Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blue Moon Bay - A Book Review

About the Book:  Heather Hampton returns to Moses Lake, Texas, to help facilitate the sale of a family farm as part of a planned industrial plant that will provide the area with much-needed jobs. Heather's future fiance has brokered the deal, and Heather is in line to do her first large-scale architectural design--if the deal goes through.

But the currents of Moses Lake have a way of taking visitors on unexpected journeys. What was intended to be a quick trip suddenly morphs into Valentine's week--with Blaine Underhill, the handsome banker who just happens to be opposing Heather's project. Spending the holiday in an ex-funeral parlor seems like a nightmare, but Heather slowly finds herself being drawn into the area's history, hope, and heart.

Synopsis:  Heather Hampton is an architect from Seattle who returns to Texas to try and seal a deal that will lead to a major promotion for her at work.  Unfortunately for Heather, this little town in Texas holds horrible memories for her and she dreads the trip.  Her trip to Moses Lake goes horribly wrong and when she arrives in Moses Lake, things are not what they seem and her family seems to be keeping major secrets.  Heather presses on and begins to investigate what's really going on to prevent the deal from being completed.  Her simple trip thwarted, she begins to look inward and question her life and what changes she needs to make.  By the end of the book, questions are answered and Heather has made major decisions about her life.

Review:  I'm not really sure how to describe my feelings about the book.  While it was a good book, I found myself getting annoyed with the main character quite often.  At points she came across as a whining, spoiled brat and I wanted to reach into the pages and shake her.  I usually don't like books where I don't like the main character.  But, for this novel, Wingate has enough intrigue in the book, I wanted to keep reading even though Heather drove me crazy.  I liked the fact there were twists and turns throughout the novel that kept the story moving.  While the book itself took a bit of time to get started, I finished it quite quickly once I got going.  Overall, it's not a great book but it was a decent read.

Score:  3 bookmarks out of 5.

Note:  Bethany House Publishers gave me a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Week Twenty-One in Review

Interesting week to say the least...started the week in Minneapolis, MN.  It was an interesting trip and Minneapolis is a neat city.  More on that later.

Other than the trip, this week had a job interview in it.  I would love to work for this organization and really liked the person I interviewed with (she would be my direct supervisor).  I can't say 100% how it went - I think it went well but it's so hard to tell.  I don't meet all their criteria 100% and she was a little concerned about the focus of my current work (it doesn't directly match up with their focus).  I was hoping to hear something on Friday about a second interview but I didn't.  Maybe Tuesday.  Speaking of Tuesday, I also have a second interview with another place on Tuesday.  That's a positive.  If I make it to the final round there, that interview would be on Thursday.  This coming week might be/hopefully will be a week of interviews. :-)

Spiritually I've been thinking a great deal about God's provision.  It's not really in line with my reading this week but it's been on my heart.  I have a sense of peace about my job search and I think it's because I'm just resting in the idea that God has taken care of me so visibly the last couple of years.  I have seen His provision over and over and over and in the strangest of ways.  Of course my bills are always met but even when there are extra expenses I didn't expect, the money is there.  I like to think it's my own "loaves and fishes" moment.  I'm not always this calm about things; I can worry with the best of them, but I really think God is maturing me in my walk.  Worry isn't my first emotion anymore.

On to Minneapolis...this was an interesting trip.  The conference was for work and it focused on meeting the needs of abused Asian/Pacific Islander women.  I learned a great deal about culture, the differences between interpreters and translators and the needs of deaf women.  And, the city of Minneapolis is a great small city.  They have kept so much green space in the city - there was a great park area right behind my hotel.  It is also incredibly clean and easy to navigate.  I did take their light rail system to the Mall of America.  It is overwhelming - I constantly needed the map to know where I was headed.  It would have been much more fun with other people.  I would love to go back to explore the city and surrounding area.   Here are some pictures from the trip.
Welcome to the Mall of America

Kids' Area inside MoA

Beautiful Church in Downtown

View of Park from My Hotel

Entry to Downtown Park

Target Field (Where Twins Play)

I had a great trip and would love to go back but I am completely happy that I have no travel scheduled for work until late July.  I do have two trips scheduled but one is home for Father's Day/Sarah's birthday celebrations and the other is a trip to the beach.  That's my kind of traveling.

This week I hope to refocus on healthy eating and exercising.  I'm planning to cook a little bit tomorrow so I have some meals planned out to schedule around my evening plans this week.  I really want to get back to the focus I had earlier in the year.  I got off track; now I need to get back on track.  More next week...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week Twenty in Review

I cannot believe we are already 20 weeks into 2012!  Where does the time go?  This week was a mixed bag.  While I am tired because it was a crazy week with some travel, it was a good week overall.  I had an excellent training in Albany on Monday and was pretty productive the rest of the week.  I really wanted to get a good bit done since I'm going to be gone (again) this week.  I do get to visit a new state, number 36 out of 50.  I'm not sure how much of Minneapolis I'll get to see since I'm in a conference all three days but we'll see.  I have checked and John Piper's not preaching and the Twins are out of town.  Boo!  I'm hoping the Mall of America isn't too hard to get to.  Maybe I can get some retail therapy in.  Of course, can't buy too much, budget and suitcase size won't allow it. :-)

Spiritually this week has lead to some interesting revelations or thought processes.  Most of the readings focused on Psalms.  One in particular stood out to me, Psalm 109.  The book I'm using as a companion to my readings called it the most extreme imprecatory Psalm in Scripture.  Imprecatory is the five dollar word for "asking God to rain down all kinds of misery on your enemies".  King David held nothing back, begging God to bring all kinds of tragedy down on his enemies.  He wanted God to strike them dead, leave their children fatherless and their wives widows.  He found nothing good in them and laid out their misdeeds before God.  What struck me so was that the first "crime" David highlighted was their mistreatment of the poor!  Wow!  What does that say about how God views the poor and in turn, how we as Christ followers are to view the poor.  That's just been stuck in my head this week - what does that mean for me and my ministry efforts in the city of Atlanta?  I don't have any real answers, I've just been thinking about it all week.  I also have a few thoughts on Psalm 139 but they aren't fully thought out yet so I'm keeping them to myself.  Those thoughts may end up in another blog post later in the week, we'll see.

I do have a couple of prayer requests.  I have two open job applications right now for new positions.  My current employment is scheduled to end in November and so I've been looking for other positions while helping to investigate other ways to pay for my work at the Coalition.  I've had one phone interview and have an in-person interview with the other place on Thursday.  Either job would be a good fit and provide some stability.  I do have a preference but I'm keeping that close to the vest for obvious reasons. :-)  If you'd like specifics on how to pray, email me and I'll be happy to share.

I'm off to get ready for bed since I have to leave for the airport around 8 in the morning.  Hope to have Minnesota pictures in next week's blog.  Until next time...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week Nineteen in Review

So, I'm writing this from the comfort of my hotel room in Albany, GA.  I feel like hotels are my second home. :-)  I counted last night and over the last 12 months, I have spent at least one night in a hotel room in 9 of those 12 months.  I truly love what I do but the travel is getting old.  I can tell you the ins and outs of hotel chains as well as when/where to try (or not try) local restaurants.  Chains I usually avoid turn into culinary slices of heaven when in small towns. 

This past week was not overly productive since I spent three days conducting a training.  Well, it was productive for the training participants since we taught them a lot of information.  But for me, not so productive.  Tomorrow I'm training in Albany on a totally different topic but will lose a day of office productivity.  Since I have a couple of time-sensitive projects, I'm praying Tuesday-Friday offers some productive time.

Spiritually, I continued reading through II Samuel and the Psalms.  I continued to notice the impact of sin on David's life and the lives of people in David's life.  I came away with several understandings this week...further emphasis on how sin has a profound impact on the lives of the sinner and those close to the sinner.  I'm reminded of why my sin grieves God.  I pray I never get callous to the sin in my life and continue to be grieved when I sin against my God.  On the other hand, I walked away with more insight into the importance of Christ's sacrifice.  In OT times, death was required to pay the penalty for sin.  Often it was an animal sacrifice but in other instances, a human life was the cost of sin.  I am so very thankful that Christ's death on the cross ended the need for a death penalty.  Let that thought marinate - we deserve death but Christ took that penalty.  Wow!

Food wise, it wasn't a good week.  I didn't eat horribly but couldn't control what was offered for breakfast or lunch.  That means it wasn't overly healthy or natural.  Hopefully this week (after I get home) will be better.  I'm trying to plan ahead for next week when I'm in Minneapolis.  Lunches are on my own so I think I'm packing peanut butter and sandwich thins.  I'd rather do that than pay for lunch anyway.  We'll see what I can figure out before my flight leaves next Sunday.

I think I'm going to close and go read my book.  Tomorrow is slated to be a long day so I could use the rest. More next week...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week Eighteen in Review

I had a wonderful week this week!  I was so amazingly productive at work and then topped it off with a simply marvelous weekend in Birmingham helping a friend prepare to spend nine weeks in West Africa.  I am tired but contented this evening.  The work week was so productive I was able to take Friday off. I am so thankful God provided the focus and the energy (and only two meetings) to be so productive.  This coming week will be busy because I have two trainings back-to-back but I am going into the week prepared so it shouldn't be too bad.

My sweet friend Lisa and I have been walking together in a discipling relationship for the last four or five years.  I have seen her grow in SO many ways and grow in her faith and trust in Christ.  I had the privilege to go with her on her first mission trip to Southern Arizona and I was honored to be at her commissioning service this morning.  She is being obedient to God's call on her life and is willingly going to the middle of nowhere in Africa to serve in some pretty harsh conditions.  I know the Kingdom will be influenced because of her and I'm blessed to call her my friend and sister in Christ.

Eating wise I didn't do so hot this week, primarily because of the weekend.  I did however, pick up a new exercise DVD that I can use until I can figure out how to get my Wii repaired.  It's got several different workouts on it so I won't get bored.  After I get back to town after my training this week, I'm hoping to lay out some meal plans so I can grocery shop and be prepared.  I need to get back to my routine of eating healthy and exercising.

Scripturally, this week was still focusing on David's reign as king.   I think what struck me so much was the extreme consequences of sin, most especially sexual sin.  There were several examples this week where sin lead directly to the sinner's death - even so called "minor" sins like touching the ark of the covenant were fatal.  To me, this just emphasizes how seriously God takes sin and how sin can affect more than just the sinner (see David and Bathsheba).  That sexual sin lead to two deaths (Uriah's and the child Bathsheba conceived with David).  While Uriah's death was caused by David and not God's punishment, it is still death caused directly by someone's sin.  I think it just shows that God is grieved by sin and as Christ followers we should be too.  I've been ruminating on that all week and spending time in prayer over that.  Heavy, heavy stuff.

I don't have too much to say and I'm really, really tired from spending time with Lisa (sleep wasn't as important as visiting) and other friends.  More next week.