Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Review: Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

First of all I'd like to comment on the infrequency of my posts. I blame my recent time-zone change. The problem is not jet lag, since mercifully I don't suffer from that, but from the fact that the majority of my readers are in North America and therefore I aim for U.S time zones in publishing. What this means is that if I want to publish my post at 9 AM U.S time, I have all day in Africa to get it ready. However, if I'm living in the U.S and need to have a post ready by 9 AM I have to be way more on the ball than I have been. So, there you have it--a brand new excuse. You're welcome!

And now for my latest book review:
From "In New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner's latest D.D. Warren thriller, the relentless Boston investigator must solve a coldly calculated murder--before it happens.
In four days, someone is going to kill me . . ."

I loved this book. From the first paragraph it gripped me. I didn't know who the antagonist or protagonist was. I wasn't sure if what I was reading was real (in a fiction sense, of course) or imagined by one of the characters. It grabbed me and the suspense didn't let up the whole time.

Now, I have never read any other books by Lisa Gardner so I was a bit confused by which character I was supposed to attach myself to. I also felt there was a backstory somewhere there that I was missing. Having said that, it didn't take away from the story and it was all explained in the 'author's note' at the end of the book. (You can also get a hint in the Goodreads blurb above where it mentions this is part of a series of books about Detective Warren--though I did not know this at the time of my reading)

I will have to track down more of Lisa Gardner's books because I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

In case you're missing out on Africa stuff check out these posts of days gone by:

Exactly One Year (& a day) Ago: God is Bigger Than the Boogey Man
(Almost) Exactly Two Years Ago: Things I'm Looking Forward To --Or things I'm currently enjoying

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Off and Running

I hit the ground running this trip and I'm so excited about that. My very first full day here I had to go to the DMV to renew my driver's license. Bureaucracy and an awful photo in one stop. Hooray! Seriously though--after dealing with government offices in Africa, this was an absolute breeze. Truth be told--I still hate my photo. On the bright side--if I ever have need of a mug shot, my photos will totally match. 

I also spontaneously booked a trip to Nashville to attend a conference. I had hoped to get a trip in to Nashville this year but wasn't sure how it would all work. Then this conference opportunity opened up and I jumped on it. I'll be learning more about how to run a non-profit. Exciting stuff! Don't you wish you could attend with me? I'm looking forward to all the new stuff I'll learn though.

I have already scheduled a bunch of events and am presenting the list here so in case you want to catch me at any of them you can! 

March 25--
               Peace Lutheran--Pasadena, TX 9:30 A.M
               Grace Bible Church--Baytown, TX 11:45 A.M (potluck lunch first, then the presentation)
March 29-April 1—Nashville, TN 

April 3-April 6—Montezuma, KS
Montezuma Methodist Church—Wednesday, April 4

April 18-- Fisher Road Baptist—Baytown, TX

April 22—Hebron Baptist Church—Denham Springs, TX

May 2—Monument Baptist—Deer Park, TX

May 6-May 21 Midland/Odessa

May 6—Grace Christian Church—Odessa, TX

May 20—Immanuel Baptist—Odessa, TX

May 27—Independence, OR

Sundays and Wednesdays still available:
April 8—Sunday
April 11--Wednesday
April 15—Sunday
April 25--Wednesday
April 29—Sunday

Of course if you are interested in any weekday events (meetings, dinners, lunches, coffee, etc.) please email me and I can send you my number so we can set up a time (or if you just want to chat). If you need directions to any of the above scheduled meetings, you can also email for instructions.

 I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the next couple months.

P.S. I'll be posting a list later in the week detailing our fundraising goals for this year and some of the needs the orphanage has. Stay tuned.

Exactly One Year Ago (yesterday): Ruts or Rituals
Exactly Two Years Ago: A Peek at My Week

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review--Illusion by Frank Peretti

From Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop. 

What a book!!

Frank Peretti was one of the first Christian authors I read that really got me excited about the craft of fiction writing and also managed to wake up my spirit as well. When I heard he'd written a new book after a 9 year break I couldn't wait to read it.

This is a fantastic novel--well written and executed in a way that kept me wondering all day, "Is it bed time yet? I have to get back to reading!" Unlike many Christian novels, this was a story that had Christian characters rather than Christian characters with a supporting story.

The science part of the story had just enough mumbo-jumbo to convince me that it could be real, but not enough to make me turn to scanning rather than reading.

My only complaint was with the few hospital scenes. They had obviously been researched rather than lived, if that makes sense--but really that is such a small complaint and did not detract at all from how exciting the book was.

The romance was sweet but not over the top. This means I can recommend this book to my teenage son without worrying that he'll gag. Make haste and get thyself a copy of Illusion. You won't regret it!

I was given a free digital galley in order to create this review. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Exactly Two Years Ago: Outdated Judgement

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maybe It's My Perfume

I could start this post off by apologizing for falling off the grid. Or, I could excuse myself by telling you how incredibly busy I've been over the past few weeks. Or, I could give you yet another recap post of how I traveled from Kazembe to Lusaka to London to Houston--all in the space of a week--and how exhausted I am now. Or, I could just jump back in with the adventures that I've promised you right in the title of this here blog:
Since Timmy was going to be leaving Zambia to head off to college, we decided to take one last trip to Lusaka as a family and while there we visited a small game park (animals, not rides) attached to a lodge outside of Lusaka. We wanted Timmy to get some good pictures for his African bragging rights. 
After a lovely breakfast we piled into the open-air Land Cruiser to go hunt down some animals. Unfortunately the grass was so long that we couldn't see much at all. We did get to have some encounters with giraffes and if I ever get a copy of the video of Timmy running with the giraffes I'll post it for your viewing pleasure.

However, this story is not about Timmy or giraffes.

Out of all the animals we saw--the giraffes, a few antelopes, and some pretty birds, the thing that got my family most excited was a millepede. I'm posting a picture below so if you are squeamish you might want to close your eyes.

Our oldest son has a zoology professor who loves to check out exotic insects from around the world. Tom wanted to show him a millepede. I have to say I was way less than thrilled about this.

Our guide parked the Cruiser and everyone but me piled out to examine up close and personal this invertebrate or arthropod. When they decided to take it home, the driver helpfully provided a piece of newspaper to wrap it in.

When we got back to the lodge we placed the newspaper-wrapped millepede into a small cardboard box and gave it to Troy to hold in the back seat of the car we had rented for the day.

We then drove back into Lusaka and after a drive-through lunch at KFC (yes, in Zambia!), we headed to the mall so we could watch a movie. After parking in the upper level of the parking lots, I gathered my purse and sweater and got out of the front seat of the car. What I saw as I turned around to close my door caused me to scream, shout, and nearly pass out as I slammed my door shut.
Timmy was standing next to me and couldn't figure out what had happened. I couldn't speak at all except to gasp, "open the door!". When he did, he saw what had caused me to completely freak out. 
There on the side of the car seat where I had been sitting, was the millepede. How it had managed to crawl out of the newspaper, and the box and make its way up to MY seat, we'll never know.

As I dissolved into tears sitting on the curb of the parking lot--my entomophobia (fear of arthropods) temporarily overriding my acrophobia (fear of heights)--my family was recapturing the millepede and laughing about how this stuff always seems to happen to me.

The (in)famous story is from when Tom and I were newlyweds and working at a mission in Mexico. Tom found a really interesting (in his opinion) fuzzy caterpillar. It had lightning marks on it which nature put there to say: All rational creatures beware! Of course my wonderful husband has never exhibited rational behavior when it comes to animals, snakes and insects. Long-time readers are familiar with this, of course.

So, Tom found this exciting caterpillar and decided to keep it in a little terrarium on the shelf above our desk. I begged him not to keep it there--insisting it wasn't safe. Tom assured me that the lid was on tight and I had nothing to worry about. 

You know where this story is going, right?

Not many days had passed before we got up one morning and found an empty terrarium. No caterpillar in sight.

I panicked! Tom searched. I searched. It was nowhere to be found. 

For the next couple days I was on edge--fully (and irrationally) expecting that caterpillar to jump out of the shadows to attack me. Then, one day I sat down on our old-fashioned little chair at the desk. It had a little skirt around it. Just as I took a seat, fire shot through my leg. I screamed. Tom came running. And there on the skirt of the chair, having just left hundreds of little hairs in my leg, was Tom's 'pet'. Tom scooped it back into his terrarium fussing over how scared he must be.
My leg meanwhile hurt for months.

I'm not sure what I'm doing to attract these creepie-crawly creatures to me. Any ideas on how to make it stop??

Exactly One Year Ago: March Madness


Monday, March 5, 2012

In Everything Give Thanks

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
(Philippians 4:6)
This was part of our sermon yesterday. As I listened to this very familiar and ever comforting, yet convicting passage, I lifted up the things on my heart:

I'm worried about what I've forgotten as I pack:
Thank you Lord that the world has shrunk in such a way that I could get anything I forget fairly easily (should I be willing to pay for it). But, having said that, please strengthen my mind so I do remember all I need to. And give me grace to do without anything I forget.

I'm sad that the kids keep having to say goodbye to people--Timmy for one:
Thank you Lord that you are the real Father to these children. Thank you that technology is such that we can keep in touch with loved ones far away. Please make the next three months pass quickly and please don't let Naomi and Joseph forget me.
I'm dealing with allergies and am a bit worried about my sinuses on the plane--as well as the arrival of a certain Aunt Flo with terrible timing.
Thank you Lord for Benadryl (and a prescription for it) and good products and pain relievers to take care of any eventualities. Please keep my passages clear.

What are you offering up with thanksgiving?

Exactly One Year Ago: A Harrowing Experience
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