Author Archives: Abbie Sikma

About Abbie Sikma

Musician. Doula. Blogger. I blog at The Blue Tree House about modest fashion, recipes, sewing, books, and purposeful living.

Light of the Last | Book Review

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Light of the Last is the final book in the trilogy, Wars of the Realm, by Chuck Black. This book is even better than the first two and is filled with plot twists. In Light of the Last, you’ll encounter ISIS, angels, technology, and Ebola.

The angel Validus is charged with the increasingly difficult job of protecting the unbelieving Drew Carter. As a CIA agent, Drew is faced with decisions that will change the destiny of America. He is surrounded by spiritual warriors and is being targeted by demons. The angels believe they are guarding the man who will be the final salvation before Jesus comes back. Is Drew the final salvation? Will the Fallen be successful in causing the death of Drew? If Drew fails to accept Jesus, does Satan win the final victory?

Though Light of the Last is a fictional story, it is thought-provoking. I highly recommend that you use the Readers’ Guide (included at the end of the book). I disagreed theologically with a concept presented in the first book but am glad I read all three books. The issue was resolved on the very last page.

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Disclaimer: Blogging for Books sent this book to me in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review. 

Guatemala Missions Trip

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I recently had the privilege of going on my second missions trip. I love missions trips! They are a crazy mix of excitement, exhaustion, and encouragement. 🙂 I love seeing God take the impossible and miraculously work through human vessels to complete His plan. It’s thrilling!

During my trip to Guatemala, it was exciting to see God work in so many different ways. He enabled us to distribute over 48,000 copies of Romans to the people of Guatemala. As a result, 175 visitors attended the special services at Iglesia Bautista Fundamento Biblico. Throughout the three services, we saw 51 people accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praise the Lord! We ministered in two different schools and reached hundreds of children, teenagers, and young adults with the Gospel. Over 25 people were saved in the schools. A young man from one of the schools came out to the services and accepted Christ.

We walked for miles every day. Sometimes up steep streets, sometimes through crowded marketplaces, and sometimes through bad neighborhoods. Our feet blistered, we got sunburned, and our shoulders ached with the weight of our backpacks. It was exhausting work. We had some early mornings and some late nights. But the discomfort and exhaustion was worth every minute as we saw 10 individuals accept Christ on the streets of Guatemala City.

I came home encouraged and humbled. I was encouraged to see the nationals passionate about sharing the Gospel with the lost. I loved watching the young people of Iglesia Bautisa Fundamento Biblico open a Bible and declare the Gospel during the invitations. It was a blessing to work with other Americans to spread the Good News. Souls were reached for eternity because 18 people chose to follow God out of their comfort zone. God delights in using His children to accomplish His plan. I am humbled to think that God wanted to use an English-speaking girl to spread His Word in a Spanish-speaking country. As I used my few phrases of Spanish to hand out the Gospel and invite lost souls to church, God used me. There is nothing special about me; it’s only Jesus.

If you ever get a chance to go on a missions trip, do it. It will be an experience you will never forget. After I got home I shared with my cousin in a text, “I came home with a renewed love for lost souls, a deeper hunger for God’s Word, and a desire to learn more Spanish so that I can communicate better.” Missions trips will change you. They will change your perspective on life and eternity. They will change the way you interact with people on the street. They will change your walk with God.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8

School Outreaches

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So many of the kids wanted selfies.

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Street Outreach

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We walked through so many markets like this one. At the busier ones, you could easily hand out several hundred Scriptures.

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Church Services

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Fellowshipping in the courtyard after church.

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First-time visitors received a free Bible.

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Sightseeing in Antigua

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Yes, that is an active volcano.

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The streets are all cobblestone.

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Fellowship and New Friends (Most of these pictures are from other team members.)
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Frisbee in the church courtyard.

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Pastor Garcia and his wife, Stephanie

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Mrs. Philbrick and I were partners for the week. We had a great time together. 🙂

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Brittney and Abbey

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This picture of our entire team was taken at 4 a.m. on the morning we came home. Left to right: Mark and Tammy Philbrick, Jon and Kristi Nothstein, David Lord, Nathaniel Johnson, Chris King, Brittney Johnson, Hunter Philbrick, Luke Philbrick, Dema Johnson, Silas Philbrick, Allen Johnson, Abbie Sikma, Abbey Grimes, and Alan Harris.

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Saying “goodbye” at the airport.

Priceless Weddings for Under $5000 | Book Review

As someone who spends my money carefully, this book caught my eye. I am not currently planning a wedding but I do like to plan ahead and do my research. The book, Priceless Weddings for Under $5,000, is touted to be a manual for the low-budget bride.

Kathleen Kennedy divides the chapters by the various areas of a wedding that a bride needs to think about. She starts the book by encouraging the reader to break the wedding into 10 key steps. Steps include determining priorities, drafting a budget, and finalizing details. Her most important step is the final one, “Relax and enjoy your wedding!” If you’re stressed about the money spent on your big day, you’re not going to be relaxed.

The planning side of the book was informative but the money-saving tips were not all that helpful. Several of her tips were merely suggestions to have a friend do it for you. For a large wedding, I don’t know how practical it would be to have a friend provide all the food. Many of the weddings featured in the book had small guest lists, in which case it wouldn’t be as difficult to have friends provide different services.

I definitely would not recommend this book to a bride as a “must-buy.” Perusal of a library copy may be helpful but don’t set your heart on saving lots of money. You would be better off browsing Pinterest for money-saving wedding ideas. If you like planning suggestions, you may find the book helpful.

Blogging for Books provided this book in exchange for my honest, thoughtful review. 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Recipes

One of my favorite things about summer is the recipes I discover while searching for ways to use up excess zucchini. Zucchini usually takes on the flavor of what it’s being baked with and adds a nice moistness to your baked goods. Several years ago, I discovered this recipe and it’s become one of my favorites. 

 

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 large eggs
2 Cups sugar
1 Cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 TB. butter
6 TB. cocoa
2 Cups zucchini, grated
2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended. In a small saucepan, melt 2 TB. butter, add 6 TB. cocoa powder and blend together until smooth. Set aside to cool. Peel and grate the zucchini. Add zucchini and cooled cocoa mixture to the large mixing bowl and blend well. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. Add dry ingredients to the batter. Stir only enough to blend in all the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into two generously greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pans and continue to cool on a wire rack.

How to Get Dressed | Book Review

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a strong believer in women dressing modestly. God created me to be a woman and I believe it’s important to for me to dress in a way that distinctly shows that I am a woman. But almost as important as dressing modestly is dressing neatly.

Enter: How To Get Dressed by Alison Freer. This book is an excellent resource of style-related advice. Alison, a costume designer, guides you through rethinking your wardrobe. Chapters include topics such as proper fit, alterations, fashion rules, wardrobe tools, shoe care, and more.

It doesn’t matter if that summer top is adorable and a great price, if it doesn’t fit you, then you shouldn’t buy it. Alison repeatedly emphasizes that fit is the great enemy of style. In fact, she has an entire chapter devoted to explaining various styles of clothing and why it may or may not fit you properly. As she explains on page 13, “Proper fit means that the clothes you wear should always perform as you need them to, period.” She explains that the everyday problems you encounter with your wardrobe are caused by poorly fitting clothes.

Another chapter explains that not every article of clothing you buy will fit you well. Sometimes, you will have to alter your clothing in order for it to fit you correctly. I was actually already doing this before I read the book. Most times, if you have some knowledge of sewing, you can quickly accomplish the necessary alterations on your own. If you can’t do your own alterations, Alison suggests finding a tailor who can.

One of my favorite chapters was, “Wardrobe Tools to Keep Your Look Together”. Using everything from safety pins, to moleskin, to Sharpies, Alison shares the tips and tricks you need to fix those last-minute wardrobe mishaps. (I learned from my grandmother to regularly carry a supply of various sized safety pins in my purse. There have been times when I’ve had a line of people asking for a pin to fix their wardrobe dilemma.) They can be used for repairing jewelry, stopping static cling, keeping that slip from sliding around under your skirt, as well as a number of other mishaps.

I highly recommend this book as a reference guide for your fashion questions. The helpful advice, tips, and tricks are worth the investment. The one detail I did not appreciate about the book was some of the language that was used.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me in exchange for an honest, thoughtful review. 

South Dakota Vacation | Personal

Life has been such a whirlwind lately. As my siblings and I grow older, it’s a challenge to have family time. The second week in May, we were able to take several days and head to South Dakota. Andrew was unable to join us for the week but we were delighted to have Granny come with us. We had a terrific time together and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills and the Badlands.

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South Dakota had several inches of snow a few days before we got there.

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Shortly after we drove into South Dakota, we heard a loud “pop” and our van began experiencing difficulties. We slowly made our way to the nearest exit only to discover that we were still some distance from a town. We spotted a oil and tire company and figured that they could at least point us in the right direction. The manager graciously allowed our family to camp out in the break room while our van was towed. God miraculously worked out the details and the necessary parts were found and repairs were made in less than three hours! God is good!

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The scenery was breathtaking.

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Pardon the well-loved and dirty sweatshirt. [grin]

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Visiting Mount Rushmore was one of my highlights of the trip. Pictures just don’t do it justice. The sculpture is just incredible.

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The visitors’ center was fascinating and informative. Did you know that the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, had originally planned for Jefferson to be to the left of Washington (as seen above in the studio model)? Due to faulty rock, the original Jefferson was blasted away and moved to the other side of Washington.

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I love this picture of Joseph and Nathan.

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We were hoping to see bison up close and this fellow kindly obliged by standing about three feet away from the road.

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This rock formation, located in Custer State Park, is known as “The Needle’s Eye”.

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We took a day to drive through Badlands National Park. The rugged beauty is amazing. We spotted this sign at one of the viewpoints along the way.

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My lovely parents

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Granny snapped this picture of us.

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Jonathan surveying the land.

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This picture depicts the many layers of sediment and rock.

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One of our outings included a hike around Sylvan Lake.

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Some of us enjoyed climbing really high. If you look closely, Benjamin is proudly standing at the very top of that rock formation.

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You could see the Crazy Horse Monument from our cabin.

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Goodbye, South Dakota! We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

Rise of the Fallen | Book Review

After reading Chuck Black’s book Cloak of the Light, I was eager to read the sequel. Rise of the Fallen, book two in the series’ Wars of the Realm, was as captivating as the first book.

Validus, the least and last created of the angels, has seen much since his creation. He watched as close friends followed Lucifer and deserted the servants of Elohim. The book follows Validus as he watches the rise and fall of many empires. Placed on earth as a warrior, he rises to a respected position commanding legions of warrior-angels. So why was he demoted to guardian? Who exactly is Drew Carter? And why is he so important?

Rise of the Fallen doesn’t continue the story from Cloak of the Light as much as it parallels it. Well-written and suspenseful, Chuck Black switches back and forth between present time and the life story of Validus. Although the amount of details, characters, and unusual names could be confusing, there is a clear cast of characters and time line at the beginning of the book. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to seeing how Chuck Black will wrap up the final book in this intriguing trilogy.

Disclaimer: Blogging for Books sent this book to me in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review. 

Because He Lives

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“He is not here, but is risen.” Luke 24:6a

This week as I have spent some time meditating on the glorious truth of Jesus’ resurrection, I’ve been reminded of the beautiful lyrics to the song, “Because He Lives”. It’s because of Jesus that I have forgiven sins. It’s because of Jesus that I can face an unknown future. It’s because of Jesus that I will spend eternity with Him. And it’s because of Jesus that I can live each day knowing that He has made life worth living.

This weekend, I encourage you to take some extra time and ponder the victorious truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Spring Pink and Gray | Fashion

Did you all get a taste of spring last week? We certainly did. I thoroughly enjoyed the several days of beautiful, 60-degree weather. My siblings and I took full advantage of the warmth and enjoyed walks and outside playtime. Some of us even pulled out short sleeves.

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This gray knit shirt is one of my new favorites. It’s super comfortable and the three-quarter sleeve is just perfect for the almost-warm weather.

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I love how the pink scarf adds some color to the outfit while the denim skirt keeps it casual.

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Bethany and I were wearing coordinating stripes and colors so we had to get a picture together.

Outfit details:
Top: free
Scarf: borrowed
Skirt: eBay: I don’t recall the price

KBRMinistrieslinkAlso, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a year’s subscription to The King’s Blooming Rose. And, to be doubly clear, if you shared the post or picture on any type of social media, be sure to leave an additional comment with your name and the link to your post.