Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week Twenty-Five in Review

Wow, this week flew by.  It was a pretty low-key week compared to the last few weeks in my life.  In fact, it was so low-key, I don't remember much to blog about. :-)  I am finishing projects up at work and it's a bit surreal at work - I'm still working for GCADV and have things to do but it feels weird since I know my last day is two weeks away.  I imagine the feeling is only going to get weirder.  I am slowly checking off the things I need to do for my new job.  I think the only thing I have left is to get my employee ID badge made. That was supposed to happen last week but the system was freaking out so I couldn't do it when I had my pre-employment physical.  I do have to say, Children's Healthcare is on top of things when it comes to getting employees ready to work there.  The process has been so smooth and they have been there to answer any questions that might come up.  If working for them is as smooth, I can see why they are one of the city's top employers!

On my eating plan, it wasn't the best of weeks and I don't know why.  I really, really struggle with the willpower to avoid foods I know are bad for me.  I'm trying to come up with ways around it but I'm at a loss.  I'm continuing to try and eat healthier foods, it's just a struggle.  Also struggling to get back into an exercise routine.  I'm hoping and praying that having access to exercise equipment on-site at my new job will help motivate me to exercise.  Children's provides that free of charge to employees (and provides free access to a trainer and nutritionist).  Gotta love that!  I'm making plans to make a whole new start when my new job starts - new job, new outlook, new attitude towards food and exercise.  I'm spending the time between now and then doing the best I can, making plans and preparing.  We'll see how that works.

Spiritually this week, it's been more in the Chronicles and Kings.  I will say I am enjoying them much more this year than I have in years past.  I think the way the reading plan breaks them up makes them more story-like and you read the same story at the same time.  I'm amazed at the parallels I see in the way some of the kings of Judah acted and the way I have a tendency to act.  While they often followed God, they didn't necessarily give over 100% of their lives to Him.  Many of the kings left the high places built and that left the door open for idol worship.  I think about how that is reflected in my own life.  I leave access to sin open in my life and it can separate me from God's presence.  I pray that I recognize those times and work to pull down those idols.  For me, they change quite often - food, money, and worry are my three biggies but others sometimes creep in.  As much as I used to question the Israelites for their actions against God, I see clearly now how my own life is so similar.  I'm thankful God continues to work on my heart to make me more like Him.

This week promises to be more of the same as last week - finishing projects at work and preparing to move on to the next phase in my journey.  Topping of the workweek with a Braves game on Friday night with mom and Sarah.  Definitely looking forward to that!  More next week...

Chasing the Sun - A Book Review

From the Back:  When her father disappears in war-torn Mississippi, Hannah Dandridge finds herself responsible not only for her younger siblings but also for the Texas ranch her father recently acquired.  A marriage of convenience could ease her predicament...but is it the true desire of her heart?  Wounded soldier William Barnett returns home only to find out that his family's ranch has been seized.  Though angered at this turn of events, he's surprised to discover that it is a beautiful young woman with amazing fortitude who is struggling to keep the place running.  Despite these circumstances, Hannah and William form and uneasy truce...and an undeniable attraction builds between them.  In a land where loyalties are divided in a country ravaged by war, is there any home that the first blush of love can survive?

Synopsis:  Hannah has moved with her family to Texas to escape the Civil War hardships of Mississippi.  Her dad has supposedly gone back to Mississippi and left Hannah alone to maintain the ranch.  According to her father's business partner, Mr. Lockhart, Hannah's dad has been taken prisoner by the Yankee army.  Unbeknownst to Hannah, Mr. Lockhart has had Hannah's father killed so he could move in on the ranch land and marry Hannah.  At the same time, William Blake, the son of the ranch's original owner returns to Texas after being injured in the war.  William is angered to know that the ranch has been seized and given to Hannah's father as a reward for helping the Confederacy.  Hannah is overwhelmed trying to maintain the ranch, take care of her younger siblings, fend off Mr. Lockhart's advances, and deal with William Blake.  She agrees to let Mr. Blake live on the ranch to help out.  As the story builds, Hannah discovers she has feelings for William but forces herself to hide those feelings.  The tension continues to build to the final climax when all the secrets are revealed.

Review:  I wasn't familiar with Tracie Peterson before but I'm glad I took the chance on this book.  While this is probably billed as a historical romance, there is much more to this book that the relationship between Hannah and William.  There is a mystery (Mr. Lockhart's scheming) and an adventure (problems with Indians) that weave into the plot.  You definitely won't get bored reading this book.  I also appreciate the development Peterson did with her characters.  I loved the independent streak in Hannah.  She knows what she wants and goes after it.  I also loved her heart.  She truly cares for those she encounters, going so far as to share with gospel with the so-called savage Indians.  On the other side, I quickly came to despise Mr. Lockhart.  He is an evil, smarmy character that you will despise within the first couple of chapters.  I found myself hoping something bad would happen to him.  I don't usually have that kind of reaction to "bad" characters in novels so I'm chalking it up to Peterson's character development.  Overall, this was a really good book.  It kept my interest very easily and eventually got to the "keep me up at night to finish" point.  You won't regret picking this one up!

Score:  4.0 bookmarks out of 5.

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

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week Twenty-Four in Review

So, I'm a little late with this week's update too.  But, I have a good excuse...I went home to celebrate Sarah's birthday (and all about her day) and Father's Day.  Mom and Sarah and I had a great time getting pedicures, having lunch together, shopping and then having Japanese food for dinner.  During our shopping trip, I got the benefit of Sarah's fashion expertise (and mom's $$) to add new tops to my wardrobe.  Sarah has an uncanny ability to put outfits together and I love, love, love getting to take advantage of that skill.  I have NO fashion sense - she keeps me from looking like a hobo. :-)

Last week was a little eventful.  On Tuesday, the recruiter from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta called and offered me the Program Manager position at the Child Protection Center and I accepted.  This was my first-choice position and I am thrilled to be joining a strong organization and a great team.  I will be managing a team that focuses on prevention and education around the issues of child abuse and neglect, child sexual abuse and child sex exploitation.  While it is sensitive work, the opportunity to stay in prevention and advocacy is wonderful for me professionally.  It is also a step up for me in terms of responsibility.  I will be supervising people and budgets for the first time.  I am excited about the new journey God is taking me on.

Healthy eating-wise last week during the week was up and down.  Sarah and I had a wonderful, healthy Sarah-created meal on Monday night.  (She has great fashion sense AND she cooks.  What more could a sister ask for?)  Tuesday night we celebrated my new job. The meal wasn't too unhealthy but the dessert certainly was. ;-) The rest of the week was up and down - some healthy, some not-so.  I am still trying to focus (and doing well) on eating more fresh fruits and veggies and drinking more water. This week should be better since I have no out of the office meetings and got stocked up on leftovers from mom and dad's.  The leftovers make it MUCH easier to add a quick side or salad and have a healthy lunch or dinner without much thought.  Love, love, love getting that added bonus from a visit to mom and dad's!

My spiritual thoughts this week have been centered around where Solomon went so wrong.  He spent much of his life following in his father's footsteps, following God's commands and walking with God.  Then he veered off course.  While Scripture doesn't explicitly state this, I think it was a pride issue.  Scripture does tell us that Solomon had tons of people, including the Queen of Sheba, telling him how great he was.  I think after a while, he did what we are  I am so prone to do...he listened to his own press and forgot all about God.  I used to be so judgmental of Old Testament characters, wondering how they could forget about God.  Then I realized I do the same dadgum thing repeatedly.  Of course, my sin doesn't lead to the splitting of a kingdom like Solomon's did but it's critically important anyway.  My prayer through this week is that God would help me put aside my worldly pride and always remember that He is the only one due any glory and anything and everything I have is because of His work in my life.

On a lighter note, I have two book reviews to get posted in the coming days.  One fiction, one non-fiction, both great reads.  More later...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week Twenty-Three in Review

Oops, didn't get the update in before the next week started.  Oh least I have a good excuse.  I have company in town and I would rather spend time with my sister than update my blog.

This past week was a good week - I had a great second interview with my #1 choice.  I still haven't heard anything but am praying something happens soon.  I'm not exactly the most patient person in the world.  I know God has everything in control and something will happen in His timing, I just have to keep reminding myself of that fact.

I did eat better this past week - planning ahead worked tremendously.  It really does make a difference when I can be at home most nights.  I am planning on a repeat in week 24.  Still working on adding in the exercise but I'll get there.

Spiritually, it's been a quiet week.  I've been reading about Solomon's reign over the nation of Israel and through Proverbs.  I love the wisdom in the Proverbs but nothing fully stood out this week.  I will say this reading plan has made it MUCH easier to get through Kings and Chronicles!  These have been the bane of my existence each time I read through the Bible in a year.  Fortunately, this plan breaks them up to where you aren't stuck reading huge passages of the same thing multiple days in a row.

Okay, that's the short and sweet update from last week.  I do have a book review to complete so hopefully will get that update posted soon.  More next week...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week Twenty-Two in Review

This has been a pretty boring week aside from two job interviews and a job offer.  I know, not boring for most people but since there was no travel involved, it's pretty boring. :-)  I have another interview (a second interview) coming up on Tuesday so we'll see what God has in store.  Either job would be good positions - both would be more money and less travel.  I do have a favorite but I'm keeping that to myself for now.  If you would like more details, email me and I'll share.  I'm just being careful what's shared publicly for now.

Food-wise, I ate better this week - planned ahead and used my Memorial Day holiday to prepare meat for use over the week and beyond.  Hope to keep it up this week.  Having only one class to teach has helped.  I am home in the evenings and can eat properly.  Being AT HOME instead of on the road helps too.  It's just difficult to make the healthiest eating choices when on the road.

Spiritually, this was an interesting week. Spent the week in Song of Solomon and Proverbs.  Proverbs is always so interesting to read.  I'm always struck by different things.  This week, two things stood out: God's view on how the poor should be treated and the importance of fighting against seduction.  I have started underlining how often the poor are mentioned and you can tell quite quickly how seriously God takes our treatment of the poor.  He calls for destruction for those who would mistreat the poor.  I think that serves as a warning for us in today's society.  I know that many of my trips around ATL bring me into contact with those society would view as "poor."  I've been thinking about how often I ignore them or try to pretend I don't see them.  That's my sinful side coming out big-time.  God commands us to love the poor.  I should be looking for ways to engage the people around me.  Even if I can't do something to meet an immediate need, I can at least be encouraging to them - offering a smile or a handshake.

The second thought was about seduction.  The question was raised in my Bible study book, what are you seduced by?  That question got me to pondering.  I think we all too often hear the word seduction and immediately think sex.  Maybe it's just me but I doubt it.  We are all seduced by something in this, fortune, success, fame - the list is endless.  Proverbs warns about being seduced and how to avoid that seduction.  Often it means fleeing from the temptation.  I'll admit, sometimes, that's just hard.  That piece of cake looks so yummy...I could do so much good if I just had more money...I'd be happier if I was more popular, etc.  I am easily swayed by the things of this world and have to focus day-by-day, sometimes minute-by-minute on Christ to overcome the seductions of the world.  It's just been on my mind ever since I read that question.  I'm not sure I have any mind-blowing answers; I was just reminded during the week how important it is to keep my focus on Christ and Christ alone.

I'm now off to enjoy the rest of my evening.  Have a healthy dinner planned and then will hopefully go to bed early.  Busy week ahead - lots of stuff to do in the office.  More next week...