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Monday, July 28, 2014

book review: "woman of courage" by wanda e. brunstetter

Jilted by her fiance, Amanda Pearson gives up on romance and turns to her Quaker faith for reassurance. She becomes determined to follow the Rev. and Mrs. Spalding into the western wilderness to minister to the Nez Perce Indians. 

But a three-thousand-mile journey in 1837 is fraught with danger for anyone, and soon Amanda finds herself recovering from near death in a trapper's cabin. His Indian wife becomes Amanda's first convert - and friend. But the trapper and his intriguing half-Indian friend want nothing to do with Christians.

Buck McFadden has received nothing but pain from white men who claim Christ as their lord. He wants only to be left to his solitary life, but he can't seem to walk away from Amanda.

Amanda fears she'll never reach the mission in the Lapwai Valley. This journey has become life-changing for her - and those she meets - and the choices she must make are almost unbearable. 

It took me a few chapters to get into the story but I eventually was on Amanda's journey to the Lapwai Valley. I was surprised by the loss she suffered along the way - and especially when Mary's husband died. Amanda indeed had courage to continue on despite all of her setbacks. I admire her for sticking to her desire to teach others about God - even when she wanted to give up. Sometimes the dream we have isn't easy but that doesn't mean it isn't exactly what we're supposed to be doing. I liked how Mary's story turned out - that Gray Eagle wasn't really dead. And then there was Little Fawn. It only seems fitting that she and Amanda found each other. I thought the last few pages seemed a little rushed but overall a good read.

I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for my honest review. 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

running

Life is busy right now! I had the amazing opportunity to go to Guatemala and got back two days ago. I can't even begin to truly describe how great it was and how God moved. As I was preparing for the trip, I knew I'd be hitting the ground running after getting back so I'm in run mode. I was hired in June to teach kindergarten this school year! This job is something I've been praying for since I took a teaching assistant position at the beginning of this past school year. I attended training for my new job yesterday and Thursday. I've been functioning on caffeine and naps :) This upcoming week is a mad dash to get my classroom ready and the week wraps up with another two-day training. And on August 4, staff reports back to work in my district! SO, there's lots going on but it's all exciting. God did some great things in Guatemala - I know the trip will be a defining moment in my life. My heart is drawn there but I'm not sure what the reason is...yet. So I'm in the middle of looking at pictures from the trip, searching Pinterest for classroom ideas and first thing Monday morning, I'll be in my classroom, getting everything ready :)

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Monday, June 23, 2014

book review: "rival hearts" by tara randel

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver are rival magazine writers for the same publishing group. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter's Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the dramatic social dynamics of quilting events? More importantly, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

I thought this a cute story. I liked how completely opposite Molly and Ben were...it was the contrast that made the story fun. I feel like I was able to identify with Molly. She was quiet but had an inner strength she wasn't quite aware of. It took Ben's cocky attitude to make her rise to the occasion. But then Ben won me over when I learned about his background and why he wanted the promotion. I couldn't help but smile at the thought of him walking into Molly's quilting group for the first time! And I'll admit I was surprised by who finally won - and the offer that was made before Masterson announced his decision. This was an easy and fun read!

You can learn more about the book by clicking here
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

everything is awesome

I just want to take a moment and share about some amazing things God's doing right now! He's answered two of my biggest prayers at the moment, giving my faith the boost it needs as I continue to believe for the third thing. 

1. I'm going to Guatemala for a missions trip next month and didn't know how I was going to pay for the trip (which is another story entirely). I knew I was supposed to go and just trusted that God would provide. He completely exceeded my expectations! I did some fundraising and God blessed my efforts. It was hard work but not only did I pay my trip off five weeks before the final payment deadline, I had enough to cover my expenses for the trip!

2. I'm teaching this fall! I was a T.A. this past school year (which is also another story) and have been believing I'll have my own classroom for next school year. I'm super excited and know everything will come together with moving in, getting set up, planning and attending trainings between now and the beginning of August. 

It's been so amazing to see how God has taken care of these things! I'm excited about everything going on right now and what God is continuing to do! 

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

book review: "adventures under the mango tree" by lillian ann klepp

"'Sell all you have and give it to the poor," He said. Acting in faith and with a heavy burden for orphans, author Lillian Klepp and her husband, Dennis, sold everything they had and moved to war-torn Yei, Sudan. There they opened Harvesters Orphanage and Christian School in a place ranked worst in the world for women and children's well-being. Together, in the midst of a civil war, they battle chronic malnutrition, poor schooling, cancer, malaria, and poverty.

Adventures Under the Mango Tree is Lillian's journal of touching stories with heartwarming photographs of the precious orphans they help, the dedicated people who love them, and the often life-threatening struggles they face together."

I liked this book! I liked the short chapters...though I found myself wanting to keep reading after I would finish a chapter! As I'm preparing for a missions trip next month, I was drawn to Lillian's story. I can't begin to imagine what Lillian must have been thinking as they moved to Sudan. "Once we got to Yei, we had to stop and get official documents that allowed us to be there. When we went into the documents office, one of the soldiers asked me, "What are you doing here?" I told him I had heard all about the orphaned children and wanted to see if we could help. With tears in his eyes he said, "Preach the light to my people." Lillian recounts story after story of how God protected and provided for both her and her husband. God brought them people to work alongside them and help them in their vision to make a difference in Sudan. It strengthens my faith to read of Lillian's faith and her firm belief in God and His plans for her. I like what she says in one of the final paragraphs: "As I reflect on our time in South Sudan,  can see that God has taught me so many amazing things, especially how to trust Him. Who would have ever thought Harvesters would be what it is today? It's funny to think how in the past I thought about our limitations and how we wouldn't accomplish what has been achieved, but God is limitless. He has taught me not to plan around what I think Harvesters can afford, but rather around what He has put in my heart, and to let Him provide for it. It is true that He who calls us will equip us. In fact, if our vision is small enough that we can provide for it, it probably is not God's vision. And I know I would not want any other life than the one to which God has called me." 

I received a copy of this book from The B & B Media Group for my honest review.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

book review: "somebody like you" by beth k. vogt

"Haley's three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he's killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening - and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relationship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together - and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You is a beautifully rendered, affecting novel, reminding us that while we can't change the past, we have the choice to change the future and start anew."

I could not put this book down! As soon as I started reading it, I was pulled into the story, wanting to know what happened next! Beth did a great job of writing a story that's serious but also funny and an overall good read. One of my favorite scenes was when Haley's water broke and she was yelling for Stephen. It took her using his full name before he finally heard her and came running up the steps: "A quick pounding of footsteps preceded Stephen's appearance. "Did you just use all three of my names?"' I laughed out loud just picturing it! I really liked Haley and Stephen together - even though it took them a while to finally be willing to risk their hearts. They fell in love without realizing it and so many of Stephen's actions were because he cared for Haley, making them sweet. Like the way he slept in his car with the baby monitor so he'd hear Kit if she woke up or when he brought Haley flowers. Oh, I want a guy like that! I haven't read any of Beth's other books but I'm adding them to my "to read" list!

I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

making a list...and checking it twice

I'm preparing for a missions trip and wanted to pass along some things I learned from last year.

1. Three words: space. saver. bags. I've been on two other mission trips but last year was my first trip out of the country. And as I'm preparing for a trip back to Guatemala, space saver bags are a girls best friend! I was amazed at how compact my clothes were. 

2. Splurge on a sleeping bag. Last year, I found a sleeping bag at a local thrift store for less than ten bucks. I washed it and crammed it in a space saver bag. I ended up leaving it in Guatemala, knowing I couldn't fit it back in a space saver bag. This year I invested in a compact sleeping bag. It comes in a compression sack and is only three pounds; about the size of a football. I did some shopping around, wanting to get the best price and ended up at Walmart. I paid forty dollars and am pleased with how comfortable the sleeping bag itself is. It's a mummy style - which wasn't my first choice - but I still have room to move around. 

3. Dry shampoo. For as long as I can remember, I've faithfully washed my hair every night. Until going to Guatemala last year. Dry shampoo was something I hadn't heard of until then and it's changed my life. I use it now between washes - because I've even read it's good not to wash your hair every day. 

4. Disposable items. I'm all about travel size and disposable items. I really like the travel size plastic bottles you can get so you can just fill them with shampoo, etc. you already have. Anything I can use up and then throw away, I'm all about. The less I have to unpack, the better. 

What I have to keep telling myself: this trip isn't about me. As hard as it might be, keep it simple. Try not to overpack. I usually make a list of everything I'll need and then decide if there's anything I could stand to not take. It's a little harder for me to do that when going out of the country because I know there won't be a Walmart nearby - it helps me justify taking a few extra things :) 

And as far as making everything fit in your suitcase, there are some great ideas on Pinterest! What did we do before Pinterest??

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