Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of All Time (Missionary Edition)

A happy Tuesday to everyone! I’m going to dive in to The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday link-up again with the prompt “Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years (you can extend it to 5 if you need to).”

Since I know by just looking at the question that I’d answer with at least half of the books that I talked about last week, I’m going to re-write the prompt like this… 

Top Ten Missionary Books of All Time: 

by Brother Andrew
From his childhood at trying to outsmart the Nazi’s with smoke bombs to his young adult years as a solider with a death wish to his transformation and years of smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain, Brother Andrew’s escapades should be read by everyone. 

 2. Bruchko 
by Bruce Olson
One geeky kid traveling into the depths of the jungle with just God’s call burning in his heart and helping transform a whole people group. I have never in my life read another adventure like Bruchko’s.

by Susan Martians Miller
Hard work, exceptional faith and true love combine to make Hudson Taylor’s story unforgettable. 

by Corrie ten Boom
Being thrown into a Concentration Camp in WW2 was not Corrie’s plan, but through the power of God’s love she uses her horrifying imprisonment to bring God glory. 

by Janet & Geoff Benge
She knew where God wanted her and working against amazing odds she stood strong and saved the lives of hundreds of children. 

by Steve Saint
An epic story of forgiveness and love with transformational results. 
(How would you feel about moving your family in with the tribe that had brutally murdered your father?)
by Patricia St. John
The life of one of my favorite author is brimming with love, laughter and life. 

by Kjersti Hoff Baez
Despite unimaginable odds, an African prince who was sentenced to be tortured to death sees God’s light and becomes a new person. 

by Janet & Geoff Benge  
From a rebellious thief to becoming a father to the fatherless, 
George Muller’s story is an exciting, faith-building account. 

by Dan Larsen
Herald a hero during his lifetime, David Livingston defied a whole score of popular notions 
as he pushed deep into the heart of Africa. 

* * * 
Which book sounds most intriguing to you? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroines From Books

It’s Tuesday, it’s Tuesday! That means today I’m going to jump in and see how it feels to be part of the Top Ten Tuesday blog link up. Thank you to The Broke and Bookish for hosting it. 

 Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books

I’m going to start out with five of my favorite fictional heroines (in random order): 

1. Jacy from Over the Divide. I read Over the Divide for the first time when I was around sixteen and I’ve read it multiple times since then. Jacy and her family are one of my all-time favorite fictional families. If I ever created fan-fiction it would be about Jacy’s family Jacy is strong, fiercely loyal, smart and capable. 

2. Esther from The Rivers of Judah Series. By the same author as Over the Divide Esther doesn’t play a huge part in the series, but every time she is mentioned I like the books a little bit more. As the mother of the main family in the series, she’s sweet, hospitable, loving, encouraging, quiet, understanding and accepting. 

3. Sam from Dear Mr. Knightly. This is the only book on my list that I’ve read for the first time in the last five years. Sam is a writer and reader, therefore I found myself relating to her a lot. In fact, the whole book is a series of letters she wrote. Read my review of the book here.

4. Penny from Llamas on the Loose & Derwood Inc. Growing up I read these books over and over again. Penny was pretty much a conglomeration of what I wanted to be. She reminded me a lot of my older sister who is amazing and who I spent years trying to mimic. Penny is the oldest child in her family, bossy, loving, always knew what to do, smart, very loyal to her family, in control of situations, and kind to her younger siblings. 

5. Annette from Treasures of the Snow. My love for Switzerland was birthed from this book. Annette was my childhood hero. I remember braiding my hair into two braids like Annette wore them, putting on an apron and going outside to pretend like I was skipping through the Swiss Alps. Annette’s mother “gave: Annette a little baby for her 7th Christmas when Annette’s mother died from complications during birth. My dream as a little girl was to have a baby to raise, so how could I not adore the book? Annette is stubborn, strong willed, in complete charge, loyal, protective, capable, and smart. 

And now for five of my favorite non-fictional characters (in random order): 

6. Corrie ten Boom from Lots of books. Corrie ten Boom’s books have changed my life. From the time I  read my first book by her, In My Father’s House when I was eight, I’ve been impressed, inspired and encouraged by this amazing lady. Her books have made me laugh, cry, change, and become more as I see life through the eyes of a Nazi Concentration Camp survivor. To sum Corrie up, I’d have to say she’s filled with God’s love. And that, to me, is the highest praise of all. 

7. Betise ten Boom from The Hiding Place. As Corrie’s sister, Betsie ten Boom’s life lived on through Corrie’s writing even after Betsie died in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Betsie is an amazing example of sweetness, showing God’s love and forgiveness to everyone and praising God no matter what. My oldest sister is named after her, so I’ve heard about Betsie ten Boom all of my life. I really think everyone should read at least one of the Ten Boom books. 

8. Amy Burrit from My American Adventure. It took me a while to realize it, but finally I pegged my decade-long desire of traveling to every state in the USA in a year-long RV trip to this book. Reading Amy’s book when I was close to the same age as she was when she wrote it, I was thrilled and excited to find out that there were kids my age out there writing their own books. Amy is spunky, realistic, outdoorsy, fun, confident and adventuresome. 

9. Esther from the Bible. Esther’s story has always amazed me. A orphaned commoner who is chosen to be queen? Then add in her secret heritage, her cunning plans and the magnificent way she saves a whole people group from destruction, her whole people group. Then finish out the mix with realizing that this is a true historical account. To me, that’s just crazy! Esther is beautiful, loving, loyal humm, I must like loyalty in people, brave, wise, dedicated, and obedient to God. 

10. Laura Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie Books. I have no clue how many times I’ve read Laura’s books, but I do know that for years I dreamed and schemed and tried to figure out how I could go out west by covered wagon. With having a sister right above me and two right under me, I decided early on that Laura and I had a lot in common. I need to get her books out again some day and dive back into them. The Long Winter seems like a perfect book for today… 

* * *
What about you? Who are some of your favorite heroines? 

2014 in a Nutshell

For the past two years (2012 & 2013) I’ve written a recap of my year. 
This post took me probably between eight and twelve hours and several days to complete. It’s been crazy looking back through 2014 and seeing all that’s happened in my life! 
I’ve had a lot of good times, a lot of confusing moments, a lot of oh-my-goodness-is-this-really-my-life experiences, a lot of pain, a lot of joy and a lot of changes. 
This year has been a full-out learning to trust God and rest in Him year (more about that in another post), so it’s not been all lolly-pops and ice cream sundaes, if you know what I mean. 
I’ve decided to share the good, the bad and the fantastic with y’all. 
I hope you enjoy getting to see a glimpse of my life! 
I’ve linked about 95 of the over 320 posts from last year into this post, 
so I hope you enjoy going back and reading about a few of my highlights again. 🙂 


2014 was ushered in with lots of fun, festivities, Settlers of Catan, and hanging out with family. Our cousins spent about two weeks with us – weeks filled with jolliness, games, and craziness. I would have never guessed at that time that they’d be living here before the year was out!
I also began writing When Life Hands You Lymes and posting a segment each Friday. 
On the 3rd I headed to my adopted parent’s house to work on writing a kids bookCool Critters of the IceAge, with them. I start having ‘no internet, no computer Sundays’. During the first ten days of January I also work on hyper-speed to write the first draft of the first book in my Action Kids series. (I co-authored one book and wrote the first draft of another book during the first 10 days of the year. Short books, but still… Busy times!) I took many long, freezing cold, snowy walks to brainstorm. 
All in all, in January I write the first draft of the Action Kids book, go through it a second time, send it to my beta readers, go through it a third and forth time and then send it to my editor.
We were on a time crunch. 
I enter a short writing contest, but don’t even place in the top 10. I spend part of January working at the house we’re building. Thinking we’ll be moving within a couple of months, I give y’all a tour of my ‘old’ office. Getting my braces off is an exciting time for me and I celebrate by eating sugar for the first time in over a year. On the 24th I head to Florida with my family (cue fun car trip with sisters). 
All throughout January I’m praying about possibly taking a trip to Asia for a month with my brother, but I  can’t find an opportunity to ask my dad about it, so I don’t know if it will work out or not. At the end of the month I finally ask Dad and he’s all for it. I’m going to surprise my best friend (who lives there), so I keep the trip quiet. 
My review of January leaves me feeling happy. 
Nights Gone in January: 12
Books Read in January: 8
Walking was so nice in the beautiful Florida sunshine that I walked 22 miles one week, a far cry from my previous year in bed with Lyme disease. 
Getting to watch the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate on the 4th was exciting. 
Hanging out with extended family, getting the first illustrations for my Action Kids book and getting ready for a huge work conference made the first week of February fly by. 
I worked a lot on scheduling posts for the A to Z Challenge I wanted to take part in during April, because I’d be in Asia over that time. 
On the 9th I get to spend the day with my adopted parents, fossil hunting and hanging out with Dr. and Mrs. Parker. It was so very cool! 
Going to GatorLand on the 10th and getting to sit on a gator was also pretty fun. 
A fellow blogger contacted me and asked me to write a guest post for her blog. She requested a subject I’d never blogged about before, but I happily accepted the challenge.
After our conference we spend Valentines day canoeing in the Everglades.
We arrived back home on the 17th, a few days later I introduce Action Kids to Noveltea. 
I then celebrate my upcoming two year blog-anniversery with a giveaway
And of course I review February. 
Nights Gone in February: 15
Books Read in February: 5


I start out the month with gearing up for the trip to Europe that our family was planning to take in April. I wished I had more time to read books set in the countries we were going to be visiting. My two year blog-anniversery takes place on the 6th while I’m in Nashville with my adopted parents. While in Nashville we got to go to the Hermitage which is where Andrew Jackson used to live. It was a crazy experience. Going to the Grand Ole Oprey was a something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m so glad I got to go and see my adopted parent’s old stomping grounds. 
I get home from Nashville on the 9th to find my first royalty check! *cue happy dance* My wonderful sister, Helena, gave me a stuffed animal to celebrate. (Stuffed animals are the best, by the way.)
My brother and I leave for Asia on the 15th and after over 50 hours of traveling we arrive at our destination. I blog about successfully surprising my friend, Sarah, and settle into life on a warm, tropical, bustling island. Walking in the rain, riding the motor bikes, climbing up mountains, shopping at the market, eating exotic fruit and tons of rice, hiking to gorgeous waterfalls and playing countless games of Rook made for a wonderful interlude in my life.
I also spent many hours sitting on the couch, editing my Action Kids book.
My review of March.

Nights Gone in March: 22
Books Read in March: 8


The A to Z Challenge starts in April and I kick off with the word Attitude. Getting to be in the background taking pictures when my wonderful friend, Sarah, gets proposed to was well-worth the trip to Asia and a highlight of my year (of course!). Finding out a few days later that she wanted me to be in her wedding party was incredible.
 A few days later we hike up the same mountain we tackled in March, this time in the middle of the night. Our plans to arrive at the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunrise were messed up by dense fog hiding the view, but it was still a wonderful experience, ending with two more of my friends getting engaged.
My brother and I arrive home on the 16th after over 55 hours of traveling. With all the time changes, April 15th lasted for over 30 hours for me which was really weird. My phone stopped working about half-way through our stay in Asia, so getting it fixed when we arrived home was wonderful. After a busy 8 days home, my family and I head to Europe for a month.
We spend a week in Vienna, Austria at a business convention.
I don’t take the time to review April. Life is just too crazy.

Nights Gone in April: 22
Books Read in April: 6


Getting to explore so many countries was spectacular. After Vienna, Austria, (where we got go to into catacombs!) we go to a more rural part of the country and get to see where part of The Sound of Music was filmed. We head to Germany next but take a very long detour to Switzerland and spend the day taking in the beautiful view. I’ve wanted to go to Switzerland since I was just a little girl and I throughly caved each moment of sitting in a wide, flower-strewn field under the breath-taking heights of the Swiss Alps into my memory bank.
In Germany we get to experience the culture for a few days while staying in an apartment where we try our hand at cooking German-ish food. Exploring castles in Germany was a absolutely amazing. Especially going to Heidelberg.
Holland was our next stop and a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to go to Holland and see the Beje (where Corrie ten Boom lived) since I was about eight. Reading part of The Hiding Place while in the actual hiding place was something I’ll always treasure. Seeing the Beje and the place where Anne Frank lived on the same day was crazy. Hanging out with our friends in Holland made the trip so much better and our day trip to Belgium with them on the 9th was a whirlwind.
On the 12th we head to Paris and I’m amazed at it. After a few very interesting days in Paris (including going to the top of the Eiffel Tower) we take the Euro Star across the countryside and through the Chunnel to London. London was a beautiful, friendly and filled with places I’ve read about. London was one of my favorite cities in Europe. After too-short of a stay in London we meet up with some of our friends who have lived in England for 45 or so years. They treated us like royalty when we were at their house, including delicious meals in the garden. It was dream-like.
While in England we visited Oxford and I got to go into the Eagle and Child, which is where C.S. Lewis used to hang out with his writing friends. On the 22nd we pack up and head home. A couple of days after we get home we have some friends come and visit. Our time together is lovely.

Nights Gone in May: 21
Books Read in May: 10


Having almost the whole month of June home was a much-needed breather. I spent a lot of the month working with my family on moving to our new house that we’d been building and also discussing plans for Sarah’s upcoming wedding. Midway through the month I celebrate my book’s first birthday. On Father’s Day I surprise my adopted dad by staying with my adopted family and having a totally fantastic time.
I also take time to work on another round of editing. During this time I begin to have discouraging feelings about being a writer that I’ve never had before. I have to make the choice to trust God instead of continuing to freak out. A conversation with a wise friend really helped me during this time.
 We move into our new house on June 24th. Deciding an office is way more useful for me than a bedroom, I ditch the whole bedroom idea and create the perfect office for myself. I just pull a sleeping bag out of the closet each night and sleep on my office floor. My office is everything I dreamed of and more. I can’t stop being amazed at how wonderful it is.

Nights Gone in June: 1
Books Read in June: 5


July starts out with exciting news: One of my adopted dad’s songs hit number 11 in the national charts! Helping out with the VBS at church was one of my highlights of the month.
Getting to work with kids is so rewarding!
The second week of July I head out of town with a few family members to visit my sister and her family. I also spend a large amount of time planning a bridal shower for Sarah. July is a month brimming with so many responsibilities and emotions I can hardly keep track. There are some really big things in my life that are changing and I’m not sure how to deal with everything. Being thrown out of routine is hard for me and I struggle with finding peace and joy with being where I’m supposed to be. An encouraging note from a special friend came just at the perfect time and warmed my heart. Five months later I still carry the note around in my computer bag.
Spending several days with extended family is a highlight and we have a really wonderful time. Sadly I’m not feeling the best which puts a damper on the time for me, but I still enjoy it. One of the cousins is getting married so we spend a good amount of time talking about that, including phone calls on speakerphone to his fiancée. Good times.
A few days after our family get-together I head to PA to spend a few days with Sarah and work with a wonderful friend to get my dress made for Sarah’s wedding. My day is brightened by the news that I have a brand new, beautiful niece. I end out the month with finishing setting up my new office, I celebrate by taking some pictures. It was a good ending to a hard, crazy, wonderful month.

Nights Gone in July: 10
Books Read in July: 9


The first week of August rolls around along with Sarah’s bridal shower. The bridal shower didn’t exactly happen without any snags, but I did learn a lot that I’ll put into practice if I ever host another similar event. Overall everyone agreed it was a success. The next week I head out of state for a wedding and I’m shocked to meet a girl who reads my blog while in the food line at the reception.
On the 18th I hit my goal of read 22 non-ficiton books before I turn 22 and I celebrate by sharing a list of the books with Noveltea. Getting the contract signed for the Cool Critters of the Ice Age book that I wrote with my adopted parents back in January was great.
I drop my iPhone and it breaks into three pieces and is only held together by a little thread. I tape it and keep using it, discovering a mixture of tricks to do what I need to even when it begins malfunctioning.
Sarah’s wedding was on the 23rd and I’m blessed beyond belief to have been her maid-of-honor.
The days before and after her wedding are crammed full of tons of out of state guests who came in for the wedding, including some of my most amazing friends ever. At the beginning of the time I prayed that each day would seem like a week so I could store and treasure all the memories I wanted to have. I’m very happy to say it was one of the longest weeks of my life.
(And, one of the shortest, if we’re going according to how many hours of sleep I got.)
So much happiness, emotions, changes, sunset-watching, caring, tears, dreams come true, long hugs and good talks took place. 
I end August by going on an overnight caving adventure with my adopted parents. Fun times!

Nights Gone in August: 5
Books Read in August: 10


I arrive home from caving to the delighted welcome of a bunch of little cousins who have moved in next door but spend most of there time over at our house. (Yes, the same amazing ones who I mentioned at the beginning of the year.) When the founder of one of my favorite blogs asks me to guest post, I’m ecstatic. We also have some great friends spend several days with us, a life-changing visit.
Getting to spend a week at the Creation Museum (where I get to meet the Duggar family) with my adopted parents is wonderful and my excitement is overflowing when they buy me a rat for my birthday. The fact that they also give me a genuine whip (I’ve been wanting one for several years now) adds greatly to my delight. Being sick with a horrible cold during my stay with them is a bummer, but I still enjoy my time. I arrive home three days before my 22nd birthday, and then wake up on my birthday with pinkeye. Not fun at all. Thankfully we’re able to get medicine and no one else in the family gets sick. My birthday is brightened considerably by the exciting news that I have another niece or nephew on the way. The perfect birthday present.
All throughout September I’m dealing with a lot of changes going on in my life and I’m having a hard time being ok with some of them. I spend many nights praying, reading and snuggling in my sleeping bag trying to comprehend life and growing up and difficulties and changes. It actually takes me about two months and lots of late-night talks with God and heart-to-heart discussions with my sweet sister and a couple of great conversations with good friends before I finally find peace and accept that life is going to be full of changes and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Nights Gone in September: 7
Books Read in September: 7


October starts out with a crazy writing-related list for me to work on. The plan is for me to dedicate the whole month to work on my up coming Action Kid book release. Going to a concert with some of my sisters and cousins was fun break, but not exactly what I was imagining.
When my good friend and neighbor, “Grandpa” Eddie dies, it’s harder on me than I expected it to be, but I’m so thankful for the years I knew him. In the middle of my extremely busy month getting ready for the book release, I head off on an last minute trip to my sister’s house for a week (with pretty much zero internet) to help her out cause she hadn’t been feeling the best. While there I’m amazed time and time again at all the work mothers do. I also get a call from Helena (another sister) asking me if I want to go on a road trip to Nebraska with her in some friends in November, then we’ll fly home. (Our friends live in Nebraska.) Of course I happily accept since 1) Road trips are awesome. 2) Sibling time is amazing. 3) Some of my best friends live out in Nebraska. It was a win-win situation. The last day I spend with my sister I get to see a bunch of hot air balloons which was crazy-cool.
 October also marks the start of my “23 Before 23 Challenge”.
On October 27th I begin the two week countdown until the release of my Action Kids book. My furious paced work on the book release details continue. I self-published the book and we ran into a few snags with the formatting that gave me several days of craziness. My brother, Logan, is a huge, huge help to me during this time. I couldn’t have pulled it off without him. He’s an amazing example of being a servant. I read an extra few books during the late nights when I can’t sleep because I’m mildly freaking out about Action Kids. 
October in review.

Nights Gone in October: 6
Books Read in October: 13


My stressed out, jumbled emotions are totally unexpected and only heighten as November comes into focus. It took me two or so weeks to remember that I felt the same way leading up to the release day of my first book. I have everything (other than runaway-emontions) under control with the book release now, so I can focus on some big events going on at my non-writing job. When I’m not working I’m pretty much curled up in my room, freaking out or reading books late into the night cause I can’t sleep or listening to the Bible on audio to escape the stress. (I read ten books in the nine days leading up to the release.) Mom endures several sessions of me freaking out and asking what is wrong before I finally calm down a bit.
The day of my book release and the launch of my blog tour finally take place and leave me feeling rather let down. I spend several days musing over being an author, wondering if it’s worth every thing I’d been going through. (I’d been working on the Action Kids concept for over four years by this time.) It will take me several more weeks and some really good talks with wise artist friends before I can accept how I felt I failed and move on and have joy in being an author again.
My phone gives up the ghost for good and I miss having my iPhone kindle and music a lot.
Meanwhile, we have some friends visiting and also family coming in for an early Thanksgiving. Our family Thanksgiving takes place on the 15th and the news that I have yet another niece or nephew on the way is the highlight of the week.
On the 21st some of us head to Nebraska, and after about nineteen hours we arrive at our destination. Those nine days were life-changing for me. I was able to let go of the stress of being an author and just enjoy living life as a person, not a writer. I was almost constantly surrounded by sweet children and wonderful friends who were loving and made me feel so special. I had a very healing talk with Helena that helped me overcome some things I’d been going through all year long and change my mindset about some big things happening in my life.
I also had some epic writing related conversations with friends out there that helped me see life/writing in the right perspective again. Right before we head back home, Helena and I receive the news that our long anticipated trip to Africa that had been post-poned is back in motion!
I arrive back home the last day in November.
November in review.

Nights Gone in November: 9
Books read in November: 15


Soon after getting home I read my 100th book for the year. My goal was 50, so I’m pretty excited. December if filled with extra-long hours at my non-writing job, good family time, preparation for my upcoming trip to Africa (leaving Jan. 10th, 2015, Lord willing), lots of editing and reading. I also get to go to the Creation Museum twice: Once with my family for the day, and then the next weekend with some friends and I end up staying with my adopted parents for several days. It was wonderful.
A quick trip out of state with some extend family turns into a great memory-making couple of days and when we arrive home late on Christmas Eve, I’m ready for Christmas.
Christmas and the days surrounding it are filled to brimming with family, board games and fun. The day after Christmas I start on a five day juice cleanse. It’s a good (exhausting) experience and I hope to do it again some day when I can continue for longer.
The last several days of December are spent reviewing the year, working on goals for the next year, deep-cleaning my office, getting work done and getting a yellow fever shot before Africa. We also have tons of family and friends over for multiple game nights and hanging out times.
I have a delightful time finally eating again on December 31st.
December in review.

Nights Gone in December: 3
Books read in December: 24

* * * *

Nights gone in 2014: 133
Books read in 2014: 121

I am so ready for a totally wonderfully God-blessed 2015!

Holland – European Tour

I’ve dreamed of going Holland since I was a little girl and I read books by Corrie ten Boom, listened to the Pineapple Series and adored God’s Smuggler. I was sucked into a world of dikes, tulips, national pride, long runs and rainy days. 
When we left Germany, we drove to the Netherlands (which I’m going to refer to as Holland) and spent several wonderful (although horribly tired) days there. There’s a guy we know who lives in Holland (Dad knew his family really well back when this guy was a kid) so we got to spend a lot of time hanging out with him and his family. Not only was it great to be around people who spoke English and the national language, it was also pretty fun because they had English accents which we all loved. 
Me in regular American English: “Um, do you mind if we repeat everything you say?” 
Girl in strong British/Dutch accent: “Not at all!”
All of us in mimicking accent: “Not at all!” 
Yep. That’s pretty much how we spent our days there, touring around, mimicking, drinking coffee with cute little stirring spoons, getting lost, staying in delightful campers… Going to second-hand stores, petting their dog (you can’t imagine how much I loved having an animal around again), playing games, talking about a wide variety of things, and reading The Hiding Place and God’s Smuggler

We got to go to the Beje see here and here and then proceeded to drive to Amsterdam where we succeeded in getting extremely lost and separated and quite freaked out (Amsterdam isn’t the best place to get lost…). The wind was the strongest I’ve felt it in a long time and we stood outside, clutching our jackets to us for over an hour while waiting so we could tour the building where Anne Frank and seven other people hid during WW2. Touring the Anne Frank building was very sobering and made me wish everyone studied history and learned from it.

On the same day we went to the Beje and Anne Frank house, we also went and explored a windmill. It was cold, rainy and very gray that day. The first glimpse I had of a windmill actually startled me. It was big and dark and scary looking. Thankfully, it was less intimidating once we got close to it.  
I hadn’t realized that whole families used to live in windmills. A family with thirteen children lived in this particular one about a hundred years ago. I would love to have a book that takes place in a windmill some day. 

Holland was a mixture of friends, driving, grayness, reading, dreams come true, cookies, walking, rain, good food, lots of memories and late nights.

What about you? Have you ever been to Holland? Have you ever wanted to go? 

The Hiding Place Part #2

Hey y’all! Happy Monday and Happy Memorial Day, folks! I know the Ten Boom family wasn’t American, but this seems like a good way to remember all the sacrifices people have made for freedom. I’m so thankful for everyone who has served our country. 
Welcome to part two of The Hiding Place. Click here for part one.
We had a guided tour through the Beje, so when our tour guide came, we all went upstairs to the living room where we sat around for about twenty minutes, listening to her tell the history of the Ten Boom family. It was really amazing when we realized that we were at the Beje on May 10th, the 74th anniversary of when the Netherlands were invaded by the Germans. As I sat there listening to the stories (I knew all of them already) I had different scenes from the books playing out in my mind. It was an extremely surreal experience. 
I sat on the windowsill and had this view of the street below 
The Beje is a narrow, tall building; it’s only about one or two rooms deep, one or two rooms wide and maybe three stories high. During the Ten Boom’s early years there they had a lot of people living in a small space so they bought the building behind, which was about the same size, and connected the two buildings with a spiral staircase that had a ship’s mast as the main support. This means that the rooms weren’t all on the same level and you would go up a couple of steps to get into one room, and down several to get in the next. 
This worked out perfectly when it came time to build a secret room, because the house was so confusing no one would be able to tell if several feet of a room was missing. Corrie’s bedroom was at the very top of the house, and therefore picked to be the place where the hidden room was built. That way, the Jews would have the most time to reach it in case of a raid. Corrie said that when the room was done, she couldn’t even tell it was there. 
The Beje was very crowded when we were there, I was amazed at how many people came to see it. When I saw Corrie’s bedroom (which we were allowed to take pictures in), my first thought was about how very small the hiding place was. They had knocked out a portion of the wall so visitors could see the hiding place more clearly. I waited to go in until basically everyone else was done. It was so small! It was probably only about two feet wide and maybe six or seven feet long. There were six (I think) people who were at the Beje when it was raided who escaped to the hiding place. They were there for several days. I cannot imagine. 
While standing in Corrie’s room, I read the part in The Hiding Place where Corrie wakes up from being sick and sees people rushing into her room. That made it so much more real to me:
So, we know that Corrie and her family were taken to concentration camps and many of them died, but what about the people in the hidden room? That’s one of the really neat parts about the story! Several weeks after Corrie had been taken to prison, before she was taken to the concentration camp, she received a package from her sister, Nollie, who was married and hadn’t been around during the raid. Corrie noticed the handwriting on the address was slanted toward the upper right hand corner, so she carefully peeled off the stamp and read All the watches in your closet are safe. That meant that all the people hiding in the secret room were ok! Corrie was overjoyed, but didn’t find out what happened until later. 
As it turns out, the hidden room had been constructed so well that even though the Germans tore the house apart, they couldn’t find it. They were sure that the Ten Booms were hiding people though, so they decided to wait around until the people either came out or starved to death. 
Meanwhile, one of the ‘divers’ (underground men who would be deported to work camps if caught) who wasn’t living at the Beje, but had been there day of the raid had a dad who knew that the Beje had been raided and that his son was there, but that he hadn’t been caught. Therefore the dad realized there must be a secret room and that the Jews and his son needed to be rescued, but he didn’t have a clue where the secret room was. After church one night, he approached two trust-worthy men and told them what happened. Wonder of all wonders one of those men he talked to just “happened” to be the man who built the secret room! Therefore, he was able to give instructions about how to get to it. 
Then they worked it out so some policemen who were double agents, acting as if they were for the Germans but who were really strong Dutch workers, got a guard duty shift. The loyal Germans were still downstairs, but the Dutch policemen were able to sneak the people out of the hiding room and out through the roof and they escaped.  
They went in feet first, most of the time. 

Last night, I dreamed about being in the hiding place, and in my dream, there wasn’t the hole knocked in the wall. My overwhelming feeling in my dream was how dark and claustrophobic it was. I had climbed into the space, planning on closing the trap door, but then freaked out and had to climb back out. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in there for several days with five other people.  

Over all, going to the Beje was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. It’s one of my dreams I’ve dreamed for the longest. I’m so incredibly thankful I had the chance to do it. The Ten Boom family has inspired me greatly and I’m so thankful for how they gave their lives to show Christ love to the world.

If any of y’all have questions, I’d be delighted to try and answer them. 
And don’t forget to enter this giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Corrie ten Boom’s book In My Father’s House or this giveaway for a postcard tour of Europe. Have a great Monday, peoples! 

A Little Note…

Well, I told y’all on Saturday to check back today for the second installment of my story about visiting the Beje. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get the post up on time, therefore I’m just leaving y’all this little note so you don’t keep checking back for something that isn’t going to be here. Hopefully I’ll have it up Monday morning. In the meantime, have a wonderful Sunday! 
The narrow street the Beje’s windows look out at. The Beje is the building on the right.
And of course, don’t forget to check out the giveaways that I have going on right now! 
You could win a European tour through postcards, or you could win this amazing book. And remember, you can get more ‘points’ each day! 🙂 

The Hiding Place Part #1 // Giveaway

I was planning on writing about my Europe trip in order of how it happened, but since so many people have expressed interest in The Hiding Place, also known as The Ten Boom House and The Beje, I decided I would start with that. 

Ever since I found out we were going to go to Europe, I began asking if we could go to Holland and see the Beje. Seeing the Beje has been a dream of mine since I was about nine years old and read In My Father’s House for the first time. That was my first Corrie ten Boom book, and I was decidedly enthusiastic about all of her books from that point on. I went on to read Father ten Boom, The Hiding Place, My Years with Corrie, Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith and others, many of them multiple times. 
Corrie ten Boom’s books inspired me and changed my life. They were also one of the factors that got me interested in writing. I saw how my life had been changed through a book, and I wanted to be able to write books that would do the same thing for other people. 

For those of you who don’t know who the Ten Boom family is, I’ll give you a quick overview:
The Ten Boom family lived in Holland in the town of Harlem, in a narrow house over a watch shop that had been in their family for several generations. During WW2, Corrie ten Boom, who was in her 50’s at the time and a watchmaker herself, became very involved in the underground work. At this time she lived in the Beje (their nickname for the house, pronounced bay-yea) with her father, and older sister, Betsie (I actually have a sister who was named after Betsie ten Boom). Their house was a kinda in-between house where Jews would stop on their way to some safer place. Eventually though, they had a group of Jews that stayed with them because they didn’t have anywhere else to go.

One day the Ten Booms were betrayed by a fellow Dutchman and the Beje was raided. the family was taken to prison and eventually to concentration camps. Thankfully, they had built a hiding place and the Jews and some underground workers were able to hide there (more about this tomorrow). 

Corrie’s sister and father both died in the camps, along with one of her nephews (although not from the same raid) and Corrie’s only brother died soon after the war because of the horrible treatment he got in a concentration camp. 

After the war, Corrie traveled all over the world, sharing about God’s love and forgiveness. She even went as far as to turn the Beje into a home where Dutchmen who had betrayed their fellow countrymen and turned them in to the Nazis could come and stay. She also found out who it was who had betrayed them and wrote to him when he was sitting in prison, about to be killed for his war crimes. She told him what he had done to her family and how she forgave him and then she told him about Jesus’s love. 

We left our cars quite a ways from the Beje, and were walking all over Harlem, trying to find the house. I hadn’t realized we were so close to the Beje, until someone said “There it is!” And I realized I was standing just across the street from this history and loved filled building. I had been recalling and telling stories to my younger brother about the Ten Boom family during our car ride to Harlem, and it felt so amazing to be standing on the very street corner where these accounts had taken place. The watch shop is a jewelry shop now and they had watches displayed in the windows, which made it feel almost as if time hadn’t really passed. It was a marvlous experience.

I’m so very thankful for the people who run the Corrie ten Boom Museum. You don’t have to pay to go into the house (although if you wanted a guided tour it does cost a little) and it’s not affiliated with the government at all. They said they have it this way so that they can keep Corrie’s message true and strong and share the gospel and God’s love with everyone who goes there. 

 When we first went in, we were in the dinning room, and my first impression was “Wow, this is so small!” How they able to fit so many people in there, I have no clue. I remember how Corrie often mentioned how crowded the table would be when everyone was gathered around, but I hadn’t realized just how crowded it really was. There were so many of us in the room I didn’t get many good pictures, and then after we left the room, they said we weren’t supposed to take pictures, so sadly I don’t have many.

I was standing there, looking at the table, then I looked out the window and I saw how we were about nine feet up from the street, and that’s when I was suddenly like “OH MY GOODNESS!” Because I could very clearly see in my mind the scene where they were sitting around their table with all their Jews and suddenly they saw someone’s head right outside their window and they kinda freaked out since generally people couldn’t see in the window and hence it being safe for them to have the Jews eat with them. Right away they had begun singing happy birthday and acting like they were having a party so the person wouldn’t think anything unusual about so many people being there, then they realized that why he was so tall is because he was on a ladder, cleaning the windows. It turns out he had gotten the address confused and was cleaning the wrong windows, but they were still scared for a while that he was really spying on them.
I can’t describe how it felt to remember that part of the book while standing in the very room it took place in. I wished I could have just spent all day, or all week, walking around the house, reading the books and imaging them taking place there.

And then I saw the Alpina sign, which they put in their windows, advertising a certain brand of watches they sold, but it was also a signal. When it was up, it was safe for the underground workers, if it was down, it wasn’t safe. During the raid Betsie had knocked the sign off the windowsill, but a guard noticed and realized that it must have been a sign, so he fit it back together (it had broken into three pieces) and put it back up. That was really bad, because some of the underground workers knew that the Ten Boom family had been found out and came to warn them and since the sign was still there, they didn’t know that the Nazis were in the house, so they kept getting caught. I think the Nazis got around 27 people in all, although not everyone was part of the underground. 

This blue sign says “Jesus is victor” and is a phrase Corrie ten Boom used quite often and she even wrote a book with that title. It helped remind her that even though evil was so prevalent and seemed to be winning at times, Jesus was still the victor and in the end, everyone would be able to see that. 

I’ve read where Corrie refers to this crown so often, yet I never realized how beautiful it is. This picture doesn’t do it justice at all, because the lighting was bad. Corrie used to carry this crown around with her, it’s cross-stiched and the back looks like a big mess and not beautiful at all. The idea comes from a poem by Grant Colfax Tuilar: 
My life is but a weaving 
between my God and me, 
I do not chose the colours, 
He works so steadily, 
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, 
and I in foolish pride, 
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent, 
and the shuttle cease to fly, 
Will God unroll the canvas, 
and explain the reason why. 
The dark threads are as needful
in the Weavers skillful hand, 
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned. 

I was able to buy some bookmarks there that had a picture of each side of the crown, as well as the poem. Plus, I was able to buy a few of Corrie’s books, which was extra, extra special! I never imagined I would be able to go to her house and actually buy her books. 

Now, I hadn’t planned this at all, but when I saw how interested a lot of y’all are with the Ten Boom family, I decided I could share since I’ve been so blessed as to actually be able to go to the Beje. Therefore, I decided to host another (totally unplanned!) giveaway, where one of you can win a copy of Corrie’s book In My Father’s House, that I bought in the Beje. I hope y’all are as excited about this giveaway as I am! Plus, I’m also giving the aforementioned bookmark to five more of you wonderful people. With this giveaway, the first winner will get the book, and the next five will get the bookmark. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check back tomorrow for the next part of my trip to the Beje! And don’t forget to get more entries for our European postcard-tour giveaway! As always, when you share about the giveaways it really helps me! Thanks so much for passing the word along, y’all are great!

*Sorry, but the prizes can only be sent to addresses in the US. 


Books I’ve Been Reading

Since I’m trying to read more non-fiction this year and I realized that my fictional reading list was twice as long as my non-fction list, I am working on remedying that.

I actually started this book on my way to Nashville, then decided to wait since it was an e-book and I could easily take it to Indonesia with me. The Diary of Anne Frank was a book I’ve been curious about for a long time. Once I began it, I just wanted to read, read, read, mostly because I knew the ending was horrible and incomplete and I wanted to get to it quickly.

It was so hard for me to comprehend that this was the real and actual diary of a Jewish girl who ends up dying near the end of the war. Reading the diary, I knew that at any time it would just stop, an unfinished story. It’s not like a normal book that can draw to a close. It’s a sudden and blank ending.

Sadly, I can’t recommend this book because there was a lot of stuff I didn’t agree with. This was a girl’s journal though, her diary, her thoughts. She had decided to share her diary with the world after the end of the war, but was planning on re-writing it. Her Dad (the only one who survived the war) did edit it before he published it, but then it was published in it’s entirety after his death. It made WW2 much more real to me and I’m glad I got to experience it through Anne’s eyes.

I bought Go Teen Writers both as an e-book and a hard copy soon after it was released at the end of last year, yet for some reason, I never got around to reading all of it. Sure, I read bits and pieces here and there, but that doesn’t really do it justice. I began reading it from the start a few weeks ago, and finished it up last week.
After getting into it, I could hardly put it down. Goodness people, it was amazing! It’s a book about writing (no, really?) but even though I’m a writer, I don’t always enjoy reading books about my craft. Sometimes it’s like those school papers you have to force your way through. This book was way different though. I really feel like going right back through and reading it again. It’s written by the authors of this inspiring blog. (Stephanie and Jill are amazing, I can never thank you enough!) They also started the Facebook group I take part in.

If you are a writer, no matter what your age, you should really read this book. It will make you laugh, nod your head, realize amazing things about your craft and leave you wanting to write the best book you possibly can… And it will give you the tools to be able to do that. I’m already incorporating a lot of the principles I’ve learned in the edits I’m doing on my Action Kids book.

I brought Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith  with me to Indonesia because I’ve been revisiting the Corrie ten Boom books I used to devour when I was younger. I haven’t read any books by or about her for several years, but with our upcoming trip to Holland planed, I wanted to re-study her amazing life. From the time I was 8-16, I read many of her books, some up to three or so times. Therefore, a lot of the stories and thoughts are just reminders, but still wonderful! I think I always get something new from them.

(I also read In My Father’s House when we were driving to Nashville a couple weeks back. I remember being inthralled by it as an eight or nine year old. It was good diving into it again. Y’all should read it, it’s wonderful.)

One of the new things I picked up while reading through Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith was when her sister, Nolly, gets sent to a local prison for harboring Jews, Corrie uses principles she gleaned from How to Win Friends and Influence People, which she was in the middle of reading at the time, to get her sister free. That really tickled me since I’m in the process of reading that book right now as well. 🙂 Imagine that, right?

Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith wasn’t written by Corrie, instead it was a quick (the book is around 220 pages, not long for such a jam packed life!) overview of her whole life and how unknowingly she was prepared by God for what would be happening to her next, in every stage of her journey.

After I finished Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith, I decided to read a book suggested to me by Hosanna, one of my friends who I’m getting to stay with for a month. (Also a kindred spirit when it comes to reading amazing books. 🙂

Castaway Kid…How do I describe it? I don’t want to call it delightful or wonderful because it’s sad and heart-pulling. It’s about a boy who was put in a children’s home at age three, and all the things he had to work through to end up the successful and Christ-centered man he is now. Since this book was written by the (now grown up) boy himself, it makes it so real. It was published in 2012, which means the story isn’t an old one.

It was extremely intriguing and kept my attention the whole time. (I started it last night and finished it this morning. It’s 272 pages long.) He tells his story in such a way that the reader can feel his emotions and glimpse his trials, yet it doesn’t feel like a ‘poor pitiful me’ story in the least bit. Some authors just make me feel as if they are begging for someone to whine to, but instead, I felt like this author knew his story could help others, and therefore he was sharing it. I really recommend this book. (Although with discretion of course, and it’s not for everyone.)

He also knew how to add humor to some of the situations and the story ends on a happy note. I enjoyed it a lot and wouldn’t be surprised if I read it again in the future. 🙂 Thanks, Hosanna, for recommending it to me!

What have y’all been reading recently? 

All About Europe :)

Good morning, people! After I’m done writing this post, I’m going to be (hopefully!) going back and answering all y’alls lovely comments. I’ve enjoyed reading them as they come in on my phone, but I haven’t set aside time (until now) to get caught up on them.

Someone asked a few days ago where all in Europe we’re going to be going… So, I thought that would be a great thing to post about today. Now, these plans are all subject to change, but Lord willing, here’s where we’ll be going. 🙂

and Switzerland

I’m really excited about this, folks! We’ve been wanting to go over there for years now (we have friends over there, my dad was stationed in England, which is actually where he became a Christian, and plus… HISTORY!), and it’s great to finally have the trip coming together!

We have a business convention in Austria, which is actually why the trip was planned in the first place. That’s where we will fly to. And we are flying out of England. What happens in-between I’m really not sure about yet, except (hang on tight here, I might just explode with happiness!), except… WEAREPLANNINGONGOINGTOTHEBEJE!!! I can’t even tell y’all how much of a dream come true this is for me. Oh, and in case you needed that slower: We. Are. Planning. On. Going. To. The. Beje. Which is The Hiding Place.

If any of you have read Corrie ten Boom books, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I began devouring her books at around the age of 10 and pretty much continued doing so until I’d read all her books I could find. Most of them twice. Some of them a lot more then that. My oldest sister is even named Betsie after Betsie ten Boom.

If anyone were to ask me growing up where was one of the places I wanted to visit most, I would have probably answered The Hiding Place, or possibly the Swiss Alps (because of this book). Now I just might have the chance to go to both places in one month! EEEEK!

So yes, I could continue gushing, but I think I’ll save that for another day. 🙂 Before I go though, I have some questions for y’all:

What are some of your favorite books (fiction and non-fiction) that either take place in Europe or are about European history? I’d be delighted if y’all could give me some recommendations! I really studied up on WW2 and Pearl Harbor before visiting there last year, and it made it so much more meaningful. I want to try and do the same with Europe.

Also, have y’all been to Europe? What was your favorite place to visit? If you haven’t been there, where would you like to visit?