Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Trip to the Zoo

My latest book is called, "A Trip to the Zoo," and is an illustrated children's book.  I was inspired to write this book when my sister had such a difficult time finding such a book to give her grandson last Christmas.  She was going to give him an annual pass to the local Zoo and wanted to include a book about visiting the zoo with her gift.  I was with her when she searched the children's book areas in numerous stores and even a large book store with no success.
Thus was born my idea for this book.  I have visited about a dozen zoos in the last few years (since purchasing an annual zoo pass that has reciprocal benefits to other zoos).  Each zoo has its own personality and, of course, some are much larger and nicer than others, but all have are enjoyable.  I was able to get permission from six of the zoos I visited to use photos I'd taken at their zoos in the book.  Unfortunately, two zoos did not give permission and I could not use several very nice pictures I wanted to use. I was thankful for the enthusiasm shown by the participating zoos.
The book contains high quality color photos of all kinds of animals and includes pictures of my grandchildren and a great-nephew on visits to our local zoo.  It was a lot of work to put it together and get it just right, but I'm very happy with the results - especially in the print copy.  It's available in print from Amazon and as an ebook through Kindle.  The pages of the ebook have a space at the bottom and top of the screen, but otherwise look pretty good.  The book has 40 pages and offers not only information about the animals, but has an interactive question at the end of nearly every page that helps the child learn more about himself as well.
If you have children or grandchildren, I hope you'll consider getting a copy for them.  I'm confident that you and the child will both enjoy the book.  Enjoy your trip to the Zoo!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Oh, Give Thanks


I spotted this lovely butterfly sitting atop an equally lovely flower in a garden at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina a few years ago. Although both the butterfly and the flower are long-gone, but their short lives had purpose in the plan of God. They were each faithfully fulfilling their purpose in God's world and, therefore, glorifying Him in these simple acts.
Our number one purpose in life is to glorify our great Creator. Bringing glory to His name includes seeking to live with a thankful heart. I know that life's circumstances don't always lend themselves to a great feeling of gushing thankfulness, but choosing to offer thanks unto God in spite of difficulties is pleasing to our Lord.
Psalm 105 offers a lovely template for a grateful heart:
"Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done..."
Notice how many explanation marks are in those few verses. The Psalmist was not only mouthing words of thanks, he was doing so with great enthusiasm. He recognized that our very breath is a gift from God and in spite of the negatives in this world (which are a result of living in a sinful world), God is gracious and God is loving and God has an ultimately good plan for His children.
I'll borrow another verse from the Psalms, this time 103 by David: "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sound of Music Gazebo

With the Sound of Music film celebrating its 50th year anniversary, I thought it only right to feature a photo of my husband and I enjoying a visit to the famous Gazebo of "I am sixteen going on seventeen" fame.  Last October, we were blessed to be able to visit Salzburg, Austria and take a Sound of Music tour.  We spent the day touring the countryside and visiting various spots that were in the well-loved movie.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the windows of the gazebo sparkled in the sunlight.  We hammed it up and pretended to be singing for the picture.  It was fun to see all of the places we were so familiar with after watching the movie many, many times.

One of the other famous spots we saw was the back of what was used for the Von Trapp mansion in the film.  We only saw it from across the lake, but we could plainly see the gate that Captain Von Trapp threw open to allow his sopping wet children and Maria to climb out of the water.  I always love that scene and it was really cool to see the actual spot and hear the guide tell stories about the filming.

Sorry, there are no spiritual messages from these photos, but I am very thankful that God made our trip to Austria possible.  It's such a blessing to be able to travel around this beautiful world He created.  The hills truly are alive with the sound of music -- the music of God's creation praising Him in glorious, silent song.

   "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor
     and power; for You have created all things, and for
    Your pleasure they are and were created" Revelation 4:11