The Merging of Two Books Into One

Over the holidays I spent a lot of time in my car driving to and from tailgates. I don’t know if you remember back to New Year’s, but the Falcons were hot, Atlanta was hosting the Peach Bowl and I was…busy. My New Year’s weekend was spent driving back and forth from Atlanta to my in-laws up in the Georgia mountains. It was a loooong weekend (a fun one too!) and since I was spending so much time in the car, I opted to listen to an audio book…then when I’d get some time to relax – I picked up another book…and slowly the books merged into one story…

The first book I grabbed was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. It’s a fictional story about architect Lucien Bernard set in Paris during World War II. He is somewhat conned into creating “hiding spaces” for Jews and others who were being hunted by the Nazis. Bernard has no feelings – good or bad – for the Jewish people and he didn’t particularly like the Nazis, but he really didn’t want to get involved in anything that could put his family at risk. In the end, his greediness wins out and the story follows him as he saves various people and the inner conflict saving them creates within his heart. It’s fascinating to see the way he rationalizes behaviors as well as the surprising twists that ensue as he tries to set boundaries and continues to be pulled outside of them over and over again.

The second book I opted for was an audio book, recorded on CD, but available via my Overlook app. This true story entitled The Hiding Place is written by Corrie Ten Boom and Elizabeth and John SherrillTen Boom’s family owned a watch shop in the Netherlands The Christian family was strong in faith and were well thought of within their community. The story follows their tale of outwitting the Nazi party when they eventually invade their country and what happens when their eventually found out.

The book is told through the eyes of Corrie Ten Boom and she is not shy of sharing her own thought wrenching questions. Is it okay to tell lies when you know they will save lives? How do you go from witnessing the atrocities of concentration camps first hand and then back to “normal” life. And in the aftermath – how do you go on after experiencing such atrocities especially when they have taken everything you hold precious?  And how in the world do you continue to trust God?

The interesting thing about reading both of these books at the same time is the way they melded together. In The Hiding Place Ten Boom tells of an architect visiting their home to install a better hiding place…one that blends into the surroundings and is undetectable. In The Paris Architect our main character was just such a man. I began to interweave their stories together even though the only thing that tied them together was the setting of World War II and the theme of hiding places. The merging added layers to the words I read continued to come to life. Most fictional stories are based on shreds of truth that are then woven into a story… Reading these together allowed for more depth in envisioning what spurred Belfoure to write the book…was it a story like Ten Boom’s? Now I’ll have to go do some research because, no, I didn’t look it up after finishing the book;)

I was fascinated by World War II as a child. I read a million books on the subject, wrote papers on it and visited museums. These books reminded me why I was so fascinated…the idea that so many people could be swayed to do something so atrocious…the boldness of those unwilling to follow suit…the strength of those who had to endure the atrocity without any choice. I pray to God we never see another day like it, but if for some reason we have to, I pray that God will provide me the same faith, strength and boldness that Corrie Ten Boom had…and I pray I instill that same boldness in my children.

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Books That Motivate & Inspire

I’ve compiled a list of books that Motivate and Inspire. Save this to your phone and the next time you’re at the bookstore,  library or reviewing Audible, try one of them out! Let me know what you think – and if you have suggestions put them in the comments!


Printable Version





A survey or review of a past course of events or period of time.

In retrospect there are a zillion things I would handle differently, given the chance. I wouldn’t call it regret. No. It’s retrospect.

I have peace in the choices I’ve made – and yes – I’d tweak a few for sure, but overall I’m pretty happy with decisions I’ve made over the last decade or two.

Lately, random things have been happening – areas I felt were chaotic are slowly becoming clear and God has been moving…in the most unbelievable places. I had to smile the other day because yet again God has placed his arm around me and quietly reminded me,

Child, I’ve got you. Those times when you are begging me to change the situation – make it different? Stop chasing those things…be still…I’m in control.

He is in control.

He IS in control.

Stop trying to take control.

By looking at my desk…and portions of my house…you would not see the control freak…but she’s there…lying in wait for the moments that are not controllable that I SO desperately want to control.

Many times the struggle gives way to the place God wants you to be…whether we realize it or not in that moment. Retrospect is nice…not to revel in the choices…but to see where God has taken you…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you…” James 1:2-5

Honor Your Father & Mother


 Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

This week’s sermon impacted me a tremendous amount. I’m not positive what exactly it was, but I left feeling encouraged about being a parent…and intrigued in how much more I can do as a daughter.

Below is the sermon – I felt like it is better shared than me trying to reinterpret it for you.



Rhythm vs Balance

The sermon from Sunday was SO on point with where we are as a family. For a long, long time I feel like we’ve been struggling to find balance in our weekly schedule. It has been a struggle to say the least. The first line of my notes from Sunday read:

Balance is a myth - Rhythm is where it's at.

Not the exact words, but pretty much how I interpreted it.

It was freeing to write down. I’m not sure that we’ll ever find balance…but rhythm? Rhythm is something we can work with!

Rhythm allows the ebb and flow of the season. Similar to a musical ensemble gets together to jam – the rhythm and speed change based on where the muscians feel like it should go. Together they sway, making the music flow – never the same, but always in sync. This is how life has become for us. The seasons call for different speeds, different movement. Sometimes it’s chaotic and sometimes it’s not, but we are in sync (for the most part!) constantly striving to do what’s best for our family.

The sermon was truly about the Sabbath and taking time to actually have one…not because we are required too, but because we should – it’s what God called for in the Old Testament and what the disciples and a policy the early church followed. The full sermon is here and worth the listen, but for me, the takeaway – the tiny nugget I embraced was to be comforted in not find balance…work vs family life is hard…finding a rhythm can make all the difference in the world…





I’ve been trying to clarify my thoughts on what happened 2 weeks ago for awhile. I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then, in my head, I was like “Who am I to write about it?”

Who am I?

What happened?

MikeAmyRidderingFriday, January 15, 2016 a man I met while I was in Burkina Faso was killed in a terrorist attack. I had just arrived home when I received a text from a friend from work letting me know about a tweet for Westerners to stay out of Ouga, the capital city of Burkina Faso. I thought it was odd and texted him back saying I’d known there had been a strike a few weeks back…so maybe it was related to that?

Then I jumped online. My feed was blowing up with news of Burkina, the terrorist attack and the fact that know one could find Mike. There’d been a phone call to Amy, Mike’s wife, from a pastor who ended up with his phone, but then it went dead. Mike’s wife was at the orphanage they run together in Yako – 2 hours from Ouga.

The group I went to Burkina with texted and Facebooked each other while we awaited news. The more we read the news stories coming out, the more grim it seemed. Yet we held out hope. Mike is a man of God – doing AMAZING things for the children, widows and families of Burkina. There had to be a miracle.

But there wasn’t. In the midst of our prayers, our searching (okay – truly my fervent searching of Youtube amateur footage and tweeting random news folks ‘on the scene’)…through it all Mike was already in Heaven with Jesus. Saturday morning we saw Amy’s post and suddenly the heaviness of grief was upon us. It hits everyone in weird ways. I’m not a crier…but when it comes to daughters missing their fathers, or really any child without a parent – it hits home to me. I feel like I grieved when Princess Diana died…not because I knew her (I didn’t!) but because she had two kids who were growing up without a mom they loved dearly…and here we are again…not only are Mike’s 4 children growing up without him, but the dozens and dozens of children whom he impacted on a daily basis – the kids who called him Papa…now they were feeling the pain, I’d once felt.

It sucks.

Saturday sucked.

Then Sunday came. Things were not better. Tears were still shed. Yet, we had an immediate reminder that our hope is not found in the now, but in what is yet to come. Mike did amazing things with Amy at the Yako Orphanage…Amy is going to continue the amazing things they did together. That makes me overjoyed!

Prior to this attack I’d already been talking to Tim about going back. He really wanted me to go to Haiti first because he fell in love with the country and her people when he went with Revolution…but I feel the same way about Burkina. I imagine we’d both feel the same way with our roles reversed…and so I want Tim to come with me. The next trip hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m praying about my part.

Lincoln is still intent on going as well:) He wrote our Compassion child, “See you in 4 years!” That is when he will be 12 and we will do a Compassion family trip. I know I freak a lot of people out by talking about going back, especially in the midst of terror that is so fresh, but I can’t help it. It was part of our discussion as we awaited the news of our friend. We’d only just met him, but the impact was profound. We all agreed, trips are in our future. Not everyone will agree with it and that’s okay. God puts a call on our life that we have to answer and no one else can make that decision. Wisdom plays a part (our church bumped the last Burkina trip in October to Christmas due to issues within the country) and we will take all of it to heart.

YakoOrphanageAt the end of the day I want to look at my kids and let them know that there was nothing that would keep me from doing what God asks of me…just as my prayer for them is that they will always follow God’s will for their life. I have several friends who are doing a mission trip called “World Race”. They are traveling across the world and going to 11 countries in 11 months. I imagine their parents were a bit freaked out to find that their children were traveling to Asia, Africa and other countries…not for a few weeks, but for an entire year! It’s scary – but so is being outside of God’s will…and that’s a place I will never ever want to find myself.

I do not know what God has planned for Tim and I  – in Burkina Faso or in Haiti – but I know we will continue to seek God’s will for our lives and the lives of our boys…and we will go where He leads us.




Odds & Ends

The Odds & ends of life as I sit here and watch The Voice;)

Burkina Faso & Ebola

Yes – I’m still going. No, I’m not in fear of Ebola. Burkina has zero cases of Ebola right now and missionaries THERE are praying for us HERE that the cases in the USA do not cause us to miss the trip. It’s a bit amazing watching the media, hearing from friends and family – those in the health industry and not – all the opinions. How could I do that to my kids?! Honestly? If I could take my family with me I’d totally do it! In fact, Lincoln has been continually asking me if he can go (he can’t) and I can’t wait to be able to one day take him on a trip like this with me.

I think this is a great testament to how we have to trust God. Awhile ago I wrote a post detailing my thoughts on “what if” God called us, as a family, to go to Haiti. Whenever I bring it up to friends and family the FEAR factor totally starts up. I’m not saying the fear and concerns aren’t relevant or valid BUT it immediately becomes “what if, what if”…We can’t let the fears of the future stop us from doing what we feel God is leading us to…regardless of the circumstances. I’m not saying go blindly…but if you think about it, Jesus called his disciples to Go and they went in totally blind…no clue of what the future would be and how their lives would change for better or worse, but they went anyways.

If you want to help support my trip…think about purchasing a challenge pack – get healthy & help send me to Burkina…or if you’d just like to make a straight up donation…details are here.

#FitNFabulous Challenge Group

Remember that time I said, “Hey Tim! Let’s do this thing called P90!”…Ha! Well, I’ve been doing it…and it’s been a bit crazy! I am totally huffing and puffing but I LOVE it and true to their word – I really think ANYONE could do it!!

Tim has not had a chance to start it just yet BUT I know that once he does start it he will LOVE it too!! I completely feel my legs & arms getting more and more tone – and I’ve had a few people comment on noticing the tone in my arms…Plus I’m not afraid to show off my “guns”!

I’ve got a few people in the challenge group with me and I am loving their participation! There is something to be said about having friends to help you stay accountable to items that have a tendency to slide down the priority list. I’m a late night workouter (ok, I know that’s not really a word;) and it would be SO easy to say, “Oh – I’ll get to it in the morning” but instead I’m popping in the DVD and working my tail off…and then I crawl into bed:) I will say if you don’t have a group you feel comfortable with helping you stay accountable with workouts (or you just want to make some new friends!) then shoot me an email or leave a comment below and I’ll get you hooked up! My goal is to get my family further on track to healthier living…and this has been a great step in that direction for us:)


We just finished up our first bout with Flag – Football. It was interesting to say the least:) Lincoln was a bit bored b/c he wasn’t able to play as much as we would have liked (a post for another time!) BUT I was super proud of the way he supported his team and embraced the challenges he faced. I was able to finally see him “tackle” someone (ie. grab their flag) so he had 2 tackles this season. He also found a love for snapping:) Tonight was the last game and he was awarded a trophy along with his other teammates! What’s next for him? When I asked him, he told me he would like to do tennis, baseball, soccer (again) and lacrosse…I think there are lots of ball fields in our future;)