What I Read in January 2018

I have been inspired to increase how many books I read by several people in my life and online (Crystal Paine from moneysavingmom.com). This will be challenging for me as I have a family with three young kiddos, a blog, and also work on publishing other books. But, I have made up my mind to do it because I love to read and I want to make more time for it!

I thought I would share, from time to time, what I have been reading lately. I know that I love reading posts from bloggers and authors with suggestions and reviews about what they have read. I hope that you enjoy seeing what I have read and that you can possibly get some inspiration to read something new.

I will include links to the books which are my affiliate links on Amazon. I am including them so that you can see the covers and click through to get more information, if you want. If you end up making a purchase by clicking on these links, familiesformissions will earn a tiny commission that will cost you nothing extra. 😊 (Please do not feel obligated to purchase, though…I checked out several of these at my local library.)

I normally love reading historical fiction, but I am trying to broaden my reading interests and incorporate more nonfiction books as well this year. January was very heavily nonfiction for me, which is rare!

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory was a great book about a blind man and his seeing eye dog. It discussed how they were able to escape from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but what I really enjoyed hearing was this man’s life story. I learned a lot about the struggles that a blind person faces while growing up, and I loved learning about how guide dogs are chosen and trained.

I was given Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story to read, and I found it to be a very easy read and very interesting. If you love stories about someone overcoming immense odds, I think you’ll find it a good read. I also enjoyed some of the medical cases he discussed and how he has been able to help very difficult and hopeless cases.

I heard about Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado and decided that I could benefit from reading this since anxiety and worry are a struggle for me. This is also an easy read. I do not know that it contained any information that I did not already know, but it had many great reminders of God’s control and love for me. I’m so glad that I did take the time to read it.

I found the mention of Dog Tales: Inspirational Stories of Humor, Adventure, and Devotion by Susy Flory in the back of the Thunder Dog book and thought reading more inspirational stories about dogs might be fun (we just got a puppy). I have to say I was a little disappointed in this one, but if you like books about dogs you might give it a try. It contains unrelated short stories that feature dogs, but I found it difficult to see why a few of the stories were included.

One of my favorites was an audiobook I happened to walk past at my local library. It is called The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II by Denis Avey with Rob Broomby. I listened to this book after dropping the kids off at school and running errands. It was a bit lengthy, and I’m sure that I could have read it myself much faster than listening to the audiobook but this is one way I can use the “dead” time that I am driving in the car and accomplishing nothing of substance. This story details the life history of a British soldier during WWII, and follows him as he is taken prisoner of war. I learned a lot that I did not know about WWII in locations other than Germany, France, and Great Britain. I loved hearing about people and locations from the wartime as he followed up on them years later. This man had an amazing story and life. There are interviews of him on YouTube as well as interviews of the man who swapped places with him from Auschwitz if you are interested in watching and hearing more. (I loaned this to my husband to listen to on the way to and from work, and he highly recommends it as well.)

I frequently like reading medical information, and I saw The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. at the local library and I checked it out. It has a wealth of information about dealing with inflexible and angry children that struggle when routines are changed and things do not go the way they expect. I think this could be very helpful to parents with children on the autism spectrum, such as Asperger’s syndrome, etc. I’m not sure how well the methods he recommends would work, but he offers many example conversations between parents/children, parents/therapist, or parents/therapist/child. Obviously, these families need to be in therapy and should not rely on reading this book alone for help.

What books have you read recently? I’d love some recommendations! I’m hoping to have a healthy mix of fiction and nonfiction in February, as I missed reading some great historical fiction this month.



Learn about South Korea and the Winter Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea are a great opportunity to have some great family fun and learn about another country!

Here are some family activities for you to choose from: (Some of these are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and purchase something, familiesformissions will be paid a small commission.)

Ideas about South Korea:

Ideas about the Winter Olympics:

Do you have other ideas?  Please share them with us!

How to Bless a Missionary – Give Them a Special Gift (Week #20)

My family was blessed several times by someone giving us a gift during our time in the United States. Sometimes this involved giving money, but many times it was an item that was very useful to us.

One such instance was a family that gave us a military-grade water filter. They knew that we needed to purchase several large 10-gallon “garrafones” of water every week in order to have drinking and cooking water that was safe. They saw a need and decided to purchase this for us. It was extremely helpful, and saved us lots of money over the years.

Another example was a Sunday School class that heard that we did not have money to purchase a clothes dryer. This meant that I grew up helping hang clothes and taking them off of the clothes line. It also became tricky to get clothes dry during rainy season because you had to wash clothes early and get them hung. They needed to be dry by midafternoon because it rained almost daily. This class took up a collection of money and gave us money to purchase a clothes dryer upon returning to Mexico. This was my senior year of high school.

I encourage you to find out some needs from a missionary with whom you have contact. You may be able to give them a gift while they are back in the States raising support, or you may be able to send them a gift of money to purchase the item in the country where they live. Find out the best way to accomplish this. There may be limits on what they can carry or take back, and there may be rules about what can go through customs. Also, they may have to pay extra to get something through customs.

Here are some gift ideas to get you started thinking:

  • A new laptop
  • A water filtration system
  • A washing machine or clothes dryer
  • An appointment for family photos
  • A kindle
  • An ipad
  • A cordless phone or cell phone
  • A car (for them or their child staying for college)
  • A gift card
  • A massage
  • A hair appointment
  • Boxes of diapers
  • A carseat
  • A stroller
  • A homeschool curriculum
  • A musical instrument
  • A bicycle
  • A tool (saw, drill, etc.)
  • A sewing machine
  • An instant pot or slow cooker
  • A blender or food processor

Types of Missionaries – Engineer

Did you know that engineers can be missionaries, too? There are all kinds of engineers in existence today, and many of them can use their skills in different types of mission work. Some engineers are full-time missionaries, but some do not live overseas and work as a full-time missionary.  Some volunteer to go on a two-week or four-week trip each year, but have a “normal” job for the rest of the year.  Some do not travel at all; they design solutions to problems from their own home.

What can engineers do, you ask?

Mechanical engineers can:

  • Design airplane parts
  • Fix generators
  • Repair a refrigerator or air-conditioner
  • Design an air-conditioning system in a new building
  • Design a system for water and waste management
  • Design or work on robotics

Electrical engineers can:

  • Design household appliances
  • Design how to wire or light a new building
  • Fix a telecommunications system
  • Work on satellite communications
  • Repair navigation systems

Computer engineers can:

  • Make sure that computer hardware components work with the latest software
  • Work with software developers
  • Design new computer hardware
  • Update existing computer equipment

Chemical engineers can:

  • Create new foods, drugs, cleaners, beverages from chemicals

Aeronautical engineers can:

  • Design airplane parts

Civil engineers can:

  • Design buildings, roads, and bridges
  • Play a large role in rebuilding projects

Agricultural engineers can:

  • Assist with ground preparation and irrigation in farming
  • Design and repair farm machinery
  • Develop new harvesting techniques


If you want to know an organization that engineers can partner with follow this link:   https://emiworld.org/   Spend some time reading about their activities.

Want a fun activity to do with your kids? (Some of these ideas contain affiliate links, so if you purchase items by clicking the links below this website will receive a small percentage compensation.)

  • Let them use marshmallows and straight pretzels to design their own “building”.
  • Buy an electronic circuit kit for your school-age kids to play with B01LXTSOWQ
  • Read a great kid’s book about engineering.



How to Bless a Missionary – Offer to Help Them Raise Support (Week #19)

One of the least favorite tasks of many missionaries is raising support. If you are not familiar with this term, it means asking people to donate money to their ministry. Mission organizations typically help missionaries know how much money they will need to have from donors on a monthly basis. Some mission organizations then provide this amount once the missionary has been approved, but most organizations require that the missionary asks people to donate.

Missionaries can raise support from different sources:

  • Individuals
  • Churches
  • Sunday School Classes
  • Small Groups
  • Organizations

Some people choose to give a one-time donation or offering. Some will commit to give a monthly amount. Giving online makes this much easier now because people can schedule a credit card payment every month or monthly withdrawal from their bank account. A bonus is that donations are usually tax-deductible.

So, how can you help raise support for a missionary? Here are several ideas:

  1. First, become an expert about your missionary. You need to know what their ministry is and how they go about achieving it. If you are going to be promoting them, you need to be able to answer a reasonable amount of questions about them.  Make sure you know any websites and blog addresses. Know how people can donate.
  2. Talk about your missionary with your friends. Ask your friends if they have ever considered supporting a missionary and encourage them to pray about it. Share your own experience of giving. Explain that the amount they give does not have to be huge – maybe they can start with $10 or $25 dollars per month.
  3. Propose that your Sunday School class or small group consider donating a monthly amount or at least a one-time donation. You can adopt a missionary family and follow their ministry together.
  4. Ask your church to support your missionary. If your missionary is not currently receiving support from your church, ask your pastor to consider “taking them on” as part of the missionary support that your church donates on a monthly basis. The amount can be as small as $25 per month, but can also be much higher.
  5. Offer to help them take a family picture for their “prayer card”. Or better yet, if you have experience, help them design a “prayer card”. Most missionaries have some kind of postcard or greeting card with their picture. They give these out to people and churches to help people remember to pray for them and to ask for support.

Take a moment and consider how you can help a missionary raise support! They will appreciate your help!


Befriend an International Student

You may never be able to travel to exotic locations around the world. BUT this does not mean that you can only learn about other places by reading books and watching movies. You can learn about another country in your own home! Curious?

One of the best ways you can learn about another culture and country is to befriend an international student. Most cities with colleges or universities have many students from other countries. Some families choose to host a high school student for an entire year. (My grandparents did this.) Other families, like mine, just become friends with a local college student. We have been friends, now, for two years – meeting a couple of times a month on average. We love having him in our home, eating meals with him, and including him in our activities.  He loves our children and calls us his “American family”.

What does this relationship look like?  We are friends! We ask him about his culture and country.   We have tried to learn a few words in his native language. We try to learn about his religious beliefs. We have had many great conversations about what we believe and why we believe it. We have taken him to the airport, and picked him up again when he returned.  We have given him advice on job searches and interviews.  We have watched movies.  We have helped him move…several times.  I have cooked many meals (including one meal similar to one he might have gotten at home in his country). And recently he cooked for us!

The best part of this relationship is that my kids are learning about another culture.  They are also learning how to be respectful of someone with different beliefs. They have made a new friend, and they love having him come to our house.

If you need help to find a student to befriend, try contacting an organization like International Students, Inc.


Types of Missionaries – Teacher

Want a great chance to be a missionary while influencing the next generation? Become a missionary teacher! There are several ways that you can use your teaching skills in mission work:

1- Teach at a missionary school. There are missionary schools all over the world that need great teachers from K-12. Some of the schools are small enough that they combine grades, but others are large and you could teach a huge variety of things (depending on your training and gifts). Many schools ask for a one-year contract, but some schools will allow people to come for just one semester. Some schools are a boarding-type school, but others have teachers live off campus in an apartment or house. Check out these websites to find great openings:



2- Teach at an international school. If you want a great opportunity to teach lots of kids that do not know about Jesus, try looking for a position at an international school. These schools can include lots of local kids, but also usually have a large number of international students whose parents are in business or government in a country that is not their passport country. This is a great way to teach kids from all over the world in one classroom! I had several teachers in my local Mexican school that taught everything from grade school to high school Math and Chemistry in English.


3- Become the homeschool teacher for a missionary. Many missionaries choose to homeschool their kids for a multitude of reasons. Maybe there are no local schools, maybe the local schools are not academically challenging, maybe it is not safe to send kids to school where they live, maybe their child has special needs, or maybe they just want their kids to learn things from a Christian worldview. Some missionary parents struggle with this decision because they know that teaching is not their gift. Some suffer from health concerns that keep them from teaching. Some need to spend more time in ministry. For many different reasons, a missionary may need a person to come homeschool their children for a short season. You can be the answer to this problem and the answer to their prayers.

4- Share your homeschooling knowledge with a homeschooling missionary. You may only have the experience of teaching your own children, but that means that you can be a huge resource to a homeschooling missionary mom. Offer to share resources (when legally possible) and send them links to resources you have found helpful. Keep in contact with them and offer any support or advice you feel they might want.

Is teaching something you think you could do? This can be a great way to see the world while being a great influence on kids in the next generation! Check into it!


How to Bless a Missionary (Week #18) – Send a Handwritten Note

Texting, emailing and Skype are great ways to communicate with someone far away. But, I propose another, possibly more meaningful way. Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned, but there is something extra special about receiving a handwritten note in the mail.

I need to provide a disclaimer that I grew up writing letters and sending them through the mail. I even had a couple of pen pals over the years. When my family went to Mexico, phone calls were very expensive and the internet and email did not exist. Written letters were what we waited 6 weeks to receive from the time they were sent. (Yes, you read that right! It took at least 6 weeks to get a letter!) This is how we communicated with friends, grandparents, and supporters.

Even though communication is easier and faster, I still cherish some of those handwritten notes that I saved from past years – especially those of my grandma that died years ago.

Being a missionary can be, and often is, a very lonely job. A note of encouragement may be exactly what the missionary is needing to continue to learn the language, counsel someone, or continue to trudge through the forest to reach a remote people. A tangible piece of paper that they can tack up on a wall or pull out to read again and again may be one of their most valuable possessions. Did you know that some missionaries only receive one or two notes of encouragement a year? Your thoughts and prayers for them can make a huge difference!

So, get out those pens and pieces of paper. Let them know that you remember them, you are praying for them, and you know that God will encourage them. (Just be careful with what you say in some countries that are not friendly to Christians or missionaries…you don’t want to get them kicked out or thrown in jail because of something you wrote!)

(Also, don’t forget that you will need to check with your local post office to find out how much postage to put on your letter.  One US stamp will not likely be enough to send to most other countries. 😉 )


Types of Missionaries – Hotel Worker/Manager/Tour Guide

Some cultures are not open to the gospel, and some countries do not allow Christian missionaries to come into their country. A type of missionary that is very useful in these situations is a hotel worker, manager or tour guide.

(Photo courtesy of Skitterphoto.com)

I know a missionary that serves in a predominantly Muslim country. They cannot openly go as missionaries, so instead they went as a manager and tour guide for a local hotel. They are there to do a job, but also to be salt and light in a dark culture. By working there and forming relationships they are able to share the hope of the gospel with some who might never have heard of it. People in these cultures are much more likely to trust in Jesus if they have a relationship with a Christian that they trust.

Do you like to travel and learn about other cultures? Do you enjoy spending time with people? Maybe you have thought you could never be a missionary because you haven’t gone to seminary or Bible School…but this is one job that you could do without that training!  Just think of the possibilities…you could be a hotel manager, tour guide, chef, nanny, tutor, personal shopper, etc.

Is this something you could do?


How to Bless a Missionary (Week # 17)– Have a Garage Sale

Have you been feeling like your house is a mess? Are you on board with the recent trend for downsizing and decluttering? Do you need a great way to get rid of extra stuff?

Use all those extra items to hold a garage sale to benefit your favorite missionary!

A garage sale is a great way to make a little bit of extra money by getting rid of all those unneeded items that are lying around. You can organize this on your own or join with a friend or several families. Sell your items for specific prices or just ask for donations…you choose what works for you!

Use the proceeds from your garage sale to:

    • Send a one-time donation to your missionary. You can probably do this online very easily.
    • Donate the money to the missions fund at your church.
    • Purchase a certain item that your missionary needs or wants. When I was a Senior in high school, a donation was given to our family by a Sunday School class for us to be able to purchase a clothes dryer. We had wished for one for years, but hanging clothes out to dry was our only option since we didn’t have funds to buy one. This donation was a huge blessing to me and my mom.
    • Give your missionary a special Christmas or birthday donation. They might wish they had enough money for gifts at Christmas, and your donation may be the only way that they are able to purchase these. Just imagine the joy the parents will feel when their children are able to open some packages!
    • Support someone going on a short-term missions trip.


Another way you can make some money if you don’t want to hold a garage sale is to put some items into a consignment sale. There are some relatively new consignment sales for kids’ items, and these are a great alternative for people who don’t want to sit for several days watching a garage sale. Search online for a consignment sale in your area.

Most consignment sales have options where you can tag your own items or have them tag them for you, and then you take home a certain percentage of the sale amount. (I recently consigned my kids’ outgrown clothes in one where I earned 70% of what things sold for.) I tagged the items myself and dropped them off. Then, I picked up what was left over 4 days later. ?  (Items typically sell for higher prices at these sales.  Something you might only sell for $1 at a garage sale might sell for $3-4 at a consignment sale!)

Either of these options is great for people who don’t have any wiggle room in their budget. If you have been wishing that you could do more to support a missionary but every last penny goes to feed your family and keep a roof over your head, this is a great way to be able to do something amazing and help!

Have you ever had a garage sale to benefit a missionary? I’d love to hear how you did it and how much you were able to donate!