#WorthRevisit: Nature’s Calling. Are You Listening?

Worth Revisit WednesdayI’m linking up with Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You for #WorthRevisit Wednesday Linkup.

Less than two weeks away from Labor Day and fresh from a short but unplugged visit to Shenandoah National Park, this seemed like the perfect post to revisit.

Man has endured work since Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden:

To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,
Cursed is the ground because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life. (Gen 3:17)

Yet “work is for man, not man for work.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2428) So, this Labor Day and throughout the year, what can you do bring a bit of genuine leisure to your life? To cultivate a sabbath or respite?

One of the simplest, most beneficial, FREE things you can do is get out into nature. In the weeks before school began, I crammed in some last-minute opportunities to get myself and my children outside. We visited a grottogardens, nature trails, and a nature sanctuary.

Wildwood Park1

Wildwood Park in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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Wise Like an Old Dog

By Guest Blogger Cynthia Toney

I learn a lot about human behavior from my dogs.

Recently, one of my female dogs lay in the sun enjoying the freshly mowed grass. In spite of there being hundreds of square feet of similar space available, another of my dogs (a male) joined her and nestled back-to-back against her.

Upon his contact, the female’s ears slicked back. She turned her head and gave the intruder a hard look. Then she got up and left.

In her defense, the weather was uncomfortably hot. I wouldn’t have appreciated another warm body pressed to mine either, especially during much-needed personal time.

But besides being amused by their awkward social situation, I wondered why the male dog had risked intruding on the female. What did the second dog need so badly from the first one to risk rejection? Reassurance of his rank in the pack? Comforting because he felt ill? Relief from loneliness?

Dogs, especially younger ones, often lie or sit next to another dog to learn or to receive protection from the first. Maybe that wasn’t the case this time, but you’ve seen humans do this.

Whether younger or less experienced in some way, a person might awkwardly invade another’s space in order to learn something or gain an emotional benefit.

Sometimes that invasion is a stare. (Dogs stare at each other a lot, which is not considered rude.) If you have a coworker, neighbor, or family member who stares at you while you work, you might find that irritating.

If someone repeatedly hangs around you at the most inconvenient times, maybe you try to avoid him or her. Or you brush ’em off. If you give in, you want to kick yourself afterward. You wish you could be mean and simply get up and leave like my dog did, just to have more time to yourself.

But have you wondered why that person seeks you so often?

sleeping puppies

Photo by Annett Aagot, pixabay

Espionage or other bad intentions aside, consider that a person may consciously or subconsciously need to learn something from you. Even if it’s the manner in which you speak. (Really.) Why everyone seems to like you. Or how you remain calm in a crisis. (You won’t learn that from me.) It can be something neither of you is aware of that draws him or her to you.

Oh, no! There he (or she) is! You duck your head.

Too late! Now you have to listen to problems and offer words of encouragement.

Take this attention as a compliment. You have something valuable to offer, and you don’t even have to try very hard.

You are admired. You are considered wise.

Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.


Cynthia Toney

Cynthia Toney

Cynthia writes novels for preteens and teens because she wants them to know how wonderful, powerful, and lovable God made them. She is the author of the Bird Face series, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, and a new series coming soon, The Other Side of Freedom.

In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk accent pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.

Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to save a life by adopting a shelter pet. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines.

Website:  http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest:  Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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Top 10 Tuesday: Settings as Characters

unsplash.com, photo by David Marcu

unsplash.com, photo by David Marcu

I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish (which describes me quite well) for my top ten books in which the setting acts as a character.  I worked backwards from my Goodreads list of books read, selecting those whose setting immediately came to mind due to its role in the story. Here they are in no particular order.

O Pioneers! by Willa Catherthe harsh Nebraska prairie (my review post)

Dying for Revenge by Barbara Golder: trendy Telluride, Colorado (book tour)

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: the imposing Manderley estate (my review post)

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Relevant Fiction Reviews: Classics I

Relevant Fiction Reviews

I enjoy reading books by contemporary authors, but now and then I like to pick up a classic. There are so, so many I haven’t read. These are three I had been meaning to read for a while. Interestingly, at the crux of each of these vastly different novels is the sin of adultery. And in each case, its ramifications are played out.

O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1)O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The depth and grandeur of O Pioneers! didn’t catch up with me until the end. I’d read My Antonia in college and Death Comes for the Archbishop a decade ago, and loved both. O Pioneers! only confirmed my appreciation for Cather’s writing.

I was struck again by the beauty of her prose and imagery. Continue reading

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Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes

Stuff We’ve Been Up To Edition

As summer vacation winds to hot, muggy close, I’ve lost the ability to create a cohesive theme. This is stuff we’ve been doing, things pulling me in different directions as we try to savor summer.


The Mobile Drive-In

Our township has been doing these drive-in movies at the park for several summers. Until last week, the timing and the chosen movie never worked for us. Friday night, I took my kids and one of their friends to see The Peanuts Movie (truly a great little movie) at our park. Our arrival was somewhat delayed by our inability to find where my husband hid our camp chairs, but arrive we did. The whole atmosphere was fun. The park at night, the families, the free Twizzlers handed out. Just as the movie was about to begin, the entire screen deflated. It was a full hour and several attempts at re-inflating and restarting the movie until we began. By 9:30 p.m., most of the little kids present were probably ordinarily asleep, but here we were just getting started. All in my party agreed we’d do it again IF it started on time.

mobile drive-in

Moments before the epic deflation.

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Turning Daily to the Word of God

by Guest Blogger Allison Gingras

Scripture. God’s Word. The Bible.

What do those words mean to you?

Do you consider the Word of God as useful in your own daily life? Does it seems strange that an ordinary book on your shelf could be so important to every day decision-making, behavior-choosing, life-happenings?

If I were asked this in 2005, I would have answered with a resounding, “no way, it is just an old book with old guys’ opinions in it.”  That was of course before I actually read it; Continue reading

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An Open Book

An Open Book CatholicMom

Welcome to the August 2016 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND CatholicMom.com!

Anne of Green Gables coverI was oblivious to the existence of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery until fairly recently. After reading so many beloved remarks about the irrepressible Anne Shirley and learning of some other readers coming to meet Anne well into adulthood, I decided I should read it, too. I grabbed a Focus on the Family radio Radio Theater adaption from our library and listened to it with my children as we ran errands over a week or so. The thirteen-year-old reacted with a certain amount of cynicism, but he was also typically the first child to ask “Can we listen to Anne of Green Gables?” when we got into the minivan. He and my eight-year-old daughter enjoyed it most. I liked it as well, although I think it would’ve made a greater impression had I read it as a young girl. Anne’s spirit and the simple, small-town tales are hard to resist.

Love in the Details coverNovellas are a mixed bag in my mind. Because of their length, they sometimes feel rushed, particularly where romance is concerned. When I find a well-written one, however, it’s a sweet indulgence. I love zipping through a story in a matter of hours. I always enjoy Becky Wade’s contemporary inspirational romances, so I know I’ll enjoy Love in the Details. More than halfway in, I’m missing some of the smart banter and interplay I’m accustomed to in her Porter Family Series, but the writing is still good, and I’m withholding final judgment until the end. She’s set her own bar so high in my estimation, she’s made it hard to meet her own standard.

Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop

When we visited the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh last month, my son discovered this book in the gift shop. Because his spending money for souvenirs was limited, he bought the book later from Amazon at a reduced price. I guess watching his dad brew beer has inspired him. So far he’s brewed only a batch of ginger beer, which was fresh and delicious! I think some of the root beers and a lemon-lime soda caught his eye first, but, sweet kid that he is, he chose the ginger beer since he thought it might help relieve the severe sore throat I had at the time. Here’s a review in his own words:

Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop by Stephen Cresswell is a great book for people just beginning to make their own soda. It includes many helpful tips and alternatives to certain equipment. It also gives helpful advice on the process of making the soda and gives tips about choosing your bottles. After you do the basic recipes (root beer and ginger ale) there are many other recipes you can try. If you are tired of the recipes in the book then read a chapter with guidelines and advice for making your own recipes. I recommend this book to anyone interested in making their own sodas; I think that most kids should be able to do it, although some may need adult supervision.”

Treasury of Norse Mythology coverDuring a recent trip to Pittsburgh for a family funeral, my teenager read National Geographic Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli. This is something I know NOTHING of. It’s a beautifully illustrated book, and he read through it quickly. His verdict: “Norse mythology is depressing.” That didn’t stop him from retelling various odd myths, including the Norse creation myth, to his younger siblings.

Humbug Witch coverMy eight-year-old is still working her way thought the collection of Narnia books and progressing in the Trixie Belden series with #2, The Red Trailer Mystery by Julie Campbell. The littlest kids have been enjoying the Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian. My crazy three-year-old plucked it from the library shelf despite the fact it’s a Halloween book. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why he’s started asking about trick-or-treat and costumes. I’m not big on witches in general, but this little story of dress-up is cute and innocent enough.

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When Nothing Works

by Guest Blogger Erin McCole Cupp

The beginning of another school year approached, and I was scared.  Even with the slowed-down summer schedule, I was not making any headway with my next book. There was virtually no time in which to really write, and when I did get a moment to steal, nothing I wrote worked, because I hadn’t had any time to let the story form in my head so it could flow onto the page.  Where on earth was I going to get the time to have a chance at success?

I went to my writing network’s Facebook page and asked for advice.

“Wake up one hour earlier than your kids do.”

Silly me, already waking up two hours before they did.

“Make family creative time a habitual part of your day! Everyone is working on something.”

When the youngest family member’s idea of “creative” is either decorating her walls with nail polish or asking busy people incessant questions?

“Just do whatever works!”

I didn’t type the words, but I wanted to reply, “BUT NOTHING WORKS!” Continue reading

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