Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Quiz of the Year

1. What time did you get up this morning? 8:00am; it took me forever to fall asleep last night.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds, but the tiny, understated kind that are set inside of the band.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Can't remember, it's been a couple years.

4. What is your favorite TV show? "NCIS," "Monk" and "Sue Thomas F.B.Eye"

5. What did you have for breakfast? Peanut Butter on toast.

6. What is your middle name? Leigh, but I plan to use it for my pen name.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Italian.

8. What foods do you dislike? Mexican.

9. What is your favorite chips? Nacho Dorritos.

10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? "Saving Sarah Cain."

11. What kind of car do you drive? I don't own a car.

12. What is your favorite sandwich? Baloney with cheese and pickles.

13. What characteristics do you despise? Hypocrisy.

14. Favorite clothing? The goth look, babydoll tops, Regency dresses, WW2 era clothing.

15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Right now, England or Bavaria.

16. What color is your car? My parents' car is a grayish blue.

17. Favorite brand of clothing? No Boundries.

18. Where would you want to retire? Don't know.

19. Favorite time of day? The morning.

20. Where were you born? Beech Grove, Indiana

21. Favorite sport to watch? Figure skating, yes guys, it is a sport!

22. Who do you least expect to send this back? Not sure.

23. Person you expect to send it back first? Not sure.

24. What type of detergent do you use? Whatever is the cheapest or is on sale.

25. Coke or Pepsi? Coke.

26. Morning person or night owl? Morning person.

27. What size shoe do you wear? 8 to 8 and a half.

28. Do you have pets? A unbalanced, psychotic gray striped tabby named Bingley.

29. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone? Not really.

30. What did you want to be when you were little? A teacher, archeologist, fire fighter.

31. Favorite candy bar? Snickers or Three Musketeers.

32. What is one of your best childhood memories? Living nextdoor to my grandma.

33. What are all different jobs you have had in your life? Apartment cleaning, dog walking.

34. What color underwear are you wearing? None of your bee's wax.

35. Piercing? I wish.

36. Eye color? Blue.

37. Ever been to Africa? Only in my imagination.

38. Ever been toilet papered? No, thank God.

39. Love someone so much it made you cry? Sure, but not in a romantic sort of way.

40. Been in a car accident? No, thank God.

41. Croutons or bacon bits? Croutons.

42. Favorite day of the week? Sunday or Monday.

43. Favorite restaurant? Either Steak 'N' Shake or Olive Garden.

44. Favorite flowers? White roses.

45. Favorite ice cream? Chocolate.

46. Disney or Warner Brothers? Disney.

47. Favorite fast food restaurant? Dairy Queen

48. What color is your carpet? Ugly green.

50. Before this one, from whom did you get your last email? I can't remember.

What happened to #51??

52. What do you do most often when you are bored? Watch TV or a movie.

53. Who are you most curious about their responses to this questionnaire? It doesn't matter.

54. Last person you went out to eat with? My family.

55. Ford or Chevy? Ford, I guess. Not that it really matters.

56. What are you listening to right now? "The Twilight Zone" New Year's Eve Marathon on the SCIFI Channel.

57. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Chicken, because God wouldn't make an egg first and allow it to grow cold without anything mother hen to sit on it. That's my reasoning anyway. Take it for what it's worth.

58. How many people are you sending this email to? Don't know.

59. Time you finished this e-mail? 2:16pm.

Fab Faves

Favorite Film -- "The Notebook", starring Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner, Gena Rowlands and Sam Shepherd. I love the whole "love lost, love found" theme. Not only that, but it is based around the WW2 era. I also love anything Jane Austen/Regency era. "Pride and Prejudice" (1995), "Sense and Sensibility" (1995) and "Emma" (1996) are top on my lists. I also adore "Anne Frank: The Whole Story," "Hidden in Silence," "Band of Brothers," "Silent Night," "Jakob the Liar," "Saints and Soldiers."

Favorite TV Shows -- "NCIS," "Monk," and "Sue Thomas F.B.Eye"

Favorite Documentary -- "Anne Frank Remembered" by Jon Blair, which details the young diarist's life.

Favorite Album -- Anything BarlowGirl, Superchic(k), dc Talk, Judy Garland, The Andrew Sisters,

Favorite Book –- The Bible; my sister's works; "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers; "Winter is Past" by Ruth Axtell Morren; "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen; "The Lady of Milkweed Manor" by Julie Klassen

Favorite Magazine –- "Reminisce," "Christianity Today," "Country Living,"

Favorite Cookbook –- "Aunt Bee's Cookbook," "Hershey's Cookbook"

Favorite Grocery Chain -- Savealot, Baesler's

Favorite Game – Monopoly or Scrabble.

Favorite Sports Event -– When the Colts went to the Superbowl!!!!!!!!!

Favorite Sports Teams to Hate –- The Bears and the Patriots.

Favorite News Story –- Hard to say, the news media hardly ever reports on anything positive. I'd say that when Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate. I mean, I was for McCain before, but Palin energized my support.

Favorite Under-reported News Story –- Probably that positive, heartwarming news that must be out there somewhere. Despite all the bad in the world, there must be something good to report on.

Favorite Conspiracy Theory –- Probably the whole JFK assasination. My parents don't believe that JFK was assasinated by Lee Harvey Oswald; they believe that Johnson was behind it. Also, I believe that FDR knew where, when and how the Pearl Harbor attack was to come about.

Favorite Restaurant –- As a Hoosier, I like to eat so... Steak 'N' Shake, Dairy Queen, Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse (mmm, big ol' brownie), Bob Evans, Saratoga, etc...

Favorite Jelly Belly Flavor -- Don't hate me, but I don't like jellybeans. But my sister has informed me that there is a chocolate flavor out there, so that's probably my favorite.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cassandra and Jane: A Jane Austen Novel by Jill Pitkeathley

::Spoiler Alert:: Rated: 3 stars
Ever since I read "Just Jane" by Nancy Moser and watched "Becoming Jane" starring Anne Hathaway, I’ve come to adore Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra. There is so little known about her yet her story still fascinates me. The older sister of a well-known author, an amateur artist, a woman who never looked at another man because her one true love died at a young age. So when I discovered "Cassandra and Jane: A Jane Austen Novel," by Jill Pitkeathley, I was eagerly expecting a book about the Austen sisters’ unique relationship. No two sisters could be closer (with the exception of my sister and I). I won’t outline the story; any Jane Austen nut already knows what it is. And if you don’t, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
There is nothing objectionable in the story’s content. Sex is referred to as a woman’s duty to her husband and whenever the topic is brought up, they characters are vague about it. Faith in God and prayer is held in high esteem; in fact two of the Austen sisters’ suitors believe they are called of God to serve Him rather than just viewing the church as a means of making a living. As a Christian who is pretty picky about what she reads, I think that this is a novel that could easily be sold in the Christian market or at a religious bookstore.
However, as an avid Austen-ite, I was disappointed. From the multiple biographies out there about the author, it is believed that the characters Jane Bennet and Elinore Dashwood are loosely based on Cassandra, yet this portrayal of her in no way resembled those characters. She comes across as bland and boring, with no references to her own personal interests or passions.
As a first person narrative told in Cassandra’s perspective, Cassandra herself isn’t really given much of a personality, just observations of the events in her life. When reminiscing about her relationship with Tom Fowle, the author doesn’t go in-depth about Cassandra’s feelings. In this book, he is rarely ever mentioned. I can understand that she mourned for him on her own, but this being a book from her point of view, I expected that because of her steadfast devotion to Tom that the author should have at least depicted it more than she did.
Truth be told, this story focuses mostly on Jane Austen; her characterization is another disappointment for me. Before her fling with Lefroy, Jane behaves almost as ridiculous as Lydia Bennet and afterwards she is more like Marianne Dashwood. I had imagined Jane Austen to be a vast deal more mature and reserved. What bothered me the most was that Jane relied heavily on Cassandra’s opinions, even when it came to writing. Instead of applauding Jane’s own creative genius, Cassandra is credited with assisting her sister in naming the Dashwood sisters and for titling "Persuasion." Often enough in the book, Jane is unable to think for herself and goes running to Cassandra to work out troubles for her.
Maybe I’m just being nit picky; perhaps if you read it you’ll like it better.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"The Diary of Anne Frank"

According to Wikipedia and, "The Diary of Anne Frank" (2009) will be premiering on the BBC on January 6, 2009. I don't know what that means for us Yanks, whether it'll be on PBS the same evening or not. But I'll continue looking around.

Director: Jon Jones
Produced: Elinor Day
Writer: Deborah Moggach
Music: Charlie Mole
150 min.
No. of episodes 5

Ellie Kendrick ... Anne Frank (5 episodes, 2008-2009)
Kate Ashfield ... Miep Gies (4 episodes, 2009)
Geoff Breton ... Peter Van Daan (4 episodes, 2009)
Roger Frost ... Mr Kleiman (4 episodes, 2009)
Iain Glen ... Otto Frank (4 episodes, 2009)
Tamsin Greig ... Edith Frank (4 episodes, 2009)
Lesley Sharp ... Petronella Van Daan (4 episodes, 2009)
Ron Cook ... Hermann Van Daan (3 episodes, 2009)
Tim Dantay ... Mr Kugler (3 episodes, 2009)
Felicity Jones ... Margot Frank (3 episodes, 2009)
Nicholas Farrell ... Albert Dussel (2 episodes, 2009)

For more info, check out, and

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Gracie says, "Merry Christmas!"

Gar says, "Bah Humbug!"

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

As Charlotte drew closer to the looming grey edifice that was to become her temporary home, she could not help but notice the secretive shuttered windows. Then she noticed the milkweeds...

::Spoiler Alert:: Rated: 5 stars
Charlotte Lamb has made a mistake that will change her life forever. A mistake that her father the vicar refuses to forgive, a mistake that causes her sister to despise her, a mistake that sends her to a temporary home for unwed mothers. The man who contributed to her situation, Edward, had no intention of doing the honorable thing by marrying her, not when he could marry her cousin and gain a fortune. She is alone in this world, until she meets an old suitor, Dr. Daniel Taylor, who is battling his own demons. Daniel is married to a woman who suffers from manic depression due to her pregnancy. He loves his wife and remains faithful to her, but still has feelings for Charlotte. Charlotte is unable to keep her darling son and makes the ultimate sacrifice that any mother would dread to make: she gives away her son to the very man who so cruelly slighted her. Meanwhile, Mrs. Taylor gives birth to a little girl who they name Anne. His wife is unable and considers it beneath her to nurse her daughter, so Charlotte steps in as the baby’s wet nurse and nanny. The awkward situation continues even a little while after his wife does better, at least until Charlotte feels that it is time for her to move on. She takes a different position as a wet nurse for another couple but doesn’t hold that occupation for very long. Mrs. Taylor is pregnant again and in a drastic attempt to return to her country, she dies. To help her old friend, Charlotte returns to caring for Anne as if she were her own daughter. When the proper time of mourning passes, Daniel proposes to Charlotte, but she refuses because her soul still needs healing after what she experienced. A few years pass, Edward’s wife dies and it only makes sense to him that he should make Charlotte his wife, that way she could finally be a true mother to her son.
I swear, no matter how many times I read "The Lady of Milkweed Manor," I always end up crying like a baby. Then ending is bittersweet and everything you could hope for for Charlotte. The Christian message is subtle and not at all preachy. While Charlotte loves her son with all her heart, she regrets her mistake and is humbled through out the story. In the flashbacks she is shown as a carefree and innocent girl, after her "fall" she matures into a strong, independent young woman. I also admire the character Daniel Taylor; here is a man who loves and is attracted to another woman other than his wife, but there is no place in the story where he cheats on his wife or treats Charlotte with any impropriety.
Julie Klassen’s newest book, "The Apothecary’s Daughter" is out in the bookstores now and I eagerly am waiting (not so patiently) until I can read it.

Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkhard

::Spoiler Alert:: Rated: 4 stars
Ariana Forsythe is a nineteen year old, intelligent, beautiful and spiritual young woman, who believes that the Lord is calling her to marry a clergyman. So when the rector of her church takes an interest in her, she welcomes his attentions. Mrs. Forsythe cautions her husband on what her second daughter is planning, but when Mr. Forsythe confronts the sixty-some-year-old clergyman, it leads to a fight. To prevent an unwelcome attachment, they accept Mr. Forsythe’s sister offer of bringing one of their daughters out for a season. And so Ariana is immediately thrown into London society, a place where fashionable dresses are a must, invitations are "everything" and the only thing that occupies a single young woman’s thoughts is making a fortunate match. While Ariana plays along with her Aunt Bentley’s every command, she doesn’t succumb to the vindictiveness of that the other young ladies suffer from. Through out the book, she retains her innocence despite the world that surrounds her.
She soon makes the acquaintance of Mr. Phillip Mornay, a single, eligible, rich young man known as the "Paragon." While he sets the standard for society’s men, he doesn’t actually conform to society. In fact he rarely attends social functions, offends where he goes and actually wields the power of leading others to shun those who do not meet his standards. Ariana is one of those who innocently crosses him, but he is more drawn to her than he is offended. A rumor spreads that they have an understanding and instead of leaving her to fight on her own, Phillip comes to her defense. Despite their differences, gradually they fall in love but her faith in Christ divides them.
Without giving away too much of the plot, I’ll end my outline there. To me, "Before the Season Ends" was reminiscent of "Pride and Prejudice," except that the hero and heroine generally like each other. The characters are unique; Ariana is young and innocent, a very believable and realistic character. I think it’s every young woman’s dream to have a kind of fairy godmother kind of relative that purchases you a whole new wardrobe and gives you the experience of a lifetime. Really, this is a Cinderella sort of story. What I liked most about Ariana (aside from her beautiful name) is that as the story progressed, her faith in Christ deepens as well. She refused to allow anyone to sway her to do anything contrary to her faith. Phillip is another favorite too. Although he is disagreeable and controlling at times, you can’t help but like him and once you hear of his past, you sympathize with him.
While "Before the Season Ends" is cute and imaginative, I wouldn’t call it life altering. But I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for a lighthearted read.
I, for one, can’t wait until "The House in Grosvenor Square," which comes out in April of 2009.

A Quiz for Writers

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?
I wish I were Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse, because they're intelligent, beautiful, hilarious and they end up with awesome guys.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?
I'd hang out with Jane Austen and ask her advice on writing.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.
Before I even begin on a story, I visualize a scene, write the dialog of it first, put it in the computer. And then as I write the story, I add the dialog along the way.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?
To some novels I'd add sequels, to others I'd just make them longer, then to other stories I'd do away with all together.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?
Powder blue.

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.
Periwinkle giraffe, because periwinkle is a pretty color.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.
Movie: Science goes only so far then comes God.- The Notebook, Noah "Duke" Calhoun
Literature: In vain I have strugged. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.- Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.
Christian Historical, WW2 Poland, two years after the Nazi invasion when the Germans begin to send the Jews to the concentration camps, a young nun in a convent believes she is hearing the voice of the Lord telling her that she must do something before its too late.

What period of history intrigues you the most?
Regency Era.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers?
I didn't know that there were rules or barriers. I suppose that I would publish my stories without having an editor doing a hatchet job on it.

What makes you feel alive?
Sitting out side on the front porch or being out in the country in a field on a sunny day, feeling a strong wind bluster around me.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?
Time and love.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.
Book: Bible
Person: Can't just name one, I'd have to take the whole family.
Music: BarlowGirl
Food: Chocolate

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.
I'd like to tour all of Europe because that's where most of my stories take place.

Favorite season and why?
Spring, because "winter is past" and everything is growing and blooming again.

Favorite book setting and why?
The books set in Regency England are often based in a country setting, featuring the moors and beautiful flowers, a heroine wearing a lovely frock of muslin. It's idyllic.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
When the pastor's wife of our church said that mine would someday be on the bestseller list.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?
I'd tell them that I had only a week left and that I'm fine with it because I know Christ personally. And that He is my constant hope.

What is your favorite word?
Happenstance- I don't know why, but I just love that word.

What word annoys you more than any other?

Superhero you most admire and why?
Sonic the Hedgehog. He's a fast little hedgehog.

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?
Flight. I'd love to fly around the world

Favorite chore?
Mowing the lawn.

Anything you'd do but don't because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.
Getting a tattoo... needles freak me out. Then there is also the cost and the fact that it's perminate.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.
I'm not so straight laced when it comes to being grammatically correct. Here in Indiana we're not always proper even when we know the proper way to phrase a sentence. My pet peeve is when someone corrects someone else. I've had it done to me and it makes me feel bad.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.
The way people treat animals. They allow their pets to run free and multiply without having them spayed or neutered. It also bothers me that so many animals are running wild, crossing streets, almost getting hit by cars. People should really keep their pets in doors.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Truce in the Forest

It was Christmas Eve, and the last, desperate German offensive of World War II raged around our tiny cabin. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door...

By Fritz Vincken
When we heard the knock on our door that Christmas Eve in 1944, neither Mother nor I had the slightest inkling of the quiet miracle that lay in store for us.I was 12 then, and we were living in a small cottage in the Hürtgen Forest, near the German-Belgian border. Father had stayed at the cottage on hunting weekends before the war; when Allied bombers partly destroyed our hometown of Aachen, he sent us to live there. He had been ordered into the civil-defense fire guard in the border town of Monschau, four miles away.

"You'll be safe in the woods," he had told me. "Take care of Mother. Now you're the man of the family."

But, nine days before Christmas, Field Marshal von Rundstedt had launched the last, desperate German offensive of the war, and now, as I went to the door, the Battle of the Bulge was raging all around us. We heard the incessant booming of field guns; planes soared continuously overhead; at night, searchlights stabbed through the darkness. Thousands of Allied and German soldiers were fighting and dying nearby.

When that first knock came, Mother quickly blew out the candles; then, as I went to answer it, she stepped ahead of me and pushed open the door. Outside, like phantoms against the snowclad trees, stood two steel-helmeted men. One of them spoke to Mother in a language we did not understand, pointing to a third man lying in the snow. She realized before I did that these were American soldiers. Enemies! Mother stood silent, motionless, her hand on my shoulder. They were armed and could have forced their entrance, yet they stood there and asked with their eyes. And the wounded man seemed more dead than alive.

"Kommt rein," Mother said finally. "Come in."

The soldiers carried their comrade inside and stretched him out on my bed. None of them understood German. Mother tried French, and one of the soldiers could converse in that language.

As Mother went to look after the wounded man, she said to me, "The fingers of those two are numb. Take off their jackets and boots, and bring in a bucket of snow."

Soon I was rubbing their blue feet with snow. We learned that the stocky, dark- haired fellow was Jim; his friend, tall and slender, was Robin. Harry, the wounded one, was now sleeping on my bed, his face as white as the snow outside. They'd lost their battalion and had wandered in the forest for three days, looking for the Americans, hiding from the Germans. They hadn't shaved, but still, without their heavy coats, they looked merely like big boys. And that was the way Mother began to treat them.

Now Mother said to me, "Go get Hermann. And bring six potatoes."

This was a serious departure from our pre-Christmas plans. Hermann was the plump rooster (named after portly Hermann Goering, Hitler's No. 2, for whom Mother had little affection) that we had been fattening for weeks in the hope that Father would be home for Christmas. But, some hours before, when it was obvious that Father would not make it, Mother had decided that Hermann should live a few more days, in case Father could get home for New Year's. Now she had changed her mind again: Hermann would serve an immediate, pressing purpose.

While Jim and I helped with the cooking, Robin took care of Harry. He had a bullet through his upper leg, and had almost bled to death. Mother tore a bedsheet into long strips for bandages. Soon, the tempting smell of roast chicken permeated our room. I was setting the table when once again there came a knock at the door. Expecting to find more lost Americans, I opened the door without hesitation. There stood four soldiers, wearing uniforms quite familiar to me after five years of war. They were Wehrmacht Germans

I was paralyzed with fear. Although still a child, I knew the harsh law: sheltering enemy soldiers constituted high treason. We could all be shot! Mother was frightened, too.

Her face was white, but she stepped outside and said, quietly, "Fröhliche Weihnachten."

The soldiers wished her a Merry Christmas, too. "We have lost our regiment and would like to wait for daylight," explained the corporal. "Can we rest here?"

"Of course," Mother replied, with a calmness born of panic. "You can also have a fine, warm meal and eat till the pot is empty."

The Germans smiled as they sniffed the aroma through the half-open door.

"But," Mother added firmly, "we have three other guests, whom you may not consider friends." Now her voice was suddenly sterner than I'd ever heard it before. "This is Christmas Eve, and there will be no shooting here."

"Who's inside?" the corporal demanded. "Amerikaner?"

Mother looked at each frost-chilled face. "Listen," she said slowly. "You could be my sons, and so could those in there. A boy with a gunshot wound, fighting for his life. His two friends¡ªlost like you and just as hungry and exhausted as you are. This one night," she turned to the corporal and raised her voice a little, "this Christmas night, let us forget about killing."

The corporal stared at her. There were two or three endless seconds of silence. Then Mother put an end to indecision. "Enough talking!" she ordered and clapped her hands sharply. "Please put your weapons here on the woodpile and hurry up before the others eat the dinner!"

Dazedly, the four soldiers placed their arms on the pile of firewood just inside the door: three carbines, a light machine gun and two bazookas. Meanwhile, Mother was speaking French rapidly to Jim. He said something in English, and to my amazement I saw the American boys, too, turn their weapons over to Mother. Now, as Germans and Americans tensely rubbed elbows in the small room, Mother was really on her mettle. Never losing her smile, she tried to find a seat for everyone. We had only three chairs, but Mother's bed was big, and on it she placed two of the newcomers side by side with Jim and Robin.Despite the strained atmosphere, Mother went right on preparing dinner. But Hermann wasn't going to grow any bigger, and now there were four more mouths to feed.

"Quick," she whispered to me, "get more potatoes and some oats. These boys are hungry, and a starving man is an angry one."

While foraging in the storage room, I heard Harry moan. When I returned, one of the Germans had put on his glasses to inspect the American's wound.

"Do you belong to the medical corps?" Mother asked him.

"No," he answered. "But I studied medicine at Heidelberg until a few months ago."

Thanks to the cold, he told the Americans in what sounded like fairly good English, Harry's
wound hadn't become infected.

"He is suffering from a severe loss of blood," he explained to Mother. "What he needs is rest and nourishment."

Relaxation was now beginning to replace suspicion. Even to me, all the soldiers looked very young as we sat there together. Heinz and Willi, both from Cologne, were 16. The German corporal, at 23, was the oldest of them all. From his food bag he drew out a bottle of red wine, and Heinz managed to find a loaf of rye bread.

Mother cut that in small pieces to be served with the dinner; half the wine, however, she put away "for the wounded boy."

Then Mother said grace. I noticed that there were tears in her eyes as she said the old, familiar words, "Komm, Herr Jesus. Be our guest."

And as I looked around the table, I saw tears, too, in the eyes of the battle-weary soldiers, boys again, some from America, some from Germany, all far from home.

Just before midnight, Mother went to the doorstep and asked us to join her to look up at the Star of Bethlehem. We all stood beside her except Harry, who was sleeping. For all of us during that moment of silence, looking at the brightest star in the heavens, the war was a distant, almost-forgotten thing.

Our private armistice continued next morning. Harry woke in the early hours, and swallowed some broth that Mother fed him. With the dawn, it was apparent that he was becoming stronger. Mother now made him an invigorating drink from our one egg, the rest of the corporal's wine and some sugar. Everyone else had oatmeal. Afterward, two poles and Mother's best tablecloth were fashioned into a stretcher for Harry.

The corporal then advised the Americans how to find their way back to their lines. Looking over Jim's map, the corporal pointed out a stream.

"Continue along this creek," he said, "and you will find the 1st Army rebuilding its forces on its upper course." The medical student relayed the information in English.

"Why don't we head for Monschau?" Jim had the student ask.

"Nein!" the corporal exclaimed. "We've retaken Monschau."

Now Mother gave them all back their weapons. "Be careful, boys," she said. "I want you to get home someday where you belong. God bless you all!"

The German and American soldiers shook hands, and we watched them disappear in opposite directions. When I returned inside, Mother had brought out the old family Bible. I glanced over her shoulder. The book was open to the Christmas story, the Birth in the Manger and how the Wise Men came from afar bearing their gifts. Her finger was tracing the last line from Matthew 2:12: "...they departed into their own country another way."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One More Quiz

What is your middle name? Leigh

How big is your bed? Full sized.

What are you listening to right now? The movie "Emma," the good version with Gwyneth Paltrow.

What are the last 4 digits in your cell phone number? Don't own a cell phone.

What was the last thing you ate? Gamaghetti (homemade spaghetti).

Last person you hugged? Probably an animal.

How is the weather right now? Dreary and cold.

Who was the last person you texted? Never texted anyone before.

What is the first thing you notice in the opposite sex? The eyes and the smile.

Favorite type of Food? Italian or chocolate.

Do you want children? I'm not sure.

Do you drink? Sure, everyday. Water, juices, cokes.

Ever get so drunk you don't remember the entire night? I do get a bit a sugar buzz if I drink too much caffine. :~)

Hair color? Right now, it's a brownish gold.

Eye color? Blue.Do you wear contacts/glasses? Glasses, I'm a four eyes.

Favorite holiday? Easter.

Favorite Season? Spring.

Have you ever cried over a girl/boy? Yeah, and he was a jerk.

Last Movie you Watched? "Emma," and before that, "The Bucket List."

What books are you reading? I have just finished, "Before the Season Ends" by Linore Rose Burkhard. It's really cute and reminiscent of "Pride and Prejudice."

Piercings? No; wish I were brave enough to go and get my ears pierced. Three piercings in one ear, two in another and an ear cuff.

Favorite Movie? "The Notebook."

Favorite college football Team? Don't care.

What were you doing before filling this out? Dishes.

Any pets? Just my cat, Bingley.

Dogs or cats? Both.

Favorite Flower? White roses.

Have you ever loved someone? Romantically? No.

Who would you like to see right now? All four of my grandparents.

Have you ever fired a gun? No.

Do you like to travel by plane? Never have.

Right-handed or Left-handed? Righty.

If you could go to any place right now where would you go? England.

Are you missing someone? Sure.

Do you have a tattoo? No, needles freak me out.

Do you still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings? No, I'm too busy.

Are you hiding something from someone? Sure, everyone has secrets.

Are you eighteen? Yeah, plus about four years.

What is the wallpaper on your cellphone? Don't have one of those new fangled cellphones. LOL!

Did you get enough sleep last night? Yeah.

First thing you thought about this morning? Gosh, I slept too long!

What do you have at your bedside? A mug for water.

Grilled or fried? Fried.

What makes you unique? The fact that I'm me and that God made me (and everyone else in this world) individuals.

Are you afraid of the dark? No.

Favorite hangout? Don't exactly have one.

Three things you can't live without? Computer, the internet, chocolate.

Favorite song? Right now, "You Belong to Me," by Tori Amos.

What are you afraid of? Too many fears to list.

Are you a giver or a taker? Unfortunately I'm a little of both.

What are your nicknames? Bucko, kiddo, Sweetie Leigh, Ace.

What is your dad's middle name? Bruce, and he hates it.

What is your mom's middle name? Ann.

Stuck on a desert island & and could bring one thing? My computer with wireless internet connection.

Favorite T.V. commercial? Probably something to do with food or sweets.

Who's your cell phone provider? Don't have a cell phone.

First things you'll save in a fire? The animals.

What's your favorite color? Powder blue.

What are some things that you always take with you? Clothes.

What did you wanna be when you were a kid? A fire fighter, teacher, archeologist.

What do you do when the clock turns 11:11? P.M., hopefully I'm asleep. A.M., I'm eating lunch.

The color of your bedsheet? Floral.

What do you think about before you go to bed? Mostly all that's going on in the world.

Tagged, you're it.

Directions: Once you’ve been tagged, you have to write a note with 16 random things, shortcomings, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose 16 people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. You have to tag the person who tagged you.
1. I like the whole goth look, well, at least I like Abby Scuito's style on NCIS.

2. Easter is my favorite holiday.

3. I am addicted to chocolate and have the blemishes to prove it.

4. I'd like to fall in love and get married someday, but I don't know if I'm mommy material though.

5. I'll have to have my wisdom teeth yanked soon. Yippee!

6. My two favorite eras are the Regency Era and WW2 era.

7. My cat Bingley believes he is the center of my world. And for the most part, he's right.

8. I have super bad anxiety attacks.

9. Most of the men that I have crushes on are either actors or heroes from my favorite novels.

10. My family and I have lived in the same house for the last ten years.

11. I used to run a dinky, Evangelical website called F.R.O.G., which is no longer in existance.

12. I have received of the infamous family trait of holding a grudge for a long period of time.

13. I love war movies, at least the good ones with meaning.

14. I tend to judge people by how they look or behave before I really get to know them.

15. I am 5"7 and a size twelve.

16. My favorite movie is "The Notebook."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Anxiously Awaiting Part 1…

I’m not very good when it comes to writing about personal experiences. I can excel at book or movie reviews, political opinions or even fictional stories, but other than that, I shut up like a clam. Yet I’m tired of hiding the truth, fearing what others will think when they find out. In days of old, people with depression or mental problems were locked away in sanitariums and labeled as freaks. While I know that no one is going to have me committed, for me rejection is like a slap in the face, one that I can do without. Sympathy would be nice, but in reality all I want is to find someone who understands where I’m coming from.
Do you know what anxiety attacks are? I didn’t until 2002, when I started to have them. I don’t know what went wrong; growing up I was a little shyer than most, you could even call me a Nervous Nellie, but I was normal enough. As a preteen I was emotional but in the summer of 2001, I rededicated my life to Christ, life was a bit more enjoyable. By age fifteen, I thought about getting a job and figured that I’d eventually start studying for my learner’s permit. All that changed in January 2002; after a nasty case of indigestion, whenever I became nervous I’d get sick to my stomach and sometimes vomit. Gross, I know, but that’s what happened. It wasn’t bulimia; it’s not like I was intentionally making myself sick. I don’t know what it was and to this day I can’t explain it, but the thought of vomiting scared me to death that I worried about it all the time, to the point where I’d get nauseous about eating. It went on like that for a few months, until that summer. It seemed that I was doing better, aside from the fact that I cried easily. Because of my nerves I couldn’t get a job and driving was the last thing on my mind. I was never closer to God than I was then. My prayer life was never better and I read the Bible several times a day. During that time I also maintained a tiny, evangelical website called F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely On God), which was a welcome distraction considering what was going on in my personal life. It was that year I also wrote my first real story, a novella based on an old story passed down through the family. Actually, I went through several drafts of that work before setting aside for a period of time.
Then one Saturday in the latter part September, I was mowing the lawn and by the time I finished I was thoroughly exhausted. The rest of that day was a little off to me. The next day was Sunday and I woke up with my head in a whirl. I felt detached from myself; shaky, light headed, nervous. It was like I was having an out of body experience. If the wind was blowing, I’m sure it could have knocked me over. Despite all that, I went to church but then while we were singing I begged my mom to take me home and she did. I figured I was just having a bad day, but I woke up the next morning feeling the same way. And the next, and the next, and the next…
I pleaded with God to heal me. For awhile there I thought I was possessed or that I had a brain tumor and that I was wasting away, or that I was gradual losing my mind and that I would eventually go insane. I feared that I’d do something embarrassing or that I’d harm somebody. Mom was watching TV and heard this thirty-year-old guy on a talk show speak about how he went to the hospital thinking that he had a heart attack. In reality it was just an anxiety attack. From his symptoms, she was able to determine that I was probably suffering from the same thing. Several weeks passed and I didn’t get any better, actually I was getting worse. I’m sure my parents were at their wit’s end. Not only that, my dad had been unemployed for about a year, my grandma’s health was beginning to fail her… my nerves weren’t helping anyone. During that time my creative flow was stunted. I relied on God more and more, but was too tired to work on my website or my novella.
Mom did some research on the Internet and learned that anxiety attacks could be caused by hyperthyroidism. Dad and Mom brought me to the doctor and after the usual blood tests and a close-to-fainting spell in the lab area, he agreed that that I had a thyroid problem. That was a load off of my mind. I preferred to have a disease rather than have a psychological problem. I guess I’m the kind of gal who believes in pulling herself up by her bootstraps. Anyway, after his diagnosis, he scheduled a thyroid scan for me in January of 2003 and said he’d see me in a month, saying to enjoy the holidays.
Yeah, right…that whole month was crazy! Like a normal kid, I was excited about Christmas and for my sixteenth birthday. Christmas wasn’t bad, but on my birthday I was a basket case. I spent the whole morning in tears. Mom called the doctor and she was encouraged to put me on the Zoloft samples that the doctor had given us. The next week was an emotional blur for me. I was relieved to get that thyroid scan over and done with, that way I could get started on my medication. God decided differently. You know the old saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for life." The scan and the blood test came back saying that there was NOTHING wrong with my thyroid! But my problems were far from over. Actually, it this was just beginning.
Part 2 coming soon…
Please give me some feedback on this story. Comment and tell me what you think, give your opinion or let me know if you have had a personal experience.

Christian One Liners

Don't let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case.
Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.
Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.
It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.
The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.
When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.
People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.
Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.
Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.
If the church wants a better preacher, it only needs to pray for the one it has.
God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?
Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
Peace starts with a smile.
I don't know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?
A lot of church members who are singing 'Standing on the Promises' are just sitting on the premises.
We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.
Be ye fishers of men You catch them - He'll clean them.
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.
Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.
Forbidden fruits create many jams.
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
God grades on the cross, not the curve.
God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruit of the spirit' over a 'religious nut!'
God promises a safe landing not a calm passage.
He who angers you, controls you!
If God is your Co-pilot - swap seats!
Prayer: Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!
The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.
The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.
We don't change the message, the message changes us.
You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.
The best mathematical equation I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter is Past by Ruth Axtell Morren

Against the backdrop of the glittering ballrooms, gritty factories and quiet parlors of Regency England comes a man’s remarkable journey of love and faith.
::Spoiler Alert:: Rated: 5*’s
In the Christian fiction market, novels featuring a character with Jewish heritage are few and far between. And it’s less likely that a novel based in the Regency Era would feature such a character, and that’s one of the reasons "Winter is Past" is unique. The fact that the author is of Sephardic descent must have inspired some of this story. Simon Aguilar is an MP, intelligent, successful and secretly Jewish. He seems to have his life under control, except for what matters most. His daughter Rebecca, the apple of his eye, is dying and there is no hope for her until he meets Althea Breton. She is the younger, illegitimate sister of his friend Tertius from his school days. Despite the fact that she is backwards and shy, Althea does not conform to what society dictates. She is a dissenter and the administrator of the Methodist mission in the poorer part of London. Not only that, she successfully nursed her brother Tertius back to health and is terrific with children. After a very awkward interview, Simon does hire her and under her care, Rebekka begins to bloom. With his permission, Althea also shares her faith with the little girl, giving Rebekka hope in God and that He cares.
Of course both Althea and Simon are attracted to one another and except for one moment of weakness, both maintain a fairly platonic relationship. She admires his sense of justice and his devotion to his daughter, but is disappointed in his lack of faith and that he poses as a Christian to further his career. Simon highly respects Althea to the point where he invites her to meet his family and brings her to his own sister’s wedding, but is put off by her deep religious convictions.
When Simon’s world begins to fall apart, he must face the fact that everything he’s ever believed could be wrong. And that the One (Jesus) he opposed his entire life might be what he’s been looking for all along.
I don’t want to give away the ending to this wonderful book, but I will say that this story fulfills all romantic expectations. It’s not uncommon for authors to write a story about a widowed father who hires a governess/nurse for his child, and have the father and governess fall in love and marry (i.e. Jane Eyre). But in "Winter is Past" the characters’ pasts and backgrounds only enhance the situation. There are a few parts that might be a little too graphic for younger audiences, but unfortunately that is the reality of a fallen world. Another interesting fact is purpose of Simon’s conversion. While many are familiar with the persecution in Europe during the 1930’s and 1940’s, Christian history is somewhat silent about the mistreatment of Jews over the last 2,000 years. While I had read several books about the history of the Jews, until I discovered "Winter is Past" I was pretty clueless of what life was like for Jews in Regency England. In that era, Jews were forbidden to hold professions in authority or to be involved in politics. Often enough they had to hide their heritage and "convert" to Christianity in order to survive. Isaac D’Israeli converted to Christianity and even had his children baptized, including the future prime minister of England, Benjamin Disraeli.
In fact, this book also helped me in my own genealogy/family tree research. For years we believed that our ancestors came from Scotland and that our last name was derived from O’Shea. In the last couple years I read that our last name could be Hebrew and there is more evidence to that fact when I happened upon and found a variation of my last name there. If I’m right, then when the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, our ancestors fled to the east. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to figure out the whole story.
So Mrs. Morren, if you’re reading this, thanks for the help.

An Introduction

Considering that this will be my official blog for my writing career, I think an introduction is needed. My name is Veronica Leigh and I am an aspiring author(ess). I am working on a historical series for young adults based in wartorn Nazi occupied Poland. I am currently unpublished and seeking an agent to represent my work. In the mean time, to keep myself occupied, I plan to run this tiny space on the web. To exercise my writing abilities, I’ll be posting book and movie reviews, some personal stories and hopefully even a few interviews with some professional authors (if they’ll give me the time of day, LOL!).
I live with my parents and sister (she is also a writer), three cats and a Basset named Grace, in a small city in Indiana. I am a Bible believing, born-again Christian who is very involved in church and Awana. My interests varies from Christian history to Jewish history, the Regency and World War 2 eras, knitting baby blankets to consuming all chocolate within my reach.
God bless and Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008


This is a test to see if this blog thingy works.