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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Books

The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- another in the Lancaster County Secrets; it had a couple of characters from the second book, but not in a major way.  This book is about Lainey who made a "split-second decision" when just a ten year old child.  Now she has come back to the town where her choice impacted so many.  She meets up with Bertha, Jonah, and Bess Reihl, some Amish folks, and the story goes from there.  

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist -- Did you know back in the colonial days (I'm talking the 1640s) that women from England went to the United States to marry men in order to make the men more likely to stay?  First volunteers went - widows, spinsters - but when they ran out, felons were sent. And occasionally a kidnapped young lady which is what this book is about.  You can imagine why Lady Colleen would be a most begrudging bride, eh?  

A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas -- the story of Ella an almost-thirty-year old who goes back home to help after her grandmother has a stroke.  It's also the story of Perla (the grandmother) who wants to communicate some important news, but is not able due to her stroke.

The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist -- Orphaned on their way to San Francisco, siblings Rachel, Lissa, and Michael work hard to make a life in this land catering to gold miners.  Rachel must come to grips with her judgmental ways in this area of the country where things that matter back East, don't matter so much.  A good story.

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson -- A sequel of sorts of Mark's book (the first one I read) which came out ten years ago.  He challenges and encourages and informs as is typical of him.

Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin -- Such an interesting way to learn more about Dutch Separatists who came to the US and settled Holland, Michigan.  Two stories in one by Anna as she visits the shore of Lake Michigan to get over a broken engagement, and one by Geesje de Jonge as she writes her memoirs.  Great book!  I'm so glad I saw this on the online library catalog. 

The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- part of The Bishop's Family series which I read a couple of earlier in the year. This one picks up with Bishop David's daughter Ruthie, and also more from other regulars.  But a newcomer, Patrick, joins the crew. He's a Canadian Catholic interested in becoming Amish.

The Africans by David Lamb -- this book is so old that AIDS wasn't mentioned until the epilogue which the author wrote about five years after the first publication.  I would love to read an updated version of how things have changed for the better (I hope!) in these many countries. I enjoyed reading some of the history of Africa and about a few of the leaders who shaped it.

Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander -- book two in the Timber Ridge series.  I realized my library had paper copies of books 1 and 3, but book two was an audio book so I requested this one for Christmas.  I received it at our family party, and read it within two days.  I really enjoyed this story about Dr. Molly Whitcomb who leaves a professorship at a college in Georgia to teach children in a one-room schoolhouse in the Colorado territory.  What in the world?  Well, Molly comes with her secrets and reasons for fleeing her hometown.  She meets Sheriff James McPherson - who was a character in book one - and finds it difficult to keep her secrets.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult -- A story about bullying and a school shooting, and how people do whatever they can in order to be part of the popular crowd.  Good book!

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander -- book three in the Timber Ridge series; this one dealt with Sheriff McPherson's widowed sister, Rachel, and her struggles in raising her two son while keeping the ranch going.  Also, this has more about Dr. Rand Brookston and his efforts to prolong the lives of various characters in Timber Ridge. 

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah -- I heard a brief interview with this author on an NPR program, and his story (growing up in South Africa) sounded really interesting. And someone sent it to me for Christmas even though I never requested it!  Yay for thoughtful friends!   I read it while on the way to the beach after Christmas, and enjoyed learning more about Trevor's childhood and family, and life in S.A. under apartheid. 

I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark -- I got this awhile back at a book exchange, and took it along to the beach.  A pretty good mystery about a lady who married into a filthy rich family.  Only her husband was arrested soon after their marriage for a murder that happened 22 years prior.   I finished it on the way home from the beach today (12/29) and it kept me entertained. 

The Juggler's Children by Carolyn Abraham -- "a journey into family, legend and the genes that bind us."  This book was recommended to me by a blogger friend, Chiara, whom I emailed when my surprising DNA results came in a few months ago.    I was trying to think of someone with Italian roots and she came to mind!  Ha!  This was an interesting read especially if you enjoy genealogy and DNA tests and trying to solve mysteries through science and paper trails!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Younger Days

Recently I was at my parents' house and found a few old pictures of my dad literally lying on the floor. Apparently he'd been looking through some things and a folder slid off a shelf or something.  Not sure how they ended up there, but I quickly rescued them, photographed them, and decided to share them here.

I think he told me he was about 20, and stationed in Alabama when these pictures were taken.  His USAF training and service took place in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Goose Bay.

My dad grew up on a dairy farm in Caswell County in northern North Carolina.  He spent many hours working for local tobacco farmers, making a few dollars to buy school clothes and supplies.  Many of his peers were drafted into the service during the Vietnam War era so my dad joined the United States Air Force expecting he'd be drafted eventually.

Interestingly enough (to me anyway), instead of being sent overseas to fight, he was sent to Goose Bay way up in Canada.  He's mentioned tunnels in the snow as if this was definitely something that made a huge impression.   I should find out more stories about his time there.

Here is a clipping from the paper when a General visited Goose Air Base.  My dad is the one grinning. 

And another picture that was in that group I found recently.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Books

The Wish by Beverly Lewis -- When Gloria's Amish family moves away and becomes fancy, she leaves behind a sister-friend, Leona, who grieves for the abrupt ending of their relationship.  After not hearing from Gloria for years, Leona is surprised to receive a letter inviting Leona back into Gloria's life.

Summer of Joy by Ann H. Gabhart -- I wasn't sure I was going to stick with this one because I felt I was beginning a book which jumped into a family I was unfamiliar with.  Later I realized there was an earlier book which would have helped introduce the characters, but it worked out.  This is a story about Pastor David Brooke and his children, Jocie and Tabitha, and David's girlfriend Leigh whom he decides to marry. Stuff like that, but more to it, too.

From a Distance by Tamera Alexander -- This book combines characters like a Yankee photographer lady who journeys to the West in order to compete for a job, a former Confederate sharpshooter, and a former enslaved person. I enjoyed it. It's somewhat predictable, yeah, but it's better than many.  Book one of the Timber Ridge Reflections series. I'm going to look for the others.

The Moment Between by Nicole Baart -- Abigail follows the trail of her sister's ex-boyfriend to confront him about some things pertaining to Hailey. At first I wasn't sure about this book, but grew to like it pretty well. 

The Breaking Point by Karen Ball -- A husband and wife have an accident on the way home, and the book deals with their marriage issues. 

Grave Risk by Hannah Alexander -- kind of a medical mystery story, but not super-interesting; but an OK easy-read

Discovering North Carolina edited by Jack Claiborne and William Price -- a collection of stories about people, events, the environment, and social fabric of NC.  I wrote a bit more about it in a previous post

A State of Grace by Trace Depree -- an easy-read about a small town in the Tennessee mountains; the pastor's wife involves herself helping a widow and her daughter who has leukemia

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist -- I like that this took place at Biltmore in Western NC.  This is the story of a young girl who had been trained to become the top lady's maid.  One requirement though: don't get involved with a man!

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd -- A book based on the lives of Sarah and Nina Grimké from Charleston, South Carolina.  Mostly the book focused on Sarah with a second story from Handful (Hetty) the slave given to Sarah when Sarah turned 11.  Handful was ten.  A great book. My mom read it first, and highly recommended it. 

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- Lancaster County Secrets series; Carrie was anticipating following her Amish boyfriend into the English world as Sol plays baseball, but when her father dies, she has a choice to make regarding staying or leaving for the sake of her little brother, Andy.

Comrades by Stephen E. Ambrose -- a short book about friendships - some historical figures, and some of the authors' own close friends. One chapter was about Richard Nixon and how he didn't have any really close friends.  I felt I identified much with Nixon because I don't really share my inner thoughts and secrets with anyone, either.

All The Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy In The Lives of America's First Families by Doug Wead  -- I bought this for twenty-five cents, and it was a really good way to learn more about the presidents' families.  It made me want to learn even more about certain individuals.

The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- book two in the Lancaster County Secrets series, but it has nothing to do with the previous book's characters; this one dealt with Jorie and her waiting for her boyfriend to come back from Vietnam...stuff like that

If by Mark Batterson -- "Trading your 'if only' regrets for God's 'what if' possibilities"  -- lots of good reminders for me!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Catherine's Journal

One of the essays in Discovering North Carolina (see more here) contains excerpts from the journal of Catherine Ann Devereaux Edmondston.   There are entries from Election Day 1860 when she was sure Lincoln wouldn't be elected.  Then there is the grievous disappointment expressed nearly three weeks later.  The diary entries give glimpses of the home front from the perspective of a lady from the planter class in Halifax County.  

After Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865, Mrs. Edmondston writes that she had "reduced [her]self, to an utterly paperless condition."  Except for her journal which she must have hidden pretty well.

She writes:
"Every letter I possessed, letters which I had cherished as my heart's blood, mementos of those I had loved & lost years ago, literary memoranda, excerpts, abstracts, records of my own private self examinations, poetry - all, all destroyed..."


"...the thought of seeing them in Yankee hands, of hearing them read in vile Yankee drawl amidst peals of vulgar Yankee laughter, or worse still, of knowing them heralded abroad in Yankee sensational newspapers, restrained me!" [She had thought of snatching out one letter from the packet that contained letters to and from her husband.]

"This has been the fate of thousands of my fellow countrywomen, for the Northern journals teem with private papers stolen from Southern Households & published to a vulgar curious world as specimens of Southern thought, Southern feeling, & Southern composition."   (pg. 50)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


A friend shared this on Facebook two days ago.  I thought it was clever, and planned yesterday how I would post it here after a woman made history in becoming the President of the United States of America!  What a day!

Not this time

But, I hadn't counted on the pre-election headlines and polls that came across my Facebook news feed being so wrong.  I should have learned from Brexit and the Colombian vote a few months ago.

Someone shared this on Facebook a few days ago, too.  The language is terrible, but it helped me understand the rural vs. city divide a bit more.  Also, a friend in Scotland read it, and she saw parallels to the Brexit vote.  

I stayed up until just after one this morning.  Trump was poised to take Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and possibly Michigan, and with the recent time change making it feel more like 2 A.M. (and I am not a night owl at all), I was beat.  And stunned.

Oh, wow.

How are you feeling?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Refusing to Feed Others

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I'm reading a book Discovering North Carolina which has dozens of stories, newspaper articles, and accounts about the state in which I've lived most of my life.  I found it at the twenty-five cent sale at Fifth Street Books in September, and started reading it in mid-October.  

It's divided into four sections: Environment (which includes things like how NC got its name, sailors' impressions, a visit by President Monroe, the Civil War on the Home Front, and so forth), People (an explorer-historian's description of "a well-shaped, clean-made people" i.e., the "Indians in colonial North Carolina"; Daniel Boone "who lived in North Carolina longer than he lived anywhere else"; several governors, Andy Griffith, Buck Duke, etc.), Events (the hanging of Tom Dula, visits from George Washington and Robert E. Lee, Walter Hines' attack on the "mummies" in the NC legislature, "The Camels Are Coming," and so forth), and Social Fabric ("Quarrels among the Baptists," life in the cotton mills, descriptions of a country church service, etc.)

Yesterday I was reading the latter part of the Events section about Greensboro, NC, where "The Sit-Ins Begin."  I grew up and still live about 30 minutes from Greensboro. I was there just last week when I took Zach to the Science Center where he likes seeing the aquarium, and we were able to see the tiger before his afternoon snooze.  We travel through Greensboro nearly every time we go to the North Carolina mountains, and our "local" news stations are from out that way.

I read this line in this Events story: "Still others pointed to a December 1959 episode when McNeil returned from a trip to New York and was refused food service at the Greensboro Trailways Bus Terminal." (pg. 275)

That made me so sad!  I want to think if I were a white Southerner back in those days (pre-Civil War, during the Civil War, and in 1959!) that I would treat people with respect and kindness despite the fact that they were black.  I don't see how people justified this racism. How some perhaps had the audacity to use the Bible to justify this.  Yes, quote me those verses about servants and masters. Whatever. But refusing to feed a paying customer? Making black people use separate water fountains?  Sit at the back of buses and theaters and churches?  Why?  Do you think they will give you cooties

Why do people who often say they love "the good Lord," go to church, think they are going to heaven because they are basically good or said a prayer, do these things? Do you just ignore all those teachings about loving others as you love yourself?  In honor preferring one another? washing others' feet as Jesus showed us? even loving your enemies (if you consider them such..guess what? you gotta love them if you follow Christ.)

I don't get it.

I had a very small taste of this when I went to Syria in early 2009.  We'd had a wonderful visit there, and were treated exceptionally well.  But one person - one friend who had joined us several days to walk us through Damascus neighborhoods - said something that hurt me. Even his Syrian friends looked at him like he said the wrong thing and somewhat scolded him.  I really don't think he meant to hurt us.

We'd met with several Syrians that week.  A couple had had us over to their houses or taken us out to eat. This particular guy had joined us many times, but unlike a couple of others, he'd not had us meet anyone in his family.  Apparently his parents were super-pious and American Christians would have contaminated them because one day towards the end of our visit B commented, "My parents would have liked to meet you...if you were only Muslim." 

On the other hand, I remember one specific instance where I know I hurt someone because he was different than I so I know I've hurt others, too.  Probably many more than I want to admit - or even realize.

Have you ever been shunned or hurt because you weren't the right gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, or _______?  Even though you tell yourself so and so might not have meant it quite the way it came out, it still hurts a little (or a lot.) 

Anyway, this was just something I'd been thinking about.  I know we are in an election time when people are dividing and sometimes telling how stupid the other side is, but let's remember to be known for loving and serving others, fellow Christians, even if they differ from us.   Yes, even if they vote for that candidate you really, really don't like! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

October Books

Black Dragon River: A Journey Down the Amur River at the Borderlands of Empires by Dominic Ziegler -- an informative book; lots of history; a little deep for me at times

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden -- This story introduces us to Clara who is a journalist seeking to expose child labor practices that put children in danger. It also speaks of a friendship from long ago, and how she got back in touch with her friend, Daniel.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden -- I didn't realize someone mentioned in the above-mentioned book would have his fuller story told in this story.  Alex "Bane" Banebridge was part of Clara and Daniel's story.  In this book, we see what else happens in his life. Also we are introduced to Lydia who has great language skills, and becomes a helper to Bane.   I enjoyed this book!

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- When Emma decides to supplement her income so her children don't have to support her, she places an ad for a quilting class.  This book is about the six people who answer this ad, and their stories as they grow to be a bit more than classmates.  A really cute book.

Sanctuary of the Chosen by Dave Hunt -- I got this at one of those book exchanges around town many months ago. Figured I should finally read it. Ugh...it was pretty dreadful.  The character was so unbelievable, and I couldn't help but feel I was being fed some political agenda through the first three-quarters of the book.

Reunion by Lauraine Snelling -- When Bjorn surprises Keira with a trip to Norway for their anniversary, she goes on a hunt for her official birth certificate in order to apply for a passport (not sure how a lady this old doesn't have a copy already, but whatever).  What she finds shocks her.  Also, her brother and his wife deal with the pregnancy of their daughter who is just getting ready to graduate from high school and go to college in the fall.  All of this...before the big family reunion.

The Tattered Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter -- I didn't realize there were more in the Half-stitched quilting club series until I saw this when I went back to the library.  This follows another of Emma's quilt classes, and brings back some of the former class members.

For Such a Time As This by Ginny Aiken -- Kind of a modern-day Esther story, in a way.  Olivia offers her services to nanny two particularly difficult children, and later gets involved in a situation where someone is trying to make farmers lose their land.

The Healing Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter -- Another book in the above-mentioned series.  This one takes place in Sarasota, Florida, where Emma and her husband have gone for the winter.  A new set of quilt class characters, with some from the past visiting.

Remember Me When by Ginny Aiken -- The story of Faith who is accused of murder after her abusive husband is found dead. 

She Shall Be Praised by Ginny Aiken -- Emma's life drastically changes the afternoon her coach was held up and she was taken to live with some sheep rustlers for a short time. Thankfully, she was rescued, but the sheep rancher can't take her back into town until the end of the season.  She's forced to hang out at camp with the ranch hands and the rancher's young son.  What a contrast to Emma's high-society life!

A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano -- Arabella challenges the men in her life with her ways - attending rallies encouraging women's right to vote, trying to help ladies of the street, ending up in jail!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I mentioned my 14-year-old nephew at the end of my last post. His DNA results were the only family members' DNA still not reported. Well, those came in finally so I will post them along with pictures I found on my computer - or I downloaded this morning off Facebook.  Enjoy seeing my sweetie - and some of his family!

Me and Michael

Checking out Uncle Daniel

my brother, Michael's Uncle Daniel

First Halloween - 8 months old

Michael's mom, my sister

Ninja Mike

Bagel and Michael

Michael with his dad and dog

Will''s brother Juan visited the family from Venezuela five years ago

Tia Mari

He wanted to sleep on the balcony at the beach
The best cousin picture I could get - 2015

at Myrtle Beach with us in August 2016

With the prop Will made for VBS at their church

My nephew is the one with the horse head

Michael at church camp 2016

DNA Results

Africa 3%
Trace Regions 3%
Africa North 3%

America 14%
Native American 14%

Europe 77%
Iberian Peninsula 35%
Europe West 24%
Italy/Greece 8%
Great Britain 6%

Trace Regions 4%
Ireland 4%
West Asia 6%

Trace Regions  6% 
Caucasus 4%
Middle East 2%

Friday, September 30, 2016

Italians, Greeks, Irish - oh my!

Last month I had fun receiving and analyzing my surprising DNA results.  Since then, Andrew had himself tested, and he came back thinking he is from British royalty. He's even tried out a few British accents around the house, but it's hard to cover his southern one!

I also got my parents tested.  I was curious which one of them surprised me with that 35% from Italy and Greece.  I had a hunch it was my mom because, rightly or wrongly, I think of Italians and Greeks looking more like she does: dark brown or black hair, dark eyes, more olive complexion.  I was pretty sure the Irish part (my second highest at 26%) was from my dad.  We both share fairer skin, bluer eyes, and he has two sisters with red hair.

I mean wouldn't you assume the same?

my mom
my dad on the right

my parents with Pop (her dad)
my dad with his darling firstborn

later we were a family of six

But last night their DNA test results came back, and I saw them this morning.


Africa 1%
Trace Regions 1%
 Africa North 1%

Asia < 1%
Trace Regions  < 1%
 Asia South < 1%

Europe 83%
Italy/Greece 47%
 Ireland 13%
Europe West 9%

 Trace Regions 14% 
 Europe East 6%
Great Britain 3%
Iberian Peninsula 3%
Scandinavia 1%
 European Jewish 1%

West Asia 15%
Caucasus 14%

Trace Regions  1% 
Middle East 1%


Africa < 1%
Trace Regions< 1%
 Africa North < 1%

Asia < 1%
Trace Regions < 1%
Asia Central < 1%

Europe 98%
Europe West 28%
Ireland 26%
 Great Britain 23%
 Iberian Peninsula 8%
Scandinavia 7%

Trace Regions  6%
Europe East 2%
Italy/Greece 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia 2%

The only other family member who took the test was my 14 year old nephew. I am interested in seeing Michael's results in the coming days! 

Apparently, I really need an updated picture of him on my computer.

Michael and Will, a few years ago

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September Books

The Bishop's Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter -- book three in the series I began last month; This book follows the stories of Leona, the Amish school teacher, and Jimmy Scott who was introduced to readers in book one.

Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood -- in the new books section of the library; Interesting story of Lev's journey through several countries

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden -- A great story about a couple of former classmate rivals, Trevor and Kate, who meet again years later to work on a cure for tuberculosis.  I found this book while visiting an area library (not the one I usually go to).  I enjoyed it, and want to look for others from this author.

The Imposter by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- I sure have found a lot of Amish-based books this year, huh?  I was in an area library, and found this one.  "The Bishop's Family" series apparently. It was in the new books section along with book 2.  This book follows the life of David, recently widowed, and his Amish community and family in Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania. 

Vietnam, Now by David Lamb -- I received this book for Christmas, and enjoyed learning more about life in Vietnam when the author lived there for four years around 2000.  I wonder how this country has changed since then.
These were some things I shared on Facebook: 

I'm reading a book about a journalist who went to Vietnam during the American war, and went back again decades later. He said after "where are you from?" most people asked about his age (in order to figure out which form of "you" to use*), and how many children he has. Not having any children was attached with "sorrow - and sometimes bad luck." He got so tired of the expressions of sympathy and trying to explain why he had no children despite being happily married for many years, that he adopted a fictional family, and told inquiring Vietnamese that Sebastian** and Aileen** were back in the US and both had recently married. "'Ah' they'd say, 'A boy and a girl. Perfect. You are very lucky.'" (pg. 61)

* "the Vietnamese language has more than twenty words for 'I' and doesn't have a simple word for 'you'; age and status defines one's relationship and how people address each other."

**names that, "conveniently," the Vietnamese had difficulty pronouncing

"'We had to study French history in those days. We studied the French Revolution, and we'd say, "If the French can do it, why can't we?" That's the irony. The French inspired us how to make a revolution against France." -- a Vietnamese man, Pham Xuan An, talking to an American journalist living in Vietnam (pg. 83)

"On my desk was a Who's Who of Vietnam directory that covered 147 pages; fifty-nine pages were filled with people named Nguyen, Le, or Tran." Those being family names. (pg. 112)

One of the important lessons of the war with Vietnam -- "that airpower alone doesn't guarantee victory and that military might is often no match for nationalism.  As many as 2 million men walked to war over the Ho Chi Minh Trail between 1959 and 1975."  (pg. 244)  One man I read about earlier in the book said he left home in Hanoi kissing his wife and children goodbye.  He fought and returned to them after almost ten years.  He didn't see them at all during that time!

The Wheel of Life: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. -- my mom actually read this and recommended it to me. She said it was good, but "a little weird" and I totally agree with that assessment.  Except some parts I'd say were very weird (to me) since I'm not really into speaking with guides and spirits and stuff that, frankly, I was taught was something we shouldn't do. (Look at King Saul, for example).  I do believe in a spirit world, demons, and angels, the devil, and all that, but still struggle (?) with wanting anything to do with them outside of the Holy Spirit.  Anyway, what a fascinating woman!

The Next Better Place by Michael C. Keith -- I was amazed at the detail this guy remembered from when he was 11 and 12 years old and went on the road with his wandering, alcoholic father.  Usually in traveling memoirs, people mention notes or blogs or journals so I realize they can keep track of what they did and whom they met.  I find it hard to believe that a preteen boy would do such a thing.  So, I took some of these stories with a grain of salt, not doubting that he experienced many of these situations, but maybe they didn't happen exactly as told. And that's OK.  It was a pretty good story.

The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- book 2 of the series mentioned above.  The library had both in the new book section.  This one continued the tale of David's family with the addition if his nieces and very meddlesome mother coming to stay awhile. 

Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan -- Many, many years ago, I read Janette Oke books, and when I saw some news books - actually a Return to the Canadian West series - I decided to check them out.  I guess I don't mind hearing about teachers from the East traveling to rougher areas in the West, and seeing how they cope with totally new lifestyles. 

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander -- McKenna and her rebellious younger brother Robert leave Missouri after losing nearly everything in order to begin a new life with their cousin and her family.   Only things aren't quite right in Copper Creek, Colorado, either.  In fact, things are terrible, and McKenna ends up having to parent another child. 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman -- I saw this book highly recommended on Facebook by Nancy's mom (although I'm not FB friends with her; someone tagged me in a comment so...).  This isn't a book I probably would have picked up on my own, but apparently enough people liked it as it had a lot of holds on it when I put it on hold at the library.  I read it all in one day.  A good story.  Really grew on me because during the first several pages I was like, Huh? do I want to continue with this?  But I did, and I'm glad. 

Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan -- book two in the Return to the Canadian West series.  In this book Beth returns from the year she spent teaching in Coal Valley, and she reluctantly joins her mom and sisters on a six-week cruise through the Maritime Provinces and to the United States. 

Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan -- book three follows Beth and her family again

The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron -- The story of Abby whose husband dies unexpectedly and then she discovers he had a family before they were married.  She wanted to meet her husband's former wife and the son she never knew existed ... so she goes to their house.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Andrew's DNA Results

Andrew got his DNA results in this evening.   He was hoping for Russian because he and Michael always talk about Andrew's Uncle Tuckishki who invented practically *everything!* But he also has been saying he was from royalty and this - to him - proves it. Ha! 

Europe 99%

Great Britain 81% -- includes England, Scotland, and Wales -- this was my third highest
Range: 61%-100%

Scandinavia 8%

Trace Regions 10%

Ireland 3% -- this was my second highest

Europe East 3%

Iberian Peninsula 2%

European Jewish < 1%

Italy/Greece < 1% -- this was my highest

Europe West < 1%

This was also interesting to me:
How Andrew Tuck compares to the typical person native to the Great Britain region
Andrew Tuck 81%
Typical native 60%

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.


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).


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.


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
Europe East 4%
Scandinavia 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia 2%
Iberian Peninsula 1%

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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Collection of Sophie Pictures

I noticed I had several cute pictures of Sophie on my hard drive, and I'm not sure if I ever shared them here or just maybe on Facebook.  Figured I'd post them here as a Collection of Sophie Pictures Post.

First, here is one that Sophie's grandpa shared on Facebook of him with Megan, my sister in law.  You can decide if Sophie favors her mom (or papaw).

Tony and Megan

In no particular order... Sophie in snapshots and studio pictures!

Sophie and Zach 2015

Sophie and Zach 2015

just shy of 2

1st birthday

barely born


They said she was mad because the cookies wouldn't come off the plate!

Sophie 2014

Sophie with Steph and Will; March 2015


Two years old!

Look how much her hair grew in a year!  Compare that ^ (April 2016) with this one from March 2015.

almost one

with Nana; March 2015

Sept 2015

I sure love my Sophie girl!