January 2013

IMG_9982Nicolas has had his 2000 Toyota Rav4, affectionately named Pearl, since 2003.  Unfortunately Pearl recently went into retirement.  This is our memoir of her service to our adventures through the years.  Although sad, we have fond memories of our time together and she changed our life by being able to take us places we normally wouldn’t have!!

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Hello 2007 Jeep Liberty (name TBD) – let the adventures begin!!


This year Nick’s brother, Alex, had 3 home games with the Wichita Wings (professional indoor soccer) surrounding Christmas, so we decided to go back to Kansas for 10 days of “vacation” and visiting family.  We started out Thursday afternoon once Nick got off work and drove as far as we could. Friday we made it in town and headed to the stadium for the soccer game.  It was a great win against the MO Comets.

Saturday we headed up to Hesston to visit with a college friend of Nick’s then took Alex out for lunch and to see The Hobbit.  Saturday night we went to Nick’s dad’s house for dinner and had family time with them and Nick’s step siblings and their families on Sunday.  It was nice and relaxing.

Monday we headed to Harper, KS for Christmas with the grandparents.  We attended their church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service and caught up with others from Harper.  It was bitterly cold so we couldn’t do much other than play games inside . . . Nick continued to win at Rook and Dominoes.  I cooked a simple Christmas dinner for the 5 of us and it was fun and relaxing.

Wednesday morning we left early and headed to drop Alex off in Wichita then went to Kansas City to visit some of my “family”. We went to the McKeefery’s and played and hung out Wednesday, including another game of Phase 10 which I finally won.  Thursday we met up with some friends at a local coffee shop owned by friends, the Friendly Bean. We then went for lunch as well before Nick and I headed out.  After having some car troubles driving on Wednesday so we’d tried to spend some time looking at vehicles.  We played a bit with kidos then headed out for a night on the town.  We hit the Liberty Memorial before sunset then went to 75th Street Brewery for some local beers.  Then to the Plaza to enjoy the holiday lights and dinner at Jack Stacks Barbeque.  Said to be one of the best in KC.  Nick of course was not that impressed with the sauce, but the quality of the beef was terrific.

Friday, we headed back to Wichita with a pause to look at a car on the way in town. We relaxed a bit before heading to the 2nd Wings game for a win against Syracuse. Saturday we hung out and did a bit of car “shopping” online from The Donut Whole, before grabbing a burger with Nick’s mom then to the 3rd Wings game with another great win against Chicago. We drove back to Denver on Sunday and overall it was a relaxing fabulous way to spend the Christmas week hanging with family and friends with no stress about presents/food or anything other than just enjoying being together.

For New Years, we had a small gathering with friends at our home – hors d’oeuvres, games, and staying up late enough to see all of the continental US receive the new year!

We will be framing 4 pictures on large matte photo canvases.  Please vote for your favorite two combinations below!







2012 books read

1. An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life by Mary Johnson. This is a very intriguing read about a young woman who becomes a nun in the Missionaries of Charity organization begun by Mother Teresa.  She openly shares her struggles to fulfill her vows and yearning for a life of authenticity.

2. Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio is a great book about a girl in 50’s/60’s era who develops what looks like symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome.  Her grandparents, raise her as best as they can and the reader experiences her struggles through puberty and Tourette’s.  Opera Winfery book club selection and a recommendation from here as well.

3. The Shack by WM. Paul Young. This is the second time I read it, knowing more of the story of the author, I was able to read with a different view.  I continue to love this book and the imagery it contains of our relationships and the relationship of the trinity together and in the lives of humans.

4. Knowing God by J.I. Packer is a traditional classic of the Christian faith in the light of how God relates to us.  There are some things that I disagree with in the “traditional” point of view.  But it gave me some good thoughts and dialogue for further exploration.

5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is a sad yet triumphant story of a Christian family in Holland who protected and helped Jews.  Corrie let the underground work in her town and was arrested and sent to prison, and concentration camp in Germany for her political crimes.  She and her sister were a light in a very dark place and her story if phenominal.

6. Of Thee I Zing by Laura Ingraham is a book critiquing what American “culture” has become.  It is humorous yet very sad and depressing as she speaks of our great country.

7.  The action research guidebook: A four-stage process for educators and school teams by R. Sagor. Yes, this is a text book, but I actually did enjoy the usefulness of this process.  It is very hands on for studying and participating in action research.

8. Studying your own school: An educator’s guide to practitioner action research by Anderson, G. L., Herr, K., & Nihlen, A.S. was another textbook that I read for class this spring. I really enjoyed the examples of teachers and schools who are doing a great job and making changes using the action research process.

9. Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by Michael Frost is a book I read back in 2006 or 2007. I reread and really appreciated many things that we have actually changed that align to the principles in this book.  I was again inspired to make additional changes in the way we live to be more focused on eternal purposes that look so very different from our “christian” western society.

10. The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James was a great book that Nick and I read together.  It was given to me for my birthday and I thoroughly enjoyed this different look at the book of Ruth than traditional Bible studies take.

11. The Bible by God. I was able to take the time this year to read the Bible straight through in 8 days.  It was incredible to see the flow and connections that I have never made before.  I definitely recommend it to anyone with the time, but it is a full time endeavor.

12. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is a memoir written in poetic form.  I really enjoyed this reminder that life is all about thanksgiving and keeping Jesus’ gifts in our perspective. This was a gift from a friend that I thoroughly appreciated.

13. A Praying Life by Paul Miller is a very practical book on prayer. I love how he frames his points with real life stories of family and friends.  I especially can relate to the stories about his daughter, Kim, who has Autism.  Loved this book and they way he pulls scripture and thoughts together about prayer.

14. The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament by Frank Viola is a simple read, yet it gives an enormous amount of history and background to weave the story of the New Testament together.  I really enjoyed reading this as it pairs scripture with the history.  It’s an easy skim through without reading the entire NT, but if you pair it together, it gives a thorough understanding.

15. Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians by Eugene H. Peterson is the story of David. Peterson personalizes and opens up the humanness of David that I feel like at times we hide behind the “man after God’s heart” mentality.  This is a great read to open that earthiness back up.

16. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is the eye opening saga of how American food culture has “evolved” over the past 50 years. It is very interesting and often disgusting what you read in here.  It makes me want to change, but noting the book was written in 2002 I also wonder if anything has changed in lieu of what Schlosser brought out. There is a movie, but the book is so much better!!

17. Farm City by Novella Carpenter is a humorous recount of a real urban farmer in Oakland, CA.  She tends a garden and raises: chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and pigs all while entertaining her ethnically diverse neighbors. I loved this book and it motivates me to do more, well I may exempt my house from becoming the pen for the chicks and rabbits.  I don’t think I could handle to mess she refers to regularly.
18. The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of people who found their true calling way off the beaten path by Chris Ballard is an amazing and inspirational book. People who do what they love, somehow get paid a little or a lot and the “jobs” are not traditional.  It is a fun read about real people with real “callings” or whatever they term it.  They are not necessarily working for a living, but living.

19. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is a story of Greg’s journey in building schools in Pakistan.  There is much controversy over the stories of this book and the credibility of the non profit organization that Greg is the founder and CEO. I really enjoyed the culture and tradition pieces that he puts into this book, weather or not it has been exaggerated or fabricated.

20. Animals Make us Human by Temple Grandin is a book about how animals are wired and how we can help give them a better emotional state. It is interesting how Grandin writes about the brain and her perspective on animals. It is a very interesting book and I appreciate the thoughts, however when forced to choose, I know animals do not have souls and therefore will still elevate humans, however I also do think we should take care of them as best as we can.

21. The Vertical Farm by Dickson Despommier is an interesting take on how to feed the world in the coming years as we have striped the earth of rich nutrients. He recommends vertical in sealed buildings in urban areas. One of the biggest disagreements that I have is that he says then the farmers can control everything if the farming is done indoors, however I believe that is playing God and how sure that will be allowed by an all powerful God in Heaven.  Think tower of Babel.  But needless to say it is an interesting perspective and he offers solutions to a potential big problem.

22. The Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers is the first of her books I’ve read, but I really enjoyed the emotional take she adds to the story of Jesus’ family tree.  There are some narrative license things that I disagree with, but I definitely enjoyed the stories.

23. Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner is a short little book about her journey of spiritual practices that she learned as a child raised in Judaism yet converted to Christianity. She comments on the lack of spiritual disciplines that the church encourages and reaches back to her Jewish roots to draw closer to God.

24. The World as We Know It by Joseph Monninger is a novel about a young couple who meet as children. The life the live growing up close to each other and the journey they go on to discover themselves.

25. Ladies Who Launch by Victoria Colligan and Beth Schoenfeldt with Amy Swift. This is a book and a website subscription service that helps to motivate women who want to launch something in their lives be it a business or dating or education.  They have marketed it as specifically for the way women work and how we are motivated.  Interesting read, but doesn’t help me want to start a business.

26. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based  Business by Barbara Weltman is a very overwhelming book to read/skim and take in.  I finished it because I always finish books, but it is a lot of information.  Presented well with tips and tricks, however I do not think this is something I want to do as it seems an immense amount of work.  Yikes.

27. The Joy of Working by Denis Waitley is an excellent, not your typical “30 day system to . . .”. There are 30 small chapters on many things like success, responsibility and happiness.  He does bring scripture and God into some of his rationals but it is not an overly Christianese book. I was also amazed for as old it is, how things really do not change that much as SOS says there is nothing new under the sun.

28. Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmband is an incredible story of the persecuted church under communists in Russia and Romania and beyond. The book’s last edition is from 1998 but the website for Voice of the Martyrs continues to give updated information on the persecuted church.

29. The COACH Model for Christian Leaders by Keith E Webb is a great tool for coaching. I took a class that used this book as a text. I really enjoyed the process of learning how to coach and be a coach taught by Walt H. through the Luke 10 organization.

30. The Jewish War by Josephus is an interesting read on the Jews continual persecution by outsiders.  Ultimately is the fall of Jerusalem and the horrible things done inside while under siege. Written in the first century AD and translated a few times, it reads pretty well in english.  Interesting piece of history.

31. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis is a book on his theology of pain. Interesting take and especially hard but good to read while going through hurt. In his way, he explains it very well and touches on this difficult topic.

32. Joystick Nation: How Videogames ate our quarters, won our hearts, and rewired our minds by J.C. Herz is a book I picked up based on that last phrase. I am always interested in learning more about the brain and how it works. I was a bit disappointed on that end of this book however I did learn about much of the video game history.  Though since the book was written in 1997, I would be interested in a more recent follow up. . . I’m sure there is one out there.

33. Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs is a book of 8 women from scripture that Higgs labels as “really bad” and tells their story.  She writes a modern dramatization of each woman’s story then commentates through the story in the Bible in between verses.  I remember liking the first Bad Girls of the Bible, I think, but I did not enjoy this style. . .maybe more for people new to Scripture.

34. Longing to Pray: How the Psalms Teach us to talk with God by J. Ellsworth Kalas is a short quick devotional book.  Each chapter opens with one or two Psalms to read then dives into the core of the Psalm and how it teaches us about friendship with God.

35. The Radical Center: Understanding the New Christian Re-Formation by Paul Barnes is a book on his view of how Christianity has to change to be effective in the 21st century and beyond.  The first piece of church history that makes this make sense is that about every 500 years a reforming of Christianity takes place and we are on the verge of 500 years since Martin Luther. . . that being said I do not agree with everything Paul discusses but he makes quality arguments of his points.  Good read if you want to be stretched in you Christian view.

36. Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer has solid Biblical truths about our mind and how capturing the thoughts and turning them to truth can win against Satan’s attacks.

37. I Do Believe; Help Me With My Unbelief! (My Journey Toward Uncompromising Faith in God) by Tammy Schaefer is the memoir of my cousin Tammy.  She is a cousin on my mom’s side of the family and it is affirming to see God’s work in all lives no matter what we do, He keeps pursuing.

38. Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose – The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership, 4th Edition. by John Whitmore is a great book on the principles of coaching. I also learned a ton about leadership and things I didn’t do well, but I didn’t know.  He is from UK so has a different perspective but I enjoyed most of the thoughts and skimmed through some mystic/new age stuff at the end.  Good practical coaching book.