My Most Read & Loved Fiction Books

I love reading. My husband bought me a Kindle tablet last year for my birthday and I didn’t realize how much I would use it. I think I am reading more now because I have such easy access to books. I really enjoy having Kindle Unlimited too because for $10 a month I have access to loads of books I can read for free.

Below are my all time favorite fiction books. It was hard for me to narrow it down but all these books are either books I have read multiple times or books I am planning to read again in the near future.

Uncharted by Angela Hunt

“I’m beginning to think the island wants to keep us here.”

It was supposed to be an adventure. A little time off to honor the memory of a friend and complete a service project in the tropics. Do good deeds while getting a tan.

But when a storm rocks their plans, five long-time friends from college find themselves hurled onto a desolate island, and relief fades to fear. Here nature rules with a vengenance. The lone shelter from raw conditions is a sinister cave. Are they victims of a bizarre psychological experiment? Or could this godforsaken place have the power to maroon them forever?

This book still haunts me when I think about it. My mom recommended this book to me and once I started it I could not put it down. It was so good and made me really think. I don’t want to say much more at risk of giving away the plot but trust me. It is good. Don’t read the reviews on Amazon. Just buy it and read it.

These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy Turner

A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author’s own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon—from child to determined young adult to loving mother—she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose.

I loved it soon much and can’t wait to read it again. If you live in Arizona this is a must read in my opinion. I have no idea how people survived a wagon train out west and lived to build homes and establish towns in the scorching desert. All the emotions with these books. I didn’t want this book to end and was so happy when I learned there two other books in this series.

Chataine’s Guardian: Book One of the Annals of Lystra (Volume 1) by Robin Hardy

“I am assigning a Guardian to ward you. His name is Roman. . ..”

Thus begins Surchatain Karel’s explanation to his daughter, ten-year-old Chataine Deirdre, as to why her life is about to change dramatically. Karel’s small country, Lystra, possesses the only navigable river on the southern coast of the Continent. The provinces that surround Lystra want its river trade, and will do anything to gain it–even kill the heir to the throne. So Karel places her life in the keeping of the most capable and trustworthy soldier he can find.

Willful and spoiled, Deirdre sees this guradian only as another servant to be mastered. She teases and abuses him as he places his life on the line for her day after day, year after year. Deirdre does not know at what point she beings to love him. But Roman knows from the very beginning that to love her will mean his death.

I am not sure if my mom bought these books for herself and handed them down to me but I can remember reading this book in our backyard when I was about 12 and really loved it. I have only read the first three books but there are more in this series but Volume 1 is my favorite and have read it more times then I can count.

The Christy Miller Collection by Robin Jones Gunn

It all starts the summer Christy turns 15. She leaves Wisconsin and spends her vacation with her wealthy aunt and uncle in Newport Beach, California.That’s where she meets Todd, the surfer with the screaming silver blue eyes who changes her life forever. Find out what happens when Christy’s parents make an announcement that puts Christy in a new high school at the start of her sophomore year.

I started reading this series in either Junior High or High School, I can’t remember, but I read them over and over again. I was around the same age as the main character when I started reading these books. The characters seemed so real to me and I loved the real life situations that these books portrayed and how to make the best choices based on what the Bible says. The author just recently published more books in this series and I feel like I have been able to grow up with Christy Miller. There is loads of Christy Miller books and several spin off series as well. If you have preteens or teenage daughters get them these books!

Chop, Chop – The Series of a Lifetime by LN Cronk

It seems to David that both Greg and Laci are a bit . . . out there. Between each of them constantly chopping off their hair for charity and Greg’s clandestine hand signals, neither of them seem likely to develop friendships with reserved young David. Despite their differences, however, all three grow closer to each other and – as they do – David grows closer to God as well. Nearing adulthood, David finds himself content in every way . . . but when tragedy strikes, David must struggle to find his way back to God.

There are 7 books in this series and I highly recommend reading Taken which is a spin off stand alone book by the same author. This is similar to the Christy Miller series where it follows the same character as they grow but these books are so much richer and deeper. All the books were good. I was so invested in this series while I was reading it that I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning on several occasions because I couldn’t put it down. This entire series is available to read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

RUNNERS UP

Do you have a favorite fiction book that you would recommend? What is the book and why do you love it?

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How & Why Our Family Became Licensed to Provide Foster Care

Earlier this year our family became licensed to provide foster care and we took our first placement soon after our license became active. The last 6 months have flown by and our foster care experience has been so different from what we were expecting. And I mean that in the best way possible :).

Foster care is temporary and an amazing opportunity to love and care for a child and be part of the ministry of family reconciliation. When you provide a temporary home for a child it allows for the possibility of a permanent reconciliation to happen within a family.

I enjoyed reading and learning from other foster families when we were starting this process. Below are the steps we took to become licensed in Arizona and also the reasoning behind why Josh and I ultimately said yes to becoming foster parents.

THE PROCESS

Our journey into becoming licensed as a foster family started all the way back in November of 2015. Our kids at the time were 4 and 2 years old. Josh and I knew we wanted more information about becoming foster parents and thankfully we found Arizona 1.27 online and signed up for the next orientation.

Arizona 1.27 is a non-profit that partners with local churches to recruit and care for the members of their congregation engaged in the ministry of foster care and adoption. Childcare was provided for our kiddos and we were able to go and learn more about the process and ask questions. If you are at all interested in fostering this organization is a great starting place!

This orientation outlined all the vital steps we would need to complete. For two people who knew nothing about how this process worked we left feeling confident about moving forward but devastated by what we learned.

Everyday in Arizona only 4 families become licensed to provide foster care yet 33+ kids (babies through teens) will come into foster care that same day.

About 2700 children are currently eligible for adoption in Arizona.

In the last year in Arizona only 23% of children were reunited with their families.

If a girl ages out of the foster care systems she has a 2% chance of completing college and is 20% more likely to become pregnant before she is 21. This also means she is at a greater risk to become homeless, imprisoned, or a victim of sex trafficking.

We next signed up for the Basic Training class offered by Arizona 1.27 which increased our understanding of a Biblical approach to foster care and adoption. And this class was so so good! I left convicted and blown away by what was presented in this class. The pastor who taught recommend the book Orphan Justice and I highly suggest reading this book to everyone! Even if you aren’t considering fostering or adopting. It really challenged my thinking and started to break down some of the presuppositions I had about the foster care system and those who are part of it.

In the Spring of 2016 we had our fingerprint cards, picked an agency, began taking our 10 week PS-MAPP class, and filled out stacks of paperwork. PS-MAPP stands for “Partnering for Permanency and Safety – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting.” Arizona requires a minimum of 30 hours of training before becoming a foster parent. Several weeks into this class Josh and I shockingly learned I was pregnant! You can watch the video HERE. Spoiler alert: Josh had a vasectomy the year before and had two clean sperm counts after the procedure.

In the Fall of 2017 we contacted our agency again and began the steps needed to complete the licensure process. This time we had a 5, 3, and almost 1 year old. We had to retake two of our PS-MAPP classes which equaled 6 hours plus another 3 hour class, fill out even more paperwork, meet with our licensing worker from our agency, have medical exams, and share all the details from our childhood until currently.

All our paperwork was completed right before Christmas and our file was turned over to the State of Arizona the first week of January 2018. And several weeks later received an email from DCS that our license was active! This means that our family was placed on the list for a placement. We decided to keep the order of our biological children so any child that is placed with our family will be younger than our youngest.

WHY WE DECIDED TO BECOME A FOSTER FAMILY

The Bible says we are all image bearers of God, which means we were created to point others towards Him, and to display His character in the world. God has wired each of us differently to encapsulate his own qualities. Taking care of orphans was NEVER a desire I had on my own BUT, I can now say that because of God, through the work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit within me, God’s call to care for orphans has overwhelmed me. To the point now that I could not imagine our family saying no to caring for another family during this season of life.

And I say our family because this is not just about myself and Josh. Our kids are part of this life changing experience, as well as our extended family, by being the hands and feet of Jesus and loving those who have no one to care for them. Our kids were beyond excited, because we had been talking about doing this for awhile. Our five year old asked if we could buy a bus so we could take all the kids who need a home. We talked to them about the baby who will come into our house and how we we will be their family for as long as needed until their own mommy or daddy can take care of them again. We have also made sure to continue to explain to our kids that they we will always be with us.

Over and over again Josh and I have heard the same statement from other people, “I don’t think I could do that, I would get too attached”. And I get it. I really do. We know our hearts will get broken but we also know that we have an amazing opportunity to make a life changing impact on a family and to offer a loving home for a little person in need.

This is new territory and we know we won’t do this perfectly but we hope to do this with as much grace and mercy as possible. Grace and mercy to each other, to our kids, to the foster care system, to the family of the baby who enters our home, and especially to the little one who we welcome into our home and family. This grace and mercy we can extend because it has been extended freely to us.

Josh and I have been reconciled by God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-20) and believe that the Bible is alive, active, and sharper than any double edge sword (Hebrews 4:12). And scripture has pierced my heart multiple times as the Lord has convicted me and reshaped my priorities and focus over the last several years. I would not be writing this at all if not for His goodness, grace, and mercy.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

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My New Haircut! 10 Inches Gone! (Before & After)

I have been debating cutting my hair for some time and I finally did it! And it was the best choice! I wake up and it is super easy to style and takes me so much less time to wash and blow-dry. For this season of life I am absolutely loving my short hair.

Earlier this year I wanted to cut it so badly. After thinking it over I decided to wait until summer, grow it out more, and then donate my hair. I had 10 inches taken off and I left it up to my stylist to determine the cut and style. Needless to say it was a dramatic difference and I have been so happy with the results.

Wearing: Romper (Similar)

I donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths the program that helps women battling cancer feel like themselves again with free, real-hair wigs.

In case you are interested here are a few of the products/tools I use on my hair:

My husband was super supportive and my kids were totally unfazed when I came home from the salon. This haircut was definitely a win-win.

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