"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August Books

Indonesia Etc. by Elizabeth Pisani  -- a great way to learn more about this collection of islands, the people and cultures that make up this country, and that they actually produce asphalt naturally there (like dig it out of the ground; pg. 178)!  Who knew? 


A Hopeful Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer  -- This story follows Aunt Hattie's school for young women of the East who have come to the Kansas prairie in order to learn how to become good rancher wives. Apparently the author met a lady on an Alaskan cruise who had come to such a school (!) thus the inspiration for this book.


Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer-- The story of a lady who comes to a small community in Nebraska to teach the local children...only some people are critical of her new ways of teaching.


Jimmy by Robert Whitlow -- Different from most books I've read; this book looks at life through the eyes of a young teen with a lower-than-normal IQ.  A pretty good story about his adventures with his grandpa, his mom and dad, and the assignments he enjoys as he helps others.


Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway -- I like the main character in this book, and the way she pursued her dream of writing, and worked her way into a (very slightly) better-paying job.  


A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- It's not that I find these books the most interesting or terribly compelling, but they are easy-reading and .. sweet, I guess.  Since I've been reading several of her books lately, I figure why not read 'em all?  This book takes place in Alaska when a brother and sister missionary couple goes to an Athabascan village to teach.


Song of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- When her family needs help after her father is badly injured in a mining accident, Sadie travels from Indiana to join her cousin Sid in Kansas.  Not only does he have a job lined up for her in the local mercantile, he mentions the community's opera house - a real draw for a woman who loves singing!


When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Imagine leaving your strick Mennonite faith and making your way in the world, and then a widowed Mennonite and her three children buy the property next to yours. Well, this is what happened to Tim in this book.  Poor fella.  


A Sister's Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- book one in the Sister of Holmes County series; I picked up this easy-read at the library when I had about one minute to find a book.  It's the story of Grace who lived among the English during her rumschpringe (running-around years), and came back to her faith with some secrets that she didn't share with her family.  




The Arabs: Journeys Beyond the Mirage by David Lamb -- this book has a copyright of 1987, but it has been updated a bit because the author mentions September 11, 2001.  It needs to be updated again since the chapters on the stability in the Middle East and Khadafi's Green Book, and rule of Saddam Hussein are over.  I enjoyed reading more about these people and the various Arab countries pre-all this stuff going on now.  The author lived in Cairo for four years so he traveled throughout the region.  I am really not familiar with him except for the fact that I was ordering books last year about people who biked across the US, and Amazon recommended his book.  Then I saw in there that he'd lived in Africa, Vietnam, the Arab world, and decided to check out some of those books.




A Sister's Test by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- This is book 2 in the Sisters of Holmes County series, and follows the second sister Ruth although the rest of the family is mentioned as well. It's actually more of a continuation of book one where some family issues weren't resolved.


A Sister's Hope by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- The final book in the above-mentioned series.  This book continues the story, but follows more of Martha's story as she continues her business and the family finally gets some answers about the person who has been vandalizing their properties for years.

A Home in Drayton Valley by Kim Vogel Sawyer --  New York City is too big and dirty for ailing Mary and her family.  Tarsie has a plan to help the family move to the wide open spaces in Kansas.  Will Joss be willing to leave his home and work for the sake of his wife?  Will Mary survive the journey? And how will befriending former slaves impact the family?


What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- When the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor is damaged by fire, Christina has to place her charges in homes throughout the community until the "poor farm" can be repaired.  This story deals with her struggles in doing this, and how the residents change as they are out in the community. 

The Storekeeper's Daughter by Wanda Brunstetter -- the first in the Daughters of Lancaster County series.  A good read while I was on my way to the beach and some while I was there and riding home.  It's about a young Amish woman who has to take over the household chores, raising her younger siblings, and working at her parents' store after her mom is struck by a car and dies on the way to the hospital.



To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron -- a look at British man's journey to Kailas and his description of the journey, and pilgrims, and things they do along the way. I found the topic of burying the dead interesting: burial being for those who died by plagues or those who were criminals,"to seal them underground is to prevent their reincarnation and to eliminate their kind for ever."  For the destitute, "corpses tipped into Tibet's rivers."  "Embalmment is granted to the highest lamas alone, while the less grand are cremated and their ashes encased in stupas."  Sky burial is for the others.  Among many things described in the process is this:  "Then the corpse's back is broken and it is folded into a foetal bundle.  ... As the corpse approaches, the sky master blows his horn and a fire of juniper twigs summons the vultures.  The master and his rogyapa corpse-dissectors then open the body from the back. They remove the organs, amputate the limbs and cut the flesh into small pieces, which they lay nearby. The bones are pulverised with a rock. The master mixes their dust with yak butter or tsampa, roasted barley, and then rolls it into balls.  Finally the skull too is smashed and becomes a morsel with its brains. One by one these are tossed on to a platform - the bones first, for they are the least appetising - and the vultures crowd in."    (pg. 151)  They want the vultures to accept it all! 




My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult -- the story of thirteen-year-old Anna, life-long donor to her sister Kate who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2. Such a touching, sad story.  Ugh...cancer. Just ugh.


The Quilter's Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- book two in the Daughters of Lancaster County series.  This book has many of the same characters from book 1, but focuses more on Fannie's daughter, Abby, as Abby leaves home in Ohio to help her mom in Pennsylvania for a few months.  An easy read, and I pretty much predicted what would happen before I read the first page. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ancestry DNA Kits and Family Pictures

Ancestry offered their kits 20% off again last week so I asked my family if anyone wanted one.  My mom ordered one, and my sister got one although she's not decided which of them she wants to test first.  She'd like to test all of them eventually.  Wouldn't it be interesting to see what Ancestry says my Venezuelan-born brother in law is made of?  And there is Michael who looks a lot like his father, but also favors my mom at times.  And would my sister have similar DNA results as mine?  We also ordered a kit for Andrew. He has laughed about my Italian/Greek results several times telling me that is why I love pasta and pizza and pita bread.  Also, maybe it explains why I'm not a "cold Westerner" as Samer likes to say.  Italians and Greeks are -in my thinking - known for being a bit more emotional than, say, Germans.

Anyway!

I wanted to post these few pictures.


The first is my mom's grandfather who was a missionary in China.



Passport photo March 1919

That's why my grandfather was born there, and why Pop's mom is buried there. She died soon after having a daughter when Pop was about five.  I learned from Ancestry that she was only 29 when she died.

The kid with the arrow is Pop, my mom's dad



Also, this is my mom's youngest brother.  My mom thinks he favors their grandfather (pictured above).

Doug




This is my mom with her brothers.
Doug, Sharon, Artie, Danny

 I know I shared this already, but here they are even younger with three friends in Africa.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My mom's gang

My mom is the oldest child in her family. She has three brothers, Danny (in the picture: top left; big smile), Artie (top middle, blond), and Doug (middle boy at the bottom). Her middle brother posted this picture - with the caption - on Facebook the other day.  I was at my parents' house when I saw she was tagged in the picture, and she told me about these boys sitting with her and her brothers.







She said the Browns were another missionary family (different denomination), and their dad and her dad (my Pop) got along splendidly with their senses of humor.  She told of Pop playing his trumpet, and Mr. Brown playing the sax.  She also told this story which I'll copy from my uncle (slight editing) since he posted the same story in a Facebook comment.

Missionary Harold Brown and my dad were up one evening at midnight eating the only snack they could find at that hour~prunes. As they ate they heard very loud snoring coming from the guard station right under the balcony where they were eating their prunes. When they were together they sometimes acted like high school pranksters. Now, about the sleeping guard that was supposed to be awake. Well, let me say this in the most Christian way possible. The grown missionaries baptized the guard below in prune seeds (pits).




My uncle's original comment on the picture:

This was "The Ibadan/Sapelis Nigeria MK Gang". Nathaniel, Bartholomew, and Thaddeus had a dad that was outstanding in fireworks demonstration. Missionary Harold Brown could also play a mean Saxaphone. And with Missionary Dan Truax Sr on the Trumpet we had great music. What fun when Missionary families had christian fellowship.


This is just something I wanted to preserve somewhere so I chose here.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Watching the Olympics

For the last seventeen days, I've had some version of this in my living room.  Today, really, was the worst. Andrew had to add the two containers to get the antenna higher.







See. We don't have cable TV or a dish so we use that black square thing on the mantel in order to bring in some local channels. Unfortunately NBC is the worst major network and we have to finagle things to get the signal most of the time.



Since the Rio Olympics ended today, I wanted to document this before we put things back to normal.



After feeling rather ambivalent about the upcoming Summer Games during May, June, and July,  I surprised myself by enjoying the Olympics.  Even Zach enjoyed watching Michael Phelps and was inspired to learn how to swim better.


If you watched, who was your favorite athlete? Favorite event? Story?  What about your least favorites?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DNA results are in!

Over a dozen years ago I met a group of ladies at Babycenter.com.  Oddly enough I heard about Babycenter because my dad used to like watching these stocks/news reports on TV, and one day they mentioned the top baby names.  I happened to be visiting my parents, my dad had the TV on in the background, and I perked up when I heard which names were most popular in the US.   I decided to check out Babycenter because of my love of names.  I saw they had name polls there, and, over time, I was able to "meet" some of the regulars who posted in the comments.  Eventually it evolved enough that about a dozen of us became friends and we now have a secret group on Facebook where we share day-to-day happenings, struggles at home or work, funny parts of life, pictures we don't necessarily want to share with the wider Facebook audience, and stuff like DNA test results.   I know I also shared my results with my wider Facebook audience, but my Babycenter friends were among the very first to know.  (I shared it with them, and my parents and siblings around the same time.)

I posted this to my friends:

"I got my DNA results today. Anyone want to guess what place got the highest percentage? Anyone?"

A few of them guessed or said they had no idea, but were eager to see, but Sommer, a friend from California, humored us all with her guess:

5% Deep South Hispanic
25% Caucasian
60% little Orphan Annie

50% McDonald
 
45% pothole


I used to take Michael to the McDonald's Playplace quite often when he was younger, and the girls would tease me about being cousins with Ronald McDonald because we both have clown hair.



Also, little orphan Annie





The pothole reference is from a GEICO commercial from a few years ago.  Sommer said when she heard it, she thought of me because of my southern accent.


ANYWAY! 

I received my Ancestry.com DNA results yesterday. I'd been checking my email often for updates even though I knew I still had a few weeks to go since they tell you to allow 6 to 8 weeks.  (They received my DNA sample on July 12.)


My maiden name and my mom's maiden name are both from French last names.  I remember talking about surnames not long ago saying how they can be misleading.   I meant it more for my brother in law who was adopted from Venezuela and has a Slovenian last name now, but it seems I should have also thought of how my last names could trick me. 

Overall I was 94% European with only 5% in West Asia, the Caucasus.

I was surprised to see my highest percentage wasn't for Ireland (though it was second) or Europe West (which includes France -- only got 5% here) or even Great Britain (third place). 
It was for Italy and Greece at 35%.  Huh?!   There is absolutely no one in my (granted, very limited) family tree with an Italian or Greek-sounding name so I never would have considered this!


I immediately had a Facebook chat with my parents and siblings, and my youngest sibling said the Italy/Greece thing didn't surprise him as he considered history.  His thoughts:



We know we have some French ancestors on both sides, and the ancestors of people from the area that is now France didn't come from there. Most of the native Gallic people were wiped out by the Romans during their wars like the Europeans did with the native Americans. Then later some of the lighter haired people were introduced when Germanic tribes came over like the Goths and Visigoths, etc. The Romans before that had mixed a lot with the Greeks -short explanation



yeah the Romans colonized modern-France and called it Gallic-Rome, mostly everyone from "France" came from Roman or Germanic ancestors


A lot of historians believe the people who settled and built Rome were originally from Greece



I'll post my percentages here so I'll have a record of them:



Africa <1 p="">Trace Regions

 <1 p="">Africa North less than 1%
<1 p="">
<1 p="">
<1 p="">
Europe 94%
<1 p="">
Italy/Greece 35%
Ireland 26%
Great Britain 19%
Europe West 5%
Range: 0%-20%
<1 p="">
<1 p="">
Trace Regions
9%
Europe East 4%
Scandinavia 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia 2%
Iberian Peninsula 1%
 

<1 p=""> West Asia 5%
Trace Regions
5%
Caucasus 5%


Thanks to those who did this test before, and got me more interested in doing it for myself.  I don't know how accurate the data is in reality, but it's interesting to consider.

If you've done a DNA test, did your results surprise you in any way or did they confirm what you already knew?  Did your results differ from a sibling in a notable way?


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

One week ago...







Last Wednesday I was scrolling through Facebook as I often do, and I saw where my cousin, Dan, had a status about their taking his daughter to the emergency room.  Having done the same thing not too long ago with Zach when he broke his arm, I didn't think much of it at the time although a few hours later I checked his page to see if there were any updates in the comments.  There was, but I thought maybe he'd mistyped when he wrote something about a 94.5 degree temperature. 

Later I saw where they thought Kylie was septic. I knew that was serious, but I failed to realize how serious.  Sadly, she died that night from a blood infection.

She was fourteen.  Literally days younger than my precious nephew, Michael.

Growing up, Dan and his twin Don were probably my favorite cousins on my mom's side.  Although we'd not kept in great touch the last several years, I still look back on fond (fun) memories with them. 


Don, Susanne, Dan


I am heartbroken for Dan losing his daughter. He was such a proud dad posting photos and videos of Kylie singing and playing her ukulele.   I like to think of Mema and Pop and others in Kylie's extended family welcoming her to heaven last Wednesday.  I know the void in Dan and Stacie's hearts is huge.  My thoughts and prayers are with them.   May God give them peace.


Kylie a few years ago

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July Books

Lost Melody by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith -- A concert pianist's career is halted when a subway wrecks in NYC and her left hand is severely injured.  She goes back to her home in Nova Scotia to heal, plan a wedding, and tell people about her dream warning them to leave town on a certain day!  How does that announcement go over with the townspeople - and her fiancĂ© who is running for a local political office?


Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll -- The story of Harper who is trying to find work as an actor and find a love connection because that's what thirty-year-olds want in life.  The longer I read this story, the more familiar it seemed so I might have read it many years ago.



When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley -- One morning the phone rings and Jack is surprised to find himself as the guardian of his estranged, late, half-brother's six children!  Thankfully their mother isn't dead - just injured, so he moves in to help out until she heals.



Walking With Spring by Earl V. Shaffer --  This guy became the first person known to hike uninterrupted the entire length of the Appalachian Trail which was different in 1948 than it is today. Still, it was over 2,000 miles from north Georgia to Katahdin in Maine.  In his account about his hike, he mentioned an overlook in Virginia where he met a couple who seemed to be newly-married.  The guy said "howdy" so he stopped to talk.  "Mention of the Trail brought a discussion as to the proper pronunciation of Appalachian.  The lady, who spoke with a Deep South accent, used the pronunciation derived from the Appalachee Indian Tribe, the original source.  The man, definitely a northerner, said she would think so, coming from the South where, 'They always mess up the language.'  I agreed with her but didn't say so."  (pg. 67)   {This made me laugh.}; Andrew found this book at the visitor's center in Cherokee, NC, when we were there in June. 




Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow -- the second novel in The Tides of Truth trilogy; this continues the story of Tami Taylor as she continues clerking at a law firm in Savannah. I've grown to like the characters more so I'll be sure to read the final book to see how the story finishes. 



Greater Love by Robert Whitlow -- book three in The Tides of Truth trilogy; I had this one for a couple of weeks before book two became available -- I was challenged by the words on pages 198-199 about the Christian life consisting of sacrifices and "When you view those situations as opportunities, not problems, you'll understand what is means to take up your cross and follow the Lord.  The ability to really help people is God's gift to those willing to lay down their lives for others." 



Faith by Lori Copeland -- an easy read from the "Bridges of the West 1872" series; follows the story of a mail-order bride as she moves from Michigan to Texas; I think I read this book ages ago, but was looking for something light to read recently and picked it up again; how will Faith get along with her new mother in law to be?

June by Lori Copeland -- same as the above Faith book; this is another sister in the family only she leaves Michigan for Seattle and works raising funds for a tabernacle and an orphanage


Waiting for Summer's Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer --  A woman who lost her children and husband to typhoid fever as they traveled to a new life in the west has to settle down in a place where outsiders are looked upon with suspicion.  Predictable, but a sweet story.

Hope by Lori Copeland -- same as a couple of the above mentioned books; this is the third sister on her way to Kentucky to meet a guy who placed an ad for a bride. 



Where Willows Grow by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Harley leaves his family to join a job site halfway across Kansas.  Anna Mae is left at home in the care of a neighbor who grew up with her - and never got over "losing" her to Harley.  Oh goodness.



Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time by Ed Stafford -- quite an adventure this Englishman completed. Much of it was spent with a Peruvian, Cho,  who joined Ed when Ed's fellow adventurer abandoned the mission.  I cannot imagine doing this or wanting to do this. It was horrible.  But what an accomplishment!

A Promise for Ellie by Lauraine Snelling  -- I think I would have enjoyed this more if I'd read the previous series about this family. I felt like there was so much backstory that was alluded to that made this not as interesting. At least it was an easy read so I didn't spent too much time on it.


High Country Fall by Margaret Maron -- a Deborah Knott mystery that takes place in a fictitious county in the mountains of North Carolina.  My mom found this author's books recently at the library and mentioned them to me.  Judge Deborah takes the bench in WNC for a week, and helps solve a couple of murders among other things.


First Impressions by Debra White Smith -- a story about a small town in Texas and the characters in the local Huntington House Dinner Theatre: Eddi, Dave, and others.


My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Three orphaned siblings - Maelle, Mattie, and Molly - are separated when the orphan train goes west and they are divided among three different families.  The older children never forgot each other and looked to reunite. 



Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- This story revisits characters from an earlier book.  Thomas is now grown up, graduated from college, and searching for a job and place to live.


Glory by Lori Copeland -- Figured I should read the last of the Brides of the West series since I started reading them earlier this month.  Glory joins a wagon train to Denver City after the death of the hermit who raised her. 


Ruth by Lori Copeland -- another Brides of the West book. I don't know if my library has the others so I guess I'll read something else at this point!   There is always good books to read ... or books we hope will be good!


Death's Half Acre by Margaret Maron -- Another Deborah Knott mystery.  This book was OK, but I had a hard time keeping all the characters straight at times.  And really corruption in county politics isn't that interesting to me, but I did like some aspects of this story, and thankfully it wasn't a super-deep book and didn't take a lot of my time to read.


When Jesus Wept by Bodie and Brock Thoene  -- Book one of their Jerusalem Chronicles; this is the story of Lazarus fictionalized, but also with much of the Biblical story.  A lot of attention was paid to wine, of how the best vines and grapes were produced. Much analogy to pruning and hard times making for richer, more flavorful wine - and lives.  Some good reminders in there for me about letting go of bitterness and anger, and how people have choices in whether or not to walk in the right way.


Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- this story follows the journey of a family of Mennonites who left Russia (present-day Ukraine) for the prairie in Kansas for religious freedom.