Archive | September, 2012

What I’m Reading Wednesday

26 Sep

The WWII-era historical readings continue with Sarah Sundin’s “A Memory Between Us,” book two of the Wings of Glory series.

This story follows a young Army nurse and a dashing B-17 bomber pilot stationed in England. I absolutely love the English setting complete with fish and chips!

Sundin weaves the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz in this book. Her characters are Ruth, a woman who feels unforgiven for her sins and who leaves home to become a nurse to support her younger siblings. And then Jack, a wounded pilot who struggles with the decision to follow God’s calling as a military leader or follow his dad’s calling as a pastor.

Over a span of a year Jack slowly gains the trust of Ruth and of course a romance develops, but evil weaves its way into the story and the love birds are torn apart. They turn to God to shed light on the truth and I won’t spoil the ending for you.

Sundin amazes me with the amount of research she does for her novels, especially when it comes to WWII-era planes. Lucky for me I work on an Army-Air Force joint base and have access to historical planes. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a B-17 Flying Fortress, but I took a stroll and admired these following beauties:

Located on McChord Field.

I am so happy this series is three books and I have one more left to read! I took a little break from the 1940s reading, but will pick back up shortly. This month Sundin also released a book in a new series, Wings of the Nightingale, which I placed a hold on at the library.

What are you reading this week?

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Inspiring Justice: Why The Justice Conference?

25 Sep

I had the idea yesterday to start a blog series with the purpose of generating discussion about The Justice Conference 2013. While it’s still about five months away, I think it’s important to continuously promote the conference’s mission of educating, inspiring and connecting in a community that shares a concern for the vulnerable and oppressed.

My goal is to connect with people headed to Philly in 2013 via social media. I want to hear from you on why The Justice Conference is important to you and what you most look forward to. Outside of the conference what are you doing to aid in the justice movement?

This is the beginning of the series “Inspiring Justice” that I will publish every Tuesday. This is exciting because people from all over the map will be connecting through this, sharing their stories and continuing dialogue, and in February we’ll all be together in Philly.

Please contact me at somerbreeze8@hotmail.com if you would like to participate in “Inspiring Justice” by submitting a guest blog post.

Race for a Soldier

21 Sep

I am always amazed by the power and strength of community. Whether it’s within a church, a club, an organization or even at work, being surrounded by a core of people who understand you, know your history and encourage you is a pretty awesome thing.

Today I was part of a large group of people who support Race for a Soldier, a half marathon organized by Gig Harbor resident Leslie Mayne. She founded the run last year after her son, a former soldier who suffered from PTSD and a TBI, died from overmedicating himself.

Over the past year I have written several stories about Leslie’s mission to care for all service members. Race for a Soldier benefits organizations that offer alternative therapies for soldiers returning from war zones.

Leslie’s personal testimony is a powerful one. After her son passed away she fell into a dark place and tried to run away from the pain. She describes her pain as something that “could kill you because it hurts that bad.” She desperately tried to find healing, but it was when she felt the presence of God during a run that she knew she could really heal.

Leslie created Race for a Soldier to serve as a tangible reminder for herself to live. God is using her to reach out to the military community and their families. Each time I see her she always references a worship song that carries her through the difficult times. At today’s prayer breakfast to kick off the race weekend, a worship band performed Mercy Me’s “The Hurt and The Healer.” With an audience of past and present soldiers, families and civilians, the words were relevant to many.

“Jesus come and break my fear. Awake my heart and take my tears. Find your glory even here.”

It was so encouraging to be around so many people who all had a heart and a passion to reach out to our troops. I spoke to a woman at the prayer breakfast who’s husband is gone on his sixth deployment. She formed a group of spouses to log 6,700 miles through running, walking, swimming or even pushing a stroller during the deployment, so they “could run to their husbands.”

Retired soldier Armando Mejia shares his testimony at the prayer breakfast.

The testimonies I heard today were inspiring and again, put a face on the war that to me used to seem so far away.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

19 Sep

Continuing on with my WWII-era reading mission, I stumbled upon “Clair de Lune” on accident a couple weeks ago. While at the library picking up books I had on hold, the photograph of the couple on the cover instantly caught my attention because it gives away the time frame of the novel.

I picked the book up and was intrigued about the “A Newly Discovered Novel” banner on the cover. I learned this novel was discovered 50 years after author Jetta Carleton wrote it and published 20 years after her death. Her family had thought the manuscript was destroyed in a tornado but it had been safely passed on and eventually found itself to a publisher.

This book takes place in Missouri with the country at the brink of war, when some thought the young men of the U.S. wouldn’t be affected. It features an independent young woman who starts a teaching job at small junior college. The story explores ethical and moral dilemmas and the severity of consequences during an era of innocence.

Carleton’s writing style is fabulous and I wonder if it would have been any different if she herself had seen the project through to publication, rather than someone else making the modifications for her.

My WWII reading doesn’t end for a couple more weeks. I just finished book two in Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory series which I will post about next week.

What is your favorite historical subject to read about?

 

Working Among Heroes

17 Sep

Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day in DuPont, Wash.

When I interviewed for my current position as sports and leisure reporter for the Northwest Guardian I had no idea what I was getting into. I was told I would cover a lot of intramural sports activities, and since it’s a weekly, it would be heavy on the feature writing.

Because reporter positions are few and far between these days, and because this sports position was a day job for the most part, I was eager to accept this new challenge.

I have relatives that served and currently serve in the military, but I admit I was completely oblivious to the military life. To me the war on terror felt so far away from my own personal bubble that it didn’t concern me. Thanks to the last year and three months on the job at JBLM, I have met some of the most incredible people who protect our country, who support those who protect it and those who live to honor the fallen.

I write a lot of feel-good stories about Soldiers and Airmen who serve this country and in their limited free time do something amazing as an athlete. But there have been times when I have written some of the most difficult stories to tell.

I met Teresa Maggart last summer. Her husband Sgt. Brandon Maggart was killed by an IED in Iraq the previous year. After the interview she opened a box she had brought with her that included some of her husband’s personal items that were in his barrack when he was hit. She showed me things like his wallet and a calendar she had made him with their personal family photos that included their 3-year-old son. Everything she showed me had holes ripped through from the IED. In an instant the war became very real to me.

I let down my professional demeanor as I spoke to this woman who was my age and a widow. I couldn’t stop my tears when she recalled how she found out about her husband’s death and how she’s been trying to move forward since then. I listened to her in awe and was inspired by her faith and spirit. She is such an incredible woman of God and strength. Read my story here.

Teresa places a flag in memory of her husband.

Working with the military has given me a new level of compassion for our service members and a better understanding of what they go through every day. I know several spouses who continue to count down the months until their significant other returns from their deployment. Could I be that strong if Trevor was deployed to a war zone?

Teresa is just one of several people who have affected me personally on the job. I am so grateful to her husband for making the ultimate sacrifice and thankful to Teresa and her son for showing me the good that comes out of tragedy.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

12 Sep

After such a positive response to my “What I’m Reading Wednesday” post last week, I am even more excited about this weekly post!

I have the type of personality that when I learn of or hear of something that interests me, I have to research everything about it. For example, after I watched “The Kennedys” mini-series I checked out every book from the library that I could find about the entire Kennedy family.

I have always been fascinated with historical fiction set during WWII. I love reading stories about couples falling in love during the war and how women found roles during that time period. I actually read two books this week that are about that time period, but I will write about one today, “A Distant Melody” by Sarah Sundin.

I read a lot of fiction, but I haven’t read a lot of Christian fiction. I saw in a catalog that Sundin has a new book coming out this month, but I had never read anything of hers. I decided to read one of her older books in “A Distant Melody” which is book one of her Wings of Glory series.

The book is 430 pages but I read it in three days. I could NOT put it down! The book follows a young pilot headed off to war and a young woman he briefly meets and leaves behind. The two correspond by letters for a year and their friendship develops into something deeper. There are MANY conflicts to the point where it makes you question if the guy gets the girl in the end, but I don’t want to spoil the ending for you…

FYI “A Distant Melody” is available on Amazon for one penny. You’re welcome.

I already checked out the second book of the series. Stay tuned…

Strong Family

10 Sep

The Jackson three.

I am fascinated by people’s stories. There are often times I will point someone out to my husband and say, “I wonder what their story is…”

The beauty of my job is that I am able to walk up to strangers and ask them nosy questions about their life, in a tactful and respectful way of course.

A few months ago I covered a bench press competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. I knew the event organizer was a retired world champion powerlifter. These days she’s a personal trainer and an assistant manager at one of the fitness centers on base. At the event I learned her ex-husband and two of their daughters also used to compete in powerlifting.

It’s not every day you meet a former world champion powerlifter, let alone an entire family of them. I caught up with the family last week to write a story about their family genes. Turns out one of the daughters is now looking to turn professional in boxing while the other daughter is excelling on the track.

Read my story here.

Lifting at 6 years old.

The family has had multiple stories written about them. Someone in Europe also contacted them to interview them for a documentary on strong families.

This story allowed me the opportunity to connect more with a source I work with quite often, but don’t really know. It was fun to talk with the girls who don’t think anything of their talents. To them it’s normal to lift big weight and have 300-pound weightlifters cheer them on.

What I’m reading Wednesday

5 Sep

I love to read. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to do. I try to read a book a week. With that pace I will post each Wednesday about the book I recently finished.

This weekend I finished the non-fiction book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. This book was loaned to me by my sister-in-law who had just finished reading it for her book club.

At first I was skeptical because it’s a book about science. The story is about Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line HeLa, which came from her cervical cancer cells in 1951. I prefer to read historical fiction and it’s been a while since I’ve read a non-fiction book. And I know I haven’t read a biology-based book since I was in a biology lab.

After the introduction I was instantly hooked! This is Skloot’s first book and as a journalist I admired her ability to connect with the sources and gain their trust. For good reason the family was very hesitant to share their story, but Skloot’s patience and perseverance paid off and the Lacks’ story was brought to light. Skloot went to great lengths to contact people important to the story and was put in situations I know I would not be comfortable with.

Skloot covered all areas of the story, spanning five decades, and told it in a beautiful and educational way.

What’s your favorite non-fiction book? What are you currently reading?

One Thousand Gifts

4 Sep

One Thousand Gifts group.

Every Tuesday for the past two months I led a small group at Canyon Ridge Church. The group was called One Thousand Gifts after the book by Ann Voskamp. Once a week about 15 of us ladies gathered to discuss our weekly reading from the book, which examined living a grace-filled life. Each night we also got crafty!

The idea came to me last winter to have a craft small group. Or more specifically a Pinterest small group. The website is so popular and I felt it would serve as a good avenue to get women together in fellowship and in a comfortable setting to talk about their faith.

Getting crafty!

We decorated coffee mugs, made scrapbook pages, jewelry, bookmarks and a variety of other fun stuff. We planned a Bunco night where we each brought a craft we made for a prize.

For a service project we joined with another small group from CRC and did landscaping for a local elementary school to get them ready in time for back to school. We weeded and pruned and laid out bark while others helped paint the staff lounge. Our group also put together a gift basket of coffee and tea with coffee mugs we had decorated.

Our service project.

After the group concluded last Tuesday I emailed Ann Voskamp’s publisher about our group and explained what we did. He forwarded the message on to her and she emailed me back!:

“Smiling at your beautiful photo and happy, grace-filled faces! Thank you all so very much for giving Christ glory in all things and counting Him the gift!

Your note brought tears of thanksgiving. WHAT a story you are all living… A blazing testimony!

Eucharisteo! Take all joy in Him…”

How cool is that?!

What kind of small groups have you participated in? Why did you choose those groups?

Ready for some football!

4 Sep

I am so grateful for the three-day Labor Day weekend! I spent the time off reading, cleaning and completing three fantasy football drafts.

The month of September means hooded sweatshirts, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and football season!

Team 1: Since I first met Trevor he has organized a fantasy team every year. I joined in 2009 and after two decent years I had a very rough year last year. My team is Panang Curry, named after my favorite Thai food dish and after my favorite NCAA basketball player, Stephen Curry of Davidson.

Team 2: The last few years my dad and brother organize a family league named The Breeze League. In this league my name is the East Dillon Lions after one of my favorite teams on one of my favorite shows, “Friday Night Lights.”

Team 3: My co-worker and her husband asked us to join a league they started. Aside from my friends I don’t know anyone in this league. But again, team name is Panang Curry.

Trevor getting ready for draft No. 1.

Strategy

Trevor hooked up a computer to our TV downstairs while I worked in the dining room on my laptop. Trevor is hardcore about his football, especially during draft time. In an effort to avoid annoying him by asking him what he thought about certain players, I would look at his draft rankings on the big screen to see where a player I was interested in ranked on his board. He didn’t know I was doing this (and he will never know unless he reads my blog. Hmmm, this might be a good test).

After so many drafts I honestly can’t even remember a quarter of my players. I think I managed to get RGIII as my backup QB on all three teams though…

Games kickoff Wednesday and I will soon learn if my strategy worked!