Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Veil of Secrets By Shannon Ethridge

I hoped when I chose this book, that it would hold some great marriage advice and be a great story about reconciliation for two people ready to divorce one another. Meet Melanie and Will Connors who are struggling in their marriage while involved in an election campaign. I will admit, I really struggled with this story, there were so many main characters that I struggled to connect with any of them. They all seemed to be lacking in any depth. 

It seemed to me as though the author tried to involve too many hot topics in this novel. Politics, marriage problems, counselling, abuse, unplanned pregnancy, family pressure. While I felt that it read easily, I just never found myself understanding several plots in the story. The politics felt hard to follow, although I haven't had much of an interesting in politics ever in my life, so that could have been it. Then there was an element of terrorism from an extremist group that never seemed to be resolved in the story. There were several instances of hacking and shootings, but I don't actually remember how that supposedly ended. 

I really liked what the author set out to do in exploring how the past affects marriage in the present, but felt as though it could have been more focused on that one issue instead of getting too complex overall. Maybe I will have to try one of her other books, as I really did enjoy her style. 

I would recommend it for readers who have an interest in politics perhaps. Maybe with that interest, it would have made more sense and been easier to keep the characters straight. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review from BookLookBloggers, however all views expressed are entirely my own thoughts and opinions 

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Monday, 12 January 2015

10 Books From 2014.

While I may not have kept up with writing exciting posts all throughout the year, one thing I did enjoy and manage to do on a monthly basis, was review several great books. Some I really loved and will hopefully read again, others just weren't my thing. Here's a recap from the year.

Victim of Grace By Robin Jones Gunn 

At first, I wasn't sure I entirely liked this book. Initially it just didn't hold my attention, then about halfway through I really started to understand where Robin Gunn was coming from. The second half I probably read in the space of a few days. That may have been my own fault in taking so long to read the first half, which made it hard to follow. Or just was my opinion of the content of the book. It felt slow to get going, but then once you got to the meat she had some great things to say....[Read More]

Love & Respect in the Family By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I loved it, honestly. Dr. Eggerichs talked again about the love and respect principle and how it relates in a parent child relationship this time. He uses biblical wisdom and scripture to tackle common problems within the family unit and how children and parents can get into a crazy cycle where no-one feels loved or respected. It was very practical and approached a whole range of topics including discipline, encouragement, supplication, giving, understanding and instructing. I know it is going to be a great resource for years to come for me personally....[Read More]

P.S. He Loves You By Erin James

....It has brought me into a beautiful season of seeking my precious prince & I have enjoyed just sitting in His presence understanding how much He thinks of me, how huge is love is for me, while reading her precious thoughts and meditating on the scriptures she shared. It reads like letters from her directly to you friend, you will honestly believe they are personally written for you. 
And I really think you should check it out.

You really won't regret it....[Read More]

The Queen's Handmaid By Tracey L. Higley

Tracy L. Higley writes about an orphan girl named Lydia, following her journey as a servant to Cleopatra then later to Herod. She also slowly uncovers her heritage and where she came from as we see her mentor, Samuel, pass along several scrolls into her possession with the intention of placing them into the rightful hands of a man on the Jerusalem temple steps who awaits them annually....[Read More]

Passion By Louie Giglio & Others

The book is a collection of talks from the conference itself over the years, and is a great encouragement giving so much food for thought. I will probably come back and read parts of this book again just to glean more wisdom from the pages. Due to the different authors within the book, some of the talks are heavier and harder to read than others, but all of them had really good things to say and will encourage you not to grow complacent in your faith and purpose here on earth....[Read More]

The Nesting Place By Myquillyn Smith

This book couldn't have come to me for review at a more perfect time. I downloaded it two days before we were due to pack our current apartment into boxes, and finished it before we physically moved everything. It was that good! I know I will be reading it again! Myquillyn drew me in from the first page with her hilarious stories, helpful tips and motivation to try new things that I will probably love. 

The next thing is that I get to put it all into practice, having moved immediately after I felt like I was handed a blank canvas and given tips and resources to go with it. The hubby and I laughed hard over her story of spilling fresh paint on the floor of the rental (ok I may have cringed a little too knowing the horror I would feel if it were me). The pictures in the book of her beautiful home encouraged me and inspired me to try things I've never tried before. (I can't wait to look into have a canvas with all the streets we've lived on since being married) 

It felt like a big sister slightly further ahead of me, in a similar journey of moving every 12 months, giving me the permission I needed in the area of decorating our home.....[Read More]

The Family of Jesus By Karen Kingsbury

This book is a historical biblical fiction account of the family members of Jesus. It gives fictional (but biblically accurate) accounts from the perspectives of Joseph, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Elizabeth, James and Mary. With bible study sections for each to look further into the biblical context and implications. 

I really appreciated Karen Kingsbury's careful way of sticking to biblical truth and her explanation of how she went about her construction of the stories. Inserting biblical truth first, then researching culture to ensure accuracy then lastly filling gaps with fiction. Obviously the most accurate accounts are those found in the bible itself, but I loved seeing it come to life through stories in the Family of Jesus as Karen Kingsbury has certainly been gifted with story-telling....[Read More]

Sarah's Choice By Rebecca St. James

Meet Sarah Collins, a beautiful successful 20-something who is about to get a promotion at work that she has worked hard for. She finds herself hoping to replace a woman who is leaving on maternity leave at first, but probably not returning at all. Especially if corporate has anything to say about it. 

Then Sarah discovers she herself is expecting. Then she begins to question everything; her boyfriends ability to stand by her and support a baby, whether she even wants him to be in the picture, her past and her issues with the Lord following the death of her father.  She finds herself with more choices than she knows how to answer all in a very short period of time.....[Read More]

Let's All Be Brave By Annie Downs

I loved the encouragement in this book, it reads very much like a big sister trying to encourage you to live your life the way the Lord wants you to. Encouragement to not stay with comfort when He is calling you to leap out of faith, her stories are full of scripture and truth guiding her decisions. 

There are many stories of her own showing her own personal journey from wanting to stay where she was comfortable and felt safe, moving towards ministry she felt called to. It was a great light read and I finished it very quickly. It really did feel like a coffee date with a friend, mentor or big sister.....[Read More]

Just Rise Up: A Call to Make Jesus Famous (InScribed Collection)

The study is based on Psalm 145 and calls us to consider whether or not God is actually the main priority in our lives, as He should be. Sarah breaks the study into five Chapters (topics) with five readings in each chapter. Ideally one reading per day with a place for journaling as you read, as well as questions to ask yourself encouraging you to think and dig deeper on the topics. 

The first section was all about living a live of praise, the study really encouraged and challenged me to begin thinking about how much I give praise to God during my daily life. Do I really acknowledge His gifts to me everyday? The Second section was on having a kingdom focus, really encouraging me to consider my daily activities and choices with an eternal focus and perspective. Section three dealt with pride and the issue of really bowing low before our king, recognizing my need for Him and His standing in my life before being able to rise up for Him. 
Section four is on our dreams and God's agenda, and lastly section five was about influence......[Read More]

Disclaimer: Affiliate Links Used, All Opinions Expressed My own.

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Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 In Pictures. (& some words)

Just like I did for last year, and even the year before...I thought it would be fun to look through several pictures of 2014 and share some of the memories. Its great to look back on these in the future and see in a glance everything that happened that year.  Even though it was a hard year for us, which can be seen in a lot of pondering and a lot less writing than usual, there were also great lessons learned and a lot of grace given by the Lord. 
It's a great way to look back with thankfulness, being able to see the Lord at work even in the mundane and hard moments. 
You may want to grab a cup of coffee/tea or hot cocoa, if you're like me and are trying to cut back on caffeine, because a lot of these links are worth the read. 


We started the year celebrating Christmas with Andrew's extended family & my sister and her hubby came with us. So we took a picture of the four of us, which doesn't happen very often. We also went skiing again last January, one of our few trips we take each year. I'm so thankful for this man and his great skiing/snowboarding skills, he taught me how to ski a few years ago now and we have such fun together. 
I also wrote about a daily choice, something I pondered last January about the expression follow your heart and how we could in fact be hindering each other by using the phrase.  


February saw a fun Stitch Fix date again, something Andrew and I have had a ton of fun enjoying especially in the Winter. Its a great way to spend time together, plus he has really good taste at putting together outfits and taking pictures. He's pretty talented! I also went to one of the sweetest baby showers for a dear friend. 
My favorite post from that month is on ways Love is not blind. As well as sharing ways we need to live by what we know is true and starting my battle with caring so much about what people think or say about me. 


March is a harder month here in the Midwest, the weather starts to really get to you with all the constant snow here. But we got to go on yet another ski trip which had the most incredible sunrises from the hotel balcony and then I spent a long weekend in Texas. That was definitely a great relief from the weather up here. I also rebranded this space
Texas was where I definitely met 'my girls' this year. I'm so thankful for this incredible group of women that the Lord brought into my life, there aren't words to describe the timing except that it was a god-thing

I can't wait to see them again this upcoming March! 
That group further confirmed my decision about going to Hope Spoken instead of any other conference. I was also so excited to see sweet Casey again and meet little Apple who I had prayed over during Casey's pregnancy. I will also never forget crying all over Danielle in the middle of a hotel ballroom, she taught me so much about grace and forgiveness this year. 


I gained boldness this month in sharing my story wanting to bring glory to Him through it and also encourage others who face similar situations and struggles in the process. Andrew and I also joined a small group at our church that worked through subtle sins in our lives, looking at the everyday idols facing the church today. It was quite a challenge to say the least.  
The community of ladies at our church also had another baby shower for a friend, its been crazy to see how the Lord really gave us community this year. 


This amazing man helped me celebrate my birthday with a bunch of friends this year. It was great to be able to spend another birthday with him as it's been a challenge to be together in May-time in the past. We played lasertag with about a dozen friends and then went to have dinner at Chilis. It was SO much fun! Who says a 20-something party can't be as awesome as when you're in high school. 
I also continued to battle one of my insecurities, I re-shared my testimony, made DIY moon dough with the girls I nanny for & finally posted pictures of our home the week we moved out of it haha! 


My family came to visit in the middle of the summer, so I didn't write very much here in this space. We were busy spending time with them, making day trips to various places and enjoying the little time we get to all be together. I wish I had more pictures from their time here this year, I didn't do a very good job at taking my camera with me this summer. Most of my photography has been on other people while trying to launch a business, so my personal pictures have taken a backseat unfortunately. I did share our new home a little, although it looks different in several ways already. As well as write about a family that inspired me to really trust the Lord and live with a whole lot more of faith than I currently do.


We went to the wedding of two friends we both knew in high school, it was fun knowing both the bride and groom for many years. So strange as we knew them both and then after college they reconnected and got married. Such a cute story! 
I also thought more about being a good listener

We also celebrated four years of being married. Can't believe its been that long already and yet it seems like I can't remember a time before I did life by his side. 


We got to see our nieces and nephews in the summer. We only see them about once a year, which is crazy when they are this little and grow so much in between visits. I also did another Stitch Fix date with my hubby.  


This space underwent a name change and I shared some thoughts behind it, as well as some thoughts about timing on our relationship,  timing about so many other things in life
One of the biggest things this year was that we decided to go to Kenya, this month was when I shared that we were going to start fundraising and following Him to where He was calling us


October was a very busy month so not much happened here, I started out with a trip to North Carolina to help a friend out with her two sweet babes. I got to see Charlotte and loved being in the south. Then business wise I had a bunch of portrait sessions from which I loved the above shots. Then on Halloween we boarded a plane to head to Kenya, a 48hr journey across the world which fried my poor nerves with about 18 hrs of flying time. 


November spoiled my camera and it hasn't been the same every since. Too many amazing pictures from the incredible beauty that we saw many thousands of miles from home. I started sharing just how amazing it was here and here. But still have yet to write about everything. 


The last month of this year was probably the hardest month of the year for me, for many reasons. We went through a lot but I definitely learned how to lean into God more and more about trusting Him with things that are totally not within my control. Trusting Him with dreams, timing, frustrations and help with cleaning up messes. 
I also shared about my understanding of home

This year lived up to the word I picked for it. Hope. It couldn't have been more appropriate for reminding me throughout all the ups and downs, the journey was always full of hope. Because He has never left us or forsaken us. My life verse (which I chose at 16) became such truth in the last few months. 

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosperyou and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
[Jeremiah 29:11]

I can't wait to pray & think more about a new word for the year ahead. I'm taking my time and hoping He gives me a word to hold onto as we start this fresh new year. 

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