Happy Thanksgiving World!

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

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“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9

An Open Letter to Teenage Girls

To all the teenager girls out there, this letter is for you.

After reading about the recent horrible and tragic suicide of a 12-year old girl and follow-up articles about how much worse bullying has become (especially with the internet), my heart is so heavy for you guys. What you battle is an ugly and awful monster. Plus I’m auntie to two of the most precious and beautiful little girls in the world and can’t even begin to fathom that they would experience such pain that would lead them to think suicide is the only answer. Like I said, stories like these break my heart.

While I don’t know everything, my life experiences (31 years in the making) has lent me some wisdom. This is what I know.

Things are different for you then when I was your age, but I remember them well. It’s awkward, it’s uncertain and it’s a learning stage. But no matter what the “cool” crowd acts like, says or does, they don’t have it all together. They have plenty insecurities. I know life seems like a hot mess (and to be honest, sometimes it really is) and if you aren’t the coolest kid at school or have all the boys falling for you, then something must be wrong with you. That if other girls pick on you and try to bully you, then they’re right and you deserve it.

But you know what? THEY ARE WRONG.

I don’t know you personally, but I bet you are amazing. You are unique and you are beautiful. Maybe you love to paint, maybe you love to sing, maybe you love sports, maybe you love Star Wars and Harry Potter (what! what!). Maybe you want to write or teach when you’re older. Maybe you want to serve our country in the military or maybe you want to be a soccer superstar. Whatever it is you love – hold on to that, because that’s one of the things that makes you, well, you!

No really, you truly are unique. There’s a purpose only you, and you alone can fill. You know like Frodo or Harry (if you think the nerdfest references are going to stop, you, my friend, are wrong ;) ). There’s a story being written, a beautiful incredible story and your role is just as important as my role, your parent’s role, the President’s role and anyone else you know.

Do you see that? Can you feel it? Oh friend! Don’t let anyone, anyone, tell you otherwise. Don’t believe the lies that attack you every day. I know it’s hard – they come from the radio, the TV, the internet and people. You know what you should do? Punch them in the face (well not the actual people – let’s all be law-abiding citizens k?). Just go all Samwise-Gamgee-against-the-Orcs on those lies.

And you know what? The people who have changed the world aren’t the one who bully people to feel better about themselves. Sadly, there will always be people who try to make themselves feel better by knocking others down. But keep fighting, keep pushing through, following your dreams and know that you are someone special. God made you that way and I promise He doesn’t make mistakes. And when you realize that, your heart, your soul, your everything will experience the most beautiful thing ever known and your life will never be the same.

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Copyright Jamie Lapeyrolerie

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So there’s this thing called social media…

There’s so many awesome things about, not only the blogging world, but the book blogging world. Social media has been a great way to connect (obviously) and I gotta say, I’m pretty thankful for many of the friendships from this fun little world!

I’ve started connecting more on Goodreads (it’s great to have a place to keep a list of books I want to read!) and the fellow book nerds? We unite.

Anyway, I figured it was time to post where I’m at on social media and if y’all are in those places, let me know in the comments as I’d love to connect with you!

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Not having a photo in a blog post is a crime in my book, so here’s the perfect sunset during my friend’s amazing wedding in Maui. It’s was beautiful! Just like the wedding!

Facebook: It’s technically my personal page, but there seems to be page changes/access every thirty seconds on Facebook, so I have found it much easier to use it this way. Plus with personal pages, you can request to be my friend or simply follow me. I promise I don’t post 300 times a day.

Twitter: This one has grown on me a lot in the past year-ish. I’m always on it! Except when I’m at work of course ;) . I find it a great way to engage with people and it’s fun!

Goodreads: Besides updating status’, listing books read, adding to the TBR, what are some of your favorite things about Goodreads? I haven’t really explored beyond that, but would love to know what’s out there!

Instagram: I promise not all my pics are of my cat. But it’s not my fault he’s the cutest ever.

Bloglovin: I know this isn’t something really something to follow, but since Google Reader got the boot, this has been my reader of choice. I like the app better than the others. I’m pretty sure I follow your blogs, but leave yours in the comments just in case :)

Pinterest: If you haven’t heard of this site. I’m sorry. It’s just the greatest website ever.

Vine: I never really post my own videos, but there is some funny stuff on it, so check it out if you haven’t. I mean with stuff like this, how can you not?

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

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There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

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But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

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As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

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But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

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What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

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To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We're best friends now.

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents? I’m excited to continue in this Grandparents series!

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Well Look Here! A Liebster!

(Update from 9/5/13) The blogging world is so wonderful, you really do make some lovely friends! And two more have also nominated me for the Liebster Award! Something as simple as this can make a girl smile! Since I already posted one, I added the questions from the awesome Relz and wonderful Cassie at Bookshelves and Windows after Brittany’s original questions. Thanks again guys for making my day!!

First – I’m sorry, I’m breaking 97% of the rules of this. But here’s the thing, it’s late and there’s something that’s starting to take over my focus as we enter into this wonderful Fall season. It’s not my fault!! Promise! Blame it on a little thing called football. Fantasy drafts, preseason…I mean I really need to work out a schedule because come September 8th my Sundays are going to change. :) Just so I feel better about myself, I’m also moving soon, so there’s been lots of packing going on around these parts. But I still wanted to participate as best I could!!

I love that Brittany over at Britt Reads Fiction nominated me for the Liebster Award (thank you!)! The Liebster Award is fun way to connect with other bloggers and you also get to nominate other bloggers to do the same. So the first part of my apology is I don’t have that list together. I know there were some that have already done this and I haven’t had time to check who has and who hasn’t. I know – I’m horrible! But if I missed you, let me know and I can link you in this post!! Without further ado, here’s the answers to the wonderful questions Britt asked!

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1) Who is your favorite author and what is a novel of theirs that you would recommend?
One of my favorite authors is Lynn Austin and her series Chronicles of the Kings is incredible. One of those, I own in paperback and as an e-book. It’s one of those series you read multiple times. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again. If you haven’t read it yet, trust me you need to!

2) Do you have a bucket list? What are two items on it?
You bet I do! What’s on it? Umm…everything. ;) I want to see Antarctica and take pictures of polar bears and penguins. But from afar people…afar! My second? I would love to go to a masquerade ball. I’m talking Count of Monte Cristo style. Don’t worry, I’ve already started planning it on Pinterest :) .

Totally random, but I saw this on Pinterest and got all sappy – so cute right?

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3) What is your favorite genre to read?
Historical fiction hands down. But then again my top series include Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and The Inheritance Cycle, so maybe add fantasy to the list.

4) What is your favorite time period to read about?
Oh goodness, how do I pick?? I love ancient history, the early 20th Century, all things British..I can go on and on! But I do especially love the Civil War (we’re talking non-fiction, fiction, documentaries, let’s plan a vacation to Gettysburg kind of love).

5) Do you prefer stand alone books or books in a series?
I only like a series when it’s complete. ;) Waiting a year for the next one? Worst.thing.EVER.

6) Do you enjoy Amish fiction or do you just not get what all the fuss is about?
I didn’t really read much or really enjoy those I did read until I came across Sisters of the Quilt: The Complete Trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall. I was up unto the wee hours of the morning with that one! I enjoyed it so much and would definitely read more of her work.

7) Do you have a favorite Bible verse and would you mind sharing it with us if it is not too personal?
One I held to early on when I became a Christian was Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Whether 17 or 31, this one has been comforting and encouraging! 

8) If you could pick an actor or actress to play the part of one of your favorite book characters, who would you choose?
I think I’ve stared at this question for about 10 minutes. Why is it so hard??? So I’m going to kind of cheat and use one I’ve already mentioned. I wouldn’t mind watching Henry Cavill portray Marcus Valerian on the big screen.

9) If you could time travel, when and where would you go and why?
Another near impossible question ;) . As I mentioned, I love studying the Civil War era, but if time travel were for real, I would go ancient times, like the time Jesus walked on earth or when some of the ancient kingdoms reigned (Greece, Rome, Egypt, etc).

10) Is there a place you have always wanted to visit? Where is it?
Talk about a long list! ;) I want to go back to Europe. I would love to see Italy, Spain, Germany and Greece. I also want to see Australia and New Zealand. I’ve never been to South America…so there’s that too. :)

Now here’s Relz’ questions:
1. What is the name of the most recent book you have finished and loved?
I just finished Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund. I’m trying to write the review and how do I describe such a fantastic book? Sigh…I just want to hug it and then read it again.

2. What is the 17th line on the 125th page of the book you are currently reading?
Ha! Love this one. Mine comes from Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz: “It gleamed like a jewel on its bed of limestone, no…”

3. When did you realise you were a true book lover?
At birth. Y’all didn’t start reading in the hospital? J.k. J.k! I waited until I got home ;) . It was when I was really young for sure though. Some of my favorite summer memories were when my mom would take us to the library and the summer reading programs didn’t stand a chance with me ;) .

4. What is your genre of choice? Why?
I’ll stick with my original answer and say Historical Fiction and Fantasy. I can get sucked in for days!

5. What is the name of your ‘comfort reading book’? (one you will pull out and read when you want something familiar)
One I tend to read often is Lynn Austin’s Fire by Night. Love that one!

6. Who has encouraged you the most in your reading pursuits?
Definitely my parents. They’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

7. Your most memorable hero, and why?
Oh goodness, how to choose…how to choose. I’m going to mix things up and say Jonas from The Giver because he had the courage to step away and follow what his heart knew was right.

8. If you had to swap lives with a character, who would it be and why?
I’m still on my Rebellious Heart high, so definitely Susanna!

9. Do you alphabetise your books by author or title, on your bookshelves?
I do not care how much I get made fun of, but I have a shelf for my absolute favorites (I know, the nerdy VIP section. What! What!) and then the rest are by genre, then by title.

10. Why do you read?
I never want to stop learning!

And here’s from Cassie!
1. What is your favorite book (at the moment) and why?
I’m going to go with Anomaly by Krista McGee. I keep thinking about it, so must mean it was a good one!

2. What book has changed your life or made a lasting impact on you?
Definitely Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love (bet you didn’t see that one coming!)

3. Who is your favorite author?
I plead the 5th! ;) I’m going to cheat and say a few of them: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Francine Rivers, Jody Hedlund, Lynn Austin, Julie Klassen, Julie Lessman, Jane Austen, Sandra Byrd….well there’s a few!

4. Do you have a bucket list? What is one thing on it that you plan to complete soon?
As I mentioned earlier, you bet I do! One thing I hope to cross off soon is to go to a professional football game. Maybe this year when the Saints are in the Superbowl. Who Dat!!

5. What goals did you have in mind when you started blogging?
I love to read and write and blogging is the perfect fit! Figure I should use my college degree in some way ;) .

6. Other than reading, what are some of your hobbies?
I used to shoot weddings all the time, but have since shifted my focus on travel and fine art photography (you can check some of my work out here :) ). Weddings are fun, but after a few years I decided to stick with shooting for family and friends. I’m also a big sports fans and pretend to be a runner.

7. Coffee or tea?
Just call me a Brit because I love my tea! I’ve had about four sips of coffee in my life and all were horrible.

8. Heels or flats?
My feet would prefer if I wore more flats, but nope! It took a couple decades for me to finally fall in love with heels, but now it’s a lasting relationship. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect red pair, so if you know of any, please pass along the information!

9. Summer or winter?
I’ll take the heat any day. If I could stay inside cuddled up with a blanket, then I’d be friends with Winter, but since I have to be a functional adult through those months, I’m not much of a fan. Texas knows a thing or two about bone chilling cold! That winter wind can be cruel.

10. What is your dream job?
To read, write and travel the world taking pictures. So who is up for paying me to do just that??

Thanks for reading! This was fun!

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