Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sunshine Blogger Award

Suzanne Hines, at The Glorious Mundane, nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  By the way, if you don't follow Suzanne's blog, you need to, especially if you are a young mom!  

Here are the rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award:

The Rules:

1-Thank the person that nominated you.

2-Answer the questions from your nominator.

3-Nominate fellow bloggers you follow.

4-Give them the 10 questions to answer.

5- Include the rules.

The questions Suzanne gave me are:

1. What is your favorite chore? Least favorite?

My favorite chore is doing laundry.  Probably because I throw it in the machine and the machine does the work. :)  But I love hanging clothes on the line and the machine doesn't do that.  My least favorite chore is doing dishes.  Thankfully my husband does them several times a week.

2. What is the funniest comment you have received on your blog?
Ummm, I don't know.  I can't think of any.

3.  If you were a season, which season would you be?
I like to think I would be summer.  I just love long summer evenings, sitting on the porch with family.  I think I would be summer because it is slow and purposeful and all about family, which is very important to me.

4.  What is your most viewed blog post?
Huh.  Well, this has helped me learn something new about blogger!  I found out how to find my most viewed post.  It was called Facts about Niger.  I wrote it December 6, 2010 and it got not a single comment, but it has received the most number of views.

5.  How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging since April 5 2006 and have posted 734 times.

6. What is the meaning behind your children’s names?
Daniel means "God is my judge".  Daniel is one of the few Old Testament characters who does not have anything negative recorded about him.  In all of his dealings he was upright and just and sought to honor God.  We wanted our Daniel to be a man like the biblical Daniel who stands for God no matter what and who truly believes that God is his judge.  His middle name is "John" and he is named after his father.
Suzanne's name means "graceful lily".  Suzanne really is a graceful lily, don't you think?  But we chose her name because we thought it was pretty and it works in French or English, though we ended up sticking with the French pronunciation which is really beautiful.  But the main reason for choosing Suzanne is that she is one of the women who followed Jesus and took care of him out of her means.  While Jesus had no where to lay his head, Suzanne was one of the women who probably cooked for him and cared for him in practical ways.  We wanted our Suzanne to be a woman who followed Jesus and would serve him in practical ways.  Her middle name is Esther which means "star". But we chose her name not for its meaning as much as that we wanted her to be like Esther in the Bible who was asked to do a difficult thing for the good of her people.  She was put there "for such a time as this" and it has been and continues to be our prayer that Suzanne Esther will serve Jesus even in difficult times.

7.  What is your favorite childhood memories?  I had a fairly happy childhood, so it's hard to choose one.  I think my happiest, though, revolve around playing with cousins and being at family gatherings (I told you family is important to me!).  Or how about the time we spent three days touring London? (I'm the blonde.) That was fun. I just really had a happy childhood!

8.  What are your three favorite blogs to follow?  
1. Well, The Glorious Mundane for sure!  
2. He's not a frequent blogger, but when he does blog, my colleague Nate does an excellent job of respectfully describing Nigerien culture.  He blogs at The Bearded Sage
3. I love the photography on Kids Were Here.

9.  Where did you go on your honeymoon?  We went to Washington DC.  Look how skinny we were!  (This picture was actually taken a day or two before our wedding at my Grandpa's house.  He had moved to a nursing home and we rented his house from him for our first six months of married life.)

10. What is one pet peeve of yours? I really, really hate it when people make a lot of noise when they eat.  I tell myself they can't help it.  But I just really hate it.

I nominate:
Richelle at Our Wrighting Pad

And your 10 questions are:
1.  Where did you grow up?
2.  What is the best thing that happened to you today?
3.  What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
4.  If your house was on fire, what three things would you grab on your way out the door?  (Other than your children!)
5.  What are you most afraid of?
6.  What is your love language?  If you don't know, what one thing says "love" to you more than anything else?
7.  What is the predominant color in your house?
8.  What energizes you?
9.  Which make-up item do you always put on (mascara, eye liner, lipstick, etc.)?
10.  What is the book you are currently reading or have just finished?

Now it's your turn!  And if I didn't nominate you, but you're a blogger reading this, please play along.  Or if you don't blog, copy and paste the questions into my facebook status and answer them there (or on your own wall).  I'd love to know the answers to these questions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top 10 Books from 2016

For the past several years, I've shown you my top 10 books from the ones I've read in the past year.  So here are my favorites for 2016, counting down from least favorite among the ten to my top book for the year.

10.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  This is a classic and I enjoy it.  But since I've read it several times before it doesn't get my highest rating.

9.  My Antonia by Willa Sibert Cather.  This is another classic, though, honestly, I'd never heard of it before.  I saw a list of classics you must read, saw it was free on Kindle, so I downloaded it and was not disappointed.  It's not high on action, but has interesting characters.  I also love historical fiction and love learning more about how our country developed.

8.  Abandoned to God: the Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest by David McCasland.  This is the story of Oswald Chambers and was a very interesting biography.  

7.  City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell.  This book is a novel about missions in China.  It is very well written, the characters are well-developed, the setting is fascinating, and because it's historical fiction, I learned a lot, too.

6.  Dear Enemy by Jack Cavanaugh.  Another historical fiction book, this one is set in Brussels during World War II.  It has a fascinating story line, but I'm still annoyed by the ending!

5.  Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior by Kimberly Wagner was definitely the most helpful marriage book I read and possibly the most helpful spiritually as well.  If you are a strong woman and if you wonder how that plays out in a good marriage relationship, you'll appreciate this book.

4. & 3. 12 Years a Slave and Other Slave Narratives by Solomon Northup and others.  Every single American needs to read this book.  This is not a novel.  It is not historical fiction.  It is the truth as told by former slaves.  It's often brutal and seldom beautiful, but their stories need to be remembered.  And the remembrance should influence the way we live in today's world.  Book #3 is part of this compilation and was called Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  If you only get two books out of this compilation, get 12 Years a Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

2.  The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman.  If you ever had any doubts that the Holocaust happened, read this book.  This is the story of a Jewish Polish man who lived to tell the story.  This is another book that is hard to read, but the story must be told and we must never forget.

1.  Crucial Conversations:  Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.  I am not an automatic expert now at having crucial, difficult conversations, but this book has definitely given me some tools.  Even if you only grab on to and put into practice one or two things in this book, you'll have made progress in successfully having crucial conversations.

And here is my entire list from 2016, listed in the order read:
1. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
2.  The Fruits of the Spirit:  Living a Life Connected! by Gary Anderson
3.  Between Worlds:  Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marilyn Gardner
4.  Afton of Margate Castle by Angela Hunt
5.  Dear Enemy by Jack Cavanaugh
6.  12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
7.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself by Frederick Douglass
8.  The Life of Josiah Hensen, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself by Josiah Henson
9.  The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick
10.  Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs)
11.  Fierce Women:  The Power of a Soft Warrior by Kimberly Wagner
12.  Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
13.  The Unseen Face of Islam by Bill Musk
14.  Honorably Wounded by Marjorie Foyle
15.  The Warrior by Joyce Swann
16.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
17.  Porridge and Passion by Jonathan Aitken
18.  Quentins by Maeve Binchey
19.  The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison
20.  Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron
21.  Jane and the Wandering Eye by Stephanie Barron
22.  When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore
23.  Abandoned to God:  The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest by Davi McCasland
24.  Rescue the Captors by Russell Stendal
25.  Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
26.  History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom
27.  The Man of the Desert by Grace Livingston Hill
28.  My Antonia by Willa Sibert Cather
29.  The Fringe Hours:  Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner
30.  Crucial Conversations:  Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
31.  Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock (this almost made it to my top 10)
32.  The Pianist by Wladylov Szpilman
33.  How to Really Love Your Adult Child by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
34.  The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

Saturday, January 07, 2017

2016 in Review

Let's take a look at the year 2016.

January's big events were the dedication of the Tamajaq New Testament, our annual Spiritual Life Conference, helping friends find a house, a trip to visit missionaries in the bush, attended a big wedding, and celebrated John's birthday. It was a pretty busy month.  My January picture is from our trip to the bush and shows baobab trees.  


February was a little less crazy.  John started taking moolo lessons.  February is the time of year when the fresh fruits and veggies are in season so I did a lot of work to freeze veggies for the hot months ahead.  This picture isn't terribly exciting, but a year after the church burnings this church we helped plant back in 1989 finally had a new ceiling and a fresh coat of paint.

In March we attended another big wedding, froze more veggies, celebrated Easter, and visited a church in another town.  John and I have visited a lot of churches in the past three years as he has done research for his doctorate.  We've enjoyed getting to know more pastors and seeing what God is doing in this area of the country.

In April, we had our Area Council meetings, went to a concert that involved John's moolo teacher, I went to a wedding shower for an adult MK who was here doing an internship, and got ready for the TIMO team's arrival.

In May I helped welcome the TIMO team, celebrated my birthday, and redecorated our second bathroom.  But, what can I say, traveling to Oxford to be with John for the last two weeks of his six-week annual trek to England, was definitely a highlight.  How do I even choose a favorite picture from that time??!

In June we spent 24 hours in Turkey, 

found out Suz and Theo's expected baby was a boy, made a trip to the village where we used to live, had a picnic at the sand-dunes, and I became interim Director for the summer.  As part of my duties, I attended the graduation of a girls' sewing school and the graduation of the Bible school.

In July, John and I got to visit the TIMO team on location (which included flying in one of our mission planes), attended the installation of the pastor at a church we helped start, 

and as interim Director attended the closing ceremony of a church camp.

In August we enjoyed the rainy season, I rejoiced when the Director came back, and we celebrated our 30th anniversary.  We had a little party at church for our anniversary.

Also in August I got a house ready for a family arriving, and we celebrated one of our friends who has worked at the SIM office for 20 years.

September was either an unusually quiet, calm month or I was too busy to take pictures, I'm not sure which.  Our office went to greet one of our employees who had just gotten married and I attended an event at Sahel Academy.  That's apparently all of interest that happened that month. :)  

In October we had our Area Council meetings again and then we left on vacation.  Our main reason for going on vacation in October was the birth of our grandson and to see our grand-daughter ... oh, and to see our kids and parents, too, of course. :) 


We were privileged to be in the USA during the entire month of November.  We had some extra time in addition to our vacation for medical work which was really a blessing.  We got to spend good amounts of time with Suz and Theo, with Daniel and Kelly, with my parents in Florida, and with John's mom in Connecticut.  We also got to see my sister, all of John's brothers, nieces, nephews, and even some cousins.  This picture represents all the family time we got in November. 


And then December found us back in Niger.  Of course, there was Christmas, but there was also a difficult situation at church, and setting up housing for a short-termer coming for a few weeks to teach and for a family coming long-term, as well as making sure everybody had a place to sleep during our spiritual life conference.  Here we are wearing our Christmas gifts ... which was fun since the Browns won their first game of the season on Christmas Eve (our nephew, Seth DeValve, plays for the Cleveland Browns in case you missed that! :) ).


Sunday, January 01, 2017

December Reading List

My goal for the year was to read 50 books.  That's how many I read last year, so I figured that was a good number to aim for.  However, I fell a bit short and ended up with 34 books read.  That's 2.8 books per month, so I guess that's not too bad.

This month I finished three books.

The first was The Pianist by Wladylov Szpilman.  This is the true life story of Wladyslaw Szpilman who was a professional pianist. He was also Jewish, living in Nazi-invaded Poland during World War II. This is an incredible story of survival and of horror. It is the story of the death of many around him, but also the story of the indomitable human spirit and will to survive. I saw the movie of the same title before reading the book and thought surely Hollywood made up the ending. But, no, it is what really happened (and I won't spoil it for you!). This book shows the horrible, terrible atrocities carried out by the Nazis. It also shows the way non-Jewish people helped Jews during this time. It's also incredible to think that the book was written soon after the war ended, so all the details are fresh and adequate, not unreliable remembrances from 40 years back. And if you really don't like to read and would rather just skip to the movie by the same name, I can tell you that it is very true to the book.  I don't recommend the book or the movie for younger people and in the movie there are scenes where you will need to look away.  That sad, I do highly recommend both the book and the movie.

The second book I finished was called How to Really Love Your Adult Child by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.  This book is helpful to parents who have young adult children. I think it would be most helpful to those going through the transition of children leaving. Chapman and Campbell include a helpful chapter on why leaving home looks so different for Gen X'ers than it did for Boomers.  The authors have some very practical tips to help parents whose kids have left and come back again (boomerang kids), those whose kids just won't leave, and those whose kids find themselves in dire straits (such as a divorce or death of a spouse) and need to come home for a limited amount of time. They also have a section on encouraging your children who have moved out and are doing well and how parenting looks different now than it did when they were home. It also has a great section on grand-parenting and on leaving a legacy for your kids and grand-kids. Overall I think it's a helpful book.

And the third book was another biography called The Duchess (originally published as Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire) by Amanda Foreman.  I was especially interested in the story because we visited the Chatsworth House, the Cavendish summer estate, in May. That was the first time I heard about Georgiana, so when my sister told me she had just read this book and passed it on to me, I was eager to find out more about her. I found the book interesting, but not riveting.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was probably the best-known woman in England in her day. She lived a life of privilege and influence, yet of sadness, dissipation, and was part of a dysfunctional family. She seemed to live a life of contradictions. Georgiana was beautiful and influenced fashion. What she wore one day was en mode the next. Yet her husband paid little attention to her and seemed unimpressed with her beauty.  Later they did seem to achieve a sort of comfortable friendship.  She influenced Whig politics, knew the Prince of Wales and the Prime Ministers of England personally, campaigned publicly, and was a true politician, yet lived in a day when she could not vote. She was wealthy, yet gambled it away. She had friends, yet "borrowed" from them to pay back gambling debts; but instead of paying back debts, she simply gambled more. Georgiana was insecure in her friendships resulting in her deepest friendship being with Lady Bess who moved in with the Cavendishes and had an affair and two children with Georgiana's husband. It is not clear, but the two women may have also had a lesbian relationship. Georgiana claimed to be religious, yet she had several affairs herself and an illegitimate daughter as a result. She was a writer, but never published under her own name. She was a supporter of the arts and influential in all of society.

The book is impressively researched and includes 42 pages of bibliography. However, I found the book to be a bit slow. It spends a lot of time explaining and expounding on the politics of the day. If you just want to know about an important historical figure and if you love history, especially that of the time period of the late 1700's/early 1800's, you would probably enjoy this book. If you just want the story of a historical figure without lots of details, this 
book would bore you silly.

Also, being American and not British, all the different names and titles can become very confusing. Georgiana herself, for example, has her maiden name, Spencer, and her married name, Cavendish. But her title is the Duchess of Devonshire, even though the family estate is nowhere near the area of Devonshire. (The explanation of that is an entirely different story.)

I only saw the first part of the movie by the same title and as much as I saw, they definitely were focusing on the sexual aspects of Georgiana's story (and the way they portrayed it was what they surmise might of happened, so it seemed really fictionalized). But I didn't see the entire movie, so maybe it got better as it went on.