Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My First-Ever Bonsai Tree!!

During the last month, I have been on a new adventure!

A friend of mine gave me a bonsai tree starter kit for my birthday last fall and I've finally pulled it out and begun growing my own bonsai! I have never done this before, so every step has been new and exciting and a little bit scary (in the sense that I really want this to work and am scared I don't have a green thumb). My little instruction manual is quite specific, and of course, I followed every single step to the letter of the law.

The process started by soaking the seeds for 24 hours (shown above...the five seeds are in the Ziplock filled with water). After that, the seeds were placed in a damp paper towel and put into the fridge for a week. And then finally I was allowed to plant them! 

Above is my planted seeds patiently waiting for the rain outside to stop so they can get some much-needed sunshine. :)

After one week I had a whole bunch of moss and nothing else, but after two weeks I finally had the little green shoots I'd been waiting for!

A few days later, it became excessively clear which plant I was going to keep and which to remove (you only need 1 bonsai, but you plant extra seeds to make sure you get at least 1. I ended up with 4 growing shoots from my 5 seeds. But only 1, as you can see from the above picture, actually wanted to be a bonsai tree. I'm pretty sure the others saw their brother growing so quickly and then immediately gave up and quit growing at all.)

That's what my bonsai tree looks like so far. I'm not sure how much longer it'll have to grow before I get into the detailed discipline that is trimming a bonsai tree. I'm excited though! I love exploring new things, and this one has been especially fun to do! :)

I also vlogged the whole experience, if you want to see me planting, watering, murdering young shoots that didn't make the cut, and all that: My Bonsai Vlog

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: Christy

Today I am reviewing a book most dear to my heart: Christy, by Catherine Marshall. I've read this book multiple times, so this isn't a fresh-faced review like most of mine have been.

What is this book all about?

Why did a nineteen-year-old girl want to leave her comfortable home to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in an isolated cove in the Great Smokies? Christy Huddleston, "eager to taste life to the full," wanted to do just that. From the moment she steps onto the station platform at El Pano that snowy January morning in 1912, her adventures begin. Not the least of which are the strange mountain customs that shatter Christy's illusions about life and make her face up to herself and what she believes.

I can't really do a "First Impressions" section since this is my fifth or sixth reading of this particular book, so instead, I'll do my overall impressions of this read-through. I simply adore this book. The story is captivating but even more than that Miss Alice's wisdom and Christy's grappling with what she truly believes challenges, encourages, and strengthens me in my walk with the Lord with every read-through.

The characters are vibrant. I feel like I am living there in the Appalachian mountains with these Highlanders. They leap from the page and draw you in to dwell with them in rustic cabins, watching beautiful sunsets and admiring majestic mountains while surrounded by barefooted children and a handful of chickens. That was an oddly specific description right there, but it's true.

And the way Catherine Marshall weaves Christy's questions of faith throughout the story amazes me. Many of Christy's questions are questions I've asked myself, and I can follow her doubts through to her certainty and believe it. A lot of times faith in "Christian Literature" I feel isn't handled well. It's either thrown in as an afterthought or it is unbelievable. Characters leap to conclusions or come to an understanding of Jesus without a natural progression. I, as the reader, cannot make those same conclusions. But that isn't true in Christy. I can follow the questioning of her faith and how she discovers what she truly believes because it unfolds in the most natural and real way.

One other thing I love about this book is how dated it is. I love, not only the very period way that the Highlanders talk (which is dated even for Christy's time) but the way the book itself is written. I'm a huge lover of classic literature, and though this book isn't that old, it shouldn't come as a surprise to me that a story written before the twenty-first century captures my heart in a way that no modern book ever has.

Would I read this book again? Obviously, as this isn't my first reading.

Would I recommend this book to others? Absolutely yes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Review: Blessed Child

Today I am reviewing Blessed Child by Ted Dekker. Boy, do I love this author!

Okay, what is this story about--before I start fangirling please--?

Whoever said that a straightened hand was more dramatic than a healed heart anyway?

A young orphan boy was abandoned during the midst of an invasion and raised in an Ethiopian monastery. He has never seen outside its walls--at least, not the way most people see. Now he must flee those walls or die.

But the world beyond is hardly ready for a boy like Caleb.

When relief worker Jason Marker agrees to take Caleb from the monastery, he unwittingly opens humanity's doors to an incredible journey filled with political intrigue and peril. Jason and Leiah--the French-Canadian nurse who escapes the monastery with him--quickly realize Caleb's supernatural power to heal. But so do the boy's enemies, who will stop at nothing to destroy him. Jason and Leiah fight for Caleb's survival while the world erupts in debate over the source of his power.

In the end, nothing can prepare them for what they discover.

First Impressions? This book is AMAZING. I was blown away.

Ted Dekker, as per usual, writes vibrant characters that leap from the page into my imagination and take hold there, proving time and time again just how real they are.

And again, as per usual, Dekker's suspenseful and intriguing story had me spell-bound and turning page after page after page.

Faith is a large part of a lot of Dekker's books, but this one was unique. The entire story is wrapped around the power of the Holy Spirit and what God can accomplish through you when you open up to that incredible power. I was humbled and challenged and encouraged in so many ways in my walk with Jesus while reading this book.

When Caleb is taken from isolation and introduced to Western culture, he begins to lose his sweet innocent faith. His journey from purity and certainty to temptation and doubt and then back into the arms of Jesus again paralleled my own in so many ways--and I am sure many other Christians' as well.

Aside from the faith aspect--which was basically the whole story--, the political intrigue was fascinating and nearly as interesting as Caleb's spiritual journey. Not quite, but nearly. Dekker had me on the edge of my seat throughout the book.

Would I read this book again? Oh my good gravies, YES!

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes, yes, yes!!