Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Twitterature April 2014: World War II Edition

My whole family read a lot this past month.  We were home more than normal due to the elections here and a few other things.  My husband and son read a bunch of fantasy specifically a lot of Brandon Muller's books.  My daughter read through whatever she could get from the library online.  I seemed to gravitate towards books set in WWII.  It didn't start off that way but I had started two different series that headed in that direction.   Once I start a series, I often find myself invested in the characters so would rather continue in the series before moving onto another series or book.  So here are the two series that I enjoyed this past month.

The Danforths of Lancashire by Murray Pura
  • ASHTON PARK  This book is set in England during WWI and sort of like a Christian Downton Abbey.  I enjoyed the story line, but it was hard at times to keep up with all the members in the family.  A nice easy read with some predictability and some surprises. 

  • BENEATH THE DOVER SKY  I enjoyed the second book better than the first.  The characters had more depth due to hard times and hard choices as the author tried to deal with some prejudices of that time period.   This book led up to WWII with the setting both in Germany and England.  With my husband being a pilot, I especially enjoyed the aviation side of it.

  • LONDON DAWN  In this final novel, the Danforths have family in the RAF, Army and Navy fighting to defend England.  My favourite part was when the father with two of his young adult children helped with the evacuation of Dunkirk.  My children are studying WWII so it was fun reading about history in this fictional book as they were learning it from their textbook.  This third book gave closure, but there could still be more stories about this family.  

A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia Macneal

  • MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY  I read this book on the recommendation of others' twitterature posts.  I love how Maggie, the main character, is a mathematician and uses mathematics to help solve some problems in the story.  It is also interesting to read what it might have been like in England during that time.  Maggie who is English but grew up in American becomes a secretary for Churchill and gets caught up with clues leading to her past plus helping to stop a plot to blow up a English landmark.  The plot even has some surprising twists.  

  • PRINCESS ELIZABETH'S SPY   The second book is still an enjoyable read but not as good as the first. Maggie is assigned to be a tutor to the Princess.  She feels out of place but plugs on because she is really there on another assignment.  The plot reminds me a lot of Alias Season one but set in England during WWII.  Once again mathematics is an interesting addition to the action.   

  • HIS MAJESTY'S HOPE This third book is my least favourite, but I wanted to figure out what happened to one of the characters from the first book.  In this book, Maggie heads to Germany as a spy and encounters more than she planned for.  Not sure if I will read the 4th book or not coming out later this Spring.  Some parts of the book seemed to have an agenda more than a story.   I would recommend the first two books in the series but not this one.

So what books have you enjoyed this month?  Do you find yourself reading around a certain theme or is your reading more random?    I am joining up with Anne at the Modern Mrs. Darcy in her twitterature linkup.

(affiliate links included) 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

7 Ways Deeper Happens

Back in January,  I talked about wanting to go deeper this year-deeper in my relationship with God and others, deeper in my reading and deeper in my conversations.   As I age, I realise that all this will take time and a bit of discipline on my part.  Quick fixes aren't usually good fixes.   Great plans don't happen over night.  So where do I start?  We can't necessarily make deeper happen but there are some  common traits of deeper relationships.   Some things we can control, and the rest are a gift from God. So here is my list.

1. Going deeper takes time.  We can't necessarily get to know someone really well unless we spend time together sharing our lives, thoughts and dreams.  My deepest friendships are with those I have known since my college days or since W was a baby.  Time was spent in late night discussions, walks around the park or watching our kids play on the McDonald's playground.   We chatted about the future, the challenges of raising kids, and our favourite books.  Now we don't get this quantity of time together, but the history is still there to talk and share at a deeper level.

2. Going deeper takes consistency especially in our relationship with God.  I not only need time with God but consistent time with Him.  Daniel knew this.  As a captive in Babylon, Daniel was known for praying 3 times a day without fail even when it meant a night in the lions' den.  It was this consistency that paved that way for his deeper time with God when he asked for understanding of the future.  God granted Daniel his request resulting in some visions that foretold the future.   As a resident in a foreign land, my daily time is an anchor to the insecurity that is often all around.   I crave this daily time for survival.  If I miss a day, I feel it.

3. Going deeper requires vulnerability.  It demands honesty and transparency.  We can spend all day every day with someone but if we are never vulnerable, the relationship will not go deeper.  Of course, all relationships aren't meant to go deeper but some are.  I have some ladies who help keep me accountable.  It is with them that I can be the most vulnerable.  It is also with them that I feel the deepest connection.

4. Going deeper happens during the hard times.  It is during the storms that we cling to God and each other.   Some of my closest friends on our team were those who went through language school with my family.  We went through the ups and downs of learning a new language and culture together.  With family far away, we had to depend on each other as one friend had a baby and another had an emergency appendectomy.   We knew each others' weakness but didn't let those get in the way of our friendship.

Some of my most intimate moments with God were during hard times.   One such time was when my son was going through some health issues and my husband had long work hours.  I remember evenings listening to worship music, reading, praying, and crying.   I would not ask for that again, but would not take away that time either.

5.  Going deeper demands grace.  We are all sinners.  Hopefully we are also sinners saved by grace.  In relationships where people take us as we are, life is beautiful.  It is in this place where we can grow and become more like God made us to be.  We are encouraged to take risks and given grace when we mess up.  Grace works best when combined with #6.

6. Going deeper means asking the hard questions and sometimes having difficult conversations.  In marriage, especially, this is much needed.  Just this past weekend, my husband confronted me about the way I was speaking to our son.  It was hard for both of us.  I cried realising that his words were true.  I repented thankful that God was using my husband to not only help me go deeper in my relationship with my family but also with God.  When sin is in my life, my relationship with God is at a stalemate.  Sin also affects my relationship with others.  By having people in our lives that point out the sin in our lives, we have the opportunity to go deeper.

7. Going deeper takes trust.  Trust that our words will be kept in confidence.  Trust that promises will be kept.  With God, trust that He works all things to our good and is not finished with us yet.  Trust that He will never leave us or forsake us.

 As I see this list, I am thankful for the people God has sent my way that I have been able to have a deeper relationship with.  I am also aware of where I am now and my need to strengthen current relationships.  The list challenges me to be more intentional in my relationships and more conscious of how much grace and trust I exhibit to those I am spending time with.

What are some other traits of going deeper that you have seen?  What has helped you?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 2014 Lessons: Central Asia Edition

This month has flown by quickly.  We are settling into sort of a routine and enjoying the first signs of Spring.   Since we have been back just over a month, all my lessons have to do with our life here in Central Asia.
Once again, I am linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for lessons learned this month.  Here are my lessons.

1.  International Women's Day has been celebrated for over 100 years.  I celebrated my first Women's day 4 years ago.  It is a day where women's achievements are celebrated.   International Women's Day is on March 8.  Our local staff fixed all the ladies a wonderful lunch and entertained us with speeches.  In a country where women are not always valued, it was great to see women, especially our local lady workers, recognised.  Here is a picture of our lunch.

2. Just because it says it is Spring doesn't mean it feels like it.   After Naw Ruz (March 21) which is the New Year here, all the heaters are put away since it is now spring.  Mine is still out, and I even enjoyed the fire my son built for me in it yesterday.  I am trying not to wish for warmer weather too much since this summer I might be complaining about it being hot.  For now, I am trying to be content in my layers.  

3.  My favourite part of Naw Ruz is the Hafte Mehwa which means seven fruits.  It might not look good but it is delicious.  My dear friend graciously invited another friend and I over to share some with her.  Some of the fruits included are dried apricots, two different kinds of raisons, walnuts, pistachios, and almonds.  I never thought of nuts as a fruit before but that is what they are considered here.  

4.  I was reminded that voting is a right and a privilege.  I often think of voting as a hassle and wonder if my vote even counts.  Three of my local lady friends will be voting next week even though doing so could put them in harm's way.  Would I be so brave?  I do not know.  I do know they are braver than some men who have decided not to vote.  

5. Being stuck in traffic isn't so bad if as long as you have a friend to hang out with and someone else is driving.  A friend and I went to a bazaar that has good deals, cheese, and bacon.  On the way home, our driver took a detour to pick up another passenger, and we ended up on this road/river for over an hour.  My friend and I enjoyed getting caught up with each other.  It made for a long day but an interesting adventure.  

So what interesting, profound or fun things have you learned this month?