What's Your Plan This Thanksgiving?

When family gathers around the table or the TV to enjoy each other’s company, are you going to thank God for joining you too?

I know many families don’t talk about God because some family members aren’t in a relationship with him. They’re uncomfortable with the subject. Understandable. But have you thought to invite God to your weekend festivities without notifying anyone else? Do you plan to have a quiet prayer by yourself to ask God to join the discussions and make himself known to your family?

God knows how to get through to people in ways we never expect. He can turn a conversation to himself without our doing very much besides staying in communication with others. All we really have to do is to keep our ears open to God and to our loved ones and respond with love.

As you think about your plan this weekend, remember God wants to be a part of it. More on this topic can be found on my devotional blog, Seek God With Me.

Romantic Roses: Mister Lincoln

Mister Lincoln is a dark red hybrid tea which loves a sky full of sunshine and proves it with its vertical growth. This easy-care rose is a great starter rose for beginners. It loves warm air and is disease resistant. Planting two or three of these bushes together makes for a fuller, bushier look and a more fragrant impact.

Introduced in 1964, Mister Lincoln was named an All-American Rose Selection Winner in 1965. Named to honor our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, this rose has become quite popular over the years. It’s recommended for zones 5 to 11.

These fragrant, velvety blooms sit atop long stems and are perfect for cutting. To cut, choose buds that are only half-open. Be sure to hydrate the plant very well and wait a couple of hours (late afternoon) before cutting. Carry a container of cold water with you when you’re ready to use your shears. Cut the stem at a 45 degree angle and put it in the water right away. The arrangement of fresh roses will look best if you keep cold water in the vase.

Manhattan Melodrama, 1934

The Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story went to Arthur Caesar. This film celebrates the friendship of two boys who lose their parents and stay best friends into adulthood.

Blackie Gallagher can’t give up his easy-money gambling schemes and ends up losing his girl to Jim Wade, his best pal from childhood. Blackie’s admiration for Jim never falters because he knows Jim’s integrity will never fail. Jim rises to elected office and tries to see that government corruption is driven out. When Jim’s and Blackie’s occupations get in the way, how will they resolve their differences? How will they get back together?

Myrna Loy plays the woman both men fall in love with. Clark Gable is Blackie, and William Powell is Jim Wade. Mickey Rooney plays Blackie as a boy. I recognized, but had a little trouble naming the familiar face.

Great acting, great story, a little humor, but mostly great fun.

However, it was interesting to note the similarities between this movie and another Clark Gable film, San Francisco, which came two years later.

Lose Something?

Doesn’t it drive you nuts to lose something in your home?

There have been moments when I’ve lost something, and it took a while to find it. I’ve looked high and low, behind things, under things, and still I couldn’t find it. I knew it was around there somewhere because it wasn’t a living thing and couldn’t move on its own. But it wasn’t there.

I wondered what outside source could’ve come onto the scene and moved it. I wondered if I accidentally hid it from myself. Did I put it somewhere and forget about it?

When I knew it had to be there nearby somewhere, I’d get distracted away from whatever else I could’ve been doing and get really focused on finding it.

That’s how God wants us to be when we’re searching for Him. You ask yourself, “Where’s God in this situation?” He’s there. You just have to look harder. He even gave us a Bible verse to motivate us to keep looking for Him. Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

I’ll continue this discussion about searches with you on my Seek God With Me devotional blog.

Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Thomas Ollenburger appreciates the opportunity to live with his foster grandmother in Boston while he finishes his college education. His next step is to secure a job and find a wife. He has two very different girls on his mind: Belinda and Daphne.

Belinda knows all about his Mennonite roots and lives near his family on the Kansas prairie. Daphne, from a wealthy Boston family, has caught his heart up in a struggle against his conscience. How long can he ignore the values instilled in him by his father? How long can he be silent about his relationship with God? A relationship Daphne doesn’t understand.

Daphne wants to use her contacts to help him secure an acceptable job in Boston, but he can’t take a job he didn’t earn. His father wants him to find work in his home town. Belinda turns into a faithful pen pal at Thomas’ request. But Thomas has to decide for himself where he should live.

Woven into the romance and job questions are the historical facts of the time. This story covers the 1904 election with Theodore Roosevelt, whom history tells us won that election, competing against Thomas Watson, the Populist party’s nominee. Thomas Ollenburger is swept up in the Populist party’s campaign because of his friendship with Harry, Daphne’s brother.

This book by bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer was the first novel of hers I’ve read. It's the sequel to Waiting for Summer’s Return, but was lovely all on it’s own. I found the characters interesting and likable. The plot kept me turning pages as I journeyed with the characters and waited for questions to be answered. Sawyer’s style made me want to read more of her novels.

Her latest release from Bethany House Publishers is Fields of Grace. Look for Katy's New World, in the Katy Lambright Series, to be released in February 2010.

San Francisco, 1936

Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy team up as childhood buddies separated by the decisions each one made. Spencer Tracy (Father Mullin) becomes a priest and Clark Gable (Blackie Norton) becomes a saloon owner on the Barbary Coast. Each man thinks his decision was the right one for him.

When a gifted and beautiful singer comes to town, the opera house owner fights for his right to the singer. Being new, she doesn’t know which man to trust. Although she’s falling for Blackie, opera is what she wants to do. Singer Mary Blake is played by Jeanette MacDonald.

The fight to win her over gets mixed up in a political battle, and Blackie fears for those he employs. Father Mullin can’t exactly choose sides, but helps where he can.

The ending is superb. The aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake is properly sad, but with a silver lining.

Freedom of Childhood

Do you long to go back to the freedom of childhood?

During childhood, I didn’t have very many responsibilities. I could play or read or relax however I wanted to for hours. I could fall asleep on a parent’s lap and wake up in my bed. I could get a hug anytime, day or night. I always knew I was loved.

I realize not everyone in the world was raised by loving parents, but most people had more freedom as a child than they do as an adult.

Did you know that regardless of your upbringing, you have the same opportunity to have a loving father as anyone in the world?

On my devotional blog, Seek God With Me, I urge us to never forget that God is that loving father who wants us to always be His kids.

Romantic Roses: Dortmund

Introduced by Kordes of Germany in 1955, this hardy climber can get up to thirty feet tall and flourishes in zones 4 to 9. Pruning and deadheading will encourage more blooming.

Five large, long-lasting petals make up the brilliant red blooms, which show up well against the glossy, dark-green leaves. Their yellow stamens come up from a white eye. At their peak, these charmers produce a showy mass of red in the yard.

The thorns are quite noticeable. Keep them away from sidewalks or the passersby may experience a small snag in their plans.

My husband bought this shrub and tied it onto the areas of the backyard trellis that made the most of its beauty. Now it’s listed among his favorites. Ours is a slow grower. It’s in the shade and gets filtered morning sun. He loves the rich, deep color.

Love Starts With Elle by Rachel Hauck

Elle Garvey is about to marry Jeremiah, the young dynamic pastor who used to be a popular professional football player. She wants to be married, but life in a small town hadn’t produced many prospects up to this point. Jeremiah seems to be every girl’s dream. Why not marry him?

Heath McCord is moving away from New York City where his friends at the law firm would have to carry on without him. Of course they understand since he’s relocating in an attempt to recover from grieving the death of his vibrant young wife.

Elle is an artist. A good one, but with little confidence about her work. She hasn’t painted seriously in a while, certainly hasn’t tried to sell any. However, she wants to promote a love for good art by selling others’ pieces in her gallery. In her transition from single gallery owner to pastor’s wife, she wonders if she’ll have as much time for her artistic passions as she wants. She wonders if this marriage will be plagued with the busyness and politics of a religious institution. She wonders if she’s doing the right thing.

I enjoyed the journey, following Elle through excitement to confusion to heartache to confusion and back to excitement again. Rachel Hauck’s writing slipped me into the shoes of two different people with two different backgrounds, but headed toward the same goal. I also enjoyed the novel within the novel, and I thought it might be nice to see more of the intriguing story of Chet and Kelly.

Thank you, Rachel, for sharing the beautiful lowcountry town of Beaufort, South Carolina and all of its quirky inhabitants.

Did You Pray About It?

Did you vote? Did you pray about it? Did you pray about the decisions you’ve made concerning your children? Did you pray about financial decisions?

We frequently leave God out of our decisions unless we’re in trouble – and then it’s often a prayer of desperation. If we don’t call on God unless we feel helpless, do we know that God will respond? Does He only hear desperation prayers?

I think God wants to hear from us when we’re not in a dire situation. I think we should develop a relationship that is steady and long-term. When we get into trouble, the relationship is there. God is ready. He is willing and able to guide us whether we’re in trouble or not.

Check out my devotional blog for today’s message, Seeking Him In Our Brokenness.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 1939

James Stewart’s delightful performance as a naïve country boy Jefferson Smith contrasts deliciously with Jean Arthur’s city girl Clarissa Saunders. Mr. Smith, a boys’ club leader, is chosen to replace a fallen politician. Political boss Jim Taylor, played by Edward Arnold, decides Smith is the perfect choice because of his lack of political savvy. The plan is to keep Smith naïve and ignorant while corrupt deals are made all around him.

Being a man of conscience and a true hero, Smith takes his job seriously and attacks real goals with passion and strength. Of course this gets him into trouble. Smith must have help from his assistant, but Jean Arthur’s Saunders is weary of the political scheming and tries to quit her job during the first part of the film.

I loved the moment Saunders recognizes that Smith has mentioned her first name to his mother. Since everyone calls her Saunders, hearing his mother call her Clarissa stood out like a kiss on the cheek.

Mr. Smith awakens her to a new look at life, and her renewed fervor is key to the story.

Lewis R. Foster won the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story. This film was nominated for ten other Oscars, including Best Picture.

This classic should be watched before every July Fourth and before every election. I also think every high school class should visit the Lincoln Memorial and read every word there. Mr. Smith seemed to be energized there. Would it have the same effect on our children?