Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Top Ten Books Jess Read in 2010

So, I've had this post half-written for over a month!  Finally got around to finishing it...the things you do when your husband is away. 

I'm always looking for a good book recommendation, so here are a few from me and I hope that you will comment with a few of your own for me to read this year.

Here they are (in no particular order, because they were all good), the top ten books that I could not put down in 2010:

1.  Redeeming Love:  Last year I fell in love with Francine Rivers.  She is the best Christian Fiction writer I have ever read, bar none.  This is definitely one of her best!  It is a retelling of sorts of the story of Hosea set in the days of the Gold Rush.  Its beautiful story of love had surprising impact on me.

2 & 3.  The #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series (Books 10 and 11):  I know that some of you just cannot seem to get into these, but I love them!  They are light, quick reading with a super lovable main character, Precious Ramotswe.  The stories are interesting, yet not intense and I love all the background of Botswana.  And doubly great, they have turned the books into an HBO mini-series that are well worth a watch.

4 & 5.  Her Mother's Love/Her Daughter's Hope:  Like I said, I fell in love with Francine Rivers, so I read a lot of her books last year.  This sequel was precious in its telling of mother/daughter relationships; how we so often misunderstand each other thereby missing really knowing each other and really loving each other well.  Plus, I loved that it starts out in Europe and in places that I've seen. 

6.  Committed:  This is sort of a sequel to "Eat, Pray, Love" but can be read on its own.  While I do not subscribe to her type of spirituality, Elizabeth Gilbert is a great writer and has some great insight.  In this book she dives into the issues of what it means to be married.  It is part memoir, part informational.  I found it to be thought-provoking and interesting and would love to read it with a group one of these days and discuss it more in depth!  Side note: her tales of her travels in Thailand and Cambodia were especially endearing to me having just been last year.

7, 8, & 9.  The Hunger Games Trilogy:  I put off reading the first two books until the third was released in August and I'm glad I did because once I picked the first one up, I couldn't stop until all three were read.  These are an incredibly intense and well-written work of fiction!  The story line and characters are vivid.  Warning: these books are quite graphic in their depictions of violence. So, if you are a sensitive soul, these may not be for you. 

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Kind of a weird title, but a sweet and satisfying book.  Takes place post World War II in England and Guernsey Isle.  Written as a series of letters, the characters are beloved and the story is wonderful, how a group of friends move on after war has changed them.  I was sad when it was over only because I could have read more of these characters.

 So there you have it.  I've already raced through The Mark of the Lion Trilogy which is sure to make it onto this year's list.  Now it is your turn...what do you recommend?

Friday, February 18, 2011


Today Anthony headed out with over 30 middle-schoolers from our ministries for our annual outreach camp, ESCAPE.  They will join almost 200 others for four days of fun and spiritual fuel.  A team of college students from our Alma Mater, Multnomah, have flown out to help facilitate camp.  Also, our soon-to-be-full-time ministry partner, Heather, flew out to meet students and help out.  She will be with us for the next two weeks, then will go back to the States to finish raising her support before joining us more long-term.  We are so excited that she has the opportunity to be here for camp!

This camp is very important for so many of our middle school students.  Often it is through these weekends that they meet Jesus personally for the first time and make significant steps of faith.  Please pray with us this weekend for our 32 students!  And please pray for our staff this weekend...



Pray for their stamina (200 middle-schoolers, not much sleep, and a lot of activity), their connection with students (some are newly involved and don't know many of the students), their sensitivity to the Spirit's leading as they facilitate small groups and meet one-on-one with students.

Thank you for empowering our ministry with your prayers!  We are so grateful to have you standing with us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anthony Turns 30!

We celebrated the life of my amazing husband over the weekend.  I really wish we could have done more, but alas, life and budget restricted the planning.  So, we made the most of what we had and rang in a new decade for him with a great evening out.

A wonderful friend took the kids for us, giving us a nice long evening to enjoy.  We hit the road with a couple of friends to help us celebrate and headed to our favorite restaurant in Germany: Die Kartoffel.  They serve these awesome steaks on hot stones so you cook them yourself, then have the choice of three amazing dipping sauces.  And of course, since the restaurant is called "The Potato," you get a big baked potato drowning in the best sour cream ever.  It is a pretty fantastic experience and a very special treat for us. 

 We hit up the Eis Cafe afterwards for Choco Becher and Lattes. 

Alethia was very concerned that she would miss out on all of the celebrating...she loves to sing "Happy Birthday".  So, the next morning, the kids and I walked down to two different bakeries in our village looking for the perfect morning treat.  We made up a breakfast-in-bed tray complete with "flowers" that Alethia picked on our walk, a homemade card that the kids helped make, and croissants with a birthday candle. 

Anthony works hard in ministry and for our family!  He loves students well and is a bright light for Christ among them.  He also loves me and our children well!  He sacrifices a lot to be available to us and to love on us.  And he loves the Lord!  I feel honored to watch him over the years as he has grown in the Lord and to get to do life with him.  Thank you, Lord, for 30 years of Anthony and bless us with many, many more!  So, here's to Anthony...Cheers!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope your day is filled with the love and joy of great friends and family! 
(And maybe a yummy treat too! :) )

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Impromptu Haircut

Yesterday when Alethia's teacher saw me arrive to pick her up, she took Alethia's hand and walked her to meet me.  This is not usual, so it made me wonder.  In German, she explained to me that she caught Alethia and another child, Alicia, cutting their hair.  Sure enough, Alethia had cut off about 3 inches of one pigtail!

I cannot say that it came as a surprise to me.  I think just about every friend I have that has a daughter above the age of 6 has experienced this very thing.  Their child wanders off when no one's looking, comes upon a pair of scissors and decides to experiment.  And just the day before I caught Alethia cutting her pony's hair.  I had hoped that our discussion about not using scissors on anything but paper would be a little more effective. 

I have no picture to share with you because it really is not that noticeable unless you are looking for it.  Even now Alethia still does not understand the logic that you cannot cut your own hair.  So, I am just making a greater effort to hide the scissors at home and hoping that she refrains from a repeat incident at school. 

Who knows, though!  She is a pretty independent spirit and this may not be the final word on Alethia cutting her own hair!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This is the word that is repeated all day between Masami and I!

He is really starting to talk and to want to communicate his wants, desires, thoughts.  And, as part of this developmental stage, he is experimenting with the word "what?".  After nearly everything I say to him, he responds with "what?"  And even though it drives me crazy, I find myself repeating what I've said at least twice before I catch myself and tell him to stop.  I know he hears me and usually understands, so why the constant "what" response? 

It occurred to me the other day that I say "what?" to him an awful lot too.  Although Masami talks a lot, I only understand about half of what he says.  I thought that all moms had some special "mother knowledge" that gave them the special power to understand and translate their own child's gibberish language.   Well, it is not true for me.  And since I don't know what he is saying half the time, I'm always responding with, "what buddy?"  So since I say it so much to him, maybe he just thinks that that is the way you are supposed to respond to someone.  This is a vicious cycle! 

You can imagine Masami and I, spending the mornings, just the two of us, saying "what?" back and forth.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kindergarten Birthday

On Alethia's first day back to Kindergarten after her birthday, her teacher asked me if we wanted to have a celebration in her class.  Of course I said yes.  My mind was already wandering to the cupcakes or iced cookies that we could make for it while I asked what I should bring and when.  Her teacher told me that most parents bring "bread, butter, and marmalade."  I started smiling to myself at the mistake that my mind had made in assuming that this experience would be like that of having a birthday in an American classroom.  Alethia's kindergarten has a laminated poster outside of each classroom of appropriate and healthy foods for kindergartners and, of course, cake or cookies are not on that poster. So, when I picked Alethia up from school that day, we headed to the commissary to buy her party supplies.  She must have had some kind of conversation about it with her teacher because she knew exactly what to get: bread, butter, and jam. 

Armed and ready to party!

She had a great time and came home with a specially made crown and a small kaleidoscope for a birthday present.  And yes...they sing the same birthday song as we English. but with a German accent that Alethia has picked up.  :)