Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 4)

 Swing your partner- Caleb recently went to an event sponsored by the Applachian Arts Alliance in downtown Hazard and came home with plenty of tales regarding all things Appalachian... well, some things Appalachian, anyway. His description of squaredancing took me back to LBJ and the Virginia Reel and Heel Toe Polka (I think is the name of it). There is such a thing as muscle memory and even thirty years later I can close my eyes and see myself "right right right". I wanted to dance right then! 

The Olympics came a year late and I've been so excited. 

Last week I watched the Opening Ceremony and the Parade of Nations made me a little teary-eyed. Thinking of what so many in the world have gone through in the past year... what so many are going through. Some athletes exuded joy, some appeared so solemn... I thought of what it must mean to represent your country. I loved the unique costumes during the Parade, how each one symbolizes something about their country. My favorites:  Aruba (that bluish-green is just what I picture the water to look like!), Uganda's dresses on their women, the orange of the Netherlands, the flowers of Krgystan (spellling?), Haiti's patchwork dresses, Luxembourg's shiny silver coats... and it always amazes me that I forget there are so many countries! 

When I was growing up, I always imagined being an Olympian. Not because I was particularly athletic, but I loved to pretend to walk the balance beam and any motel swimming pool was an Olympic lane. One time my aunt Lisa E. took me to UK's Aquatic Center where there really was an Olympic size pool with lanes and everything and I was in awe. I guess that's why I've always loved the Olympics... but as kids we don't think of the pressure that comes with carrying your country on your shoulders. 

Today I watched as Simone Biles has been debated across social media channels for opting out of team competition. Simone's life story is one of resiliency, and she stood up in the face of sexual exploitation of a whole slew of girls... went on to form her own gym and embrace pouring confidence into younger athletes. Today, she decided enough was enough. For whatever reason, she felt she needed to step out of the competition. I found myself thinking how we all cheered on Kerri in 1996 when she landed a vault in Atlanta on a badly hurt ankle. The picture of Bela holding her as she waved to the audience went viral for that time period... but as I've sat and thought about that, I see the sadness in it, as well. Today, I'm applauding Simone for recognizing that sometimes, admitting you are weak is really the greatest strength. 

There has to be a balance between just giving up because you are afraid and recognizing when you've had enough, but this is a conversation that we need to be having, and mental health matters! 

Looking to the future- Cheerleading is an Olympic sport! Cheerleaders everywhere are cheering! 

I've been thinking a lot about cats and dogs lately. I automatically think of cats as females and dogs as males. I'm not sure why... anyone else? 

What I Read This Week

1. The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs

2. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

3. First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Bower

Speaking of books...Tonight I went to a book signing with Caleb in Hazard. The book was Twilight in Hazard. I haven't read it but will be doing so. As I sat and listened to the author interact with the audience, I was reminded of the importance of using our own voices to tell our own stories. Try to do that sometime... don't let others define you! 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Lessons from Sunday School- Double Trouble (Volume 1 Edition 2)

 Today our sermon was from Genesis 25-27.... the story of Jacob and Esau. 

There are certain themes that run through God's Word. As a child, we may miss them, because our teachers focus on the stories and we can't often recognize the undercurrent... but as an adult, when thinking of application, we begin to see them emerge. 

The Bible is a love letter to each of us, yes. It's a roadmap for direction, and a source of comfort in difficult times. But recently as I have attempted to get back into a habit of reading His Word daily, I have been reminded by others that ultimately, the Bible points to God... and to Christ. It is a redemption story that allows us to come to know our Redeemer intimately. It shows us and teaches us about God, because He desires a relationship with His children, and before you can truly have a relationship, you have to know the other individual. 

I write all that to say this- one of the themes that is interwoven through Scripture is that the first will be last. What we see about God's character, what we come to know about Him, is that He loves us with no respect of person or status. 

The simple story you may  have heard as a child: 

Rebekkah is married to Isaac. Isaac is the son of promise, but that may be too complicated for you to understand, except maybe it makes you remember, "I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise, with a capital P..." Rebekkah wants to have a baby. As a child, you don't understand the significance of children, that it is only through the children that women find their worth in this society... so Rebekkah is hopeless when she can't have a baby. 

Chances are, depending on when you grew up, you didn't even really get into that whole conversation, because pregnancy and babies weren't something that you talked about in polite companies. 

Anyhow, Rebekkah is going to have not one baby... but two... and they struggle in her womb. You probably didn't hear that part of the story, either... but the grown-up in me thinks this is a perfect picture of how we all act in tight spaces. Stuck somewhere with someone else that is different than you? There's going to be a struggle. 

Chances are, as a child, you probably started the story with two babies. Two twins. Not identical. In fact, as different from one another as they could be. They grow up with different interests. The older, Esau, is a hunter. The younger, Jacob, sticks to the tent. One is a Mama's boy... and it isn't the masculine hunter. 

So, one day, Esau comes in from working outside and is famished. Surely you can relate. He's not just hungry. He's HANGRY. He demands that Jacob gives him some of that red pottage like he did before, only Jacob sees his desperation and decides that he needs something from him. 

Because Esau is the firstborn, he's slated to get the birthright. The blessing. The inheritance. 

But Jacob knows Esau. He's grown up with him, and he knows his impulsive personality. He tells him he will only share his food if Esau gives him his birthright. 

For a child, you may not know what a birthright is... but your teacher may have compared it to your mom or dad's baseball card collection, only on a much grander scale. 

Esau, in his desperation, says, "I'm so hungry I'm going to die anyway, so what good will it do me?" The Bible doesn't tell us, but I'm pretty sure that Esau is a teenager, because I can hear that statement in a surly teenage voice, cracking from hormones. 

And that one decision... an impulsive one that he doesn't even consider... sets the ball in motion. This is a good time to point out that we shouldn't make impulsive decisions. We should prayerfully consider each action and avoid making a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

Fast forward a couple of years, and Isaac is on his deathbed. He is preparing to give the blessing, a blessing that Esau should receive... but remember how I said that theme about the first being last? In this family lineage, the younger brother tends to get the blessing. This story involves some trickery. Isaac wants some venison. Esau goes to hunt it. Rebekkah dresses Jacob up in a goatskin (can you even imagine??) and cooks Isaac a tasty food. Isaac, who can't see, says, "It smells like Jacob, but it feels like Esau"... so he blesses him. 

In our adult application, this is a good time to point out that how we feel or what we feel can be deceiving... 

So Jacob gets the birthright through Esau's impulsive action, the blessing through his own deception, and Isaac dies. Jacob goes on the run because Esau is an angry man, and no amount of pottage is going to satisfy his anger... 

And Jacob, the deceiver, is a patriarch, a key member in the lineage of Jesus, because he goes on to become known as Israel and have 12 sons who birth a nation. 

God can take our mistakes and redeem them. 

God sees past our deceptions and uses all things for good. 

This story shows us that God's character is full of mercy, forgiveness, and redemption. 

We don't always understand that as kids, but as adults, when we mess up on the daily, we can appreciate it fully. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Five Minute Friday: Order

 It's Friday! Fri-yay!!! If you're a regular around this page, you know I'm a nursing educator, so sometimes during the summer I don't know what the day is... but I saw a meme yesterday on Facebook that made me chuckle. It said, "The closer to August it gets, the more likely I am to know what day of the week it is." 

During the semester, my theme song should be "Everybody's workin' for the weekend." This summer, though, I have really tried to be intentional about my time, and I hope to continue that once I start back to work. I don't want to be that person who wastes their life wishing for another day...

With that being said, I hope your Friday is fabulous, your weekend feels long, and you do one thing that makes you smile. 

Around here, for the past few weeks, at least, since I've dipped my toes back into the writing water, Fridays also mean Five Minute Fridays, where I link up with other writers to write on a one-word prompt. I set a timer for 5 minutes and write... without editing (except I can't help but backspace if I see a spelling error), without overthinking, and then hit publish at the end of the five minutes. This week's prompt is: ORDER. 

and... GO...

My office, if you want to call it that, is a den of chaos. I have piles upon piles of books spilling out of bookshelves. There are three tubs of things I moved out of my office from Morehead... pictures and collectibles and conference notes. There's my yoga mat and my pound sticks. Bible study books, half finished. 

As I start focusing on what I want to do in the future, with school and work and writing, I know I need a designated space, so some sort of semblance of order needs to be created. The funny thing about order and organization is that what is "in order" for one person may not be "in order" for another. 

Case in point: every time I have ever attempted to organize an office, I lose something. Not permanently lose it, but when I start needing a form or notes I've taken on something, when it's "organized" it disappears. 

Order in my office and living space often occurs in stacks. Stacks of folders. Stacks of papers. Stacks of books. 

But is is ordered chaos, because when in stacks, I generally know which pile something is in. I can put my hand on it fairly quickly, depending on where it is in the stack. 

My "order" would drive somebody else crazy, but it works for me. 

I work best when I am surrounded by what appears to be disorder... I can picture back to when I was working on my research project for my doctorate. I would be sitting in my bed with piles of paper all around me, notes and journal articles and postits... 

and then, somehow, all those would be merged into one finished product. 

With a logical, recognizable order. 

So, with organization, if you aren't a pinterest perfectionist, don't despair. Figure out  a system and go with it. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so, too, is order. 

Check out other writers and their thoughts on order here

And share... how do you "put things in order?' 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1 Edition 3)

 You are the expert on your life. This epiphany, if you want to call it that, came to me on one of my evening walks (as epiphanies often do).  Click the link to read my thoughts on gathering experts, and just deciding that you have to put in the work. 

It's Ok Not to Finish a Book-

Yes, I wrote that down. I have always been the kind of reader that feels guilty putting a book aside, but recently I was reading a book where some of the content just honestly made me uncomfortable, so I stopped it. I took it off my Goodreads list and told myself life is too short to spend it reading things that my conscious says I shouldn't... so now if only I could convince myself life is too short to read bad books. How about you? Do you finish every book you start? 

The Olympics!!! 

Y'all... I have loved the Olympics since I was little. I can remember going on vacation and pretending to be an Olympic swimmer in the larger pools, racing from one side to the other. Now I'll be the first to admit that I really know next to nothing about a lot of the events, and don't have one athletic bone in my body, but the excitement of competition makes me want to watch ALL the events. I was thrilled last week when I learned that our Peacock subscription allowed us to record the events. My favorites are gymnastics, swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and I like the fast track and field events. None of those watching marathons for me... but I am not above acting like I know everything about every event. I especially love the opening and closing ceremonies. I'm sure I'll have some thoughts next week! 

School Supplies

I'm trying not to be too sad that summer is almost over, but one thing that I do get excited about are school supplies. I love pens and notebooks. I discovered Sharpie S-Gel pens earlier this year and if you're looking for a good ink pen, it's a safe bet. It comes in a variety of colors (I like purple), and can be fine or medium point. Highly recommend! 


Am I the only person who uses this to compare different things? Like if I'm trying to see if something is similar I'll snap a pic of the two things and put them side by side. Also, am I the only person that zooms in on stacks of books to see what other people are reading? 

Shout out to Small Businesses

Over the last year we all saw the importance of shopping local, and though I don't always do the best at it I'd like to encourage you to support your local businesses and restaurants. If you're in the Jackson area, stop by and see my friends at the Sno-zone (in the Walmart shopping center). They recently had a fundraiser for Aspire Appalachia and the cherry snocone I got hit the spot. They have a variety of flavors to choose from! 

Books I Read this Week (come back at the end of the month for full reviews)

1. The Island House by Nancy Thayer

2. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Lessons from Sunday School (Volume 1, Edition 1): It's Hot In Here

Today I had Children's Church. We take turns doing one Sunday a month, and since COVID and the flood we've had one group for ages 5-18. When I say that children's church isn't my calling, I'm being honest. I struggle with relating with little ones sometimes, but I can honestly say that I learn something from them each day. 


Last night I still hadn't determined what I was going to teach about, so I turned to facebook for inspiration. So many of my friends shared their favorite Bible stories, and I thought back to my own childhood Sunday School lessons. I can still remember cherry Kool-aid in styrofoam cups, vanilla cookies on white napkins, stories told on the flannel board, and coloring sheets depicting the Red Sea and Moses in a basket. 

I recognize that not everyone was raised in church, and even those who were go through a period of reconciling their own faith. Religion vs. relationship is something that we all must come to terms with, and sometimes we find that what we were taught isn't necessarily exactly how we see things, but that's ok. I watched a Bible study today and the author said, "Before we can preach truth to ourselves, we have to know it," and that's why it is so important that we continue to study the Bible... in-depth, so we know what it says. 

With that being said, we can still learn a lot from those Bible stories that we learned growing up. As an adult, it's good to go back and revisit them, because we see things from a different perspective, with different experiences.


Today, I taught from Daniel 1 and Daniel 3, the story of The Fiery Furnace. We meet the three young Hebrew boys and their friend Daniel in the first chapter. They are captive in Babylon, a foreign land. Some commentaries that I have read said that the Babylon king brought the finest young men to serve as captive, and left others who may not have had as much potential behind. We don't know their exact ages, but they were most likely teenagers. Imagine you are taken into a strange land as a teenager. We don't know if their parents have gone with them. All we know is they are in a foreign land, at an impressionable age. 

Early in their captivity, they are faced with decisions that must be made. The King entices them with choice food. I don't know about you, but I like to eat good stuff. Daniel, who seems to be the leader of the bunch, felt convicted that the King's food wasn't what they should partake of, and "purposed in his heart..."

I don't know about you, but as a teenager, I didn't purpose much in my heart. I might have refused food, but it would have been more about fitting into a smaller size of blue jeans than making a stand. We are told that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (formerly known as Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah... their names had been changed from names focused on the One True God to names that focused on Babylonian gods) follow suit. Instead of the king being upset, they found favor in his sight. And because of their resolve, and because God is faithful, He gave them wisdom and knowledge and understanding. 

Fast forward to a period of time, and the king gets the great idea to make a huge golden statue for everyone to worship. Remember the 10 Commandments that all Hebrew kids grew up reciting? Thou shalt have no other gods... thou shalt make no graven images? Well, ol' King Neb surely hadn't heard that story. He made a decree that everyone in the land should fall down and worship the statue. Cue the music.. 

And everyone fell to their knees... except three Hebrew boys. 

Here's the thing. Those "boys" had wisdom and knowledge and understanding... so they also would have known about the King's decree that anyone who did not worship would be thrown in the fiery furnace "that very hour".


The King heard they had refused to worship, and he was outraged. After all, these had been some his chosen captives! No doubt they had even received special treatment... and then they made him look like a fool. 

He called them in. "Is it true? Did you not follow my instructions? Did you refuse to worship?" 

The KJV says, as he is questioning them, he says, "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" 

One of the points I made today was that we have to be ready to answer regarding who our God is. I asked the kids who God was, and they said, "good" and "love" and I also added "faithful and just". 

The Hebrew boys stood tall in front of the King and were ready with their answer. They knew the fiery furnace was waiting, and they had to be afraid, but they were unrelenting. 

Daniel 3: 17-18, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

They basically said, "If God saves us, so be it, and if we die, so be that as well." I thought of Paul, who said, "To live is Christ, to die is gain."

So the King was outraged, and he ordered that the fiery furnace be made even hotter. They were bound by the strongest men to ensure they wouldn't be able to get loose, and they were thrown into a furnace so hot that the men who threw them in the fire were killed.

And then...

There was a fourth man in the fire. They were loose, walking around, and one like unto the Son of Man was walking with them.

Ever sat in front of a campfire for an hour or so? You come in and smell like smoke...

but these men weren't singed and they didn't even smell like smoke.

Friend, I don't know what kind of fire you are going through tonight, but I know we've all gone through some fire. You aren't there alone. You may not know what the ending is going to be, but God does, and He's there.

And you'll bring Him glory. When you stand firm, He stands with you. Ol' King Neb pulled those Hebrew boys out of the fire and immediately changed his decree, pointing that there was no other god like the Hebrew God, and declaring that all should worship Him.

Lots of lessons in just a few simple verses.

Hope you enjoyed this little retelling. What did I miss?

Also, I'm hoping to do these every Sunday, because there are so many great stories in the Bible. You can read this on your own at Bible Gateway. It's in Daniel Chapters 1 and the Fiery Furnace is in Chapter 3. You can choose a translation there, or switch back and forth like I like to.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Five Minute Friday: STRONG

 Linking up with Five Minute Friday for this post, where we free-write for five minutes on a topic, no edits, no second-guessing. This week's word is STRONG. 

And... go...

Some prompts automatically trigger words. 

Today, when I read strong... I thought, "I've got nothing."

The only thing I could think about is the verse "My grace is sufficient"... which just happens to be the name I chose for my blog several years ago. His grace is sufficient. 

The rest of that verse, and I'm paraphrasing here, says, "I'll glory in my weakness, for when I am weak ou are strong."

We are told in another verse that He is our strongtower. 

We don't have to be strong... because He is. 

However, that doesn't mean that we get a free pass. Even when we are weak, we have to rely on Him, and sometimes admitting that you need help and don't have it all together is the biggest sign of being strong. 

Most people who are strong physically aren't that way naturally... like anything, there may be some element of natural ability, but they also have to put in some work. They have to train physically. They have to do things sometimes that they don't want to. 

And that's how it is with us. Even in our weakness, we have to work to let go and let God. We have to give in and surrender, which can be incredibly hard. 

But in that, when we recognize that we aren't strong but He is, there's a peace that passes all understanding. 

Lean into that today. 

You don't have to be strong... 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits (Volume 1, Edition 2)

 Different Perspectives and Opinions are Okay

I recently saw a post made by an author I enjoy on her social media page. The picture was of her grand-daughter, holding a copy of Becoming by Michelle Obama, smiling, after a visit to a bookstore. 

The comments on that post made me so very sad. I am not a political person, and I obviously don't know Obama personally, but I devoured her book last summer. I even went into hesitantly because I will admit I was not the greatest fan of the Obama administration. This book is all about empowering young women. Yes, she speaks of race relations, because it is from her perspective. It would be like me trying to tell my story without referring to the mountains I love so much. 

I'm not defending the book, though. What really bothered me was that the author was attacked because her readers had different views. It saddens me to think that we live in a world where we feel like it's ok to attack somebody we've never met, just for a different opinion. If I've learned anything this last year (and I've learned a lot), it is that we often learn the most when we are uncomfortable, and usually it is from someone who has had a different experience than us. I'm not speaking solely on race here. It could be someone from a different socioeconomic background, a different generation, a different religion. As an individual who lives in an area where a lot of the people look and sound like me, I want to explore the perspectives of people who may not think like me and who may not experience life like I do. I'd like to challenge you, if you are reading this, to do the same. 

Stress in Our Kids

Mental health awareness is increasingly important. Mental health disorders occur across the lifespan, in all ethnicities, regardless of gender and socioeconomic status. Historically, a stigma made mental health taboo to talk about, and I think it is something that we must confront. It is often a difficult conversation, but one that is needed. We must learn to be vulnerable with one another. 

With that being said, I snapped this pic on vacation recently at Myrtle Beach. Mel and Caleb had stopped to look at the pop-it toys.. but the words "stress relief toys" caught my eye. I just think it's sad that we need to market stress relief toys. I hope that if you have a little one you will teach them about their emotions and model positive coping strategies, especially if you see anxiety, which is increasingly more common in our kids. And also, give grace! To them! To yourself! To the person who just cut you off in traffic!

Also... I never thought of a slinky as a stress related toy... but I must admit it is pretty relaxing to sit and watch one slink down a set of stairs...

Life Hack- Sunscreen on makeup brushes

My sister Holly shared a video of this life hack and it honestly was genius. I can remember Caleb HATING sunscreen, and I know that he isn't alone. I don't know if it is because they have to stand still, or they are just dying to get in the water, but I've never seen a kid who doesn't squirm and whine and cry as you try to rub in the sunscreen. Use the spray on and it may or may not cover as it should, or gets in their eyes. 

So this genius hack showed a Mom putting the sunscreen on a makeup brush and then using the brush to rub it in. The kid seemed a little more agreeable, but maybe just because she was on video? Anyway, may be worth a try if you have littles. 

I'll also make a statement here about sunscreen. I never used sunscreen until a couple of years ago, but when I turned 40 I knew I needed to start being smart because I'd be aging. I use Neutrogena on my face and I discovered (thanks to several recommendations on Facebook by my friends) Sunbum. I love the smell of it, and it doesn't feel gritty. I'm sharing a link from Amazon, which surprisingly has both the body sunscreen and the Neutrogena I use on my face, just as if they knew what I just typed =)

Click here to protect your skin! 

What I Read this Week

No pic of a book stack this week because one book was on my Kindle and one had to be returned to the library. Come back at the beginning of next month to get reviews on: 1. The Dutch House 2. Characters of Christmas (yes, a Christmas in July read!) 3. Giver of the Stars (I can't wait to review this one!) 

Have a blessed week, friends! Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear what's going on in your neck of the woods in the comments. What are you pondering about? What are you loving right now? And as always, what are you reading? 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Book People are my People

 Book people are my people. There's a kindred spirit with someone else who loves words. 

Words on a page, that bring meaning to our emotions and experiences. Words that unite. Words that make you think. Words that help you process. Words that transport you to another world, another culture, another place, another time. 

Just as airports are gateways to an adventure. the door of a bookstore can do that in your own community. Owning a bookstore has always been my dream job, but Wallace assured me I'd read away all the profits. 

I love my Kindle. I love being able to download ten books and have them at my fingertips at anytime. I am never alone or bored because I have my books with me. I can read in the dark and change the font. 

But it's not a book. 

There's something about a new, uncracked spine... and if you are a reader like me, a spine that shows some wear and tear. 

The feel of pages turning underneath your fingers, of peeking ahead to see how many pages you have left, of holding the heaviness of a book and feeling the sustenance it gives to the soul. 

Book people understand...

the thrill of unread stacks of books. 

Zooming in on a pic of a book stack on social media to see if there's anything you haven't read... or a book that you particularly love. 

The anticipation when you walk in a bookstore and see those shelves of unopened books... a world of possibility at your fingertips. 

There's something intimate about a bookstore, as well, as your selections often bare your soul to those around you. Your title choice, the topic about which you are learning, the hurt you're looking to drown, the curiosity related to something new, the need to escape...

it can all be found by a book. 

Now I love Half-Price books. I love Barnes and Noble. 

But there's something about a bookstore that has your roots. 

Today, I talked local books with Mandy at Read Spotted Newts and I think I've found a little piece of home. 

I'll still be on my Kindle and still be visiting the library that I've rediscovered, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be treating myself to some special titles from her store. She's got a good selection of local authors, which is one of the things I'm loving right now- exploring Ky through the words of her people. 

As Anne Bogel, one of my favorite podcasters, always quotes on her podcast (originally quote attributed to Rainer Rilke), "Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading."

Check out Read Spotted Newt on Facebook or Instagram or stop by in person if you're in Hazard! 

Friday, July 9, 2021

Five MInute Friday: Summer

 I'll admit I cheated on this one. I actually typed this up for an Instagram caption on July 5th, as I was reflecting on what summer meant to me, and figured since that was the topic for the week, it'd be fine for me to share it again, here. This is a little longer because what I originally wrote was too long for a caption (I've been typing up captions in word and then copy/pasting so that I can fully collect my thoughts. And also I have fat fingers and blind eyes so I can't see typing on my phone the best...) 

This actually did only take me about five minutes to type up as I was formulating it in my head the whole trip home from Buckhorn. Sharing now with the Five Minute Friday linkup.

There is something about the 5th of July that signifies the beginning of the end. I’m not sure why, exactly, except we’ve anticipated the celebration of the 4th and we usually take our vacation in June. Walmart starts putting school supplies out, and suddenly my mind is thinking of all of the organization I didn’t do and how I’m still overweight and still sleeping in every morning.

Summer means different things to different people. It’s my favorite time of the year, even though I don’t like the humidity and the bugs… but I know that others anticipate fall, winter, and spring just as much. To me, summer is a season of slowing down. As a daughter of a school teacher (even one who coached cheerleading and therefore worked most of the summer), we slept in and made trips to the city pool and the library and stopped for Cherry Coke at the Dairy Bar. I can still feel the uneven concrete, bright blue, under my feet as I waded up from the kiddy end of the pool.  Days at home were a mixture of reading and laundry and lounging outside listening to mix tapes.

Summer means the lake, too… on Sunday mornings I would sometimes slide out the back door after children’s church and make my way down the road to climb in my Uncle Mike’s truck. He’d haul Jen and I to Cave Run, where we would sometimes swim and tube and sometimes sit and watch him fish and complain (because I never was a fisherman).

There is no better taste than bologna when you are dripping wet, swim suit stuck to you like crazy glue, wild hair dripping down your back, or sticky popsicles running down your fingers in the dog days.

Today, on what I usually imagine as the beginning of the end, we took the boat to the lake for the first time this summer. Caleb has been working full time, and the days are shorter than they used to be, as seems to happen when you get older. The water felt fine, a clear green; the sky was perfectly overcast. No tubing for us, just a few hours swimming (or floating, really), and then a run up and down the lake to dry off… And as I sat in the back of that boat, sweet Mel Belle next to me and Caleb in the front, I snapped a picture in my mind of their laughter, their smiles… sweet summer time… because it won’t last long.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer, friends! What does it mean to you?

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Tuesday Tidbits Volume 1 Edition 1 Whatever 1 (It's the First. It May be the Last).

 "Your life is your last week."- Brian Dixon, Hope*writers

This quote was on an episode of a podcast I listened  and it really made me think. The podcast was about using Instagram to increase your platform if you're a writer (did you know I was a writer? Well... I'm not published but I'm striving to be a writer so I'm listening to and reading all the things about writing). I can remember when Caleb was younger and he would delete all of his Instagram posts every few days because it wasn't his "aesthetic". Apparently, that's a real thing. (Not deleting your posts. Having an aesthetic, a certain look to your Instagram). 

Anyhow, Dixon was talking about how if you wanted to know what was important to anyone who posts on Instagram in a snapshot of time, you can look back at their last nine pictures. We post about what we care about, so if you only post a pic a day to Instagram, your top nine pictures (which usually show up on the screen when you access through your phone) tell your followers what is important to you. Obviously, we don't all live on Instagram... or we shouldn't... and we also know that we post through the filter of trying to make ourselves look better, but... 

In using that as an analogy for life, what we do in the past week makes up our life... because each week builds upon the next. On thinking about that quote, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Is this a reflection of my life? A TRUE reflection of what I'd like my priorities to be? Did I spend my time the way I wanted? If not, how can I change that?"

This summer I've been trying to establish a routine. I'm doing some freelance work with a textbook company, so I don't really have the summer completely off, plus I'm finishing up a Pathophysiology class (prayers, please! I have a final tomorrow!). I figure a routine will help ensure I get done what needs to get done, while still giving me plenty of time to read, write, float in the pool, spend time with family, and other things that I really do want to be my priorities for self-care. 

Challenge: Look at your schedule/planner/Instagram feed and see if it reflects what you want to be a priority. If not, what do you need to remove or add? 

Quote I read on a post on Facebook- not sure of the source- "Imagine how dark the sky would be if there was only one star"

I've seen a lot of talk recently about comparison and encouraging each other. I'm a cheerleader at heart, so I want to be your biggest cheerleader! It's important that we spur one another along. It's even Biblical... there's a verse in Ecclesiastes about two being better than one so that if one falls there is somebody to help them up. I thought this quote was a beautiful example of that.  Too often we feel that if somebody is doing somhething, it may negate what we are doing, but that is so far from the truth.  We need each other... each one of us unique! 

Just to Make You Smile

Let me preface this by saying that I am not an animal lover. 

This cute, adorable face is Ellie. She causes me to have a crick in my neck most mornings because she likes to sleep on my head She also likes to read my Kindle when I reading in the dark. She wakes up at 1 AM and wants to play with her toys and is afraid of thunderstorms. It's like having a baby in the house again... but gosh how I love this dog. 

What I Read This Week

Come back at the beginning of August to get my reviews. 

The beginning of August... school supplies. Syllabi. Actual work clothes....

Oh my! 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

What I Read in June

It's been a while, friends! 

Welcome back to this space. I apologize for my absence. Most likely, nobody noticed, but it still seems that apologizing is the right thing to do. 

2020 was a rough year. The beginning of 2021 has been... different... but I've started the process of self-reflection and one of the things I've found is that I'm a better me when I'm writing. 

Doesn't matter if anyone is reading.... but getting the words down is important. 

Because of that, I've made some intentional steps to start focusing on my writing. 

I know, I know... I've said that before. 

But this time I REALLY mean it. 

I'm going to get in a writing routine. I'm going to get words on paper. 

What better topic to write about than books? 

If you've spent any time around this space, you know I love books. Any kind of book. Most kinds of genres. I read multiple titles at a time. 

This summer, I re-discovered the public library. When I was young, I always loved going to the library. When Caleb was little, we enjoyed going together and picking out Little Critter books. He also loved When You A Mouse a Cookie, Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus, and anything that involved cars, planes and automobiles. 

Alas, Mama got busy and forgot to take books back. And lost books. And kept forgetting. And the fines built up and the shame compounded... so much that I just pretended I didn't know where the library was. 

I know, I know. 

So about a year ago, I called the library to see what my bill was. I was going to pay up, because I read all kinds of blogs and listen to all kinds of podcasts and follow all kinds of people on social media who were giving me library envy. 

Y'all... it had been so long they had purged my account. So this summer I finally made my way back into the library and opened up a new account. Got my new card, and checked out 5 books. 

I read 1 by the due date. 

I'm not a quitter, though, so I renewed 4 and checked out  6 other to reach my limit of 10. 

I ended up finishing 3 by the next deadline. 

I'm learning that "adult" responsibilities and class and life in general means I'm a slower reader...

but I love checking out books. I love book stacks. It gives me a sense of accomplishment in a way I don't get on my Kindle (although I'm still logging plenty of hours there, too!) 

So, here is what I read in June. 10 books. Not my best month... but not too shabby, either. 

1. Something Needs to Change by David Platt-

 Platt goes on a hiking missionary adventure in the Himalayan mountains and takes readers along for the adventure. A largely unchurched people, the stories he encountered and his reading of the Gospels as he encountered them made an impact on his life, and he encourages his readers to allow it to do so for them, too. I got this book several months ago when there was a free online Bible study for the study book and a webpage was offering the videos for free. (I cheat, y'all. I buy the study books, watch the videos while they are free, sometimes binge-watching several in a day, then go back and complete the workbook). I have always wanted to go on a missions trip. I'm not sure hiking in the Himalayas is something I'm up for, but it definitely prompted me to take a look around my own world and think of how I can affect those in my influence. 

One of my 21 for 2021 goals this year is to do some type of kindness act every day. I'd like to challenge you to join me if you're reading this. It doesn't have to be anything big; a hand-written note, holding the door open for someone, a smile when a person may need it. Just do something. 

2. Remarkable Hope: by Shauna Letellier

I started this book at the beginning of the year after completing Remarkable Advent. I enjoy the author's writing style. She brings Biblical characters to life in this devotional style book, with references to their stories from the Scripture. It's a good reminder that our stories matter, and that we can embrace hope. 

*This book is on sale on Kindle for $1.99, a really good deal. 

3. Half-Finished by Lauraine Snelling- I LOVED this book. My aunt let me borrow it and I devoured it.... well, as much as you can devour a book when working on class work and focusing on other obligations. This tells the story of a group of friends who are crafters but are perpetual un-finishers (is that a word?) One gets the idea to start a club to help them finish their projects, and the idea catches on quickly in their small community. The characters are lovely, the dialogue is realistic, and there's a combination of love, loss, and hope that left me a little teary-eyed throughout. I don't know if it's because we still aren't completely back to normal with gatherings after COVID or what, but this book made me wish I had learned to crochet and could sit around with a group of friends and work on new baby blankets. 

*This book is also on sale for Kindle. 

4. The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

My summer 2020 obsession (maybe even earlier than that) was the British Royal family. I loved The Crown series (so yeah, 2019 was the beginning of the obsession, I believe) and watched every British documentary that I could find on Netflix. As a result, I added a lot of books related to the British family, some non-fictional, some fictional. This was my first library read of the summer and it did not disappoint. It's loosely based on Queen Elizabeth's father's nanny when growing up, and is delightfully written. It had enough  historical detail thrown in to satisfy my need for learning (I even looked up a couple of events and facts mentioned) and was a pleasure to read. 

5. Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I love Sophie Kinsella. She is wickedly funny, so much so that I literally sometimes lose my breath from laughing out loud. This novel, my second library read, was no disappointment. The book follows a couple who have fallen into the mundane, everyday sameness of a marriage with kids. Work obligations, childcare, adulting, what they think to be middle age, and a visit to the doctor for a physical where they are assured they are in perfect health leaves Sylvie in a bit of a tailspin. In an effort to spice up the marriage, she proposes to Dan that they need to try to surprise each other... and this they do. It's a fast read, with funny characters and enough real-life to make it believable. There is some language and it can be racy in places. Any book written by Kinsella is a winner for me! 

6. House on Foster Hill by  Jamie Jo Wright

I got this book on Kindle Unlimited, and had it downloaded for a while before really diving in. This book goes back and forth in time between two young ladies caught up in the mysteries surrounding the house on Foster Hill. Kaine has purchased the house, sight unseen, in an effort to run from her own past. In a previous generation, Ivy is a young lady who grew up in the community and is seeking to find out the truth about a murder that occurred there. The interweaving of their tales over the span of generations makes for a good plot, a surprising ending, and a twist on an issue that is very current in today's society. (No spoilers, but I'll never look at mail order brides the same way again.)

7. Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

This is another book I read on Kindle Unlimited. I started it in April, and the beginning narrative of a flood that swept away a community hit a little close to home. I had to stop reading! I have read several of Fabry's books. I enjoy them because many are set in West Virginia/Virginia... Kentucky even made an appearance in this one. 

Billy is a musical genius but socially awkward. This book deals with his childhood, his first love, his starting of a gospel radio station out of his house, the death of his mother, and many other life events. Some of the chapters are narrated by his guardian angel, making for an interesting read. This book deals with difficult subjects, so it could be a trigger for anyone with trauma-based feelings, from abuse, suicide and depression, violence... but it is a beautifully written story of how redemption can be found. Highly recommend! 

8. For My Daughters by Barbara Delinsky

This was another of my library reads. This poignant read focuses on the intricate, complicated relationship of a mother and her daughters, with each of them being the subject of different chapters so you get their perspective. Forced together, the sisters find that they have more in common than they thought, and find an unbreakable bond as they learn about a hidden side of their mother. This is a love story, about a mother's love, about young love, about unexpected love, and a reminder that love is the tie that binds us all together. 

9. 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff

I'm not sure how this book came to be on my TBR. Most likely it fulfilled a "book written in letter format" on one challenge or another. To be honest, I had bought it early in January and just stumbled across it looking for a cheap paperback to read in the pool. I'm so glad I did. This book chronicles the pen-pal relationship between Hanff and a bookseller in London. She lives in New York and writes requesting a book, and over a series of years becomes friends with the bookstore staff. I finished it quickly on the beach and it was just the perfect feel-good read. There are some sad turn of events, and one of them is finding out that by the end of the book Hanff still hasn't made it to London.

I was delighted when I just logged on Amazon to share the link to find it had been made into a movie... and Hanff wrote another book chronicling a visit to London!!! Yay for new finds. Added a new book to my TBR and rented the movie for the next rainy day. 

10. The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

This was my last library book, and it was one of my favorite books I've read in a while. Is there anything better than a book that takes place in a bookshop? Wiggs includes thoughtful quotes and references to real books (adding to my TBR!!!). Natalie Harper never thought she'd be in charge of the bookstore where she grew up, but here she is. Coupled with unexpected debt and an ill grandfather, she struggles to figure out how to save the bookshop (does she even want to?) and how to save her self. Of course, there's romance thrown in, a love triangle, some historical intrigue... all which add up to make this a marvelous read. 

So, there's what I read for June. As I mentioned before, I'm going to try to write more this summer. Posts will be about books, about my thoughts and reflections, about intentionality, maybe some thoughts on grace and a couple of Caleb stories... nothing really regular but my goal is a couple of times a week. At least on Tuesdays and Fridays =) 

Thanks for reading, if you did. Give me a follow or share... and comment below what you are reading! One can never be aware of too many books. 

10. The Lost and Found Bookstore by Susan Wiggs