Thursday, 27 March 2014

Death by Assignment

The picture above represents exactly how I'm feeling - like I'm in my own little world but things still seem to get through all those holes!

I'm in the middle of the mid-semester assignments.  I seem to no sooner get one out of the way before the next is right upon me.  When you miscalculate the timing things get a bit panicked!  I like a good 2-3 weeks to really invest in the work I need to do.  My current assignment?  Ten days.  With things like, oh you know, a parenting crisis, a whole-day intensive on the weekend, work commitments, a student free day so all the kids will be home tomorrow, celebrating a wedding this coming weekend.  Really people, if this could all just be spread out a bit that would be awesome.  Like, one thing at a time.  Whoever said women are good at multi-tasking has a lot to answer for!

First term school holidays are just around the corner, at the end of next week.  Already!!  It feels like the year just started, but the timing couldn't be more perfect.  For the first time in four years I won't have to work on assignments over Easter.  Praise the Lord!

Book Review: Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

My review for this incredible debut author is here at Relz Reviewz.  I was amazed at Jessica's incredible skill and craftsmanship, and since this is the first in a series I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment.  Have a read of my review...pick up a copy.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Book Review: Forget Me Not by Miralee Ferrell


Can a lost love be redeemed?

Seven years ago, Julia McKenzie rejected the man she loved, wanting to experience more of life. Now, at the age of twenty-four, she regrets that decision. What will Seth think of her, when they encounter one another hundreds of miles from home? Will the man she cared for understand the direction her life has taken and love her in spite of her choices?

Pastor Seth Russell has never completely forgotten the girl he once courted. When she shows up in his new home of Baker City, all those feelings return. But why is she sneaking around town late at night? Even more important, will she reject him and break his heart again?

What I thought:

Miralee Ferrell’s most recent addition to her ‘Love Blossoms in Oregon’ series answers readers’ many questions about Pastor Seth Russell, introduced in the first book, Blowing on Dandelions.  This novella-length addition to the series highlights Miralee’s ability to craft a powerful, thought-provoking story in so few pages.

Julia McKenzie is a strong, determined woman with a faith that drives her desire to care for those who are misunderstood and despised in the community of Baker City.  Julia’s unwavering commitment to action is inspiring, though this was not without inner tension and criticism from “upright” Christian people.  Julia’s conflict regarding her relationship with Seth was realistic, to the point I was never quite sure what the outcome would be. 

This book is a mere 145 pages, yet I felt as though I had read a full-length novel.  Miralee has managed to pack this little gem with all the hallmarks of a great read:  wonderful characters, engaging plot and a satisfying ending, all tied together with her trademark writing style which makes her books such a pleasure to read.

Forget Me Not was a thought-provoking read as well.  Julia’s story reminded me that God chargers his children to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.  Julia is the epitome of these characteristics and she shows what that could look like in real life.  It made me think about whom the downtrodden people in my community are and how I can support them through their struggles in life.  More than that I was challenged about how I respond to those who may criticise my obedience to what God would have me do.

You can buy Forget Me Not from Amazon
You can find Miralee Ferrell on her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to Miralee Ferrell for my review copy.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Daniel Fast Wrap-Up

Our fast concluded a week ago.  I have to say, our first meal at the end of our fast was....disappointing.  Our first taste of meat in three weeks left me uninspired.  My first cup of tea?  Even less impressive.  I really expected to have that euphoric moment of "Oh my this is sooooo good!  I really missed this!"  But no.  Don't get me wrong, our first meal was also our first meal away camping over a long weekend.  It was a good meal.  It just wasn't all I thought it would be.  That surprised me.

Remember my theme for this year is "healthier"?

There are some former habits I have chosen to reject.  For example, I used to always cut off a little corner of my toast and eat it with a nice dob of butter (real stuff....not margarine).  I don't do that now.  And I'm making a conscious choice not to return to it.

We both discovered we enjoy nuts for snacks (along with other things for variety!) so I'm still buying nuts - it will send us broke!!!  I need to find a recipe for honey-roasted nuts so I can have a little bit of a treat with that good nutrition sometimes.

I have rediscovered my enjoyment of meat-free meals.  Last night I made baked vegetarian spring rolls along with a vegie-noodle soup of an Asian persuasion.  Both recipes were delicious.  Tonight we're having a minestrone-inspired soup (no bacon or 'evil beanies') bulked out with soup mix (lentils and barley) and no pasta.  Mr Busy believes it's just vegetable soup and if the boy will eat it under that pretense I'm satisfied.

After Imogen (of Inside-Out Style fame) posted about a dramatic gain in health and loss in weight (a post which came during my fast!) I've decided to explore the idea of intermittent fasting.  It's where calories are restricted on two non-consecutive days within a week.  Lots of fruit and vegies - I can do that!!  I'm hoping for that to mostly coincide with my days off in the hope that it can also be a time when I have space in my day to spend with God in a more intentional and deliberate way. I discovered I'm really bad at concentrated prayer and it's something I'd like to rectify.  I really did feel physically good when we were doing the fast....when I wasn't having an emotional "I just want to eat normally again" moment so I think an intermittent thing might work.

Spiritually?  Well, apart from my discovery about my prayer habits nothing much has shifted.  However, our senior pastor relentlessly reminds us that breakthrough may not (and often does not) come during the fast, but afterwards.  The things I was praying over are things that will take time and I know that.  But it would have been so cool to have a big breakthrough at the time, ya know?  I guess that's not so much what faith is about though, is it?  It's about growing our faith through perseverance. 

Would I do it again?  I guess my answer is "never say never".  Our church begins the year with a 21-day fast so whilst I may indeed participate in some way I may  not necessarily do this fast every year.  But next time I do it I will be more prepared and well-armed with the knowledge and resources I need to be successful in the practical elements.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Book Review: Wishing on Buttercups

Rel has posted my review for 'Wishing on Buttercups', which you will find here.  It's a beautiful story with plenty to keep the reader intrigued - completely and blissfully unexpected.  Just what I like in a book!!!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Daniel Fast - 3rd and final week

Below is our menu for this final week of our fast.  I feel like over this weekend I finally have my head in the game and we're about to finish up!  I found a great website here that has quite a few yummy looking vegan recipes that suit our dietary needs for this final week.

Avocado & tomato
Chickpea patty sandwich
Pasta with lentils & mushrooms
Fruit salad
Chickpea patty sandwich
Pasta salad
Fruit salad
Chickpea patty sandwich
Vegetable Curry
Brown rice
Avocado & tomato
Roasted vegetable medley
Avocado & tomato
Chickpea & Vegetable casserole
Fruit salad

Potato wedges
Avocado salsa
Vegan Asian dumpling soup
tomato & avocado

Fruit, mixed nuts/seeds, hommus/guacamole & carrots, popcorn
Frances asked how I feel physically.  That's quite question because the last two weeks have been quite a roller coaster, physically.  In the first few days I was all headaches and 9 hours of sleep at night.  Completely unheard of for me, even on a bad day.  Then began the ... ummmm ... digestive clean out.  Dh didn't have the headaches but we both found week 1 quite surprising. I'm feeling quite fine now and very happy with the side effect of losing 3 1/2 kg (nearly 8lb).  Dh has lost about double that because he's a man and that's how they roll.  Just, whatever!

I'm now finding the mental/emotional stuff is more of a challenge.  Dh & I had potato wedges and avocado the other night for dinner because I lost the plot and couldn't face cooking anything else and that was the best I could fathom.  Last night we were asked to dinner at a friend's place and we realised this fast is very anti-social!  We brought our own vegetarian burgers (the bought ones aren't that great) and I took fruit salad for dessert and ice cream for everyone else.  It took a little bit of extra thought and some creative planning but it worked OK.

If I were to do this fast again I would spend some time beforehand in planning and trying recipes.  For example, I would visit and Asian store.  I feel like my head is only just now getting more creative and more in the game with what to plan for meals.  I've collected recipes and websites and stored the information in my OneNote recipe book for next time.  Vegan eating is quite different to vegetarian!

Although I've planned all the way through Sunday we will actually be finishing up early, at lunch time Friday.  We have a thing this weekend and this fast is just not meant for having 'things'.  If I'd realised before we started we'd have started two days early, but I didn't so there you have it.

I'm looking forward to my first cup of tea more than anything else.