Tuesday, August 6, 2019

To My Incoming Junior

Tonight on the way home I heard Mercy Me's "Dear Younger Me" and it brought tears to my eyes.

I've been in a melancholy mood all week. Big changes, milestones, tend to make me reflect, and I realized that you are my younger me...

but different, obviously.

But some parents make their kids their redemption. I hope I've not been too bad at doing that to you. I hope that you feel as though you have freedom to make some of your own choices.

As I was thinking of what I would say to 16 year old Lauren, I mostly thought of what I'd want to say to 16 year old you... because that me is long gone, and even if I could change things I don't think I would, because it's got me where I am now.

But you...

The world is at your fingertips.

Tomorrow you'll get in your jeep and drive to school on the first day by yourself. I know you were driving yourself at the end of the school year, but there's something symbolic about driving that first day. New beginnings and all...

I think of you in preschool, so little and unable to speak perfectly plain, crying as I left.

Those glasses on your nose and that chip in your front tooth.. so full of personality.

You don't need me to hold your hand anymore. You don't need me to speak up for you anymore. You don't need me to fill out those forms (thank goodness).  You don't need me to help you with homework much.

This year you'll have a college account and take college classes. You'll continue to plan for your future, which is closer by the minute.

You'll stress some... a lot, if I know you.

You come by it honest.

But what I want for you this year is simple.

 I wish time would stand still...

not because I want you to stay where you are...

but because I want you to appreciate it.

I want you to fully live it, not just look forward to the next big thing.

I want you to know that if you fail it's ok. If you struggle in a class, it's ok. Sometimes it's those classes that are the hardest that teach you the most, because you have to learn to work for it.

I want you to know that you are smart and so much more than any score on the ACT or any other standardized test.

I want you to know that you are special, because nobody is quite like you.

I want you to practice independence but know that you can always count on me to help you make decisions. I also want you to remember that you are only 16.

I want you to know that it's better to be the nice kid than the kid with everything.

I want you to be the kid that the teacher likes, not because you are a suck-up, but because you respect them. 

I want everyone to see your smile and hear your laugh, because it's special.

I hope you succeed in making others feel as special as you. I'm not perfect, but I hope that I've instilled kindness in you enough that you can share it with someone else.

I want you to enjoy these teenage years, even as they are hard. 

Dream big. Chase those dreams. Work hard. Don't be afraid.

And know that I'll always love you more than mint chocolate chip ice cream.

You're going to have a great year... because you're a great kid. Thank you for being you, and as Thank God that He chose me to be your Mama. I'm so very blessed.

Monday, August 5, 2019

What I Read in July

1. The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia) by CS Lewis
Eustace and Jill are the heroes of this story, as they battle a different witch for the glory of Aslan. This is the 4th or 5th book in this series I've read and each have a good moral behind them.

2. Everyday Holy by Melanie Shankle
Shankle is one of my favorite authors and I love everything I've ever read by her. This book is a seris of short devotions that would be good to read each day. I read several in a day. They include a scripture and a devotion, and each are relatable. Highly recommend!

3. The Basic Steps of Bible Study by Kay Arthur
This is a basic overview of inductive Bible study, a way to dig into the Scriptures to get more out of what you read. There are other books that go deeper into the process, but this is a good introduction into a more thorough way of reading the Bible.

4. Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner
Turner is a working Mom who has a passion for helping other working moms. This book centers on the myth that today's moms have to do it all. Each chapter focuses on an area where a mom may feel like she is stretched too thin, and gives ideas for moms (working or otherwise) on how they can prioritize what really matters.

5. Wreck My Life by Mo Isom
I heard Mo speak at Southland Christian Church earlier this year and she was so inspirational. This book tells of how she fought back after a wreck in which she should have been killed. It's a delightful read and a good reminder of how when we think we are in control we really aren't.

The next four books were read with Melody at the library while waiting for Mamaw Karen to get finished with business. They were favorites of mine, or Caleb's, or Kami's. 
6. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie- This whole series was a favorite of Caleb's.
7. Blueberries for Sal- I loved this book when I was at LBJ.
8. Are You My Mother- Not sure why I like this book so much, but it was a childhood favorite.
9. Madeline- Kami used to love this one.

10. A Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe
This book was set in England during WWII. The main character is a young German girl who had been evacuated to London from Germany because she was a Jew. She was injured in a bombing and suffered from amnesia. The rest of the book is about how she finds herself, comes to term with being German in a foreign country, and finds who she can trust.  I felt like this book moved a little slow but overall had a good plot.

11. Voyager (Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon
This was the third in the series and in my opinion the best book so far. Claire finds herself back in Scotland with Jamie, and must come to terms with his life while she was absent. They find themselves heading across the ocean for high-sea adventures. Loved this one!

12. Anne of Avolea
This is the second book in the Anne of Green Gables series and is delightful as the first. Anne finds herself a teacher and works to better her community. A quick read, and pleasant! 
13. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
I had read this years ago but rediscovered it, and it really makes sense. It made me think about why we often misunderstand each other in family and other relationships. Each of us have a prominent love language. You can give someone a million gifts and it does nothing, but if you put your phone down and actually listen to them it makes them feel like a million dollars. It's not that you don't love them... you just don't love them in away which they understand. I highly recommend this one for anyone who wants to do "better" in their relationships.

14. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
I can't say enough good about this book. I had seen it for years and had never read it, and then the film popped up on Netflix. Y'all know how I am about reading before I watch a movie, so I got this one and was delighted. It's written in a series of letters from different characters describing their experience in WWII. Funny, light-hearted, with just enough tragedy to pull at your heart strings.... so good. And the movie was great as well.

15. A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron
Set in Lancaster county, this novel centers on an Englisher who comes home to her Amish grandmother to heal from wounds she obtained as a war correspondent. She finds that she needs to heal physically and emotionally, and the novel follows her along that process. I love Amish novels, and this one is no exception.

16. Color Tour by Aaron Stander
Ray Elkins is investigating the death of a private school teacher and her friend, leading him on an adventure full of murder and mayhem. This book was slow to start, but picked up and I enjoyed it. The ending was definitely not what I expected. A great thriller to read by the pool!

As of the end of July, I had read 70 books. My goal for the year is 150. I'm behind and with school starting back I'm not sure how close I'll get to my goal, but I'll just keep reading in my free time and hope for the best. I'm currently reading 54 books. Yes, 54! I start one, then start another, and some of them are devotions or Bible study books that I read a little at a time. Some books are ones that I add to my reading list that I haven't really started.  I write that so that if you ever look at my goodreads list and see that it has taken me months to read a book, chances are I haven't really started reading it. I usually will read a chapter at a time, unless a book really grabs ahold and then I'll read more. I have stacks and stacks of books... but my stacks make me happy, and I find great pleasure in selecting what I'm reading next... so if you've got a good read let me know!