Monday, May 30, 2016

what now?

I just got back from my sixth missions trip. The last three I've been on have been out of the country but this time we stayed within the States. There were reasons for this and because of this decision, we went to the site of my very first missions trip: the Los Angeles Dream Center. If you've never heard of it, it's an amazing place! The Dream Center reaches out to the city of Los Angeles through food trucks, medical care, cleaning up trash off the streets and parks, praying for those in the community, and visiting the homeless on Skid Row - all in an effort to show God's love. They also have a rehab program for those wanting to get their life back together. There are so many parts to what the Dream Center does. I was amazed again and again at the influence the Dream Center is making. So now that we're back home, I must face the question yet again that comes up after every trip: what do I do now? I was gone for a week and it was great but now what? This year I feel like it's a little more clearer for me. One of the biggest - and yet smallest - things we did on our trip at people. Something so simple has a HUGE impact! I want to notice people and not be so busy with what I need to do that I just walk by those who are hurting or in need or just need someone to listen to them. Do we have to go somewhere else in order to do mission work? No. There is work to do right where we are. So I'm going to get busy tilling the ground in my own mission field...until the next time I pack my suitcase :)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

book review: "through the shadows" by karen barnett

Two years ago, the building of San Francisco were shaken off their foundations and burned to the ground in the devastating earthquake and fire. As the city rebuilds brick by brick, new hope is rising. But Elizabeth King is also trying to rectify the rubble in her own life - and she's not sure anything will be able to erase her past. But she doesn't anticipate finding new love. 

Hoping to right her wrongs, Elizabeth commits herself to helping young girls escape brothels in Chinatown, one of the darkest sections of San Francisco.

When she meets rising attorney Charles McKinley, who desires to save the city from corruption, and has dashing good looks to boot, she can't help feeling hopeful. However, she soon realizes while many loved ones may not turn her away after discovering her secret, the man she loves will have no choice. Elizabeth's past bears great consequences for both their futures. 

What caught my attention with this book is the attention to human trafficking. I wasn't really aware of the prevalence of human trafficking until my first missions trip out of the country to Guatemala in 2013. Side note: I've since done a little research and also came across Christine Caine and the great work she does to stop it through her non-profit, the A21 Campaign. I liked this book. I had a little bit of hard time getting into it but I was soon pulled into the story. I want to be like Donaldina - passionate about her cause and not willing to let others get in her way! I laughed at the scene of her pulling the officer behind her, hat askew as she barreled into the judges office! And the ending was beautifully sweet. I love what Charles told Elizabeth; it's what I pray for in my future husband. "I want you beside me every day of my life. I want you to argue with me and keep me on my toes. I want you to spur me to greater actions on behalf of God's kingdom." I love that Elizabeth finally let God's grace be enough for her - that she was able to let go of her hurt and give it all to Him. Such a beautiful story of love and redemption!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read other reviews in the book tour by clicking here.

You can also enter a giveaway by clicking here!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

book review: "the beautiful pretender" by melanie dickerson

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride. Fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king's approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn't select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea. 

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse - far deadlier - consequences. 

I was so excited to read this book because Beauty and the Beast is my absolute favorite fairy tale! I'm a huge fan of Melanie Dickerson and loved The Golden Braid. This book was full of action, twists, humor and romance. This was a book I had a hard time putting down because I wanted to keep reading, needing to know what happened next! I liked Avelina and how Reinhart was drawn to her, not because of her name but her character. When she wanted the orphans to have something to eat or wasn't constantly demanding his attention. It reminds me of Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised." I love how Melanie can take the basis of a fairy tale and breathe new life into it. She does a fantastic job of incorporating pieces of what we know (like not going in the West Wing or Reinhart being gruff and grumpy and rescuing Avelina from the wolves) but adding more to it. This was such a great read!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can read other reviews in the book tour by clicking here.

You can also enter a giveaway by clicking here!
The Beautiful Pretender Melanie Dickerson

Monday, May 16, 2016

finish strong

Things have been crazy busy lately...but that's life, right? Blogging has been shoved to the top shelf, abandoned to collect dust. But I'm blowing off the dust and bringing it back! Things are starting to slow down for me...for now. I'm finally realizing that life will always be busy and I just have to learn how to juggle it all. I've got some posts in mind that I'm excited about and am preparing some books reviews for later this week. I'm focusing on finishing strong with the things I'm wrapping up and excited about a change of pace :) Stay tuned!post signature