Sunday, July 14, 2019

What I Read in June

1. The 7.5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
This was a suggestion from a Goodreads challenge, and one I probably never would have read otherwise. The category was a book that involved a game of sorts... and this game wasn't one I would have considered. It reminded me of the game Clue in a way... several people in a mansion, somebody gets murdered, somebody's trying to figure out who the murderer was... only the person telling the story is given 8 days in the body/mind of 8 different characters to collect the clues, and it's a race against other people. It was hard for me to follow at times, but if you like a good mystery with a surprising ending, this is a book for you. 

2. Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake
This book was free on Kindle Unlimited, and I tried to listen to it as an audiobook first but just didn't get into it. The story is great, featuring a young Southern girl, Turtle, who comes of age in the late 1970s, a time when civil rights was thought to be over... except in the South. Turtle spends her summer days carefree at the local watering hole with her brother, her cousin, and their friends, until she befriends the new girl from Sri Lanka. They are faced with the ugliness of racial division, including visits by the KKK and a tragedy that makes them look deep inside to discover who they are. This was a great read with well-developed characters, and it made me ponder just how far we have come but how far we still have to go. 

3. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabladon
This is the second book in the series with Claire and Jamie Frazier. Claire, in modern times, has a daughter and reveals the truth of her parentage. Jamie, in the 1700s in Scotland, battles for his freedom. Separated by years but not in their hearts, the two long for each other. I struggled with this one... but have to say the next in the series is much better (I'm currently reading it). Full of language and some sexual content.

4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I saw on Goodreads where this is the best selling book so far this year and I can see why. It's beautifully written. As you read the description of the marshes, you can almost taste the salt water and hear the waves lap against the shore. The main character, Kya, is heartwrenching. The mix of a love story and a murder mystery keeps you guessing. And the ending is not what you'd expect at all... the best way for books to end. Highly recommend this one!

5. Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the  Nature of God and His Love for Us by Matthew Sleeth
I got this book as a member of a launch team.  The topic fascinated me because in the last couple of years I have fallen in love with hiking and nature (except for bugs and snakes and also really hot weather...). This book takes the topic of trees and traces it through the Bible. It talks about how God uses trees in so many of the major events. It pointed out how our respiratory system mimics the root system of a tree. The author is a medical doctor and writes in a way that is easy to follow, backing up his statements with scripture. It made me think about trees in a way I never had before, and I now find myself noticing them as I read my Bible each day. A good read!

6. Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers
This is the second book in the Mary Poppins series and it was just as delightful as the first. I have to say, I can't remember really watching the movie. I did read the book about PL Travers that came out a few years ago, and found her an interesting individual. The Mary Poppins in these books wasn't quite what I had pictured in my mind from my knowledge of "Supercalifragilicous"  of "Spoonful of Sugar". I think I'll finish the series before I watch any of the movies.

I'm pitifully behind my goal for the year to finish 150 books... but I'll keep persevering!

Keep reading, friends! 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

FOMO

As I wrote yesterday, the past week has been emotional... and with high emotions come exhaustion. Add to that a trip to Lexington to get glasses, a youth group trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana (even though all I did was lounge on a float in the lazy river and try to finish the second Outlander book and sleep), and Relay For Life (even if a shortened version!) last night, and I was more than willing to have a day lounging around the house doing nothing but playing Candy Crush, reading, and catching up on Season 2 of Outlander and my Netflix list. The clouds were heavy and it spoke of rain and there's nothing quite like burrowing on the couch on a rainy day.

Caleb had to be up early for the ACT, but thankfully he's now able to drive so he got himself to Wolfe Co. He had mentioned going to the Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester when he got home, but I guess the early mornings babysitting and all of the brain power needed for the ACT convinced him that he was tired, too, because when he rolled in at Twin Cedar he had changed his mind.

I quietly breathed a sigh of relief and promptly stuck my nose back in to Claire and Jamie's world.

Then, because I'm nearing the end of the novel and my hand was getting tired from holding the book in a certain light to try to be able to see because I'm getting old (I have about 200 pages to go BUT it's almost 1000 total so I feel like I'm getting close to the end)...
Anyway, because I felt like I needed a break from reading I hopped on my computer and started scrolling on Facebook.

I ran across pictures of facebook friends at said Beer Cheese Festival, at a BBQ Festival in Lexington, at the beach, at at the Gorge, out of state, eating out...

All the usual fun things you post about on social media...

And I found myself starting in disdain at the book that I had JUST been saying I hadn't had enough time to read.

Because y'all.

Social media envy is a real thing and if we aren't careful it will destroy our lives.

I'm pretty sure that Paul wouldn't have written the verse about finding the secret to being content if he had lived in Facebook/Twitter/Instagram land... because those places are the secret to quickly becoming discontent.

I'm not saying I don't want my friends to have a good time... absolutely not! I LOVE social media and LOVE to see pictures of my friends and others enjoying life... all of their successes and all of their adventures. I know that I'll never live long enough to get to do everything that I want to do, but I can experience so many things and places vicariously through my friends.

It's just that sometimes when I see other people posting all of their great adventures, my lounging on the couch seems less than.

It's called FOMO... the Fear of Missing Out...

and we have to nip it in the bud.

I'm not saying don't pursue adventures- if you read my post the other day you know it's the complete opposite. Part of my goal this summer is to live as much as I can by getting out and doing things...

but it's also about being fully present in whatever moment we are given... not wishing I was somewhere doing something else.

So, I actually logged off the computer. I picked my book back up and ran my fingers lovingly over the worn pages...

because sometimes, the thing we need to fear missing out on is right in front of us. Quietness. Rest. Getting lost in a story.

The adventures will be waiting... and you'll be right on time.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Some Summer Reflections

This past week has been a roller coaster ride for my family.  As with any time of transition, it has me doing some reflecting... some processing... some recollecting.

My cousin Landry, the "baby" cousin, moved to Houston to start a new job.

My Uncle David died early Saturday morning from liver disease, something he had battled with for several years. . At the end, the last few hours, he worshipped along with my mom during her singing of Amazing Grace and I have no doubt that he is in Heaven with his Mom and Dad right now, struggling no more.

That very day, at 430 in the evening, my cousin Jordan married the love of his life, Samantha. It was an event we had looked forward to, and we were once again reminded of just how fragile life is, but how their is beauty in that fragility. It was a beautiful wedding, centered on the grace and blessing of God.

Tuesday brought Uncle David's funeral. As we gathered together in the funeral home, we were laughing and sharing stories, as we so often do when we are together. My Mamaw was a storyteller, and she taught us about connection. My cousin Gentry showed a video of his daughter Sawyer climbing up the changing table, and it resonated with me because I, too, was a climber.

My Mom found me on top of our upright piano one time. She walked out of the living room for literally 2 seconds into the kitchen and when she came back there I sat, swinging my legs back and forth. I was probably about Sawyer's age.

My favorite perch was on the kitchen table, though, just like a centerpiece.

I don't really remember it, but as my cousin Braylee said a couple of years ago,  I wasn't "afraid of nuffin."

My favorite reading spot a couple of summers in a row? A rock in the dried up creek by my house that was in the shape of Kentucky. I didn't think that copperheads or rattlesnakes liked to sun on rocks...

Crowds? Didn't bother me. I'd just as soon pretend I had a microphone in my hand and belt out "Tomorrow" from Annie. I even got a tip from a waitress at Disney World for my impromptu performance. The more people watching, the better.

I'm not sure when I lost that...

the ability to climb without worrying about falling.
the ability to not care who was looking at me or what they thought.
the utter fearlessness...

A couple of months ago, I was really struggling with a situation. Questioning. Looking for a way out...
and I felt like God spoke to me.
Not audibly... but in that small voice that you have to listen to really carefully to know what it was saying.
I'm pretty sure it was Him, because what that voice said was nothing I would have said to myself.
It essentially spoke up and said, "You can't keep letting fear push you away."

I would hear that message in podcasts on the way home from work... especially one by Emily Freeman, The Next Right Thing, who spoke in her calm and soothing voice about not letting fear boss you and not letting fear keep you from doing something you really wanted to do...

She basically said you could have other good reasons for not doing something, but if those reasons were being afraid of the what ifs... or the what nots... it wasn't a good enough reason.

I recently shared a meme on Facebook that spoke to where I am right now (or at least where I want ot be).  I don't own the rights to this picture, so please noone sue me (see! I'm afraid of litigation!)
So, amid the working ahead for the fall semester and working at the hospital and me forever trying to get my life under some semblance of being together... this is the summer where I do this.

Go back to laughing and basking in the sun and trying new things (except new food!) and not being afraid of taking the climb or what is hiding under the weeds on either side of the trail or if I'm doing enough or too much or whatever.

The summer before I turn 40?

A summer of adventure. Of appreciation. Of remembering what is important.

The best stories are those where the plot changes a few times... those that leave you guessing.

Here's to living that kind of life.

Monday, June 3, 2019

What I Read in April and May

What I read- not nearly enough!
But I did wind up a semester and do some hiking and got the boat in the lake for the first and second time this year and spent some time in my kayak and played bubbles with Melody...
so I'm giving myself grace because I've been busy living. I'll read as I can =)

1. A Light in the Dark by Maria K. Benjamin
This was a book I got through netgalley, and it was a good read. A fictional account of a sexual assault victim and how she found her way back to herself, it was a difficult read at times, but well worth it. The characters were well developed and believable, and I found myself hoping she could come to terms with her experience and learn to love again. 

2. Yes, No, and Maybe by Wendy Pope
This was a book we did with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies, and I finished it late. It was all about learning to say yes to God, no to self, and maybe to good opportunities as they present themselves. Pope writes in personable voice, encouraging us to live the immeasurably more life. Full of Scripture, discussion questions, and thought-provoking quotes, I appreciated this book at the end of the semester as I question what truly is most important.

3. Bon Bon to Yoga Pants by Katie Cross
This book is about weight loss- but so much more. It's funny, sweet, and encouraging, as the main character,  Lexie, learns to love herself in her own skin. Highly recommend for someone looking for a short, easy read.

4. Educated by Tara Westover
In this memoir, Westover tells of her life as the daughter of survivalists. Her dad didn't believe in formal education, governmental interference, or healthcare, so she faced many difficulties throughout her childhood. She self-taught herself, went to college, and along the way discovered just what being educated meant. At times hard to read because of the heart-wrenching content, this book was a great reminder of how we can all do what we determine is necessary. Highly recommend!

5. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
I was leary to read this because how can you improve on the Wizard of Oz (although I had never read the book until this year- see below!) However, Caleb wanted to see the musical and y'all know I can't see something without reading it first... we've still not watched the musical but it's on our bucket list. I've got to be honest with this one. It was a hard read. There was some very lewd content and language, and I found some parts distasteful. If you can get past that, it's an ok read. (And that's just my opinion!)

6. From the Grave: A 40 Day Lent Devotional by A. W. Tozer
Loved this book. Brief devotions for each day of Lent based on the writings of Tozer.

7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Yes, I had never read this one until this year! It was a bonus feature in my Wicked e-book, and a quick book but delightful.

8. Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days by Trevor Hudson
This was another great read for Lent. Short devotions, thoughtful actions centering around one word a day.

9. And The Angels Were Silent by Max Lucado
I love Lucado, and the way he writes a story in every word on the page. This book was fitting for Easter time, working through the events Jesus faced the last week of His life. Loved it!

10. Preparing for Easter by C.S.Lewis
This devotional pulled writings from Lewis for each day. Entries were short and easy to read, and also easy to apply. 

May:
1. Plowshare in Heaven by Jesse Stuart
A series of short stories centered on Northeastern Kentucky. I love that I understand Stuart's language and can picture some of the places he describes. Part of my #ExploreKy initiative, I'm reading Kentucky authors, so I"m sure Stuart will show up again.

2. Keep Showing Up by Karen Ehman
We read this for Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies, and I actually finished on time for this one! Ehman is such a talented author. She writes in a way that draws her reader in, and she provides sound Biblical basis for her ideas, as well as practical ways to apply the content. This book is focused on "average marriages", and is chock full of ideas to keep showing up and loving your hubby. Definitely recommend this one if you are married or if you're thinking of getting married.

3. Women of the Word by JenWilkin
Wilkin is an awesome Bible teacher who encourages her students to dig into the Word for themselves, learning what is actually there instead of having some one just "spoonfeed" it to them. This book gives tips and a process to really study God's Word so that it can be understood and applied. Highly recommend this for any student of the Bible- young or old!

4. Until I say Goodbye by Susan Spencer-Wendel
Spencer-Wendel was an investigative journalist who had a great life until she was diagnosed with ALS. She decided she wasn't going to take the disease without fighting, so she went on a "bucket list" type of final year. This book is about her life, her adventures, her family, and what she learned along the way. The latter part of this book was TYPED WITH HER NOSE, Y'ALL!!! Sadly, she passed away in 2014, but this story is a good reminder to live each day fully. Loved it!

5. Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale
Part love story, part mystery, this book has well-developed characters, enough suspense to keep you guessing... and anytime one of the main characters turns out to have amnesia you know it's going to be good, right? Aimee has the perfect relationship until her fiance disappears. She has been told he is dead; even attends a funeral the day that should have been married, but something tells her it's not the truth. Her search then reveals a twisting, winding road of family intrigue, jealousy, and love that keeps the reader flipping the page. I recommend this one if you like a good, fast read with suspense. I just started the second one in this series.

6. Trust Me by Jo Huddleston
This is the second book in this series. I found the first book a little dull and this one was slightly better. The plot was choppy in places and the dialogue was hard to read at times. A short read set in West Virginia, it's a sweet story but can't say I'd really recommend it.

7. The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This book follows the Ingalls family through-you guessed it! A long winter, complete with numerous blizzards and times when they surely thought they'd starve. I love this series and am sad there's only a couple more books for me to read.

I'm way behind my goal so I'm going to stop typing and get to reading. Check back next month for my June reads. I need to finish 17 books to get myself back on track! As always, I'd love to see what's on your list, even though my to read list is a mile long! 




Friday, May 31, 2019

What I Learned This Spring (March-May)

It's unofficially summertime, meaning it's time for me to once again pretend to maintain a writing schedule on this blog. One of my favorite posts to write (when I don't forget!) is the linkup with Emily Freeman quarterly about what I've learned. Here lately, here's what I've discovered (or rediscovered): 
1. Audiobooks vs. podcasts
When I'm working, I commute about 1.5 hours to and from work, and that could very easily be wasted time. One thing I decided to try toward the end of the semester was audiobooks and podcasts. I've always resisted audiobooks, and I found that the one that I listened to didn't do much for my analysis of them... however, I've been assured by other people that it's all about the book and the reader.
I did, however, learn that I love podcasts. There are so many good ones out there. Somedays I'm in the mood for something light, some days for something about reading, somedays for random topics that I really don't know anything about... but I can guarantee that there is a podcast out there on the topic. They definitely made my drive seem shorter!

2. Enneagram- I've always been interested in what makes people tick. I love personality tests, and I'm amazed by how we can all be so different. I heard about this on a podcast, and immediately took a test. I found that I was a 9... and I'm still not sure exactly what that is... so I bought a couple of books and by the end of the summer I'll know all about it =)

3. You can like an email in outlook- Who knew? One of my students had sent me an email, and I had replied, and then got a notification that the student had responded to my email but couldn't see a reply... but it was a like!! I"m not sure what the purpose really is except to let someone know you read their reply without carrying on an extensive conversation, but it reminded me just how much I don't know about technology.

4. Teenage drivers
Caleb got his license three weeks ago and to say I've been slightly terrified is an understatement. You don't know fear until you send your baby off behind a wheel...
I'm learning, though, that he has a pretty good head on his shoulder and that letting go really is part of parenting.

5.  8 miles is about my limit when it comes to hiking. The past couple of weeks I've done two 10 mile hikes and my feet are still killing me. My body starts giving up at 8 miles...
but when you are two miles from the middle of nowhere (or possibly more... who knows?) you have to keep on going.

6. Hiking apps are your friend. They can make sure you stay on track so you don't hike off trail 10 miles. Since I don't have much of a sense of direction, that's a very good thing.

7. I love summertime.

Linking up with Emily Freeman at https://emilypfreeman.com/blog/ and getting myself geared up to write more this summer... thanks for the inspiration!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Shut Up & Write Day 1- Jibba Jabba

Heart fluttering, short of breath, overwhelmed, anxious
It is Monday
Not sure why I'm like this.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop, just waiting,
Cause it's Monday
but...

Every day is new with new mercies
He is God
everyday, not just Monday, and He is sovereign.
Cast my cares
He cares.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

What I Read February/March edition

February: 
The Color of Forever by Julianne MacLean- The Color of Heaven #10
I started this series several years ago. The books can be read independently, but characters from previous books are interwoven throughout so if you read I'd recommend reading in order. They talk about life after death, finding love on earth, and have some components of fantasy involved. Quick reads with likeable characters.  There are other books in this series so I'll be reading for a while.

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
I enjoyed this book, but it was hard to read at times. It centered on how God is holy, using Scriptural references, and then encourages us to be holy as God is holy. An overwhelming concept for sure, but very thought-provoking.

Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs- Friday Night Knitting Club #3
Loved this series! This follows a group of women who bonded over knitting, and then over a friend's death as they became family to that friend's young daughter. The last book in the series focuses on Dakota's transition to adulthood and the decisions she has to make. Great read!

Always Forward- Ginny Dye- Bregdan Chronicles #9
I've been reading this series, set in the Civil War and the years following, for several years. It tells the story of Carrie Borden and how she and her family overcame in the years following the Civil War. Carrie is a strong female character and is a polar opposite to my other favorite Civil War heroine (Scarlett O'Hara). There are other books in this series as well so I'll be reading on it for awhile.

Christ-Centered Parenting
This was a Bible study through Lifeway. They offered it as online Bible study several months ago and provided the video sessions free, so I watched those and took a little longer to digest. This book has short articles that focus on societal topics that parents should address. Good for parents with kids of all ages, as each section has a couple of pages focused on communication strategies for different age groups. Really thought-provoking. 

The Scarlet Letter- Nathaniel Hawthorne
I had read this book many years ago in high school but decided to revisit it. The language is hard to understand but it is a beautiful concept of redemption, and also a reminder that there are always two sides to ever story.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader- CS Lewis
This is part of the Chronicles of Narnia series. It was one of the harder ones for me to read for some reason, but the fantastical story of a boy turning into a dragon and then not being recognized as a boy (not the exact story line, but the part that stood out to me most) really made me think of how we perceive other people. I love the beautiful images of Aslan, and the reminder that God is always sovereign (as they say in the first book in this series, He is far from safe, but He is good.)

Summer People- Aaron Stander
This was a free book I downloaded years ago. I have a list of books I've downloaded from Kindle and I work through it (when I'm not jumping ahead and reading a "got to read now" book), and the second book on this series was on my list, so I had to read the first one, of course... a murder mystery. Easy read. Good characters. Not the best book I've read... but definitely not the worst. 

4  under my goal... putting me behind. (I figured if I wanted to read 150 books this year, I'd need to read 12.5 a month).

March:
Dumplin' (Dumplin' #1)- I LOVED this book. I downloaded it and moved it to the front of my to read list because EVERYONE was watching it on Netflix and I can't watch something without reading it... and it was great. A lovely story of Willowdean, whose Mama is a beauty queen that reminds her a lot of times that she's not... a feel good, save the day story. (Which was, as always, better than the movie... but the Netflix movie was good. Although I've always liked Jennifer Aniston and I really didn't like her character...) Definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to learn how to accept themselves for who they are.

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper
This book highlighted the glory of God, using references from Scripture. Really enjoyed it but makes you think!

The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman
I love midwives. I mean, I've never been to one, and I obviously am not one, but I have worked with them and then the history of Frontier Nursing in Eastern Kentucky has always fascinated me. This book is about a midwife who has a patient die during childbirth, and she flees her life to travel to a remote island. A little suspense, a little romance... a very good novel. I'll be reading more from this author!

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell
Millie has had a tough life. Her dad and mom have a dysfunctional relationship. She wants to get away. She dreams of joining a gypsy group, but tragedy strikes and she finds herself stuck. It's a beautiful story of a young girl finding herself and finding love. There's a second book, so I'll be reading it.

Darker the Night by Lisa London
I love WW2 fiction. This book is one from the viewpoint of a German citizen. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the end of the book to learn that it was loosely based on real-life events. This book encouraged empathy. Highly recommend for anyone interested in WW2 fiction.

Devil's Food Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen #14) by Joanne Fluke
I love this series. Hannah Swensen is funny, and also unlucky, as she finds more dead bodies than living people in Lake Eden. The recipes sound yummy (if only I cooked!) and each one of these in the series that I have read are entertaining, with interesting characters. Still have several in this series, and I'm glad!

The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew #2)
I loved Nancy Drew when I was a young reader, and last year I decided to start re-reading the series. It's funny, though, that reading them with fresh eyes makes you realize how much different things are now from when they were first written years ago. They do seem simplistic, too... but still one of my favorites!

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
My sister bought my a book called 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, and this book was the first one listed. I loved it. The author was a camp ranger in a park out west, and it was all about the desert and exploring and the outdoors and it spoke to my hiking loving heart.

Dearest Dorothy, If not Now, When? 
This book is a part of a series as well, and I was sad to find that there wasn't another book. Dorothy is an 80+ year old woman who lives in small town America. One of her newest best friends is Josh, whose Mom has moved in and sent an erroneous message that she's trying to take over the town. As most small towns are, residents are resistant to some change, and this book follows them through the process of growth. A great read with delightful characters. 

Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott
Again, this was a series that I read when I was young. I love Louisa May Alcott... have read biographies of her. Little Women is one of my favorite books, and this is the last series of the book, concluding when the little women are now adults. Jo has started a college for young men and some women, and this book tells of some of her earlier pupils and how their adult lives have turned out.
 

When God Calls the Heart: Devotions from Hope Valley
This devotional uses shows from When Calls the Heart to provide a short devotional topic. There's a prayer and a question to think about, and I really liked it because I liked the show.

11 books read in March. This means I've read 31 books. Using my plan to read 12.5 books a month, I should have read 37 books, so I'm 6 short.

Means I'll have to read 13 books a month... so here's to reading!

As always, I'd love to here what's on your to read list, even though I never have enough time to read as I'd like!