Monday, November 3, 2014

Renewing Your Mind - Review

Summary: Bestselling author Neil Anderson’s lifelong passion is to help people find freedom in Christ as they experience spiritual breakthroughs. Based on his classic book, The Daily Discipler, eight new studies are being published for believers who want to become rooted and built up in Christ so they can live in and become set apart for Christ . Renewing Your Mind is the fourth study in the series of eight “Victory in Christ” studies that promise to set a new standard for discipleship training. This six-session study shows the believer how to live under grace with a renewed mind. Anderson also shows the reader how to overcome anger, anxiety, depression and loss. 

My Take:

I am a big believer in good discipleship and helping to mentor and educate new believers. This is a Biblically sound study to help in that process.

This is both an approachable and ... easy to do study while also covering challenging and in-depth topics. Each topic/chapter is very short (usually 1 1/2 to 2 pages of study followed by another 1 1/2 to 2 pages of questions with a lot of space to write answers.

It is designed to be a daily study (each chapter starts with 5 daily assignments for Scripture readings). It could be used in a weekly Bible study with some alterations but the only additional information for teachers is some suggestions about how to run a class that is provided at the end (there isn't a leader's book with more content to flesh out the study further that I know of).

It is written in approachable and fairly simple language except for the quotes - which all seem to be from very early Christian writers (up to about 600 AD).

Since it is referred to so often, I wish the author had included the Steps to Freedom in Christ. I expected it to be listed in the Notes at the end of the book and it wasn't there - although we are led to where you can find it.

I want to thank Bethany House for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Cat That God Sent - Review

Summary: Jake Wilkerson, a disillusioned young pastor who is an expert at hiding his fears, takes on a new assignment at a small rural church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. It's a far piece from anywhere and full of curiously odd and eccentric people, including Emma Grainger, a single woman and a veterinarian who dismisses all Christians as "those people," and Tassy, a young runaway with a secret. His first day on the job, however, Jake is adopted by Petey - a cat of unknown origins and breed - but of great perception. Petey believes that he is on a mission from God to redeem Jake and bring him and his quirky friends back to the truth.

My Take:

I am kind of torn on this book. I am a serious cat lover (I currently have 9 and I have had three others who died) so I was very interested in how a cat would be handled. 

I saw this picture shortly after I started reading the book (courtesy of Love Meow). This fits my idea of Petey more than the cover image. He was described as looking part wild, dignified, and this just fit my imagination so much better so I thought I would share it with you.

I don't think I have known a cat that would be so concerned with being a "good" cat. That phrase is used a lot and it sounded much more dog than cat. He also paints Petey as having a lot of dog-like traits rare to cats (like playing fetch). Having said that, I did like Petey a lot. 

I liked the message about how important it is to be genuine, but was somewhat insulted about the way the people were characterized as so narrow-minded and judgmental. I live in a small town, go to a small church... I know some people are like that but... it was hard to bond with the characters when I felt more like defending small town believers. 

So, I would give this 3.5 stars but rounded up for the message and the cat.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cats & Plants?

If you're a cat lover and a plant lover, you probably have figured out the two don't always mix. The oldest two of my cats don't mess with plants but the other seven can't leave them alone. There are some strategies you can try though.

You can always try the old bait and switch. If you put out plants you don't mind them eating, they "may" leave other plants alone. There are a lot of kits for cat grass or catnip you can purchase and use to offer them their own greenery that is safe for them.
 This is the kind I use. It is called SmartCat Kitty's Garden. It sprouts thick and quickly and has four different kinds of grass seeds. Some of the cats definitely like one kind better than the others so the variety is great.

They sell refills and need only moderate light. I have tried several kits and another one may work better for you. They have ones that grow in fountains, as part of toys ... Lots of varieties. They are especially attractive to my rescues that lived outside.

Another option is to grow the plants in a safe place. I have an entryway where I keep herbs and plants. It is separated from the house and the outside by doors. There is a vent though and plenty of light through the outside glass door. I like to believe that because that air is circulated through the house that we still get some benefits from the plants. They are close enough to use easily and protected from harsh weather as well as ravenous kitties.

Another plant takes up the entire top of a tall narrow display cabinet. So far they haven't managed to get up there. My favorite solution is a new one though. It is kind of like a birdcage.

The sides are glass framed with wood. One side is a door with a latch and the top is metal. It's pretty, allows the plant to get sun, protects it from nibbling cats, and the top is like a lattice - with openings that allow air circulation. This one is large enough to hold a bigger plant - or even more than one.

I bought mine at a local hardware store but you could buy something similar almost anywhere. You could also use a birdcage or terrarium.

These kinds of ideas can help keep your plants safe, but it's also protection for your cats. There are plants that are poisonous. So check the variety before leaving them out for your cats.

Here is a site with a list of toxic plants and how to care for your cat if it ingests one of them:

Pet Care Tips - Poisonous Plants

Anyone have a tip about plants and cats to share?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Full Steam Ahead - Review

Summary: When Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston from an eastern finishing school, she's stunned to find her father in ill health. Though she loves him, he's only ever focused on what she's "not." Not male. Not married. Not able to run their family business, Renard Shipping.

Vowing to secure a suitable marriage partner, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure: a dagger personally gifted to Nicole's father by the pirate Jean Lafitte. Many believe the legend that the dagger is the source of all Renard Shipping's good fortune, though Nicole is sure her father's work ethic and honorable business practices are the keys to their success. Before she can board the steamer to New Orleans, Nicole finds her father's rivals—the Jenkins brothers—on either side of the gangplank, ready to grab her and steal the dagger. Quickly, she decides to instead travel north, to Liberty, Texas, where she can decide what to do next.

Darius Thornton needs a secretary—someone to help him get his notes in order. Ever since the boiler explosion aboard the "Louisiana," Darius has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. The pretty young socialite who applies for the job baffles him with her knowledge of mathematics and steamships. He decides to take a risk and hire her, but he's determined her attractive face and fancy clothes won't distract him from his important research.

The job offer comes at exactly the right time for Nicole. With what Darius is paying her, she'll be able to afford passage to New Orleans in mere weeks. But Mr. Thornton is so reclusive, so distant, so unusual. He can create complex scientific equations but can't remember to comb his hair. And his experiments are growing more and more dangerous. Still, there are undeniable sparks of attraction between them. But Nicole is leaving soon, and if she marries, it must be to a man who can manage a shipping empire. Darius certainly doesn't fit that description. And the Jenkins brothers have not given up on kidnapping Nicole and seizing the Lafitte dagger for themselves.

My Take:
I am never disappointed by this author. She always has fun plots with unique characters that keep you turning page after page. 

Darius is a great example. He is gruff, obsessed with his experiments to the exclusion of everything and everyone else, and tortured by his inability to save a girl he didn't even know. He wasn't one for convention and manners before and now -- well he is unshaven and just as likely to growl as a hungry grizzly. The people in the town view him as a mad scientist - dangerous and more than a bit unstable. As the story progresses, we get to see beyond the surface and grow to love him nearly as much as Nicole. 

Nicole is feisty and determined. She surprises you with things like strapping a knife to her thigh -- and then brings it up another notch by hurling it with deadly accuracy. Darius affectionately calls her a pirate, and the label seems to fit. She feels the need to overcome not being the son her father wanted and needs. 

The information about boilers was interesting -- and not overdone. I liked how the characters meshed and brought out the best in each other. The secondary character are wonderful and add a lot of heart and humor.

I want to thank the publishers for my copy of the book. Their generosity in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Catio

Welcome to my catio! I have indoor cats but they love being outside. They race to open windows to birdwatch, smell the flowers and grass, and watch insects and people go to and fro. (This is Maya relaxing by the welcome mat.)

Seeing how much they loved the outside - but wanting them to be safe - I looked at catios and enclosures. I didn't have a lot of money but I did have a screened in porch that we almost never used.
(Gandalf relaxes on a shelf.)

We bought heavy duty screening that is pet resistant. We keep their claws clipped and haven't had any holes. We do sit out there with them most of the time though. Although we couldn't afford a bunch of custom cat shelves and trees that were weatherproof, we could use patio furniture in creative ways. (Tayla lounging on the table)

Plant shelves for outdoors come in lots of styles and materials. We bought various heights and materials and some of the cats like to climb high and some like to lay under the shelves. They love the different textures - but the smaller the holes, the more comfortable it is for them to walk on. (Esther sunbathing half under a shelf.)

The screening prevents bugs from getting in and the indoor/outdoor carpeting is another texture and comfy place to play. The cats seem more confident and get kitty energy out there instead of running through the house or ambushing each other. We have a water fountain out there for them and I often bring out the wand toys too. Have any of you created an outdoor space for your cats?

Friday, May 16, 2014


Okay, so we all love and want the best for our pets. One of their requirements is clean and fresh water. I have read plenty of articles about how cats prefer moving water. Here are some links where you can read about it yourself:

Why Cats Prefer Moving Water

Does Your Cat Drink From the Water Faucet

If you don't want to leave your faucets dripping all day, a great option is to buy a cat fountain. They come in all different styles, sizes, prices, and materials. Many are plastic but they also come in stainless steel and ceramic. Some of them have extra containers that attach to them so the water doesn't run low for much longer. 

The pictures I am showing here all come from Amazon, but you can buy them almost anywhere you purchase pet supplies.

They have small pumps and filter assemblies that help keep the water cleaner for longer. Many of them say the filters last for up to 4 weeks, but it really depends on how many cats are using them and how many fountains you have. The more cats, the shorter the time they will be effective.

Make sure you check your fountain frequently for hair and debris. That can get into the pump and burn it out. The water level also has to remain high or your pump will quit working.

I recently discovered a great trick when cleaning my fountains. I got a spray bottle (they are cheap and come in lots of sizes, styles, and colors). I like to use a special color for each purpose so I don't mix up the one for my fountains with bleach cleaner or something toxic. I put in vinegar or a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide.

The vinegar or hydrogen peroxide mixture helps kill bacteria and the spray gets into the nooks and crannies you can't reach with your hands or even the tools sold to clean the fountains. If I'm using hydrogen peroxide, I usually use a mix of about half and half. Make sure to pray into all the holes of the pump as well because mold and bacteria can grow in the crevices and make your cats sick.

Just spray liberally and let it set on the surface for a minute. Then rinse the whole thing off and you're good to go. I have 9 cats and three fountains so I clean mine once a week. How about you? Any special tips or favorite fountains?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meet My Pride

I have learned so much from my cats and I figured if I was going to share about it - you might to know who is who. So, I would love to introduce you to my pride. I say "pride" not because I'm proud of them (though I am) but because I have 9 cats - my very own pride.

This elegant poofball is the elder statesman of the group, Thomas. He is 8 years old and a confirmed Teddy Bear. We think he might be a mix with a Norwegian Forest cat. He is bigger than the average cat, fluffy, and has fur tufts between the pads of his feet.

This very dignified lady was adopted the same time as Thomas and she is the same age. She is a beautiful Tuxedo cat and a confirmed couch potato. She has no poise and is usually belly up.

Next up is Gandalf. He is a couple years old and smarter than all the other cats combined. He gets into cabinets, opens doors, gets on shelves I thought were inaccessible... He is heavier than he looks and very strong. He also loves to cuddle and jumps right into your lap to get head rubs.

I love this picture of Desmund because it looks like he has a huge head and no body. He is a healthy boy though, almost a year old. He is one of two cats rescued from under our local courthouse. He is very sweet and gets along with everyone. He is quiet though and likes hidey holes.

Okay, I love all my cats but Esther is special. She had a lot of health problems and injuries when she was rescued from the courthouse - but now she is healthy, shiny, and sassy. She is also wonderful with all the other cats and people. She has surprising habits like waiting until everyone else has eaten before she does. She grooms the smaller kittens and cuddles with them when they cry. She is a very special cat.

Danny is my slinky baby. He resembles a water balloon - wriggly, always changing shape, and tumbling out or over whatever he is on or in. He couldn't be sweeter either. He's very long and lean and lives for face rubs but doesn't like kisses. ;-)

I waited on Maya because she's the momma to our two youngest. She is hard to take pictures of because she's always moving. She's a very pretty calico girl with very long legs and an elegant face. She loves to carry around toys while meowing like she's caught dinner.

This is a picture of Tayla. This picture shows her long legs. She loves to cuddle and tickles with her kitty kisses while she purrs in your ear. She loves to chase wand toys and her brother.

This is Max. You can see he has one blue and one green eye. He has his mom's triangular face. He is very laid back, confident, and easy going. He plays hard and then cuddles hard.

So those are my furbabies. I'd love to hear about yours.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pet Peeves

Like my jellyfish friend, I am occasionally annoyed and I bet you are too. I often feel better if I share, so here are some of my most recent pet peeves.

My house is in a neighborhood with beautiful walking paths that meander through and around small wooded areas, ponds, and even a lake. My back yard faces the path and because the back yard is so narrow - it often feels like people are walking right through my back yard. I can deal with that. What is weird is when people slow down and stare into my house. It makes me feel like I'm on display --- like an animal at the zoo. {shudder}

I watch entirely too much TV. That means too many commercials too. Some of them just seem callous and hurtful. One is a woman selling a program for difficult and rebellious children. She brags that she knows the methods work because she used them on her own son. {Ouch!} I wonder how her son feels about it - and what kind of relationship she has with him now.

Another one has a couple young women with their mother. They are talking about an accident their father and her husband recently had - how it could have been much worse. One of the girls asks if they have looked into life insurance. Really? I would be much more concerned with comforting my mother and helping out in any way I could instead of reminding them of the possibility of death and making sure I didn't have to pay if something happened.

How about you? Any pet peeves you'd like to share?