Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Book of Isaiah and the prophecies of the Messiah

Throughout the Old Testament, there are prophecies related to the Messiah. The Book of Isaiah contains many of those prophecies. Messiah is the promised delivered of the Jewish nation. In Hebrew, Messiah is from the word masiah, meaning to anoint. Therefore, the Messiah is the anointed one, the chosen one. While I believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah described in these prophecies, I will refrain from identifying Christ as the Messiah. I want to present these prophecies as the people of Israel would have heard them and the image they were presented with. In Isaiah, specific prophecies were made about the Messiah’s life, his tasks and the image as the Suffering Servant.

The Messiah’s life would being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:4). He would be from the House of David. Isaiah 11:1 states “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Jesse was David’s father (1 Samuel 16:19). Therefore, the Messiah would come from David’s line. The Messiah is described as a great light (Isaiah 9:2), not just to the Jewish nation but to all nations. Isaiah 42:6 says “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.” The Messiah would also have a forerunner, a person to prepare the way. Isaiah 40:3 says “a voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’” Preparing a straight highway refers to removing obstacles that are in the way. The forerunner would go before the Messiah and prepare the people’s hearts to receive the Messiah’s message.

There are four names to describe the Messiah. Isaiah 9:6-7 lists them as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. As Wonderful Counselor, the Messiah will be exception, distinguished and the one who gives the right advice. As Mighty God, he will be God himself. As Everlasting Father, he will be timeless. As the Prince of Peace, he will reign with justice and peace. The Messiah will also be known as a healer. Isaiah 35:5-6 states “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Messiah will be tasked with redemptive deeds to perform during his lifetime. Having been sent by the Lord to preach the good news to the poor (Isaiah 61:1), he will heal the broken hearted and free the captives, freeing them from their darkness (Isaiah 61:1). Isaiah 61:2 is in two parts. First, the Messiah is “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Second, the Messiah is to bring “the day of vengeance of our God.” The day of vengeance is God’s wrath upon the earth.

The greatest image of the Messiah is as the Suffering Servant. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 describes the suffering the Messiah will endure during his mission on earth. He will act wisely (Isaiah 52:13). He will be marred beyond human likeness and he will sprinkle the nations (Isaiah 52:14-15). Sprinkling is a reference to the sprinkling of the lamb’s blood in the ritual of atonement of sin in Leviticus 16:15. The Messiah will grow up normally and there will be nothing special or extraordinary about his appearance (Isaiah 53:2). He could have been anyone in the crowd. The Messiah would be despised and hated. He would be a man of sorrows who knew suffering (Isaiah 53:3). He would take on our illnesses and would carry our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4) and he would be pierced by our sins and crushed for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). By his suffering, he would be peace and healing (Isaiah 53:5). He would take this suffering in silence. He will be led away in silence (Isaiah 53:7). The Messiah will be brought to earth for this mission, to suffer because it is the God’s will that he be a guilt offering (Isaiah 53:10). After his suffering, he will see life again (Isaiah 53:11) and he will justify many and bear their sins and make intercessions on their behalves (Isaiah 53:11-12).

After studying these prophecies, I realized that no one truly understood what the Messiah would be or do. God works in mysterious ways and his understanding is beyond our understanding. Can you imagine the people of Israel listening to these prophecies and trying to understand what it all meant? Can you imagine their hopefulness at the promise of this man, this Messiah who would rescue them? Would you be looking for the Messiah in every new leader? Would you be skeptical of any man who proclaimed to be Messiah? As with many prophecies, different people had different interpretations of who this man was and what he would accomplish. Many thought he would be an avenging king coming to take back the Promised Land for the nation of Israel. When you read these prophecies, what image of the Messiah comes to you? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Idea of You: one woman's journey to a family

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse is the story of one woman’s journey through miscarriages and coming to terms with the past. When the story opens, Lucy is at the christening of her co-worker’s son. She is reeling from the recent break up from her boyfriend, Richard, and his subsequent engagement to her cousin. While she is there, she meets Jonah Carpenter. Fast forward, she is now married to Jonah and they are expecting a baby. While they are happily planning and dreaming, the unthinkable happens. Lucy is rushed to the hospital where they learn she has miscarried. While Lucy is learning to deal with her miscarriage, her stepdaughter, Camille, is coming to stay with them. Lucy must learn to interact with her teenage stepdaughter as well as come to terms that a baby may not be in her future. When Camille reveals a life changing secret, Lucy must confront a past she has hidden from everyone including Jonah. Will Lucy be able to move forward? Will Jonah forgive her for hidden this secret? Will she ever have the family she’s dreamed of?

I loved The Idea of You! As a woman who has suffered multiple miscarriages, I could relate to Lucy and her desire for a family. The story was filled with drama, twists and turns which leave the reader eager to turn the page to find out what happens. I love the ending and the growth that Lucy displays as she comes to terms with how her life has turned out. It is a story that readers who understand Lucy’s situation would appreciate. Readers who have never experienced miscarriages would be able to get inside the mind of a woman who has and get a glimpse of the heartbreak a miscarriage can bring. I highly recommend The Idea of You.

The Idea of You
is available on Amazon

in paperback and on the Kindle

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Children are not an accessory

Hello everyone!

This is a letter to parents and non-parents. It is a letter of my thoughts and concerns about a recent trend I see in articles where people are complaining about parenthood. As a woman who struggles with pregnancy issues, I am deeply hurt by this and here’s why.

First, I would like to speak directly to parents. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve read a few articles in which mothers, specifically, are stating that they do not like their child because the child isn’t living up to the expectations she had for him or her. One particular article was about a mother who didn’t connect with her child because something was wrong and she didn’t know what. However, this mentality, to me, is simply wrong. A child is a unique human being. Unique in every way. He or she is not your mini-me, although some children mimic one or both parents. A child is not your carbon copy. He or she is half of you. He or she isn’t always going to like what you like or want to do what you want to do. I do not know what it is like to raise a child with special needs or challenges. And I applaud the parents who take the challenge and love the child as they are. I have never heard a parent of a child with special needs claim they could not love their child because of these challenges.

My daughter is 5 years old and is growing in her independence and I enjoy watching her make her own decision and, despite the craziness in my eyes, she goes with her choices. She’s sassy and sometimes talks back. She can be frustrating and obstinate but she is learning to create her own boundaries and limits. Yes, she likes to read like I do; however, I recognize that she might not want to read the same books I did at her age. She may discover her own childhood favorites. She likes some of the same things her father and I do; however, we did not force them on her. We introduced them to her and allowed her to grow to love them as we do. We realize that it could have gone the other way and she could have hated everything that we love.

Bottom line is you need to love your child for the unique human being that he or she is. Help them grow into the person that God has intended them to be. Introduce them to the wide world out there and let grow into the adults which will take over once we are old and gone. They may like what you like but if they don’t or they want to try new and different things, let them. You may discover you have the next great artist or musician or athlete on your hands. Something you won’t discover until you let them try and be who they are.

Second, I want to speak to the people considering having children. Some people, like me, have always known they wanted kids. I grew up around kids. I’ve been changing diapers and generally taking care of children since I was 10 years old. I’ve watched as my aunts and uncles interacting with their children. I’ve seen the good times and I’ve seen the stern disciplines and lectures. I knew parenting would be difficult but rewarding too. When I read an article in which a mother regretted having her children, my heart broke for her children. As a woman who has struggled, and continues to struggle, having children, it angers me to hear that a woman regrets having her children. A child should never be a regret. Yes, parenting is hard and it’s exhausting. You learn to live on little sleep because your baby is teething and can’t sleep and he or she is in pain. You learn to sleep in uncomfortable positions because your little one has had a nightmare and she has crawled into bed with you.

Right now, my husband and I are struggling to get our daughter to sleep in her own bed. She is afraid of the dark and she’s afraid that someone will come into her room while she’s asleep. Where her room is, she can hear people walk across the walkway to their apartments and it can be very noisy. It’s frustrating that she won’t lay down and go to sleep. But when she crawls into our bed and she curls up next to me with her head on my shoulder, I hold her tight as I cherish that she still wants to be next to me. I know one day she’ll be able to sleep on her own and I will still encourage her to do so. However, I will welcome the chance to hold her tight when I can.

Bottom line, if you are considering having children, think long and hard about how life will change with children. Nothing can really prepare you for kids. Babysitting someone else’s kids will give you a glimpse because all children will act and behave differently even within the same family. Some babies are a joy to be around and others are clingy and cry nonstop. If you are not willing to put someone else’s needs in front of your own wants and desires, then you need to put off having children until you feel you can do that. Because that little child depends on you for everything and you need to be prepare to do so.

Some people will say that life changes the moment a child is born. I say it’s the instant the test turns positive, life isn’t about you anymore. You need to be concerned with the developing person inside a woman’s body. Once that baby is born, you need to be able to put his or her needs in front of your own and learn to recognize the uniqueness of this new person in our world. For some people, parenting comes easy and for others it’s a challenge. Whatever category you may fall into, seriously consider what it means to be a parent and decide if it’s something you want or can do. I encourage many people to have children. Despite the frustration and sleepless nights, children are blessings. However, I recognize that parenting may not be for everyone. Please consider everything before having children: the good, the bad and the ugly. You may realize that having children isn’t for you or you will better prepare yourself for the ups and downs ahead.

Thank you for listening. I wish you all the best. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Under Our Skin: an honest discussion of race relations in the U.S.

Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson is a deep look into race relations in this country. Mr. Watson is currently a tight end for the Baltimore Ravens. The book is an expansion of his viral Facebook post after a grand jury returned a no bill on the charges against Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown and the riots that ensued. In the book, Mr. Watson writes with brutal honesty to both blacks and whites about our interactions with each other. He writes about what blacks and whites do and act that keep the racial divide wide. He speaks about his anger, his frustration, his fear and confusion among many other emotions. He speaks from his own experiences with racism and open conversation with white friends and teammates about racism in the United States. He admits that there are no easy answers or solutions. He still has hope that we can live together as a community.

I read Mr. Watson’s original Facebook post and I loved it. Then one day recently, I saw a program which discusses this book and I was intrigued. I immediately went online and ordered it. When it arrived, I took my time to read his words. To truly digest and comprehend his experiences and his viewpoints. Some of his points I agreed wholeheartedly and others were eye opening and hard to swallow. Although I wasn’t raised to treat anyone different because of their skin, society has an influence on how we view each other and sometimes those thoughts and ideas creep in and I hate myself for it. I highly recommend everyone read Under Our Skin.

Under Our Skin
is available at major booksellers

in paperback and eBook

Sunday, April 16, 2017

If I Run: a on-the-edge-of-your-seat story

If I Run by Terri Blackstock is the story of Casey Cox who is on the run. She is suspected of killing her friend, Brent Pace and knows that her chances of proving her innocence are slim to none if she stays. So she hits the road and manages to stay one step of the authorities. Dylan Roberts, a former investigator for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and childhood friend of Brent, is hired by Brent’s parents to locate Casey and bring her back for prosecution. As he follows her trail, he realizes that the evidence that she is the killer doesn’t add up and when he questions the lead detective, he is met with hostility. The more and more he digs, he realizes there is a larger conspiracy going on. Will Casey keep ahead of the police? Will Dylan bring her in or will he help her prove her innocence?

I loved this book! I read this book in a few hours. It’s a fast read because it holds your attention. There are no real slow spots and the action keeps coming. This book is the first in the series with If I’m Found the newest release and If I live which will be released in March 2018. I can’t wait to finish the series and discover if Casey is able to prevail and prove her innocence and caught the real killer. I highly recommend If I Run!!!!!

If I Run
is available on Amazon

in paperback and on the Kindle

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday: traditions and the trials of Jesus

Today is Good Friday the day Christians commemorate Jesus’s crucifixion and death on the cross. It is observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday. The origin of the word “good” in Good Friday is unclear. There are traditions to commemorate the events of Good Friday. The trials Jesus had to endure leading up to his crucifixion and his final words as he dies on the cross are worthy of remembrance.

Some people may ask why the day is referred to as Good Friday when it’s the day in which Jesus is killed. There are some conflict as to the origin of the word “good” in Good Friday. Some claim “good” refers to pious or holy, while others claim it’s a corruption of “God Friday.” The Oxford English Dictionary supports the former claim with a definition as “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” It is interesting that in German speaking countries, Good Friday is generally known as Karfreitag. Kar is from the Old High German word, kara meaning “grieve” or “mourn” and Freitag is “Friday.” Essentially meaning Mourning Friday which fits the events of the day better as mourning is appropriate when someone dies. Those individuals who were there on that day didn’t know what was coming so “Mourning Friday” would fit what they were feeling.

There are a few Good Friday traditions that are followed around the world. A popular tradition is hot cross buns. Hot cross buns are spiced sweet buns made with currants or raisins marked with a cross on the top. The ban mark the end of Lent. The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices used to embalm Jesus at his burial. When I was in the fourth grade, I learned the nursery rhyme to hot cross buns on the recorder. The lyrics go: “Hot cross buns!/Hot cross buns!/One a penny two a penny/Hot cross buns!/If you have no daughters/give them to you sons/One a penny two a penny/Hot cross buns! The earliest recording is in the Christmas Box London 1798) and earlier references as a London street cry recorded in Poor Robin’s Almanac in 1733. Another tradition is many churches recreated the path that Jesus took with the cross. Generally, following a person carrying a cross, the congregation stops at certain points to read Bible passages or sing a hymn before heading to church for a service.

Over the course of six trials, Jesus is questioned, tortured and beaten. The first three were before the religious leaders and the next three were before the Roman authorities. First, a preliminary hearing before Annas, the high priest (John 18:12-24). Second, a hearing before Caiaphas Annas’ son-in-law (Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65) Third, a trial before the Sanhedrin, 70 member Jewish council (Matthew 27:1-2, Mark 15:1, Luke 22:66-71). Here the religious leaders who charged him with blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God and approve the previous trials before sending Jesus to the Roman authorities. The religious leaders had condemned Jesus to death on religious grounds but only the Roman authorities could grant the death penalty. Jesus’ first appearance before Pilate (Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:2-5, Luke 23:1-5, John 18:28-37), the Roman governor was for the charge of treason and rebellion crimes. Pilate saw that Jesus was innocent but was afraid to set him free for a possible uproar caused by the religious leaders. So Pilate sends Jesus to stand trial before Herod Antipas (Luke 23:6-12). Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee and was in Jerusalem for the Passover. He asked Jesus questions and demanded to see miracles but Jesus refused to answer. Herod then sent him back to Pilate. The sixth and final trial was before Pilate (Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:13-25, John 18:39-19:16). He knows Jesus is innocent and he knows that a religious uprising would cost him his position as governor, so he tries to compromise and have Jesus beaten to satisfy the leaders. When that didn’t appease them, he finally gave in and hands Jesus over to be executed.

Jesus is led away to be crucified to the place called Golgotha (The Skull) where he is nailed to the cross and hangs there as his body is essentially crushed under its own weight and breathing is extremely difficult. The gospels record his final words. Both Matthew and Mark record him saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). Luke records him saying “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) and John records “It is finished” (John 19:30). He was laid in a borrowed tomb. The tomb is sealed and Roman guards stood watch as to deter any followers from stealing Jesus’ body. Little did they know that the seal and the guards wouldn’t stop what would happen next.

In conclusion, on Good Friday, Jesus completed the second part of his mission. He died on the cross for our sins when he was completely innocent. He took our sins upon himself so that God his father had forsaken him. While there is mourning on Good Friday, there is also rejoicing. For us, as believers, our sins have been paid with Jesus’s death on the cross. We have created many traditions to honor the day with hot cross buns or recreation of Jesus’s path to Golgotha. No matter what you do, remembering the price which he paid for us is the important part. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Home: a story of confronting the past to have a future

Home by Ginny L Yttrup is the story of Melanie and her husband, Craig. Melanie is a writer who is struggling with her next book with looming deadline fast approaching. Craig is a custom home builder who is struggling with their marriage and their lives. He has a beautiful client who makes him feel exciting and important in ways that have been lost with Melanie. Meanwhile, their best friend and next door neighbor, Jill, is in a deep struggle with memories which her mother claims never happened and the feeling as if she is losing her mind. With the help of a fellow writer, Valerie who is also a psychiatrist, Melanie and Jill face their demons and confront the truth they both have been running from. Will Craig give in to his desires? Will he walk away from his marriage? Will Melanie discover what is causing her writer’s block? Will she be able to finish this book on time? Will Jill figure out what is wrong? Will she truly lose her mind?

Home was a interesting book as there were three perspectives shown in the story. While Melanie and Craig were the main plotline, I enjoyed Jill’s story far better. It was much more interesting and gut wrenching as she learns the truth behind her “memories” and mental issues. I loved the insight into a writer’s writing methods. As a writer myself, I enjoyed seeing the rituals and patterns Melanie follows in order to write her story. I highly recommend Home for its drama and realistic portrayal of life’s struggles and the road back to a place of peace and contentment.

is available on Amazon
in paperback and for the Kindle

Monday, April 10, 2017

Why I loved Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Spoiler! If you have not seen the film, do not read any further!!!!

Rogue One: A Star Wars story is about the events which leads up to the events we know in Episode IV: A New Hope. In the original film’s scroll, one small line “Rebel spies managed to seal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR.” This is Rogue One is one sentence. It is how the Rebel Alliance was able to get and steal the plans. As a Star Wars fan, I was skeptical about a stand-alone movie that was a side story to the main saga. However, when I first saw it in theaters, I fell in love with this band of spies who risked their lives for the galaxy’s freedom. There was so much that I liked and very little, if at all, that I didn’t like, I will focus on what I loved about this movie.

First, the heroes of Rogue One starting with Jyn Erso. Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) the daughter of Galen Erso, a scientist who was coerced into helping the Empire build the Death Star. She has been living a life of crime under an assumed name. When her father’s name comes up again, the Rebel Alliance seeks her out to help them find her father and possibly destroy the Death Star. Captain Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) is a pilot and intelligence officer who Jyn is sent with to find information about her father. At first, he and Jyn do not see eye to eye about their mission but when they decide to get the plans with the approval of the Rebel Council, they are finally friends. K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) is Captain Andor’s droid. He was originally an Imperial droid but was reprogrammed by Captain Andor. He is often the comedic relief in the film. Chirrut Imwe (played by Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen) are the Guardians of the Whills that Jyn and Cassian met during their mission. Chirrut is a blind man who is a firm believer in the Force despite his lack of Force abilities. Baze is the opposite of Chirrut. He has lost his faith in the Force after enduring harsh conditions of the Empire. Lastly, Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed), the Imperial cargo pilot who was sent by Galen Erso to get information about the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance. Together they form Rogue One and their mission to get the plans at all cost.

Second, I loved the homage and references made to the original film. In one scene, Mon Mothma (played by Genevieve O’Reilly) discusses an old Jedi friend of Bail Organa (played by Jimmy Smits). Organa replies that he’ll send for him, referencing that Leia is sent to retrieve him in Episode IV. The famous Star Wars line “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” is started to be said by K-2SO but he is cut off by Jyn and Cassian. This line is said at least once in every Star Wars film. A fan favorite reference is when Jyn and Cassian run into very familiar faces, Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. These two would go on to have a fateful run in with Luke and Obi-Wan in the cantina in Episode IV. I’ve only picked three of my favorites but there are so much more!

Another thing I loved about this movie is the fate of the Rogue One crew. Rogue One is essentially a war movie and in a war movie, everyone doesn’t always survive. The impact of war is truly felt with the losses of these heroes. Even though they are successful and there is celebration in that, there is also a sense of the great cost in that success. The real impact about their fates is that they were aware they probably wouldn’t survive. Jyn says as they prepare to land “We’ll take the next chance, and the next, until we win, or the chances are spent.” The death scene of Jyn and Cassian is my particular favorite. While they succeed in getting the plans to the Rebel Alliance, they know there was no escape for them. After successfully transmitted the plans, they make their way to the beach and watch as the impact of the Death Star’s laser takes effect. It’s calm, peaceful and sad with no overblown dramatics. The deaths of the Rogue One crew make the film so much stronger and unlike the other Star Wars films.

In conclusion, I loved Rogue One. I think it fit in with the timeline great. It was an awesome story to explain how the Rebel Alliance got the plans in the first place and set in motion the events of A New Hope. Every character fit and the actors played their roles so well. The homage and references to the other Star Wars films are always a treat for fans. And the deaths of the Rogue One crew fit the mood of the film as a war film in the Star Wars universe. Some fans loved it as I did and others did not. Some fans just aren’t going to be satisfied with any new Star Wars film. Love it or hate it, Rogue One is a great addition to the Star Wars universe. Now if you would excuse me, I’m going to watching Rogue One again. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: an unforgettable father-daughter story

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti is the story of a father and daughter on a path to the past. Louise “Loo” Hawley is 12 years ago at the start of the story when her father teaches her to shoot a gun just as he taught her mom. Her mom died when she was very little and they have been living on the road ever since. Until one day, her father, Samuel “Hawley”, decides to move to Olympus, Massachusetts, her mother’s hometown. There they met her grandmother, her mother’s mother, Mabel and they are not welcome. Soon they “settle in” as Hawley gets a job and Loo attends school. Soon trouble starts for both of them and they are seen as the outcasts in town. Loo soon makes friends with a local boy and she begins to visit her grandmother and learns the truth about her past and her mother’s death. Will Loo confront her father with what she has learned? Will she be able to understand her father’s reasoning?

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a great story about life, love and difficult choices. In the story, you see that Hawley truly loves his daughter and deeply mourns his wife. But he has only lived one life: a life on the road and a life on the edge. Loo is a rough and rumble type of girl having been raised on the road. The reader watches as she learns the truth about her past and experiences new feelings and situations. I highly recommend The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. The story moves back and forth in time as we learn what type of life Hawley has led and the road that brought him to the present.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
is available on Amazon

in hardcover and on the Kindle

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy Tartan Day! A celebration for those with Scottish heritage

I’ve always had a deep affection for Scotland, its people, its history and culture. Today is Tartan Day which is celebrated in various countries by those who are of Scottish descent. The tartan is easily identifiable of Scottish heritage and culture. The day started as a celebration of Scottish heritage in 1982 and eventually April 6 was chosen to be the official date as it coincides with the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. Many of us would recognize a tartan or the Scottish dress known as a kilt. However, many do not know the meaning behind the patterns or even the colors. The origins of the day were to commemorate an important anniversary.

A tartan is a pattern consisting of crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. In the United States, the pattern is often referred to as plaid which in Scottish Gaelic means blanket. Traditionally, the tartans are made of wool; however, modern tartans can be made with different materials. Even though the tartan we are familiar with today did not appear in Scotland before the 16 century, the colors and patterns came to represent the families or clans of Scotland. The tartans are a source of great pride in the Scotland and are seen as a part of their heritage. The popular tartans today are the Royal Stewart tartan which is the official tartan of Queen Elizabeth II and the Black Watch Tartan. There are different tartans that are worn for certain occasions such as dress or hunting.

The Royal Stewart Tartan

The Black Watch Tartan

In 1982, New York Governor Hugh Carey and New York City Mayor Ed Koch declared July 1, 1982 as Tartan Day. It was a one-time celebration of the 200th anniversary of the repeal of the Act of Proscription of August 12, 1747, the law forbidding Scots to wear tartans. March 9, 1986, a Tartan Day was proposed to promote Scottish heritage in Canada by the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia. This is when April 6th was chosen as Tartan Day and the first proclamation was made on April 6, 1987 in Nova Scotia. Other Canadian provinces would follow with Quebec proclaiming April 6 as Tartan Day in December 2003. A Tartan Day is celebrated in other countries besides United States and Canada. Australia celebrates Tartan Day in July 1st. Even Argentina which has a large population with Scottish heritage celebrates Tartan Day on April 6th. Regardless when the day is celebrated, Tartan Day is celebrated with parades, Highland dancing and other Scottish themed events.

The Declaration of Arbroath is the declaration of Scottish independence. It was in the form of a letter to Pope John XXII dated April 6, 1320. The declaration intended to confirm Scotland’s status as an independent sovereign state and defending Scotland’s right to use military action when unjustly attacked. The declaration had a two purposes. First, it sought to assert Scotland’s position as an independent kingdom rather than a feudal land controlled by England. Second, it sought to lift the excommunication of Robert the Bruce. The Pope had recognized Edward I of England’s claim to Scotland in 1305 and excommunicated Robert the Bruce for murdering John Comyn in the Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306. It is thought to be written by Bernard of Kilwinning, Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath Abbey. It was signed and sealed by 52 magnates and nobles. It wouldn’t be until March 1, 1328 when the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton renounced all English claims to Scotland and removed the excommunication of Robert the Bruce.

Tartan Day is a celebration of Scottish culture and heritage. Depending on the country, the dates on which it is celebrated are often important dates in Scottish history. For the United States and Canada, April 6 is used to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. The tartan is a source of pride to the Scottish people. If you are Scottish, Happy Tartan Day! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We were the Lucky Ones: the story of a family's fight to survive

We were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is the story of the Kurc family in Poland during World War II. The story opens with Addy in Paris, France in March 1939 as he gets a letter from his mother back home in Radom, Poland. His mother, Nechuma, is trying to be positive while warning her son not to come back home. As times goes by, things get worse and worse for the Kurc family. Addy tries to escape to Brazil. One of his brothers and sister-in-law are sent to a work camp in Siberia. The majority of the family is confirmed to the Jewish ghetto. The horrors the family experiences as the horrors of Hitler’s systematic plan to exterminate the Jewish people unfolds. Will the family survive? Will they be able to see each other again?

We were the Lucky Ones is a powerful story about one family’s experience of the horrors of the Holocaust. The story becomes even more powerful when you read the inspiration behind the author’s story at the end of the book. It’s a beautiful story which will keep you on the edge of your seat as you see each family member’s experience of this terrible time. There is so much I can’t talk about as it would ruin the ending but I will say the story is well worth reading. I highly recommend We were the Lucky Ones!

We were the Lucky Ones
is available on Amazon

in hardcover and on the Kindle

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Arrival: movie review

Recently, a friend lent me the movie, Arrival. She did not like the movie and wanted my opinion. So I watched it with the anticipation that I would not enjoy it. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. However, I understood my friend’s issues with the story as well as some of the praise for the movie. As I put it, I enjoyed the movie but would probably never watch it again. The story opens with Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), a Linguistic professor, on the day “they” arrive. Twelve total locations throughout the world. Colonel G.T. Weber (played by Forest Whitaker) comes to her for a translation of the aliens’ speech. She’s taken to the Montana site with Dr. Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist. She works out a system to learn their language and figure out why they are here. Will she figure out in time before the world sees their arrival as a threat? Can she help convince them of their message?

I liked that Arrival was a different type of alien movie. It wasn’t Independence Day or the Alien franchise where the aliens are killing machines. I liked that they had a possible benevolent motive for coming to Earth. I liked that it made you pay attention as Louise has flashbacks. Are they memories or something else? The main criticism I have with Arrival is that it is a very talky movie. It’s mostly dialogue with very little action which I think a lot of people had issue with because they are used to such a dialogue-filled movie like this. However, the dialogue fit. I don’t think anything as out of place or unimportant in the grand scheme of the story. It is definitely a movie you need to pay attention to. Lose focus for one minute and you may be lost for the rest of the movie.

This review is very short and sweet compared to my other reviews. There really isn’t anything to say about it. I read other reviews both raves and highly critical. Both talked about the same features but they either liked it or hated it. The movie is 116 minutes and it is a very dialogue filled movie with very little action. Overall, I feel confused about if I liked the movie or not. On one hand I enjoyed trying to figure out the meaning of Louise’s “visions” and once I did, the movie seemed to click. On the other hand, it is not a movie I would have gone out to see or rent. If my friend hadn’t lent me the movie, I probably would never have watched it. If the movie sounds like the type of film you’d enjoy, I recommend it. If you like action and fights or something else, this is not the movie for you.