08 August 2019

Life Lately

 Who is crazy enough to make S'mores in the summer when it's over 100 degrees outside? 
I guess that would be us.✋ We were dripping with sweat but the kids enjoyed it!  

 Morgan and I managed to sneak in a sushi date with Derek & Hailey. 
It's only been about 6 years since the 4 of us have gone out together without our kids!  

 Of course, the pool is mandatory in the summer. Zach gets in almost every night after dinner. 

I tried a new recipe and the family liked it. Stuffed Taco Pasta Shells. #welovemexicanfood

 The girls have been having fun in their Skills and Drills Basketball Class each week at the Rec Center. 

 Their favorite part of the class is when they get to play a full court game at the end.

The girls have also been babysitting the neighbor kids a lot this summer. Usually they go over to their house but on this day, the kids came over here. Zach loves to have friends over. 

Well, August is here and I kind of have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it means that summer is almost over. On the other hand, it means school and all our other activities are just around the corner and our family will be in a busy routine soon. 
Truth be told, I'm sort of looking forward to that yet also dreading it all at the same time. Ha!
See, mixed feelings!  

Oh well... we're super blessed to be going on a couple of fun trips this month before getting down to business again. Saving the best for last. 😊

31 July 2019

July Book Review

It was a full month of nonstop reading. I managed to get through 7 books in July!

First up, I Am Malala. 

I read this aloud to the girls and it was a fascinating read about Malala Yousafzai. 
She was raised in a once peaceful area of Pakistan but it was transformed by terrorism. Malala loved school but the Taliban said that women could not be educated. Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes so she fought for her rights. On October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause. She was shot point-blank by the Taliban while riding the bus home from school. 
Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and at 17 years old, she was the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.  This was an interesting glimpse into life in Pakistan, where women do not have the same rights as we do here in America. The girls learned that education is not only a right but also a privilege. Malala, with the support of her loving family is a very brave young woman who dared to change not only her country, but the world. 

Next up was 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke. 
I found this book to be insightful and important. 
Smartphones have become fully integrated into the daily pattern of our lives. Never more connected, yet we seem to be growing more distant. Never more efficient, yet we have never been more distracted. 
Are Christians using technology to transform our world or is technology transforming us in unhealthy ways? This was a call to examine our motives that inspire our smartphone use. It reminds us that our phone habits will either amplify or get in the way of our most important longing: the soul-satisfying glory of our Savior. 
I highly recommend this read! 

Next, I needed to read something light. I'm a big fan of biographies. I enjoy looking into people's lives and learning about their history and how their lives have been shaped. I picked this book up at a church yard sale a while back and decided to give it a whirl. 
This book probably surprised me the most out of all the books I read this month. The book chronicles Phil's life from childhood to the founding of the family business and it's quite a remarkable life at that. I learned things about Phil that I never knew. Like the fact that he has a master's degree and could have played professional football but gave that up to duck hunt. 
He candidly shares about his reckless rough life before the Lord got a hold of him and how he's been a man on a mission ever since. Here's an example of the book that made me laugh, especially in light of the fact that I just read 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. 

Rule No. 1 for Living Happy, Happy, Happy
Simplify Your Life (Throw Away Your Cell Phones and Computers, Yuppies). 

What ever happened to the on-and-off switch? I don’t ask for much, but my hope is that someday soon we’ll get back to where we have a switch that says on and off. Nowadays, everything has a pass code, sequence, or secret decoder. I think maybe the yuppies overdid it with these computers. The very thing they touted as the greatest time-saving device in history—a computer—now occupies the lion’s share of everybody’s life. 

Bottom line: This book made me happy. :) I loved seeing God transform Phil's life and make him into the gospel-sharing servant he is today.

I picked this up on a whim at WalMart (where else do you get all things Pioneer Woman?). 
I've always been a fan of Ree so I was excited to get a deeper glimpse into her life before she became the PW. Basically, this was the love story account of how Ree met her husband, Ladd and how she went from being a vegetarian LA city girl to a meat-eating cattle rancher's wife. Ree writes with wit, humor (often self-deprecating), and lots of emotion. I enjoyed her writing style but I was rather surprised at the steaminess of this book. I would consider it PG-13 for sure. And even though my girls are 13, I don't think they'll be reading this any time soon. It read more like a romance novel. It was light and entertaining but did I really need to know all about her lust for her husband in such vivid, personal detail? Um, no. That's just my opinion though. Some things are better left untold (at least to the public). 

Several people have asked me over the years if I've ever seen the movie, Lion and I had not. I knew it was about adoption to some extent. When I saw the book in a book store, I snagged it up because again, I love biographies and it sounded so interesting. Besides, the book is always better than the movie, right? :) This is an amazing story about a 5 year-old boy named Saroo who became lost on a train in India. He did not know the name of his family or where he was from. He survived horrible experiences and spent weeks on the streets of Kolkata before being taken to an orphanage and adopted by an Australian couple. His story doesn't end there. Despite being happy in his new family, Saroo always wondered about the home and family he had in India. In his late 20's, with the technology of Google Earth, he poured over images of India and meticulously looked for landmarks he might recognize. After years of searching, one day, he finally found what he was looking for. 
This book was heart wrenching at times and hard to put down. Saroo was only 5 years old when he became lost in a gigantic city. Of course, I think of Zach because he is 5 too and I just can't even imagine the terrifying horror that kid experienced. Thankfully, it has a happy ending.
This is a story that will stay with me for a while. Morgan and I are looking forward to watching the movie.

Safe. Comfortable. Happy. 
These are words we all love and crave.
Jennie and her husband are tired of the worldly happiness and empty pursuits. One night, they bravely pray a prayer of abandonment. They say, "God, we will do anything." And that prayer took them on an adventure that God had written, just for them.
Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move us to stop chasing things that just make us feel happy and start living a life that matters. A life that is...
 Surrendered. Reckless. Courageous.
If God is real and we are going to live with Him forever, shouldn't He be our everything? 
I read this book about 7 years ago and I remember it impacted me so much that it the last straw in us saying Yes to adopting again. Zach is a product of our anything. 
Jennie's words were a great reminder about what's really important. This life is short and heaven is forever.  Let's start living like we believe that. 
I highly recommend this book to any Christian. It will challenge you to put things in perspective and start living your life in light of eternity. 

Lastly, I managed to squeeze in Rainbow Garden. We found this for 10 cents and I read it aloud to the girls. We have several other books by Patricia St. John and they never disappoint. This was about a young girl named Elaine. She leaves her home in London to stay with the Owen family in Wales. Her own mother doesn't really care for her and she feels left out and miserable. It's only the little secret garden that she finds at the end of the rainbow that makes staying there worthwhile. And then something happens that changes everything.
This wasn't my favorite St. John book but it was still enjoyable because all of her books have important Christian values and life lessons in them. Kids grapple with real issues about faith and eventually, accept Christ by the end of the book. 

So that's it! That's my July book review. 
I've read 29 books so far this year. 
I'm hoping for a great month of reading in August since we have a couple of vacations planned. 
And speaking of August, that means summer is almost over and I'm not sure how I feel about that! 

I think I'll just enjoy this last month before things get busy over here and thank God for the lovely respite He's given me this summer. 

Welcome, August!

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