Thursday, March 12, 2015

What I'm Reading in March

March is National Reading Month- as if I needed an excuse, right?  So of course, I'm up to the challenge of reading as much as I can.  I'm well on my way to reading 125 books this year.. I've read 10 books in both January and February, and I figured to reach my goal I'd need to read just over 10 books per month.  This month, with spring break thrown in, I think I'll read over 10 books.  I've said it once and I'll say it again- if only I could get paid to read!

Before I get into this month, let me flip back and tell you about a couple I read toward the end of February that didn't make my post, but that you need to check out IF you fit the right audience.

I read Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella.  I LOVE Kinsella.  She's the author of the Shopaholics books, which literally leave me laughing out loud and gasping for breath, because I SO get her characters.  Well, apart from the drinking. And there is also some foul language.  But Kinsella is too funny, and Wedding Night didn't disappoint.  It's all about love and why we fall in love and when we think we love but we're not really sure... and it is funny.  Plus, it involves the beach in certain places and I need a beach right now.

I also read Twelve Mighty Orphans by Jim Dent.  If you are a football fan and you like true life sports stories, you'll enjoy this one.  It's about the Masonic Home Orphanage in Texas, and how their football team rose to great fame despite the difficulties they faced.  I love football, and most of the time I love underdogs, so this was a good read.

Ok... Here's what I'm reading right now...

For one book club online, I'm reading Sarah's Song by Karen Kingsbury. It's part of the Red Glove series, and I've read the first two books the last two months.  This one is about an elderly lady reflecting on her life and love.  Kingsbury's characters are so personable, and Sarah is no exception.  And, as I mentioned last month, the whole series is in one Kindle book cheaper than buying them individually, so it's a great bargain! 

I'm reading Ruth's Journey: The Authorized Novel of Mammy by Donald McCaig.  I loved Rhett Butler's People last month, and Mammy is one of my favorite characters from Gone with the Wind. This book goes back to her childhood, and it was a little difficult to get into at first, but now that she's a little older and actually serving as a Mammy I can see her... a little less plump, perhaps, than when she was quarreling at Scarlett.  Good stuff.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs is about a woman and her teenage daughter who run a knitting shop. The daughter's dad has been MIA but has suddenly stepped back into her life, and it is causing all kinds of turmoil.  Plus, she's a teenager.  I don't know how to knit, but I do understand the complexities of being a teenager, and I've already felt my heart strings being tugged on by this book. There's a second one in this series, too, that I've added to my wish list.

A Train in Winter- set in France during WWII, this book is about the Resistance and the women who ran it.  I love WWII stories, and it amazes me the bravery that so many ordinary people demonstrated.  I just can't fathom the sheer evil of so many... this is a heavy read, though, and is at times difficult to wade through.  Plus, all the French and German names!  But, if you like WWII history, I'd recommend this one, even though I'm not even halfway through.

Redfield Farm is about a family who helps on the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War. I've only just started this one but I'm liking it.

Love Does- this one has been on my to read list for months and I finally dived in.  I'm reading it slow, one chapter here and there, and it has not disappointed. So many people told me I'd love it, and they are right.  Love is my word of the year, so it's good to really think of what love is and what it does. Goff is a personable writer and you feel like you're just sitting down having a chat with him.

My drive-thru read is Orchard of Hope by Ann Gabhart. It's the follow-up to The Scent of Lilacs I read last month (or maybe in January).  It's set in Kentucky in the 1950s, and I love it. Love the characters. I can picture the small town.  I'm just getting started on it, and haven't had a chance to read much because I've not been driving much!!! (Yes, it's a drive-thru read.  I read it as I wait in the drive-thru at Mcdonalds or if Wallace is driving when he pumps gas... every little minute counts!)

Which is what The Fringe Hours is about- taking what little time you can carve out for yourself and making it yours. I'm reading this one for a book club and am behind (surprised???) but the videos and conversations are archived so I'll not miss out.  There are reflection questions throughout the chapters so it's taking me a little bit longer as I really think about the concepts discussed. And I'm learning that perhaps I'm not as busy as I think I am... or maybe I'm just busy with the wrong stuff. 

I'm also reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It's a book about writing and we're reading one chapter a month in a writer's group I'm in.  My dream is to write... really write... and this is kind of the first step.

The Woman in the Paragraph- I have literally just downloaded on my phone.  I know it's about a lady in the Holocaust, but that's about all I know.

I'm behind on my Kelly Minter What Love Is study.  I love Kelly Minter.  I love her writing style, and the way she brings scripture to life.  This is a study of the 1,2, 3 books of John, and there are some heavy concepts in there. I refuse to look at it as being behind, though... because every time I start a study and allow myself to get busy, God meets me right where I am with what I need to hear when I pick it back up.

Still reading Heart of the Story: The Family of Jesus- We watched the last video session Monday night so I'm on the last week of this one.  Kingsbury takes the characters from the Bible and creates fictional stories based on information given in Scripture, then applies it to our lives.  This week is Mary and she is by far one of my favorite characters!

I'm reading The Chronological Bible.  There's a reading plan where I will read around 3-4 chapters a day and get through the entire Bible in a year.  It always amazes me how I can read a passage over and over again, but if I'm open, God can show me something new!!! Behind here, too... I just started reading in Leviticus last night... which is assigned all the way at the end of  January.  This book is so hard for me to read, too... I just asked God to open my eyes and heart as to how all of those sacrifices and offerings and laws apply to me, under the new covenant.  So thankful for Jesus and His atoning grace and redemption!!!

So many books... so little time... happy reading!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Holly!

So, apparently I was a difficult baby.  I didn't sleep well and required 230 AM car rides to lull me into la-la land (Hello, insomnia, at an earlier age... may be why I still sit up half the night reading.) I climbed on top of EVERYTHING, including the kitchen table and the upright piano in the living room.  And I also totaled a car at the age of four.

I must have been a handful.

I'm pretty sure I must have been temperamental, too, because my Dad said when he found out my Mom was pregnant with my sister, he just "prayed for a happy baby."

Yes, he actually told me that.

Which leads me to believe that I was an unhappy baby...

and I totally get that, because that temperament followed me into my teenage years.

And also because dealing with me and an unhappy baby at the same time would probably be too much.

And I was not happy about a new baby, regardless of how I look here.

I'm pretty sure I was thinking of ways to boss her around, because I LOVED bossing.

And also, I might have liked her just a little here, but that was before she decided to pee on me.

Yes, that was probably the only transgression Holly ever committed against me... and she didn't even know what she was doing.

So, a happy baby?


A happy child.

Except, maybe, this one moment:
And also maybe when she found out that no amount of blue marker would ever turn her into Smurfette.
She was tender-hearted and kind. She loved animals... all animals.  She cried when Uncle Dennis told her about killing the hogs to eat.

Me, I wasn't quite so nice.

"Um, duh, Holly. What do you think you're eating when you eat a hot dog?"
She also cried when we would discuss the plight of the Native Americans.
She just didn't understand how you could be so mean to a group of innocent people.
Especially when she loved them so good.
"Hello, my name is Holly, and I when I grow up I want to be an Indian." She proudly proclaims at kindergarten graduation.

She never held it against me that I hit her in the head with a baseball bat...she'll just show you the dent in her forehead.  (And, yes, it was completely an accident. I was practicing batting and swung and didn't realize she was behind me.  The glass Christmas ornament that I threw at her head... not so much an accident... but she still forgave me.)

She laughs... and you want to laugh with her.
It's a big laugh that fills up the room and the air around you and just makes you smile.
She listens and is patient and calm and always sees the good in people.

Quite the opposite of me. 

She was born loving others.  She'd stand in the back of the church and shake everyone's hand as they filed out after service. "God bless you, and God bless you, and God bless you." And she meant it.

She connects with others in a way that I can't understand... until I remember that prayer that Dad prayed.  She has God's hand on her.  I mean, we all do. Sometimes it just takes us a while to figure it out.

She loves spending time with my grandparents.  She learned to drive Papaw Paul's traffic and helped him tend his plants and helped him clean out his basement, and unlike me, she didn't do it for selfish motives.

At least I don't think that she did.

When I think of true joy, joy abundant and overflowing like we're to have through Christ, through the fruit of the Spirit, I think of Holly.

And even though I am older than her, I want to be like her when I grow up.

Today we celebrate her birthday, and I am so happy that God chose me to be her big sister. She inspires me to be a better person, to believe better about others and to love harder and to look on the bright side of things.

And today, as Warren showed me those infamous black and white pictures and I picked out a spine and a nose and a forehead, I am overwhelmed.

So very happy for her, because some people were just born to nurture others and be a mother, and I believe she's one of them. 

I'm so excited!

Happy birthday, sis!!! Love you more than you'll ever know.  Even though you are the middle child and you peed on me =)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

You'll Really Not Care

I just checked the time on my phone and it is almost 2 PM and I'm realizing that I'm still wearing what I slept in last night and have done absolutely nothing today.

Sadly, I went to town this morning in my pajamas to take Caleb to school and the fact that I'm admitting that tells you that I recognize it is a problem...

However, I did not go to Walmart, so there is a plus side.

This spring break I have every intention of doing something productive like scaling Mount Everest... the equivalent of which is piled high in front of my dryer.

If you know anything about my life, you know that this is an ongoing battle, and one that I'm fairly sure I will not win by the time I am 40.

Daylight savings time (which I love... so I'm not complaining) and the lost hour of sleep which seems to haunt us for the next five weeks did not help my resolve to stay up once I dropped Caleb off.

Nor did the allure of the electric blanket or the rain pouring off of my tin roof.

And I'm pretty sure that the fact that I didn't set my alarm on my phone and managed to sleep until an unsaid time (left unsaid because members of my house would not be happy with me) will not bode well for tomorrow.

Yesterday, I thought to myself, "You need a schedule even though it is spring break." Left to myself, I'll while away the hours on the computer or reading or sleeping or staring out the window doing absolutely nothing.

However, I never actually got around to creating a schedule.  I did fold two loads of towels and wash two loads of clothes, which actually just increased the size of Mount Everest.

Or at least it will if I manage to remember to get them out of the dryer.

That being said, I still have three days to conquer the mountain and scrub the toilets and dust for what may or may not be the first time in 2015.

Tomorrow looks like a great day to go get 'em.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Accountability, Take 2

The wintertime has spanned long and my resolve has gone out the window.  I knew it would be like this.  It's the same every year. That's why I set goals rather than resolutions, because goals just seem more attainable.  Also, if you are making progress, you're improving on a goal... a resolution seems so all or nothing, and let's be honest, I'm not one of those all or nothing type gals. Two months into the year and I can see some improvement... not as much as I'd like, but it is what it is.  Here's my "progress". 

My goals were as follows, with a summary of how I'm doing in bold.
1. Above all, focus on LOVE in everything that I do.  There you go... that's my one word.  LOVE. Loving God. Loving myself.  Loving others. More about that later.
Love in action is so hard for me.  I knew it would be.  Perhaps that's why I felt this word on my heart so much going into the new year.  I am so quick to judge, and to only consider my side of the story.  I forget grace, even though I thought I had that one under control.  However, I must say that this word being in the forefront has made me more aware.  I mean, I may not always be loving, but I sure get called on it if I'm not.  That gut check that tells me to stop and think of how I'm acting... the words that I'm saying.  Lord, help me. 

2. Writing on this blog every day this year.  That's right.  365 posts, whether I have anything to write about or not.  I'll try to provide a disclaimer at the beginning on days when I'm just not feeling it... but it's about discipline and we all know how I am about discipline.
Oh, February.  I've failed in this one.  District tournament time and late night every night killed me on this one.  15/28 days.  Wow.  54%.  Oh, well... moving on.  I can start anew TODAY and write every day from here on out.

3. Exercise.  Consistently.  Even if I hate it.  10,000 steps at least 6 days a week. Using the fitness room at work more often. And perhaps this will be the year I finally convince myself to work up to running a 5K?
This snow killed me on this one, too, even though I was at home and had no excuse.  I mean, the treadmill was right there.  I could have used it... but it was so much more comfortable to sit under my blanket and read. And, also, a week of District tournament late nights didn't help this one, either.  So... while not great, here it is... 13/28 days for 46.43% I had over 10,000 steps.  I had 19/28 days where I either walked at least 2 miles on the treadmill or did 30 minutes in the fitness center at work.  I averaged 9,070 steps a day and completed 40 miles of walking during exercise minutes. I skipped a week of my running plan but I did finish strong, running (if you call it that) 3 miles in 45 minutes and 17 seconds.  Nonstop.  So, even though I was nowhere as good as I wanted to be, I have come along... the important thing is to keep at it and not stop.

4. Read my Bible all the way through. I'll be reading my Chronological Bible. I did this in 2012 and it was awesome.  I allowed myself to get distracted the past two years, and while I've been in the Word, it's not been as consistent as I'd like it. In addition to that, I want to complete 4 in-depth Bible studies.  I've already got them picked out and ready to go.  Kelly Minter's What Love Is (How fitting for my word!), Priscilla Shirer's Breathe (about Sabbath Rest), Lisa Harper's Hebrew, and Melissa Spoelstra's Jeremiah.
Still behind in my Chronological reading.  Still behind on my Bible studies. And to be honest, I don't have any excuse.  I've just been lazy.  Been reading too much other stuff.  Been sleeping late and not doing my reading before I go to bed.  I've got to ask forgiveness for this one.
The thing is, when I do read, I am so blessed... and I find myself wanting to keep reading.  Keep searching.  I love how things just fit together and seem to speak to me right where I am... so, I'm going to do better. 

5. Cross something off my bucket list.
Nothing to report here.

6. Count 1,000 gifts... or more.  Try to keep a blessing jar. 
Doing pretty good on this one.  Haven't started a blessing jar, but I'm writing down at least three gifts most days.

7. Love in action to other people- you know the drill. Random acts of kindness.
Oh, boy.  Yes, I've done some kind things for some people.  I've had kind words and offered a sympathetic ear and have demonstrated love in some ways.
But at other times I've allowed my words to cut like a knife.  And I've rolled my eyes too many times to count. And mumbled under my breath. This love thing... dying to self and loving others... it's hard.  No wonder He said it had to be in His strength.

8. Read at least 125 books. That's one book almost every three days.  This just might be my favorite challenge! (Last year I read 161 books.  What!?!?)
I read 10 books in February.  More on what I'm reading in March in a later post.

9. Memorize 24 verses this year through Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team.
Memorized 1 John 4:10 and Galatians 5:14. Micah 6:8 and Romans 12:9.  Working on Romans 13:10
One thing I'm finding about this memory work is I have to keep reviewing.  Like right now, I may not be able to quote the verses... I have the gist of the content but not the whole verse... so, one thing I'm going to have to do is start reviewing them more frequently... just like I tell my students about content. 

Some improvement.  Some setbacks.  But will keep on keeping on!

Monday, March 2, 2015

What I Learned in February

1. JFK had Addisons disease. I have read books on JFK and he fascinates me, but I never picked up on this fact, or at least, if I did, I had forgotten it.  Wallace and I were watching a movie called Parkland, about the events that occurred during the time of his death, and it mentioned this.  I then proceeded to google it, and lo and behold, it talked about it on the History channel's webpage.  Addison's disease is an endocrine disorder that is exacerbated by stress.  I can't imagine how hard it would have been for him to function as President, with all of the stress he faced.  Amazing.

2. When your son says his wrist hurts, believe him.  Even if it isn't bruised.  Or swollen.  And has maximum range of motion and a good grip.
Needless to say, I learned this the hard way, after a fall and a subsequent trip to the doctor, followed by an x-ray and a cast. 
Mama's aren't always right.

3. Sometimes people say things that aren't true and that hurt your feelings.  You've got to learn to just deal with it.  I won't elaborate on this one, because there really is no need. There are always two sides to every story, and occasionally someone will have a different perspective.

4. Before you fall backwards into a snow drift, make sure your shirt is tucked into your pants. Learned the hard way, while making snow angels with Caleb.

5. One day of snow is fun... a few inches... but 14 inches and five days off of work... um, not so much. Especially when you have to go back into work. It was beautiful.  It was peaceful. 

But I am paying the repercussions now, as I struggle to get back into a routine a week later.

With more in the forecast.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bullying has no Age Limit

As a teenager, I was a mean girl.

If you've ever watched the movie Mean Girls, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Looking back on it, I'm not proud of it.  I wish that I could go back and tell my younger self that I didn't have to act like that.  I didn't have to hide my self-consciousness and self-doubt in being mean to others.

Pretty is as pretty does...

and some shades of ugly can't be fixed no matter what kind of rose-colored glasses you are wearing.

Thank goodness I matured, and I thank my lucky stars nearly every day of my life that I didn't grow up in the age of social media... because those teenagers face WAY more than they should have to.  The need to appear a certain way, everyone knowing everything that goes on in their life...

It's just not right.

Words are much easier to type behind a screen, and apparently freedom of speech gives us the right to post whatever we want to post.

Some days, it is a beautiful thing.  Facebook and Instagram and Twitter allow me to keep up with old friends and family members from far away.  I get to see prayer requests and see pictures of children and grandchildren and watch them grow.  I can stay up to date on scores and ballgames that aren't played on TV.

And this blog, what you are reading now... well, it's just my opinion, really.  And as I express often, my opinion really doesn't count for much.  I can get on this page and write a bunch of lies and some of the people who read this would be none the wiser, because they don't really know me.

In this instant society, we have blurred the values of what is right and wrong and what is socially acceptable.  We can hide behind a screen and offer our opinion of others.  We can be as ugly as we want to be...

And I almost expect this out of teenagers... because they are hormonal (sorry, girls. You know I love you, but I can remember, vaguely, what that was like).  I can expect them to spout out ugly words of hatred and judge people based on their appearance.  I can expect teenagers to belittle others.  Even though it isn't right, and I don't condone it, and I tell Caleb that I better never catch him posting ugly words online, they are trying to find themselves, and often finding out who you are means learning who you aren't.

I can't accept it from grown people, though... and I don't think it should be tolerable.

In a small town community, we all know each other.  We may not like each other, and there may be characteristics you display or I display that flat get on each other's nerves.  I may not understand why you choose to do something.  You may not understand why I am friends with someone.

It doesn't matter.

Yes, we have rights... but we also must stop expressing those rights at the expense of others.

Regardless of whether you like someone as an individual, or whether you respect their position of authority or their belief in politics or religion or whatever...

they are still a person.

America was founded on the principle that all men are created equal and that all men have certain inalienable rights. 



The Pursuit of Happiness.

But where does the line stop?  In order for you to be happy, does it give you the right to hide behind a fake facebook profile and take cheap shots at people that you really don't even know? Or report a picture on a teenager's Instagram account because it was taken with individuals that you don't like?

Today I am saddened because two of my friends were targeted in such a mean and ugly way.  Maybe this post will make me a target, but to be honest, I don't care.

I just think that it's time that we stop and think of how we treat others. We all say we want to change the world.

To change the world, we first have to change ourselves.

I'm sorry if this offends you, but I have a feeling that it won't make it to the target audience, anyway, or even if it did, they have the perspective that they have the right to behave in this manner.

But so do I... and despite how upset I am, I choose love.

Will you please join me? Before you post something or click the like button or spew out words of hatred, will you pause and think... "How would I feel if that was me?" We all know the golden rule... or have we forgotten? If our kids see this behavior, guess what... they are destined to repeat it.

And that is a sad, sad thing.