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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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Sunday, June 8, 2014

book review: "crash the chatterbox" by steven furtick


The voice you listen to will determine the future you experience. Inside your head and heart is a chatterbox. Its lies are keeping you from realizing your God-given potential. But what can you do about them?

In Crash the Chatterbox, Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas that are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He asks, "What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?"

With personal stories, inspiring examples, and practical strategies, Pastor Furtick will show you how to silence the lies and embrace the freeing affirmation of God.

I have Steven's other two books but this is the first I've read...and I'm moving Sun Stand Still and  Greater to the top of my reading list! This is one of those books I needed to hear right now. I highlighted all through it, knowing I'll probably flip through it when I need a reminder. Steven is very honest about his own struggles with the chatterbox and that makes the book all the better. I love the illustrations he used and the easy way in which he writes. This is a good book for anyone because we all have a chatterbox  and it's vital we defeat it! There are so many "oh wow" things that Steven says through the book but here's one: "When the internal dialogue of discouragement starts in your heart, remember - the Enemy's goal goes way beyond putting you in a bad mood temporarily. He's trying to talk you out of trusting God's plan for your life at a foundational level. And he's not just trying to derail you. He aims to limit the impact God wants to make through you and beyond you." I like that I didn't have to struggle to understand the book - I've read some books that were just wordy and I had to really focus to grasp the point. This is a book on a serious subject but written in a simple way. 

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

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

clouds


Sometimes I get on my nerves. Like when God goes beyond my expectations in an answer to prayer and then five minutes later  I'm doubting how He'll take care of this other thing. Ugh. How ungrateful is that? And I mean God totally took care of me! I'm going on a missions trip this summer and was doing some fundraising. Long story short, not only did God provide all the money I needed, I have enough to buy all of the things I need for the trip plus I was able to help a few other people going. I felt like the whole "super abundantly" of Ephesians 3:20 was happening right in front of me and yet, I turn around and wonder where the answer to this prayer is. When clouds start to block the sun, that's when doubts creep in. But, "beyond the clouds, the sun is shining" - and that's a total Avalon reference, by the way. So I'm working on it. Working on thanking God for what He's done and what's on the way. And until the clouds move, I'm seeing what shapes they look like :)

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