Friday, November 15, 2013

Strait of Hormuz – a review of a book by my current FAVORITE author

Strait_of_Hormuz
Plot Synopsis (from the back of the book)

“An under-the-radar phone call from the U.S. State Department puts Marc Royce once again on assignment—ferreting out rumors of a clandestine operation stretching from Asia to the Mideast. At stake is Iran’s threat to blockade the narrow Strait of Hormuz, cutting off vital shipping routes and escalating global tensions beyond the breaking point.

Under the guise of investigating money laundering via high-end art purchases in Europe, Royce finds himself in Switzerland with only sketchy information, no backup, and without a single weapon other than his wits.

His appointment with a gallery owner in Geneva is a dead end--the man is on the floor with a bullet through his chest. But it turns out Royce does have backup. The Mossad has sent someone to keep an eye on this undercover op, which is of more than casual interest to the Israelis. And it's someone Royce knows...”

My Thoughts About The Book


Davis Bunn is my favorite author these days. I have been enjoying his new books, as well as some older ones I have gotten out of the library. [To read the reviews of the books I have read of his, click the label ‘reviews’ on my sidebar or go to my Goodreads account by clicking the Goodreads widget on my sidebar.] He is a spectacular writer. His stories have it all. This one has: Romance (but not gross icky romance, just enough to make me go awwwww and not enough so my sons don’t want to read the books. Intrigue. Spiritual battles. Guns. Love. Prayer. Explosions. Friends. Enemies. New friends found in unexpected places. Life. God. Uncertainty. People trying to find God’s will. People with problems figuring out what to do next…. just like me. Well, not really JUST like me as I don’t usually have people shooting at me or trying to kill me in my everyday life. I did love this book though. I LOVED the whole series. I still think book two is my favorite though, but I couldn’t exactly tell you why, with books one and three tied for a close second.

A couple favorite quotes, and some thoughts about those quotes, from the book.

“‘I think we should pray. Together.’ 
It took her a long moment. But he waited it out with her. until she could look over and really see him.

‘Morning and night,’ he went on. ‘We come together and we ask for clarity. Vision. Purpose. Wisdom. Healing. Peace. For each other and for the two of us.’” (pg 166)
I needed this. I wish my husband would commit to something like this and make it a continuing habit. I think it would really benefit us as a married couple. We are struggling to know God’s will. My hubby has been through all kinds of physical problems and he has been unemployed for 3 1/2 years. We could use some wisdom, vision, clarity, peace and a purpose for our lives. Until the Lord speaks to my husband about doing something like this I will do it on my own. I know God will hear my prayers.

Selected quotes from page 173-175
“‘It goes back to the passage from Proverbs. We don’t know what to do, where to go, or how. So I thought we’d try and take this time to find out what we want, and what God wants and pray for each other’

‘The issue we’re talking about here is, what do I want most from life. I feel like we need to look at this honestly before we can work out what God wants.’

‘I want a new reason to hope. A new reason to be fulfilled.’

‘I want to be happy with my world and my purpose.’

‘Heavenly Father, I have never been good at asking you what I should do. Most of my time in prayer has been spent telling you what I want. Even speaking these words is an effort. It makes me scared. What if you want me to do something…?’ She took a long, hard breath. ‘I am asking, God, what do you want?”

She heard Marc say, ‘Lord, I join my prayers with Kitra’s. I ask for us both the answer to the impossible question. This is the hardest thing a strong person can ever do, to be weak in the face of uncertainty. She has led me to the point I could not come to on my own. I ask for Kitra and for myself. In our weakness, we join in this prayer. Show us your will.’”
Show us your will. That is what I want from God as well. A new reason to hope. A new reason to be fulfilled. Happy with my purpose in life. That is what I want. That is what my husband wants. That is what we want for our children. Answer MY prayers Lord. And thank you for Davis Bunn who writes fiction so well that it speaks to my heart, speaks truth into my life, ministers to me in my situation. Thank you Lord.

One more quote.
“‘You must ask the one question I have spent my entire life running from.’ Rhana’s gaze was a burning flame. ‘You must ask which direction will lead you closer to God. Because if you take the other direction, even if you win, even if you gain everything that you use to define success, you lose. And your days will become nothing but ashes. And your memories will be-“

‘Stop,’ Kitra whispered. ‘Please. Stop.’

‘Ask for God to make a clear path forward.’ Rhana laid a hand on Kitra’s forearm resting on the balcony railing. ‘Then you must wait. And he will answer you. How do I know this? Because once more my father’s memory is alive in my heart. What I thought was lost forever is with me again. Yet I know it has been there all along. Waiting for me to stop giving in to the wrong voices, taking the wrong paths. And instead heed the one voice that will give me the two things I forgot I even needed. And in the future, when your days are coming to a close, be that tomorrow or fifty years form now, you will know peace.’” (pg. 245)

I want an answer for my life, Lord. I want a to know, clearly, the path forward that you want me/my husband and I/our family to take. I will wait. And while I wait, I will pray, and serve you and my family with the knowledge I have of what you want me to do today.

I was VERY sorry to hear this was the last of the books in the Marc Royce series. Everyone go awwwww again, this time in a sad way. I did not know this was the last in this series when I was reading it. I got to the end and my first thought was I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, even though this one did come out until last week, and I expected it would be a while (a year or more) before the next book in the series came out. I thought he set it up so he could write some more for the series. But I guess he has his reasons for not doing that. Since I can’t read any more about Marc Royce I will find some more of Bunn’s older books that I haven’t read yet. I sorta started one a while back. I don’t really know if I even read any but I know I put it on my Goodreads list. So… I need to order it from the library again and get reading. I also can’t wait to see what new books he has that he is working on for next year!!!

So yeah! I highly recommend this book. I gave it 5 stars because it has it all and it spoke to my heart, and the situation in my own life. It uplifted me spiritually. It is wonderful that a fiction writer can do that. It kept me reading. I finished it in only a couple days. I loved the action and the little bit of romance. I love the way Bunn writes.

If you haven’t read book one, Lion of Babylon, it is FREE right now on Kindle. And book two Rare Earth is on sale for $5.38 on Kindle. If you don't own a Kindle you can get a free Kindle reading app for your computer at Amazon.

You can also enter to win all three books, some great looking watches and an Amazon gift card by clicking the picture below (it will open in a new tab)
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Read Chapters 1-3 of Strait of Hormuz for free
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StraitofHormuzSweepstakesGraphicforLaunchTeam

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image ISBN (Trade Paperback): 978-0-7642-1138-6
ISBN (Hardback): 978-0-7642-1145-4
ISBN (eBook): 978-1-4412-6279-0
336 pages
On sale starting November 5, 2013 from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group

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Davis_Isabella_Bunn
Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Defined by readers and reviewers as a "wise teacher," "gentleman adventurer," "consummate writer," and "Renaissance man," his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.

Strait of Hormuz is the series finale of the popular Marc Royce Adventures. Library Journal named Lion of Babylon (Book 1) a “Best Book of 2011.” Rare Earth (Book 2) won the 2013 Christy Award for best suspense novel and was a CBA top 20 best-seller.

Pictured: Davis Bunn and his wife, Isabella Bunn.

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Q and A with Davis Bunn

Q: The first two books in the Marc Royce series have been bestsellers and also won praise from the critics. Lion of Babylon won the Library Journals Best Book of 2011 award, and Rare Earth won the 2013 Christy Award for Suspense Fiction. What do you see is behind this success?

Davis Bunn: The stories have certainly resonated with readers. I have tried to develop a strong sense of unfolding drama, combined with a unique spiritual theme. This moral structure plays out both in the story and the characters. My aim is to create an inspirational challenge that remains with the reader long after the book has been set down.

Q: This story includes two special components from your early life. Tell us about them.

DB: My mother worked as an antiques dealer. In truth, ‘work’ was not really the correct term, because this was a passion she inherited from her mother. They bonded while my mom was still a child, going to small eastern Carolina towns and hunting around junk stores for the sort of bargains that don’t exist anymore.
Their first love was early Americana, a type of colonial furniture known as Jacobean that predated America’s nationhood. I never really shared this passion, but in two previous books I came to respect and admire those who do.

And so I knew a great delight in re-entering this world in Strait of Hormuz, only this time at the very highest end. Strait takes place in the rarified world of multi-million dollar art, where the richest of collectors vie with museums and galleries for items that are no longer classed as antiques, but rather as treasures.
The second special component was the location. I lived in Switzerland for almost five years, and many of the venues were places where I worked, and walked, and came to discover myself as an author.

Q: In what way is the setting important to this book?

DB: The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most critical waterways. Stretching between Iran and the Gulf States, the strait us home to two US fleets. More than a third of all the oil consumed worldwide pass through these waters. But the story actually begins in Switzerland, before traveling to the Sinai and then into the hotly-contested Strait of Hormuz.

Q: What spiritual theme is the focus of this story?

DB: One growing area of the missionary church movement is with displaced persons. More than five million Iranians have been expelled from their homeland, or been forced to flee the current regime. This includes virtually the entire Christian population. The missionary church movement has made enormous strides in bringing peace to these families and introducing Christ into the world of Muslims fleeing a Muslim government.

Q: What drew you to the missionary church movement as a theme?

DB: I came to faith in a missionary church. I was working as a consultant based in Germany. The year I accepted Christ, the Southern Baptist Mission Board founded a missionary church in Dusseldorf. I attended the church, I grew in the church, I studied under two amazing pastors, and one of them returned to Europe to marry us.

It was also where I learned to write. Two weeks after coming to faith, I felt called to writing. I wrote for nine years and completed seven books before my first was accepted for publication. The church, its members, and the elders all played a critical role in bringing me to where I am now. I am living testimony to the vital role played by the missionary church.

Q: All three of the books in this series have given significant insight into the Muslim world, something critics have picked up on. What experience do you have with this region?

DB: For the four years prior to moving to Germany, I lived and worked in the Middle East. I was the only non-Muslim in the management structure of a family-owned company. They had three major arms: construction equipment, shipping, and pharmaceuticals. I rose to become Marketing Manager of the pharmaceutical division.

One of the requirements of this job was to take instruction in the Koran and Islamic history from an imam who taught at the local university. I think this experience played a major role in my coming to Christ.

Q: How can readers find you on the Internet?
 
Note: I received a complimentary copy of Strait of Hormuz from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thanks to Davis Bunn and Bethany house. I really appreciate the opportunity to review his new books. I love his writing.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unlimited, by Davis Bunn (a review and giveaway)

About Unlimited
ISBN (Trade Paperback): 978-1-4336-7940-7
320 pages
September 1, 2013 from B & H Publishing Group

Plot Synopsis 
Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy. He needs Simon's help.

Upon crossing the border, nothing goes as the young man planned. The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel.

Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause.

With Harold's help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the world-changing device and his own unlimited potential.

My Review of Unlimited
WOW!!! What to say and how to say it without giving away the whole wonderful plot. I just loved this book. Davis Bunn is such a GREAT writer. Spirituality, intrigue; wonderful, yet flawed, characters; a great plot. Davis Bunn first wrote the screenplay to the movie. Then they decided to have him do a book, also. I can't wait to see the Movie! It should be super! There is so much action in this story.

I would definitely give this book a big thumbs up.
Out of 5 stars I would give it

I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I love their big idea for this book: "unleashing the God-given forces of success that live in every one of us." (pg vii)  I could use some of that.

The device "anchored him [Simon] to a million broken dreams." (pg 14) Boy can I relate to that. I am sure there are others out there who feel the same. Will God give us another chance, or have we blown it to many times?? God gives unlimited grace to us. I am so thankful for that.

Suspense... this book has it from the very beginning!!! Try this on for size... "The hunter treated Simon's death as a game." pg 19 Wowee!!! The book has Secrets. Can you solve the murder before the book tells you? I had my suspicions from about halfway and it turned out I was right. There was much work to be done. People to be drawn to the Lord. Children at the orphanage to be protected and show the truth of God's word. Even love. This book has it all, as usual for a Davis Bunn book. He is my favorite author right now.

"What if God brought him here for a divine purpose?" (pg 41) [Simon that is] Does God have a divine purpose for all of us? I know I will never create a device that makes unlimited energy. Does that mean God's purpose for my life is any less divine?? I don't think so. "Simon might have given up on himself. But God had not given up on Simon." (pg 100) It is the same with us. Especially once/if we are one of His, a believer, a child of God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will complete the work he started in us (Philippians 1:6), the divine work. He has a purpose for my life... and yours.

     "How do you do it?" (Simon)
     "Do what?" (Harold)
     "Your facing ruin. Everything you worked for could collapse tomorrow. But you're talking about changing the world."
     Son, that's the power of dreams. If they're not big, if they're not impossible, they're not worth investing you life."
     Simon backed up a step. "I've forgotten how to dream."
     "Your problem is, you never learned." (pg 177)

I feel this way. I don't have dreams any more. Things in my life are tough. I don't know if I have forgotten how to dream or if I never knew how. It is hard to dream big, impossible dreams. But God is the God of the impossible. He can do anything. I just need faith, and some hard work of my own, to pursue those dreams.

Will Simon get the device working? Will the orphanage have to close its doors because of lack of money? Will they figure out who and why the professor was killed?

Negatives about the book???? NONE!! It was stupendous!

You can start below by reading the first 3 chapters... after that you will have to buy the book... or enter the giveaway and maybe you will win a copy!!!!!

Read Chapters 1-3 of Unlimited 
They are on Davis Bunn's Facebook page, so you need a Facebook account to read them.
Just click the link below. It will open in a new tab so you can read them after you finish my review.
http://on.fb.me/1c5IyCS



About Davis Bunn

Davis Bunn is a four-time Christy Award-winning, best-selling author now serving as writer-in-residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Defined by readers and reviewers as a “wise teacher,” “gentleman adventurer,” “consummate writer,” and “Renaissance man,” his work in business took him to over 40 countries around the world, and his books have sold more than seven million copies in sixteen languages.

Unlimited is Davis’s first screenplay to be released as a major motion picture. The book, Unlimited, is a novelization of the screenplay.

The inspiration behind the Unlimited film and novel is Harold Finch's book, Success: Four Keys to Unlock Your Unlimited Potential. Download a free copy of Success here: http://unlimitedthemovie.com/4-keys-book/.


Trailer for Unlimited: The Movie




Q and A with Davis Bunn
The storyline in Unlimited is inspired by true events. What actual events inspired the story?

Harold Finch was formerly the founder and CEO of the first management-leadership consulting groups in the US. In the mid-seventies he sold the company to H&R Block for over a hundred million dollars—back when a hundred million actually meant something. Answering God’s call, he has spent the past three decades traveling the world, teaching his concepts for free and helping underprivileged children learn that they do indeed have both a purpose in God’s eyes, and the potential to succeed. His experiences form the basis for this story.

What ignited your idea for the characters to create a device that would convert raw wasted energy into useable power?

I actually wrote the screenplay for the film before writing the novel. This happens occasionally—Godfather and Love Story were both conceived in this order. While working on the film script, the producer and Harold and I were discussing what might work as a basis for the story’s suspense element. We were looking for something that had the means of revealing this ‘unlimited’ potential in people. I don’t actually remember who first came up with the idea of wasted energy, but soon as it was said, we all jumped on it.

Simon Orwell, the protagonist in Unlimited, is a brilliant, cynical electrical engineering student who finds danger irresistible. Did you model his character traits after yourself or anyone you know?

Alas, we all know a Simon. These days, this type of person is all too common. An individual with huge potential, who allows himself or herself to become distracted by the multitude of temptations that basically define modern life. And yes, I do know several such people. Some turn this into hugely productive directions, thank goodness. Usually to do so requires divine help, a clarification of focus, and strength they must reach out and ask to receive.

Many of the characters in the story are orphans. What parallels do you see between the orphans in the story and real-life spiritual orphans?

A beautiful question. While researching the core components of this story, orphanage leaders repeatedly stressed the need to teach orphans to believe in themselves and their natural abilities. Too often they see themselves as lost, without purpose, without a role to play, without chances, without love. What made this story work, I think, is how Simon Orwell shares these same feelings about himself. And how he comes to realize God is the only one to fill this need.

Many people believe they must wear a mask to hide the parts of themselves they are ashamed of. How is this story about removing that mask?

So much of life remains hidden away. The darker elements of a life without God only amplify this falseness. Simon has spent so much of his life, so much of his energy and time, in hiding. As the story unfolds, he discovers that an essential element of arriving at his full potential is being honest with himself. This is where the mask is most damaging, and also where it is often hardest to release. We seek to hide the truth, even when we know the act is a lie in itself. And the mirror we require to see the truth about ourselves is the one that God offers, in infinite patience, in gentle love.

The title, Unlimited, has multiple layers of meaning. What does that title mean to you?

Unlimited was the title brought to me by the film’s producers. When I first began working on this story, it was just that, a title. But as I grew to know Harold, and heard him teach, and read his lesson plan, and then actually applied what he has come to call his ‘Dynamic Life Retreat’ (see Harold's full teachings on his website, HaroldFinch.com) I have come to agree with them in their choice. Bringing God into the equation of life’s direction, success, and reaching full potential does reveal the true meaning of Unlimited.

How can readers find Davis Bunn on the Internet?

Sweepstakes
They are doing the giveaways differently. They are not doing a giveaway on each blog that does a review.
You could win a $50 Fandango gift card plus UNLIMITED, Davis Bunn's new suspense novel. Ten additional winners will receive a copy of UNLIMITED. Enter right now by clicking this link: http://woobox.com/mp5qew. You can enter once per email address per day. Rack up bonus entries by sharing the contest with your Facebook and Twitter friends!

If you don’t have a Facebook or Pinterest account, enter by filling out the form on the Official Rules page here http://bit.ly/15vTr8u.



NOTE: I received a complimentary copy of Unlimited from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. My thoughts on the book are my own and were not influenced by the fact that I received the book for free. None of the links are affiliate links.



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Monday, September 30, 2013

Goal Planning Monday ~ No Complaining


I am reading What's It Like to Be Married to Me? as part of my morning devotions. I am on chapter 2 and it is about not complaining. It has been a challenging book right from the start. The author has challenged us wives to a 7 day "Gripes Be Gone" challenge. We wear a bracelet that is easily slipped off and on and we are to change it to the other wrist each time a complaint/gripe/murmur leaves our lips.

My bracelet
Isn't it pretty?
I made it from the beads of a necklace I never wore any more and some seed beads that I already had.
I want to make a few more of these in different colors because I like them and plan on continuing to wear them and do the challenge even after the week is up. I need to get some larger beads like the blue ones in a few different colors... brown, purple, maybe black/silver for a more neutral bracelet I could wear with anything.

 I have found that sometimes I don't even know I am uttering words of discontent. It has become such a habit, I don't even realize I am saying negative things so often. The bracelet certainly has made me more aware. It is not easy not to speak or write, on Facebook or in chats even, complaining/murmuring words. It is even harder to replace complaining thoughts with grateful ones. Doing the Joy Dare, reading my Bible Daily and listening to praise music and hymns certainly does help my attitude.


So, how about you?
Do you complain much?
That counts muttering in discontent, even if it is under your breath.
Make, or find a bracelet you already own and join me in striving to not complain. An elastic one is easiest to switch from wrist to wrist.
Journal each day how you do, and let me know next week in your comments when you link up.


My blogger friend Rosann, leader of our UnEmployed Faith group and writer of a book by that title, did a book club with extra insight and questions on this book.
You can find those posts at her blog here: http://christiansupermom.com/tag/encouragement-book-club


Participants... It is not a requirement to comment on each others blogs but it would be nice to encourage each other. Please try and come back and check who else links up and go comment on their blog post. And comment on mine as well, we ALL could use some building up and community. 

Now for my goals from last week, how I did, and new goals for this week.
My top priorities are marked with a *

If you need directions on how to join in... see my GPM page up above.

My goals for this coming week:
Spiritual Goals   
  1. *Morning Devotions - including Bible reading (Proverbs), prayer, listening to music and reading a spiritual book. Prayer is my focus this year as that is my word for 2013. Read more of What's It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions. A hard study, already, and I am only in chapter 1. Really tough questions that take a LOT of thinking... about myself. I felt like God wanted me to do this study next. My UnEmployed Faith facebook group did this study. I was not able to purchase the book and participate at the time. Later I got the book free. God has something to teach me in this trial we are in. Maybe this book will help me with part of that. Anyway... I felt God prompting me to read and study it. It DOES have a study guide in the back... I already checked and am working on the questions. Done - hard but good study. Challenging things to think about and do.
  2. Read more of "When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances" to my hubby.  Done - we only have the journal thoughts at the end of the book to do now.
  3. Participate in the Joy Dare in 2013. Writing down 3 things each day that are gifts from God, things to be thankful for totaling more than 1000 gifts in 2013.Write in my other 1,000 gifts notebooks. Catch up some... I probably won't completely catch up ALL the way ... but catching up some would be good. Done -  as I predicted I caught up some, but not all the way.
Homeschool Goals
  1. Do school with Christopher. Done
  2. Grade and Record work done, DAILY. Done
  3. *Catch up more on Grading Chemistry. I got some done last week but need to do the rest. Not Done
  4. Prep the next day's school, especially science and Windows to the World (IEW) for English! Need to order more History books too!! Done
Fitness Goals
  1. I hope to get back to exercising this week...IF my knee stops hurting. I will be working out on the Wii.
    Not Done
  2. Eat fruit and veggies and drink water. Done
Blog Goals  
  1. Post Goal Planning Monday on time... since this is already up I have one thing for the week done already. Done
  2. Comment on everyone's blog that links up to the Goal Planning Monday linky. Done - no one linked up again... that's ok.
  3. Blog only what I want to blog about. Done
  4. Done - forgot to put that I had a review and giveaway to post on my blog... I got that done and posted on Friday last week.
Personal/Other Goals 
  1. Read. Done - I finished 2 books this week.
  2. Work on sorting files on the external drive. Done
  3. Pack up the little kids games in the basement. Court spent a long time on Sunday getting the basement more organized. It was a disaster area after we pulled things out for the yard sales. Stuff was EVERYWHERE! I want to box up the little kids games that we don't use any more and protect them in plastic bags and put the bags in boxes, so they will stack and be protected for future generations. Not Done

 For this week that is 13 Done, 0 Partly Done, and 3 Not Done.

My goals for this coming week:
Spiritual Goals   
  1. *Morning Devotions - including Bible reading (Proverbs), prayer, listening to music and reading a spiritual book. Prayer is my focus this year as that is my word for 2013. Read more of What's It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions.
  2. Finish "When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances" reading it to my hubby. 
  3. Participate in the Joy Dare in 2013. Writing down 3 things each day that are gifts from God, things to be thankful for totaling more than 1000 gifts in 2013.Write in my other 1,000 gifts notebooks. Continue catching up.
Homeschool Goals
  1. Do school with Christopher.
  2. Grade and Record work done, DAILY.
  3. *Catch up more on Grading Chemistry. I got some done last week but need to do the rest.
  4. Prep the next day's school, especially science and Windows to the World (IEW) for English! Need to order more History books too!!
Fitness Goals
  1. I hope to get back to exercising this week. I will be working out on the Wii.
  2. Eat fruit and veggies and drink water.
Blog Goals  
  1. Post Goal Planning Monday on time... since this is already up I have one thing for the week done already.
  2. Comment on everyone's blog that links up to the Goal Planning Monday linky. 
  3. Blog only what I want to blog about. 
  4. Post review and giveaway of Unlimited by Davis Bunn on Tuesday. 
  5. Post Yearly Goal Update for September. Where has the month gone?
Personal/Other Goals 
  1. Read.
  2. Work on sorting files on the external drive.
  3. Pack up the little kids games in the basement. Court spent a long time on Sunday getting the basement more organized. It was a disaster area after we pulled things out for the yard sales. Stuff was EVERYWHERE! I want to box up the little kids games that we don't use any more and protect them in plastic bags and put the bags in boxes, so they will stack and be protected for future generations. 
  4. Pack up some books from our bookshelves. They are getting to crowded and I can't find anything. I can pack up subjects Christopher and I will not be covering this year or next and I can pack up books that are too juvenile for him. Can't believe I only have 1 3/4 years of homeschooling left.
That's it for me.
Remember, No Griping

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Friday, September 27, 2013

I am 'Overwhelmed' (book review and giveaway)

I was given the opportunity to receive the book Overwhelmed as well as the Study Guide and a Small Group Study Leader Guide. I received the books, as e-books, for free so I could review it for my blog. Even so, the thoughts in this post are my own and are truthful.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

This is a hard world we live in. We have all be overwhelmed at times.

The book's subtitle is Hope and Help for the Financially Weary. The book has stories from a number of women who have been through a variety of financial difficulties. The study guide has very good questions to help you think things through. The leader guide gives you suggestions about how to manage a small study group, if you wish to have one and the leader guide is free right now.

Overwhelmed is a resource designed to meet both the spiritual and practical needs of those struggling to overcome financial difficulties. In the first section, nine women share their testimonies, faith, and financial counsel to help you go from being overwhelmed by your finances to being an overcomer through Christ. As an added bonus, the second section offers more practical advice on frugal homemaking, women in business, and financial resources such as handling credit card debt and so much more.

My review of the book

 Overwhelmed? Some days I am!! First... before reviewing the book, I will tell you a little about me. 29 years ago my hubby and I married. Since then we have moved 6 times, he has had 13 jobs, and we had 4 children.

9 years ago he injured his back while working. Our kids were daughter age 18 (our first to graduate from our homeschool just a few months before his injury), daughter age 15, son age 10, and son age 7.  My husband went to our doctor and she sent him to therapy. The therapy made him worse. Then we started an almost four year battle with insurance companies, Dr.'s and lawyers to keep my husband getting the help he needed from a Dr. who was both a Chiropractor and a Neurologist, He sent him home to the recliner and started working on him, slowly, and once my hubby had healed some he started therapy with the Dr.'s brother. My hubby also had regular shots for pain from a pain specialist. With the Dr.'s recommendations and our lawyers help we kept hubby from getting surgery that had high probabilities of failing. We finally settled with the insurance company. He was out of work just about 3 years.

When my hubby was cleared by the Dr., he started looking for work. He had many new restrictions. No driving jobs. No bending or stooping repeatedly. No standing for long periods. No lifting more than a gallon of milk and no jobs that had repeated lifting. And, I may be missing a restriction or two... there were a log of them. He needed a job where he could sit mostly, but also get up and down during the day and not be 'chained' to a desk was best. He had 2 jobs, one that lasted two weeks and then one that lasted 90 days, after that he found a job, that he HATED, that lasted 3 years until they had hard times and let a bunch of people go. Since being let go from that job he has been unemployed for 3 1/2 years and we are still counting.

I have had a lot of ups and downs during this period of unemployment. I cry. A lot. I read my Bible and pray and feel strong for awhile. Then, more things happen (or nothing happens and I just feel unsure or fearful, or...) Unexpected things happen. Little things. Bigger things. Broken things, and with no money to fix them it is hard. 'Normal' family needs, like new shoes, can be a big deal. My family has been through financial trials many times. God has met our needs all the way through... that does NOT mean I trust God fully, each minute, I have had times of SERIOUS doubt. Yeah, I'll be honest. I doubt God. I don't doubt that God can do it. I doubt that he will do it for us... again.

Reading books has been a big help in keeping up my spirits. Reading for fun, but also reading spiritual books. God seems to bring me just the book I need when I need it. This was one of those books for me this year.

I have to admit. Some of the stories the ladies shared helped me more than others. That is natural. Some people's stories will resonate with us more than others. Ones that may not have hit me as hard may be just the thing you need. I liked the variety. Although some impacted me more than others all the stories illustrated the glory of God and His care for His people. It is amazing to me how many different kinds of financial trouble there are and how differently God is dealing with these troubles in the writers lives. Also, the differences in the emotional/spiritual troubles and the lessons God is teaching different ladies/families through their trials. He know just what our deficiencies are and just how to work in our lives to make us more like his Son. Trusting in that process is still HARD.

Those stories that impacted me are full of highlights. Picking a favorite quote of two from this book is very hard. But here goes.
"God wants you to rely on Him, not an income. Deliverance will come but in God's timing and for His purpose. Make no mistake--our trials are soul deep." pg 11
Soul deep... that's for sure. Many are the times during this trial that I have cried out to God in anger, doubt, not understanding, fear or with such emotion that I don't even know WHAT I feel.
"I know right now you think things look really bad. I know you think that you can't possibly take any more trouble than is already on you. I know that you might feel like sadness and despair have moved into your bedroom, setting up residence alongside shame and confusion and that they are all totally disregarding your comfort, hopes, and dreams. I can imagine you probably feel like you just don't know where to turn. There may be a cloud of darkness all around you, pressing in and testing your faith in a way you never dreamed possible. In a moment, all at once, you have found that you, like the subject in Robert Frost's "Road Not Taken", have taken the less traveled, more difficult, and less popular road and that has made all the difference." pg 46
"I know you are probably thinking something like, "When did I choose the road not taken?" You see, the day you said, I do! to Christ, you also said, "I will." pg 47
"This-yes, even this-is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in His sight. No matter the current circumstance, the truth is that if you are a blood-bought saved child of God, you can stand, and you can take every punch the enemy throws. Yes, you can make it because your life is His to care for, and His grace and mercy, faithfulness, and everlasting love are all yours for the asking. I know you may feel like the world is caving in all around you; it can seem that way. Believe me, I know because I've been there, too. But, be of good cheer because when it comes down to it, God is in control, and He knows what is best for you." pg. 47
It is good to know others out there understand what we have gone through. They have been through similar circumstances and had similar feelings. They dealt with their feelings and with the troubles that come from financial difficulties. They dealt with marriage struggles caused by our sin and magnified by our circumstances. Even though they are children of God they struggled with feelings of fear, that God didn't love them, doubts about what he was going to do for them in the future and more. It is great to know I am not going crazy. It also gives me hope for my future too.

I could go on with the quotes.. and on and on and on... but I will stop and move on to other things from the book.

Section 2: Financial Resources - most of this was not applicable to our situation. We own a habitat home and it is the low payments and zero percent interest that has allowed us to keep our home this long. Other than our mortgage we have ZERO debt. That is one thing my hubby is strict about. We had financial training before getting our habitat home, and we did learn a few new things there, but we have not been irresponsible with our money. It has always been jobs and/or bosses that have been our problem. Another area they talk about in this section is used cars. My hubby fixes our cars himself, he is very handy in many ways, and so we have always gotten good deals and had good luck with quality vehicles for the price we pay... and we ALWAYS pay cash... hubby will NOT borrow.

Section 3: Women in Business - I can not make money blogging. It is just not my gift or my passion. In fact, I am blogging less now than ever. I only blog what I feel like blogging because of the emotional stress this trial has inflicted on me. I have homeschooled for 22 years. I have thought about making my unit studies into sell-able items, but I lack confidence and feel there are so many other products out there, better than what I could write. I just don't feel like now is the time the Lord has for me to pursue making money for the family. I am still homeschooling one of our children and don't really have the emotional strength to begin something new. Maybe it will help others, but not me, not right now anyway.

I have to be honest with my readers. I felt like some of the information in the Women in Business section was just so that the ladies who wrote their testimonies in the book would have a place to advertise. I do not begrudge them this opportunity. They worked hard on this book and if their families are helped by someone knowing about them and their businesses then they deserve it. I just wanted you to know my feelings on it. I found no new information or things that would help me, but like I said maybe it would help someone else.

Section 4: Home Business Guide and Resources - since I am not planning to start a home business any time soon this section really didn't help me with anything either. There are some good things here... just not for me right now. Some of the topics were: Home Business Opportunities (a list with places/ideas for work from home); Maintaining Your Vision (this was good); and Simple, Not Easy.

The last section, Section 5: Frugal Homemaking - has tips, mostly for cooking, but also some for cleaning and even Christmas. I have to admit I have not tried any of the recipes, but some of them look really good. Some of them seemed overly simple. Like a recipe for pancakes. We have lots of recipes, including a favorite one for from scratch pancakes, but like I said some of them look good. I have been married a good long time. We make most things from scratch. We don't even buy the cheap brownie mixes... we make them from scratch. Most of the recipes will have to wait until our trial is over because we do not even have some of the most basic of ingredients, most of the time. We are eating very simply these days. A few of the tips they give for saving money would not save money for us... for instance they say to make your own butter, but heavy cream is more expensive than butter in our area and won't make as much either, unfortunately we have had to switch to cheap margarine, for now. Save on organic foods??? we would not afford organic foods when my husband was working. Some of these tips are just not for those on such a tight budget as we are.

Homemade Deodorant recipe - that is something I might try. I HATE the aluminum in deodorant and have tried one organic one, but I had a reaction to it. Finding the money to buy the Coconut oil may be difficult. to be honest, these days I do not even bother wearing my deodorant most days. Go ahead and judge me, I don't care. My family has never told me I smell. I only wear it when we go out, and that is not often, so a stick lasts me a few months. Some of the other non-food cleaners I would like to try as well. They look like they would save us some money.

Also some of the tips don't apply to me because we have 5 adults and one teenager in the house. We eat more than a family with 2 adults and 2 little kids. I can't make one chicken go for 3 meals. I just can't. So, we do what we can and save where we can and we have all cut back on our eating. I can't wait until the day I can go to the store and buy anything we want to eat... at least once in a while. I don't want to waste our future money on food, I just would like to satisfy some of my cravings and some of the kids cravings.

The Study Guide

I really enjoyed the study guide. Since the testimonies were my favorite part of the book and this was to enhance that part, it is also a favorite part. For each chapter there are 2 pages in the study guide. The first page has a summery, a verse of the Bible to focus on and then some reflections... things to think about and questions to answer based on the things the author of that chapter talked about. The second page was lovely. It is a little notebooking type of page. At the top is a space to write what you learned from that testimony... no questions just your own thoughts. Next was a doodle with a space to write what God is impressing on you to start or stop doing. Lastly a place to write a prayer, surrounded by fun doodles and a border. The questions were well thought out and really made me think more about what I read and how it could help me to deal with my own circumstances and my relationship with my Lord. Such a great way to get a lot out of this little book. The study guide was my favorite part.

Small Group Study Leader Guide

I did not use the Small Group Study guide because I did the study on my own. But, I did read it. There are a lot of good tips in there that would be great for this study, or any study you were doing with a group. This part is FREE for everyone so you can it check out and it costs you nothing.

I recommend this book and it's guides. The pdf is VERY reasonably priced, and that is good for those who are having financial troubles. The prices for each part are listed below. I think the testimonies of the ladies, and my favorite part, the study guide; make this worth the money. It certainly was an encouragement to me in some areas and a challenge to me in other areas where I needed the kick in the seat.

You can find the book, the study guide, and the small group leader guide, and order them, here – Overwhelmed

PDF: $4.99
Kindle: $7.99
Print: $12.99

The Study Guide
PDF: $2.99
Print Copy: $7.99

Leader Guide - FREE

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Goal Planning Monday ~ Have Faith


How are you doing with your goals?
How far have you come? 

We do have far to go.
But we can do it.

With God's help.

With encouragement from each other.

God is not finished working on us, if we are His child. He will work on us until His work is complete... that is until he sees fit to take us home to be with Him forever, or until he returns for us ALL!

Until then we have much work to do. We will fail. We will fall. We will stumble.
But we can get back up.
We can ask for forgiveness from God and each other.
We can try again. Strive.
To be more like our Savior.

That is what I am doing.

Have Faith...
in how far you can go...
and in God getting you there. 

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
"The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps." 

Participants... It is not a requirement to comment on each others blogs but it would be nice to encourage each other. Please try and come back and check who else links up and go comment on their blog post. And comment on mine as well, we ALL could use some building up and community. 

My top priorities are marked with a *

If you need directions on how to join in... see my GPM page up above.

My goals for this coming week:
Spiritual Goals   
  1. *Morning Devotions - including Bible reading (Proverbs), prayer, listening to music and reading a spiritual book. Prayer is my focus this year as that is my word for 2013. Read more of Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. Done - I finished Facing Your Giants last week. I still need to do the review on Goodreads. See this coming week's goals for the book I am reading now. I did not read Proverbs, do Joy Dare or read the book with hubby, but I enjoyed and finished Facing Your Giants. When I finished I found study questions in the back of the Kindle book. I didn't know they were there so I will have to read this again some time and do the questions. I am now checking for questions in all my future/current Spiritual books I use from my Kindle.
  2. Read more of "When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances" to my hubby. Not Done
  3. Participate in the Joy Dare in 2013. Writing down 3 things each day that are gifts from God, things to be thankful for totaling more than 1000 gifts in 2013.Write in my other 1,000 gifts notebooks. Not Done
Homeschool Goals
  1. Do school with Christopher. Done
  2. Grade and Record work done, DAILY. Done
  3. *Catch up on Grading Chemistry. I am behind. Partly Done - I graded the most recent pages so I know how he is doing now... I still need to grade a bunch of the past work. I didn't have as much time this week because of #3 that I added in Personal/Other Goals.
  4. Prep the next day's school, especially science! Need to order more History books too!! Done - I need to order more History books, again. He reads through them fairly quickly. I need to check and see what we have at home that I want him to read and what I want to order from the library.
Fitness Goals
  1. I hope to get back to exercising this week. Working out on the Wii. Not Done
  2. Eat fruit and veggies and drink water. Done
Blog Goals  
  1. Post Goal Planning Monday on time... since this is already up I have one thing for the week done already. Done
  2. Comment on everyone's blog that links up to the Goal Planning Monday linky. Done - no one linked up so that made this one easy.
  3. Blog only what I want to blog about - this week I would like to join in one meme that I used to enjoy doing, no pressure, we'll see. Done - I blogged what I could... which was GPM and nothing else.
Personal/Other Goals 
  1. Read. Done - I finished 3 books this week... That keeps me 2 books AHEAD in my goal for the year!!!
  2. Work on a craft for myself: doodle, cross stitch, scrapbook, digital scrapbook... something. Done - Doodled "Prepare Your Fields" from the movie Facing the Giants, one of our favorite family/Christian movies. I will be doing a post on 3 doodles that I recently did, two for friends of my daughters and this one for myself, this week... maybe even tomorrow.
  3. ADDED - Done - this week I spent 2 whole days working on my computer files. Friday my desktop computer just would not turn on. Hubby tried all kinds of things. Finally he resorted to getting my drive out of the computer and put it in an older external drive case. He hooked that up to an old computer we have in the basement. I was able, then, to get all my files saved from my computer drive to an external drive, so I lost no files. My hubby is my personal computer tech/geek. I am SOOO thankful for all he has taught himself to do. I figured my desktop computer was gone for good. He says he may be able to save it. I don't think we have the money to do that right now, but at least I have my laptop, and all my files were saved, thanks to my wonderful hubby. I had to take 2 full days out of my schedule and work on saving the files and so I got behind in other things and I still have plenty of sorting to do. But I am at peace with how it went.

 For this week that is 11 Done, 1 Partly Done, and 3 Not Done.

My goals for this coming week:
Spiritual Goals   
  1. *Morning Devotions - including Bible reading (Proverbs), prayer, listening to music and reading a spiritual book. Prayer is my focus this year as that is my word for 2013. Read more of What's It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions. A hard study, already, and I am only in chapter 1. Really tough questions that take a LOT of thinking... about myself. I felt like God wanted me to do this study next. My UnEmployed Faith facebook group did this study. I was not able to purchase the book and participate at the time. Later I got the book free. God has something to teach me in this trial we are in. Maybe this book will help me with part of that. Anyway... I felt God prompting me to read and study it. It DOES have a study guide in the back... I already checked and am working on the questions.
  2. Read more of "When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances" to my hubby. 
  3. Participate in the Joy Dare in 2013. Writing down 3 things each day that are gifts from God, things to be thankful for totaling more than 1000 gifts in 2013.Write in my other 1,000 gifts notebooks. Catch up some... I probably won't completely catch up ALL the way ... but catching up some would be good.
Homeschool Goals
  1. Do school with Christopher.
  2. Grade and Record work done, DAILY.
  3. *Catch up more on Grading Chemistry. I got some done last week but need to do the rest.
  4. Prep the next day's school, especially science and Windows to the World (IEW) for English! Need to order more History books too!!
Fitness Goals
  1. I hope to get back to exercising this week...IF my knee stops hurting. I will be working out on the Wii.
  2. Eat fruit and veggies and drink water.
Blog Goals  
  1. Post Goal Planning Monday on time... since this is already up I have one thing for the week done already.
  2. Comment on everyone's blog that links up to the Goal Planning Monday linky. 
  3. Blog only what I want to blog about.
Personal/Other Goals 
  1. Read.
  2. Work on sorting files on the external drive.
  3. Pack up the little kids games in the basement. Court spent a long time on Sunday getting the basement more organized. It was a disaster area after we pulled things out for the yard sales. Stuff was EVERYWHERE! I want to box up the little kids games that we don't use any more and protect them in plastic bags and put the bags in boxes, so they will stack and be protected for future generations. 
That's it for me.
Hopefully this coming week will NOT hold any surprises. But, no matter what, my family and I will face what comes... with the Lord on our side to tip the balance.
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    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Goal Planning Monday ~ Grade Chemistry


    Don't give up... you never know when your breakthrough is just one more umph away

    I gave up this weekend. I had a whole day where I did nothing much but cry. This trial is hard.These days the littlest thing can set me to crying and yesterday I just couldn't stop.

    In spite of my terrible Sunday I had a pretty good week. The yard sale was really hard and I sat out there 4 hours on Friday and 8 hours on Saturday. Maybe that is why I was so wiped out on Sunday and cried most of the day. We had a lot of stuff left over, but after carting it in and out 5 times for the three days of yard sale we had, hubby said we were done and he carted the rest of it off to the thrift store. I was sad to see the thrift shop get the money. They will probably sell all the stuff we couldn't and they will make the money. However, I was glad to be done carrying the stuff in and out and setting it all up.

    This week is named Grade Chemistry because I am behind on that... so that is my #1 goal this week. Can't know how Christopher is doing


    Participants... It is not a requirement to comment on each others blogs but it would be nice to encourage each other. Please try and come back and check who else links up and go comment on their blog post. And comment on mine as well, we ALL could use some building up and community. 

    My top priorities are marked with a *

    If you need directions on how to join in... see my GPM page up above.

    My goals for this coming week:
    Spiritual Goals   
    1. *Morning Devotions - including Bible reading (Proverbs), prayer, listening to music and reading a spiritual book. Prayer is my focus this year as that is my word for 2013. Read more of Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. Partly Done - I read Facing Your Giants but I don't remember if I read my Bible. I prayed a lot on Sunday while I was crying.
    2. Read more of "When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances" to my hubby. Not Done -  we started to read a chapter one day but got distracted by something and only read a few paragraphs.
    3. Participate in the Joy Dare in 2013. Writing down 3 things each day that are gifts from God, things to be thankful for totaling more than 1000 gifts in 2013.Write in my other 1,000 gifts notebooks. Not Done -  now I am behind. I hope to catch up this week.
    Homeschool Goals
    1. Do school with Christopher. Done
    2. Grade and Record work done, DAILY. Done
    3. Prep the next day's school, especially science! Need to order more History books too!! Done
    Fitness Goals
    1. I hope to get back to exercising this week. Working out on the Wii. Not Done
    2. Eat fruit and veggies and drink water. Done
    Blog Goals  
    1. Post Goal Planning Monday on time... since this is already up I have one thing for the week done already. Done
    2. Comment on everyone's blog that links up to the Goal Planning Monday linky. Done
    3. Post my digital scrapbook pages. Done
    4. Blog only what I want to blog about - this week I would like to join in one meme that I used to enjoy doing, no pressure, we'll see. Done
    Personal/Other Goals 
    1. Read. I really want to catch up on my reading goal for the year. Goodreads says I am only one book behind now. So if I can finish at least 5 books this month I will be on track! I would like to do more, but we will see. Done - as of today I am 2 books ahead!! Yippee!! And, I am really enjoying reading the Bobbsey Twins books. I read them first when I was a little girl.
    2. Work on a craft for myself: doodle, cross stitch, scrapbook, digital scrapbook... something. Not Done
    3. Get more stuff ready for the  2nd yard sale on Saturday, we are going to to sell stuff to make money to pay our bills. Done
    4. Attend, help out at, sell stuff at yard sale on Friday afternoon/early evening and Saturday. Done

     For this week that is 11 Done, 1 Partly Done, and 4 Not Done.

    My goals for this coming week:
    Spiritual Goals   
    1. *Morning Devotions - including Bible reading (Proverbs), prayer, listening to music and reading a spiritual book. Prayer is my focus this year as that is my word for 2013. Read more of Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. 
    2. Read more of "When God Breaks Your Heart: Choosing Hope in the Midst of Faith-Shattering Circumstances" to my hubby. 
    3. Participate in the Joy Dare in 2013. Writing down 3 things each day that are gifts from God, things to be thankful for totaling more than 1000 gifts in 2013.Write in my other 1,000 gifts notebooks.
    Homeschool Goals
    1. Do school with Christopher.
    2. Grade and Record work done, DAILY.
    3. *Catch up on Grading Chemistry. I am behind.
    4. Prep the next day's school, especially science! Need to order more History books too!!
    Fitness Goals
    1. I hope to get back to exercising this week. Working out on the Wii.
    2. Eat fruit and veggies and drink water.
    Blog Goals  
    1. Post Goal Planning Monday on time... since this is already up I have one thing for the week done already.
    2. Comment on everyone's blog that links up to the Goal Planning Monday linky. 
    3. Post my digital scrapbook pages.
    4. Blog only what I want to blog about - this week I would like to join in one meme that I used to enjoy doing, no pressure, we'll see.
    Personal/Other Goals 
    1. Read.
    2. Work on a craft for myself: doodle, cross stitch, scrapbook, digital scrapbook... something.
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