Sunday, May 01, 2016

Lessons Learned in April (2016 edition)

This month has worn me out.  We have traveled from Tennessee to North Carolina to Iowa to South Dakota to Idaho then back to Iowa.  Next came Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee and now we are in Illinois for the weekend seeing my sister.  It has been a month of transitioning and getting ready for our next adventure.  We have enjoyed time with friends and family.  Slowly all our i's are being dotted and our t's are being crossed as we are getting ready to move to West Africa. A reminder to self: Next time you are making a transition, don't try to do it in two months.

Each month I take time to look back and see what I have learned.  I also link up with Emily and other bloggers at Chatting at the Sky in what they have learned.  

Here are five lessons from the month of April

1. I Don't Like to Travel Alone

On the leg from Iowa to Texas, I was by myself.  I thought it would be okay.  I could listen to whatever music or podcast I wanted.  I would have time to think.  Instead the hours dragged on and on as I made my way to Texas.  Maybe next time I need to travel alone, I will make sure to have an audiobook or fly.  

I did enjoy stopping in Tulsa for a night to see a friend I had worked with in Central Asia.  So breaking up the trip was a great idea.  

2. I Want to Be As Healthy and Energetic as my Mom when I am 70.

My mom turned 70 this month.  I was blessed to spend a week with her and see her the morning of her birthday.  We spent the week playing scrabble, shopping, watching Hallmark movies, and going on walks.  

At 70, she still mows her huge lawn and has a big garden.  She is active in the children's ministry at her church.  When the whole family is there, we often take long bike rides or play tennis.  The day I left she was driving 9 hours to see my sister.  I pray I can stay healthy and have that energy when I am her age.  Maybe it's in my genes?  

3. You Should Call Every 6 Months to Renegotiate Your Different Bills.

While in Texas, we were able to watch an "expert" negotiator in action.  Our friend puts it on his calendar every six months or so to call the electric company and other companies whose plans or rates change periodically to make sure he is getting the best deal.  We witnessed his exchange with a telephone/internet/cable company.  He was patient, firm, and persistent.  His internet which he needs for his work had been cutting out.  He was working on a resolution and some type of reimbursement.  In the end, he was able to save his family $500 for the next year plus a few other perks thrown in and get his internet issues fixed.  Our friend told us the time he spends talking to the companies is worth the money his family saves.  

4. Medical Issues Bring Out the Worst in Me

I lived in a high security area for almost 7 years.  No problem.  Give me a possible medical issue, and I freak out.  My medical issues really are minor especially compared to many issues that my friends face.  But somehow the worry creeps in and tries to take over.  It helps that my husband is supportive and helps talk me through it.  On a spiritual level, I need to acknowledge that God is in control of my body just as much as He is in control of my circumstances.  So for now, I am learning to cope with my right pupil being bigger.  Luckily, I really like my new prescription sunglasses.   Even though I hate taking medicine, so far I have been blessed to not have to take much in my life time.  Hopefully things will settle and I can go back to just taking my vitamins.  For now, I am trying to trust in God's plan whatever it may.  Thankfully these little things are not life threatening just annoying.

5. Stories Strengthen Our Faith

This past month as we have traveled, we have stopped and seen family and friends.  We have heard stories of God working through the buying of a yellow house and making it available to be used for God's glory, by an after school club in the projects turning into much more, and children who have been adopted growing in spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  God is good and working.  Sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the news but maybe we need to start sharing our story and listening to the stories of those around us.  What is your story?  How is God working around you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sweet on You Give Away

I hate transition seasons and currently I am in one.  But one thing that makes those seasons better is books by Chautona Havig.  There is something about her writing that helps me take a deep breath and step out of the craziness for awhile.  I am excited to be a part of her launch team for her new book and have the opportunity to have a first peek at her book.   With her new book, Meddlin' Madeline: Sweet on You, Chautona Havig takes a step back in time to an era when cameras were called brownies and cars were owned by only a few.  

Enter Madeline, the mayor's daughter who tries to follow the social conventions of the day but sees nothing wrong with a women wearing a bowler hat.  When Madeline observes a friend's beau acting suspiciously, she decides to check it out.  With the help of a few friends both old and new, she tests out her detective skills.  There is Russell, her best friend's brother, who is suppose to be keeping an eye on her.  Then there is Jimmy and Essie who though they are little should not be underestimated.  Is her sleuthing meddlin' or caring about her friend enough to find out the truth?  Will she find out the truth or just get herself into trouble with her Aunt Louisa and others?  

This is one of my favorite books by Ms. Havig.  The characters are delightful.  The setting is in a time period that is new to me, and I am enjoying the rich vocabulary but also the slang that goes with that time period.  But mostly I like that it is a mystery without a murder.  It is also a story of figuring of a girl figuring out who she is and what purpose she wants in life. Sweet on You was a great read to take a break from the craziness of getting ready to move back overseas. I am looking forward to the next book in the series already. 

I was able to ask Chautona Havig about who her favorite character from Sweet on You was.  She said....

"Okay... favorite character. I'm going to say other than Madeline. 
I expected Jimmy to be my favorite supporting character--a sidekick, if you will. But little Essie Chandler stole my heart--as well as my editor's heart. That's why she's the heroine of the FREE bonus short story: Essie's Endeavor. (I was going to do "Adventure" but it sounded a bit childish, AND... well, with the whole Meddlin' Madeline, I figured some alliteration would be cool.)"
So if you buy Sweet on You before May 1st, you can get a bonus story about Essie.  Check out the details here

I'm also excited to say that I am giving away a free electronic copy of the book to one of my lucky readers.  To enter, just leave a comment below.  This give away will be open until this Saturday, April 30th at Midnight.  

(Note: All links to the book above are affiliate links.  Also I was given this book free in return for my honest review.)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Two Reads I Highly Recommend

This month I only have two books to review.  It feels strange not to read as much, but my time has been full of traveling and visiting family as well as working on a big crochet project.  Yet sometimes, it is worth it to have quality reading over quantity.  That would be true for the following two books. The first is a book I am rereading aloud with my husband as we travel.  I rarely reread a book but it has been enjoyable to share the adventure again this time with my husband.  It is also fun to notice details and clues the second time around.  The second read helped me better understand our time in Central Asia and bring closure to that season.  Here are the reviews.

1. The King's Folly by Jill Williamson

This Christian fantasy book is set in the Five Realms with well developed characters and a plot that keeps you reading. Earthquakes are becoming more and more common even with frequent sacrifices to Barthos, the god of the soil. The King of Armania still needs to choose an heir to his throne from his three sons. Who will it be? His choice could determine the future of his realm. Magnonia, a realm ruled by women, is determined to rule all the realms even if it takes magic to do it. Will good triumph over evil? Will the characters step up to the challenge before them and do what is right? This book does a great job of introducing the characters and setting the stage for future books yet having closure at the end of this first book.  At first, I thought I would be overwhelmed by all the different characters, but the author did a great job of making each one memorable and tying everything together enough to keep you reading to find out more.  I really liked seeing how Armen (the true God) drew many of the characters to Himself in ways that fit their personalities just like God does with us today. 
 (Note: I was able to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review) 

2. Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places by Kate McCord

This week we stayed with friends, and this book was laying on their coffee table.   Having read Kate McCord's In the Land of the Blue Burqas, I was intrigued and asked our host about the book.  He told me it was a good and quick read.   He was right even though I would like to go back and digest the material at a slower pace when I have my own copy.  Often as I read, the words brought tears to my eyes as I related to her stories about Afghanistan.  I also appreciated how she talked about that when we go, our friends, family, and churches are affected and go with us in a sense.  She put into words well how it feels to go and why we went to Central Asia.   Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

"We are not the saviors.  We reveal Christ, but the work is always His. We ache to see people come to know him and grieve when those who do suffer terribly for their father.  This, too, is part of the journey." (p. 170-171)

"How can we keep living, keep loving, and keep giving in the dangerous places God calls us to?  We remember, day after day, that Jesus loves us all and His Spirit is working within us and within our neighbors.  Sometimes we have the privilege of seeing the fruit of God's Spirit in our lives and in the lives of others.  When we do, we rejoice.  Other times we walk by faith, confident in the the things we hope for, the things we cannot see." 
As I read, I prayed for my fellow workers and friends back in Central Asia that they would see God's heart in that place and that the seeds that have been planted would grow and come to harvest time.  I also just put in an order for a few copies of this book to give to family and friends to say thank you for coming on this journey with us.

Once again I am linking up with Modern Ms. Darcy's Quick Lit  as different bloggers share what they have read this month. Also there are affiliate links in this post.