Friday, July 15, 2016

3-2-1 Rereads, Adventure, and Nonfiction…

Our family has been reading a lot this month.   It is rainy season so what better way to relax then to read and listen to the rain coming down on our roof.   Big D has been rereading all of his favorite series and trying out a few new books in different series that he likes.  My husband has been reading a lot of Davis Bunn and whatever novel I can find at the library online.   What I have been reading?  Keep reading to find out….

3 Rereads: The Aggie’s Inheritance Series by Chautona Havig

This last month Chautona Havig released her 4th book in this series called Ante Up.  I decided to give the first three books: Ready or Not, For Keeps, and Here We Come another read before diving into the newest book.   Aggie’s Inheritance is one of my all-time favorite series.  Aggie at age 23 finds out that after her sister and brother in law’s death, she is now the legal guardian of their eight children.  What does she know about parenting?   Why did her sister choose her? 

The plot is full of twisted ankles, new friends stepping in to help, false 911 calls, and the chicken pox.   Even as she is determined to stay single, two different men-William the cop and Luke the handy man become a part of her new family’s lives.   If you like Chautona’s books, you will find some appearances in the book of Chad and Willow from the Past Forward series.  Now if I can just find time to read book 4.

Two Adventure: Marc Royce Thriller books 2 and 3

My husband and I rediscovered Davis Bunn as a favorite author.  We read the first book in this series called Lion of Babylon a long time ago.  As I was searching for a book for my husband to read, I came across these two.  He enjoyed them so much I decided to read them too.

Book 2 is set in Kenya.  Marc is sent undercover to find a missing man and discover what mystery is behind this abduction. 

 What did I like about the book?  I loved the setting especially since I now live in Africa.  I enjoyed seeing how the church made up of different tribes joined together to seek God’s guidance.  Lastly I liked the reminder of the importance of building good relationships and treating all people with respect.  At times the action was a little more than I would have liked but then again the book’s genre is thriller.

Book 3 is set mostly in Switzerland which made me want to vacation there and sit along Lake Geneva drinking coffee and enjoying the view.  Marc is sent to make contact with a crooked art dealer only to almost be killed in the explosion of the art dealer’s gallery.  Marc along with a friend from the last book, a Swiss investigator, Persian art dealer, and others along the way work to stop a possible threat from Iran to the United States.  

What did I like?  First of all, I liked seeing the growth of each of the characters as they find out more about themselves.  I was inspired by how the main characters made hard, right decisions that might have meant trouble for them later.  I loved seeing how the diaspora church was involved in the process.  It was a great reminder of how true change comes only through Jesus.  Lastly I liked how the ending was not predictable but made sense to the story.

One Nonfiction: The Strategy of Satan

Soon after I moved to Africa, I was invited to a bible study group that was reading The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe.  I wasn’t really sure about the title but was excited to get to know some ladies in the community.  As I started reading, I discovered that this short book was practical and applicable to daily life.  The first four chapters take the examples of Eve, King David, Joshua the priest, and Job to show the four different strategies Satan uses.  The last half of the book goes into more detail about how to deal with temptation.  I liked how Warren Wiersbe used a good amount of scripture to make his points in each chapter.  This was not a book about demons being behind every corner but one that was a good reminder that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” Eph 6:12   For me personally, the book encouraged me to stay faithful in being in God’s word and taking every thought captive. 

What books have you read this month?   I would also love good book suggestions for men.  I am having trouble keeping my husband stocked with good books to read.  I am also linking up with Modern Ms. Darcy's Quick Lit if you are in need of more reading recommendations.  

(Affiliate links are included in this post)

Friday, July 08, 2016

Chocolate Chip Musing

How much would you pay for a bag of chocolate chips?  What is it worth to you?  Well, l I guess that would depend.  Can you get the chocolate chips cheaper somewhere else?  Can you even find them somewhere else? Do you even like chocolate chips?  Do you need them in the near future for dessert you are baking? 

Living overseas chocolate chips are like gold.  They are either hard to find or non-existent.  Most of the time, I bring the chocolate chips in my luggage.  This time, our luggage was full.   I also didn’t want to take the chance of them getting here as one big melted glob of chocolate.  Not to worry, I found this bag of chocolate chips at the grocery store. 

As you can see I paid way too much for my chocolate chips.  Then again it is a big bag of chocolate chips, and it was the last bag on the shelf.  Did I need those chocolate chips?  Yes, and no.  Technically the answer is no.  Chocolate chips are an extra, an extravagance, but buying those chocolate chips did help me bring a little sweetness to our family’s lives.   Over the next few months, this bag will continue to contribute to our dessert menu.  This time it was worth it.  This bag is making it easier for me to entertain plus what lady doesn’t need a little chocolate now and then.

As I was dealing with some insecurity issues this week, I am glad that God thought I was worth it.  He thought you were worth it too. He didn’t debate whether we cost too much or if he could get a better deal somewhere else.  From the outside, I wouldn’t have thought I was worth it.  I seem to get myself in one mess or another.   This last week, I was on the grouchy side way too much.  I am a sinner as are you.   But our worth isn’t about us, it is about the price he paid.  

In Romans 8:5, Paul tells us that while we were yet sinners, God demonstrated his love for us by sending Jesus to die for our sins.  Peter tells us that we “were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ.” (I Pet 2:181,19)   Jesus’ death was the price.  What love!  What grace! I am worth it not because of who I am but because of who HE is and what HE has done.  It is not about me.  It is about HIM.  For this I am thankful.  Otherwise if I was that bag of chocolate chips, I might be still sitting on that store shelf. 

So remember today that you are worth it.  Not matter where you are or what you have done, God demonstrated His love for you.  He wants to bring you salvation.  It is available to all who believe.  It is something I never want to take for granted.

Friday, July 01, 2016

What I Learned in June (2016 edition)

I really needed this slow month.  Truthfully I probably read too many books this month.  On the other hand, I didn’t really have a lot that I had to do besides getting to know people on our new team. It has been a blessing to have time to rest and regroup.  I don’t think I realized how exhausted I was until I felt truly rested.  I am still working on getting a full night’s sleep but I have seen progress.  Being close to the ocean has been refreshing as I walk up and down the road or on the beach which leads me to my lessons for the month of June as I link up with Emily and other bloggers at Chatting at the Sky in what we learned.

1.   Getting 10,000 steps is harder than I thought.

While we were in the states, my mother in law gave me a fit bit.  I have been slightly obsessed with trying to get in my steps.  It has been good motivation for me to keep moving but walking/running 10,000 steps takes time and energy.  Some days it is easier than others. Over all though, I am feeling stronger and healthier even if I don’t hit that 10,000 step goal every day.  As I get more energy, I do find myself dancing to the music Big D has playing in the house.  I also don’t feel exhausted each afternoon.  For me, that is progress.

2.   New Favorite Sodas

I am finding that I do better when I stay away from caffeine.   So it was refreshing to find these fun sodas that are caffeine free.

My favorite flavors are Cassis and Fresh Citrus.  My husband and Big D favor the bitter lemon or ginger ale.   Cassis has a berry flavor to it.  The soft drinks come from the Netherlands but are very popular here-the bitter lemon especially.  They are about 70 cents a can which helps us limit them to a few a week.

On another note, we have always liked Lemon Fanta so we decided to try Annas Fanta in the blue can.  It is basically pineapple soda.  We like pineapple but maybe not that much.   I am also grateful that I don’t care for the Coke here.   It makes me less tempted to buy it and drink it.

3.   The word “plunger” could mean different things to different people.

What picture came to your mind when I wrote “plunger”?  Well a neighbor asked my friend to borrow her plunger.  So my friend brought over her plunger.  You know the thing you use to unclog toilets.  But the neighbor meant for my friend to bring over her French Press.  In Australia, they call a French Press- a plunger.  

What do you call a French Press?  What do you think of when you hear the word “plunger’? It was a good reminder as we communicate that we might be hearing the words but not fully understanding the meaning but to keep at it.  The incident above ended up giving us ladies at the bible study a chance to laugh together.

  4.   The Best Way to Connect with People is to Invite Them Over.

These last few weeks I am taking Kristen Strong’s advice to Open up, Show up, and Lift Up.   It has been fun having over guests and hearing their stories.   The only challenge is that I am limited on my cooking supplies until our shipment comes.  On Sunday, I used one pan at least four different times as I was cooking a meal for 9 people.  

Thankfully, I was able to do some of the cooking in stages.  My pans were just big enough to handle what we needed to do, and my friend didn’t mind bringing 3 extra forks since I only had 6 forks.  Having company is also a good excuse to make dessert.  For our first guests, we tried out  Cutler's Chocolate Frosted Peanut Butter Cookies from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  I did use half the amount of chips and frosting and they still were delicious and rich.  For our Sunday guests, Big D and I made two pies-chocolate and Banana crème.  Big D is better than I am at stirring patiently as the pudding thickens. 

5.   The effects of Ebola are still present in Africa.

We live in a country that was affected by Ebola.   The country is recovering but there is still much fear and ignorance when it comes to those who were Ebola survivors.  I would have thought the survivors would be perceived as brave and strong.  Instead many of them are ostracized and have trouble returning to normal life. Some people are afraid thinking they might get Ebola from them.  The survivors also have to deal with medical issues from Ebola.  Others have taken in children of those who died from Ebola or need help finding work and a way to support their family.

Once a crisis is out of the news, it is often out of sight, out of mind.  For me this was a good reminder to keep praying long after the main crisis has passed.  Recovery and healing take time.

Here is a good article telling the stories of 13 survivors of Ebola.

6. Last but not least, I found out I am part of the launch team for Stacey Thacker's new book Fresh Out of Amazing.

I am looking forward to reading this book in the next week or so and sharing with you about it.  Couldn't we all use some amazing in our life? 

On her website she is also offering 5 Prayers for When You are Fresh Out of Amazing.

What did you learn this month?