeling totally inadequate to the challenges. One of my stress relievers is to watch the lights of the harbor dancing on the waters, sometimes scintillating sparkles, sometimes swirling little streaks darting in and out of the swath of light, sometimes a smooth patch that looks like a quilted, rumpled blanket. So, I was watching the lights, half apologizing to the Lord for mucking up his work here, half asking why he didn't just send someone more qualified instead of me. He brought several Scriptures to mind, including:

1 Cor 3:7 “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes it grow.”

2 Cor 4:1 “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. ..for we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord... we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Cor 12:8 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

In other words, it's not about me. He does his work through broken, weak, inadequate people--and he's doing it just fine, thank you. At Mercy Ships, the lame walk, the blind see, and many people encounter a God who loves them enough to get involved in the details of their healing. What an incredible privilege, that he has included me, and what a relief, that it doesn't depend on me.

Thank you all for journeying with me and for encouraging me these past two years. It has been an adventure, and a ringside seat to watch God at work, hasn't it? I have been blessed beyond all measure to be here--and my patients have also been blessed by the Lord, both directly, and indirectly through us. Thanks to those of you who have prayed for our patients--you also have a share in this great work.

Blessings to you all,

Love, Marilyn


Marilyn Neville