Book Roundup 2015

Book Roundup 2015

There’s not much I enjoy more than a room with books. Today I thought I’d take some time for a round-up of the books I made room for in 2015.

aroomwithbooks2

 A room without books is like a body without a soul.   

Cicero

 Here they are, followed by my making a little game out of which ones I loved, loathed, and left out.

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I didn’t read quite as much this year as I did in 2014 but was actually surprised when my book count for 2015 added up to twenty-seven (not including the New Testament and a ton of blog reading). I wasn’t nearly as intentional this year, but it turned out I was only six books shy of the amount I read last year. As I looked back over my selections, I found it interesting to see the genre choices…. 25 nonfiction and 2 fiction. Yep, that’s me.

The nonfiction breakdown:

  • 9  Autobiography/Memoir
  • 7  Christian Living
  • 4  Bible Study
  • 3  Self-help
  • 1  Health
  • 1  How To

the fiction:

  • 1  Historical fiction
  • 1  Mystery/Whodunit  (so not my genre, but I attended a book club at the beginning of the year, and this was the chosen read)

Three of the books I read this year were re-reads. To me this speaks extremely well of a book since there’s hardly enough time for all the books I’m interested in much less time to read something I’ve read before. Therefore, high praise goes to three:

Only 77 pages, this book reveals a hidden truth in Ephesians that might just change your life.

Discover what might be keeping you from fulfilling your calling in this profound book by one of my favorite authors.

AN ABSOLUTE MUST if you love the message of grace and have never read this book!

                             

Led me to a great little discovery ~

Need some inspiration to dare to live your dreams? If you’re interested in seeing how one person finally got honest about her life, admitted what her dream was, took deliberate steps to make it happen and followed through against all odds, then read this book. As a result of the practice of doing what’s known as morning pages (a practice of daily stream of consciousness writing heralded by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way), this ordinary woman opts for a drastic life change, moves to France and through an interesting turn of events finds an art form that turns into a charming, lucrative, and fulfilling medium.  This gal’s story is daring and fun (although a bit risqué when she finds love in Paris). I hate to spoil the fun of the book, but if you’re not going to read the story of how it all started, do at least check out this video on her website and her Etsy store to see what I consider to be a great little discovery as a result of reading this book.

 

Most Unexpected Surprise ~  

I love libraries more than I can explain, but honestly, finding a great book while wandering the aisles can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, sometimes it happens…and happen it did when I stumbled upon this book by a man I’d never heard of. You’ve never understood some of the parables of Jesus like you will after reading this book. The author, an Episcopal priest, has a revelation of grace that is likely more radical than any of the “grace preachers” you might be familiar with. I will definitely be re-reading this book with a Bible, pen, notebook, and concordance at hand. The perspective presented will contort your mind into a new way of thinking, a grace way of thinking, about stories we’re familiar with and think we understand. Although the author could be accused of taking God’s unearned, undeserved favor to an extreme that seems to border on Universalism (although he does NOT leave off the part we play in having to believe to receive that grace), I can honestly say his radical interpretation of the scriptures analyzed in this book will, at the very least, serve to shake and shatter any mistaken mindset we might have lingering in the shadows as to the scandalous love God has for us. Beyond even this, this amazing book masterfully highlights how these same stories reveal the equal emphasis God puts on our showing this same extreme, revolutionary, profound grace to one another. A fascinating read.

 

Least favorite ~

It’s not that the subject matter of my least favorite book of the year was undesirable (renewing the mind is one of my very favorite topics), however, I could not make sense of how the facts shared in it were presented. I came very close to not finishing it but pressed through thinking it would eventually clear up. Not so. If you’re interested in the brain’s anatomy or the physiology explaining what the brain does in response to our thoughts then it might interest you. For me though, this could have been more practically true to its subtitle by emphasizing the admonitions of Paul in Philippians 4:8 and II Corinthians 10:5. If you want less technical and more practical I would rather recommend this book .

 

Most Disappointing ~

One of the things I focused on this past year was the subject of prayer. Someone I respected gave this book high praise so I put it on the list of books to read while my husband was in Africa during the summer. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another book I forced myself to finish . I always think something’s going to change and I’ll miss it if I don’t finish. It might be that some of the content in this book seemed elementary to me. An extensive use of quotes from theologians like Calvin, Luther and Augustine made it more theological than practical. I wish I had spent my time actually praying instead of using it to read this book. I’m sure I would have been further ahead.

 

Best and Most Surprising Ending ~

You would think the mystery/whodunit book would hold the prize for most surprising ending, but no mystery I’ve ever read caught me by surprise or was more unexpected than the ending to this memoir. The honest, brave conclusion this author wrote as an end to this diary was written six months after his seven month cloister with Trappist monks in the Upstate New York monastery he entered to deal with his restlessness. The decision to separate himself from his busy life as a professor and priest and devote himself to solitude and prayer was made with the intention to see lasting change as a result of this extended and solitary focus of attention and energy. A noble quest indeed, one I have often thought would benefit me as well. My commitment to read the diary was at times just that…a commitment. I was likewise seeking answers…hoping to be inspired regarding my prayer life from seeing the fruit of it heralded by someone who had made it a priority in such an unorthodox and extreme way. As usual, with the many books I read on spiritual topics, I pressed on, attending to every single word with hopeful anticipation. In this case I am so glad I didn’t quit before finishing. Thank God this man had the courage to end his book as he did. Truly, it provided the answer…the one and only answer to all our searching. The closing statements made the time I took to read this book worth it! Just when I thought I would find another secret to a deeper walk through more dedication to and understanding of prayer, I was overjoyed at the staggering reminder via this fellow seeker of God who finally and mercifully discovered that all is grace!

 

Most favorite ~

I really don’t have the words to tell you how much I love this girl and her writing. I’ve followed her blog for almost two years now and still get giddy when I see she’s published a new post. And now this first book, my very favorite read of the year, a full 272 pages of her masterful word weaving. I was first drawn to her because of a heartfelt post she wrote describing the unfamiliarity and loneliness she felt in having just moved to Atlanta from New York. My son had just moved there and was experiencing the same emotions so my heart engaged with her immediately. The book is a memoir of her ever so challenging season living in New York during which she began writing poignant letters to anonymous people and leaving them all over the city. Purely unplanned, it has since become a movement, eventually leading to her being asked to do a TED talk which as of this writing has been viewed over one and a half million times. This girl is honest and extremely talented. She has a way of crafting the story of life with all its unknowns, its highs and lows, its promise in a way that makes you feel like you’re not crazy or the only one experiencing the wonderings and wanderings of life. She is becoming more and more aware of the reality of God and has begun sharing Him with bold authenticity. I am thrilled to watch what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in this girl’s life. If you like genuine and genuinely good writing, this girl’s for you.

One of many wonderful quotes:  

“It’s not about you. It’s not about what you want. Look for that selfless place inside of you and just start stacking wood for the fire there. Search until you find that place, though it won’t be easy to find. Still, be relentless in finding it. Build from the selfless place inside of you that is not big or loud or selfish or proud. Build from that little spot inside of you that burns quietly and unceasingly for others.”

 

I could go on and on talking about books but I’ll shorten things up by mentioning a few books (ones I absolutely recommend) by way of quotes, quirks or comments.

 

~ You’ll never meet a more whimsical, radical doer! Need someone to talk to? The author ends this book by giving you his phone number!!

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

 

~ Something to seriously consider if you’re having trouble hearing God’s voice.

 The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.

 

Praying God’s will for that child you’re sending off to college? God has ways of pursuing and overtaking even when we’re not pursuing Him.

 

In conclusion, let me say that although I shared my favorite read of the year, if I had to recommend the one book that I would want absolutely everyone to read (with highlighter in hand) it is this one. As I stated, if you love the message of grace and haven’t read this book you will not be disappointed. Trust me…you haven’t heard it communicated like this before.    As of today the Kindle format is only 2.99!

 

I’m looking forward to another year of reading great books. If you’ve read any you recommend please let me know in the comments. I’m compiling my 2016 book bucket list.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

This post contains my affiliate links.

One Word 2015

One Word 2015

IMG_7190_pSSince we’re almost halfway through the year already I thought it might be time to write about my One Word for 2015. Other than posting a graphic on the sidebar, I haven’t mentioned it at all because truthfully, I didn’t understand it when it came to me that last day of December. I still don’t…fully.

By the end of the year I had narrowed my One Word possibilities to two. The first was fearless, but honestly, the more I thought about it, I had to admit what I wanted more than anything this year was change. Therefore, change would be my word. Ironically though, the first thing to change…was my word! It seemed God had a different idea.

On the last day of the year, while praying, I realized there was something about that word that just didn’t settle. It wasn’t quite right but I had no other ideas. Not wanting to force a focus unnecessarily or inaccurately, I considered abandoning this year’s One Word altogether. Then this single, unexplained, random word came to mind….receive. It didn’t make sense in my mind, but it did settle in my heart. I knew I had my word, but I had no idea what it meant for me.

Initially I thought receive had everything to do with the obvious…receiving from God. The only reason I could postulate as to why God began my year by giving me this word was that He must be indicating I was to receive some things from Him by the end of it, since after all, He is a God who declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). It left me with a newfound sense of expectation. However, my first real inspiration concerning this word was much different than I expected.

It happened a few months into the year, on the heels of some hurtful words that were spoken to me. Unlike other times this had occurred, this time, instead of reeling from the blow, what came to me was, Guard your heart!, an admonition to not allow these words entrance…to not receive them. It was then that I realized this word receive was not only about some things I was to receive, but was also about some things I was not to receive.

Overwhelmed by this unexpected perspective and the unmistakable clarity of this, I finally looked up the meaning of the word. Much to my surprise, it coincided perfectly with what I sensed the Lord saying concerning guarding my heart, for one of the primary definitions of receive is

to permit to enter, to admit

Essentially, I was to refuse to permit damaging words an entrance into my heart where they would then have untold negative effects. I was also reminded it wasn’t only the hurtful words of others that could bring harm, but maybe even more damaging were the words I allowed into my heart from my own negative thoughts. Bill Johnson says it well…

“I cannot afford to have a thought in my head about me that is not in His”

Put plainly, no matter where the hurtful words, condemning thoughts, or demeaning voices are coming from, do not receive them…do not permit them entrance. Since another of the definitions of receive is…

to accept as authoritative, true, or accurate, to believe…

it’s alarmingly apparent we’ve underestimated the damage incurred from what we allow into our hearts…from words we receive.

Therefore, let’s guard these hearts of ours from intrusion as with spiritual barbed wire. Let’s not receive any words contrary to His words about any thing. The truth of the matter is…the enemy knows if he can get us to receive them, he can get us to believe them.

 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.   Proverbs 4:23 NLT

How Good is Good?

How Good is Good?

dogwoodGood Friday…aren’t you thankful for what we commemorate on this day? In truth though, for most of us the consciousness of what happened over 2,000 years ago on Golgotha’s hill is with us every single day. Not many days go by that I don’t express to God my gratefulness for His sacrifice, for Him taking the wrath due me on that rugged cross those many years ago.

Like most of us, I will not forget to remember. However, something else happened that day, and more often than not, it is forgotten…that is, if it’s known about at all. For years I didn’t know it had occurred, but once I found out…well, my life changed drastically.

You see, whether we know it or not, Jesus was not the only one crucified that fateful day, and I’m not speaking of the two who hung at His sides. No, that day there were more than just the three. Thankfully, there was you and there was me.

I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…. Galatians 2:20a

Yes, we were there that day too, dying the same death…a death to sin. Thanks be to God that, together with Him, our old man was also crucified. Why? It was “in order that” we could be not only forgiven but free…free from having to sin!

…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.  Romans 6:6

It’s something we need to know. It’s something else we need to be thankful for every single day. Let’s begin today on this day of commemoration.

Let’s never forget to remember just how good Good Friday really is.

 

If you’d like to read more on this topic go here and keep following the links to freedom! 

Linking up with Five Minute Friday over at Kate Motaung’s Heading Home

 

 

 

 

DIY

DIY

DSCN8260SEncouraging others is one of the things I care more about than nearly anything. I desperately want people, you people, to know your value, that the things you do (no matter how insignificant you deem them to be) are stellar! You rock people’s worlds with your hospitality, your art, your listening ear, your ability to make people laugh…whatever your unique talents and proclivities might be. It matters to me that you know you matter, that you are valuable, that that thing you do is impressive, needed, useful…and recognized.

Since there’s not much I enjoy more than acknowledging and praising these individual gifts to the ones gifted with them, you would think that this compulsion of mine would overflow onto absolutely everyone, wouldn’t you? Surely, it would! Or would it? Actually, it might surprise you as it surprised me to realize that in spite of this overwhelming desire to encourage, there’s one person with whom I never, ever share encouragement. Myself!

Determined as I am to compliment and commend, it seems I’d have seen it before now, but I have finally recognized a sobering reality…I would never criticize someone else like I criticize myself.

I’ve been told I’m too hard on myself, and I’m beginning to see the truth of it. I am my own worst critic. While admiring and acknowledging the treasures in others, looking intently to see precisely what they are, I am looking at all the shortcomings in myself…the faults and weaknesses, the things in need of correction. As a result, negativity occupies far too much space in my mind. It’s exhausting and debilitating. I’ve somehow believed it’s all in the name of improving myself, of eliminating the flawed aspects of my personality, demeanor, and tendencies. Even if it were helping (which I daresay it’s not), it leaves me feeling disheartened. It could even be perpetuating the very problems I’m trying to solve.

So, although an encourager to a fault, I now see that I never encourage myself. It would appear that I need to be a bit more like David.

David encouraged himself in the Lord… I Samuel 30:6

It may seem silly, but as much as I believe with all my heart that everyone needs to be recognized, acknowledged and encouraged…I now see that I am one of the everyones. So I’m beginning to follow David’s lead. I will encourage myself. I will acknowledge and recognize what is in me…Who is in me!

What about you? Do you need to be encouraged? Don’t wait for it to come from someone else and don’t reserve your encouragement only for others. Join me in calling your own little DIY project. Be like David and diyourself!

 

What I Learned in January

What I Learned in January

keep time…that I don’t spend time like I thought I did ~ On the last day of 2014 I discovered Toggl, an app designed to track how you spend your time (and yes, it’s running right now). Originally designed to allow users to track billable hours for clients, it’s likewise useful for tracking all the hours of your days. Since our lives are made up of time, this app can basically give you a picture of what you’re doing with your life. During the month of January I tracked my time religiously, and I was shocked at what I saw.

I have over 40 categories (the app calls them projects) some of which are Bible, Prayer, Exercise, Internet, Bills and Paperwork, People, TV, Instagram, Writing, Reading Books, Errands, Household Chores… you get the idea. Before seeing the truth that this app provides, if someone had asked me how I spend my time I would have said that Internet and Reading Books would have been fighting for the lead while TV and People would have been trailing (well, except for cooking which my husband does nearly all the time). But you know what? I was so wrong!

Never in a million years would I have believed it about myself, but my #1…People!  Seriously? I’m not a phone chatter, company haver, and most of my friends are 1200 miles away.  At first I felt aggravated by this revelation, but upon further reflection I realize this is a good thing. How would I expect to fulfill the commandment to love others if I’m never with them?

Another surprising revelation…other than Bible and Prayer, my #4 was TV! What? I feel like I never watch TV, not even the news or Christian TV. Let me tell you, I now realize watching TV can waste time like nobody’s business. Sure, I have my favorites…Blue Bloods and Elementary (which I usually fall asleep halfway through….timer adjusted upon awaking), Suits (on only once this month), The Voice (not on at all this month), so all I can think is that it’s those insidious little half hour reruns of The Big Bang Theory (which I’ve just recently discovered) that are piling up and resulting in a neck and neck race with my time spent in the Bible and prayer. Really? I can hardly believe it. What I think I’ll do is create a new category for when I watch Big Bang. I’ll name it ‘Laugh‘. I wouldn’t mind seeing that in the top three. Let’s see…  Bible and Prayer ~ People ~ TV (Big Bang Theory)  = Live ~ Love ~ Laugh. Yeah, I like the sound of that much better…

Keep-calm-and-carry-on…that something I thought modern and trendy is actually a bygone relic ~ We see them all over the internet, those popular Keep Calm quotes encouraging any and every activity known to man. They’ve become a part of our modern-day culture, but did you know they actually originated in 1930′s England as a poster designed to comfort and encourage British citizens facing the perils of World War II? The British government chose the simple message “Keep Calm and Carry On” as one of three designs containing different messages. The third, the Carry On design, was never used and never publicly seen until discovered fifty years later in a bookstore in England. The complete story of this iconic symbol can be seen in this utterly delightful video. The story of this poster’s history is more inspirational than the posters themselves. The fact that it was never used is a testament to the incredible spirit of the British people for, without ever seeing the poster we see everywhere, they did carry on.

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…about a little known fact that helped win WWII ~ Speaking of WWII and the British, I was fascinated to learn about Alan Turing, the man who broke the code of the German cryptographic machine called Enigma. Enigma was used by the Nazis to send daily encrypted messages about war activities with the code changing daily making it nearly impossible to crack. Against all odds Turing and his team built a machine that cracked the code which turned out to be one of the main reasons for Britain’s victory. The story is told in the recent movie The Imitation Game. Another little known fact…the producers hid a URL in the movie’s trailer that would lead to a site offering a crossword puzzle similar to the one Turing required applicants to his team to solve, allowing them only twelve minutes to complete.

keep right …that UPS trucks don’t make left hand turns ~ You might know this (if you watch more TV than I do) since the show MythBusters tested and confirmed this is no myth. UPS created their own GPS to determine the most efficient routes for their trucks to take when delivering all those packages. It turns out (no pun intended) that turning left against traffic results in long waits in turn lanes, wasting time and fuel and leading to more accidents. In low traffic residential zones you might witness a left turn, but it’s estimated that 90% of the turns are to the right. Take note Nascar…

 

Linking up with Emily Freeman and the gang sharing What We Learned in January…

Today begins a new month of Mark 4:30 Photo a Day. Try the photo-a-day challenge with the focus on God’s Word. Find out how to play along and see February’s inspiration list here

One Thing

One Thing

“A woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her home.
She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.
But Martha was distracted…”

 

So here we are, fleshing out 2015. How’s the new year going for you? Looking much different from the last? All those resolutions, goals, and changes…so many things we still want to see accomplished in our lives…are you seeing any evidence of a difference yet? They say it takes twenty-one days to solidify a new habit. Well, today’s day twenty-four, and I’m not feeling it. Hardly.

No, to be honest, so far the new year is looking a lot like the old. And if you’d asked me a few weeks ago how I would feel about that I’d have said, “Freaked out”. But you know what? I’m not. And maybe that’s the biggest change I’ve seen thus far this year. It may not seem like a big deal, but believe me when I tell you…for me it’s huge.

So, what’s made the difference? Well, several weeks ago while reading the book of Luke, I was stopped in my tracks at the very familiar story of Mary and Martha. It’s a story that never particularly stood out to me personally, probably because I’m not the most domestic of females, as anyone who knows me well could attest. Without a doubt, I’m not the type to be compared with hospitable Martha. However, reading the account this time spoke to me like never before because I noticed something I’d previously overlooked. It’s something the most un-domestic of us might nevertheless be guilty of. What I’d failed to ever notice before was this: it wasn’t Martha’s tendency towards service and fussing over preparations that Jesus confronted. Not at all. What Jesus addressed wasn’t that Martha was too domestic, but that she was too distracted.

Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things…

No, it wasn’t Martha’s activity that concerned Jesus, it was her anxiety. Dear, domestic, hospitable Martha…it seems I share more in common with you than I realized.

Could we just as easily replace her name with ours? I now realize I certainly could. “Lisa, Lisa, you are worried and bothered about so many things…”

Maybe my things are different than Martha’s, and, no doubt, your things are different than mine. Nevertheless, like her, are we worried and bothered by them? Our families, our futures, our finances? Our weight, our work, our will? Our lack of ambition, our lousy attitude, our limited accomplishment? Everyone’s list is different, but if we take time to examine our hearts and acknowledge the things we’re anxious about, would it be so many things? It was for me.

So what’s the remedy? If you’re anything like me you make a list. You put everything in neat little boxes, you bullet point, you break it down. You resolve to solve…and there’s no better time than the beginning of a new year! You get busy, and the sooner the better because, after all, there are so many things. So we start the diet, curb the spending, create the goals, list the resolutions; we bite the tongue, book the travel, change the attitude, face the fears. But is that the answer Jesus supplied, the remedy He prescribed? Not by a long shot.

No, His answer was not to energize, but to eliminate…not to induce activity, but to reduce it. To reduce the so many things to just one.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary…

Martha’s sister, Mary, had chosen that one thing.  “Mary…was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word“.

So, I’ve made a change for the new year…one single change. Change is such a common theme at the start of any new year, and truly there are changes I want to see. However, rather than fret and worry about so many things, I’ll be concentrating on one. This year I’m choosing what Mary chose, the one thing Jesus said was necessary. I’ve replaced the many things on my list of things to tackle this year with only the one. First and foremost I’ll be spending this year doing whatever it takes to stay “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word”.  Jesus called it “the good part” which I would imagine could make for a very good year.

 

Taking part in Five Minute Friday at Heading Home (although this took much longer than five minutes….sorry, I’ve missed participating and wanted to jump back in).

Photo by Mo Riza provided under Creative Commons License 2.0

Starting the Year with Change

Starting the Year with Change

It’s my first read of the year and an unlikely one at that. I killed two birds with one stone by reading this book. I fulfilled my commitment to provide a review in exchange for Revell providing me with a copy of the book and I can check off one of the categories of books required to fulfill the Modern Mrs Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge. The category…a book in a genre you don’t typically read.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about finances before, and seemingly, that’s precisely why Mary Hunt wrote The Financially Confident Woman: What You Need to Know to Take Charge of Your Money…to encourage women to become knowledgeable and thus confident to actively participate in their own financial well-being.

What I loved about this book is that it’s not a treatise on how to get more money, but more importantly how to manage the money you have. Before tackling the cure, Mary insightfully questions the cause, the financial beliefs responsible for irresponsible behavior. Exposing six insidious beliefs we might hold unaware that wreak havoc in our financial lives, Mary then thoroughly and methodically shares nine habits that, if implemented, will radically change anyone’s financial future no matter what shape their finances are in. Topics include giving, saving, investing, debt, frugality, emergency funds, financial assessment, getting what you pay for, and planning for retirement.

Complete with explanations of terms, nuggets of wisdom, terrific tips (her “Seventy-Seven Ways to Spend Less Money” and “Ways to Raise Cash for Your Stash” really get the juices flowing), The Financially Confident Woman covers the basics and so much more. The concluding Six-Week Plan of Action is meticulous, methodical, and entirely inspiring, stirring the reader to act, not just analyze, which to me is the sign of a worthy and worthwhile self-help book for…

“If you change nothing, nothing will change.”

For every woman who reads it, The Financially Confident Woman could very likely change everything.  

 

 


Click on the book to read an excerpt.

 

This post contains my affiliate links

Best Books of 2014

Best Books of 2014

PRc6NRaYI did a lot of reading this year. It was one of my intentions for 2014 since the previous year was seriously lacking in that department. With the year coming to a close today I thought it would be fun to share my favorite reads of the year. The 2014 smorgasbord included some fiction, non-fiction, young adult, classic, biography, and of course a book about books which is double pleasure to me. You can see all the books I read this year on this Pinterest board, but in case you’re wondering…here’s my top 5!

 

 


#5  Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

This was my first introduction to Shauna Niequist and a lovely one at that. I’d heard such good things about Bread and Wine (and by the way…$1.99 Kindle version on Amazon right now), but since food and entertaining are not my forte I searched for another of her books. It amazes me how talented people are in expressing the simplest of things in the most profound ways. Shauna speaks of simple things….everyday life, even the mundane…but in a way that encourages you to stop and notice the extraordinary in the ordinary…and don’t we all need a lot more of that?

Favorite Quote: “I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open, and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift, who will use it up and wring it out and drag it around like a favorite sweater.”

 



#4  Daily Love: Growing into Grace by Mastin Kipp

I have to say that there was quite a bit of “theology” I had to work around to get to the truth contained in this book, but I learned quite a while ago to eat the meat and pick out the bones concerning sermons, commentaries, books, opinions and the like. Mastin Kipp is the founder of the wildly popular website TheDailyLove.com which catapulted to popularity after Kim Kardashian tweeted about it, which is kind of like Oprah picking your book for her book club…instant exposure! Daily Love is simply Mastin’s story and a colorful one it is. From fame to failure as a result of succumbing to the pitfalls of drugs, ego, and the glitz and glam of the fast lane, Mastin hit rock bottom but them made some rock solid decisions that changed everything. What Mastin shares concerning our comfort zones, the nature of fear, and the need to act as opposed to analyze are powerful inspiration for change.

Favorite Quote: “Personal growth without action is …spiritual entertainment.…  Most of my spiritual work was just spiritual entertainment; I wasn’t backing it up with action. As much as we want to change we are also terrified of uncertainty. We’d almost rather stick to our old patterns than risk doing something different. That’s why it’s so easy to get lost in self-help books. We feel like we are making progress, but in truth we may actually be spinning our wheels and not taking any action.”

 



#3  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I read this book. It not only helped me understand myself but made me recognize and appreciate some things I’d judged as faults in quite a few others in my life. Similar to the insight I received in realizing the unique giftings in God’s people, this thoroughly researched, comprehensive look at the traits of introverts and extroverts and the incredible benefits that each bring to any number of situations was enlightening to say the very least. I highly recommend this book (…and right now the Kindle version is only $2.99 on Amazon)!

Favorite Quote: “Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.” 

 


#2  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

This one was another hard one to get through for a few reasons, but the message of this book is so incredible that it’s worth the challenge I faced to finish it. Ann’s writing is like no other. It is wordy which made it difficult for my taste, but it is oh, so eloquent. To be perfectly honest, I believe the lesson Ann teaches in the book is embodied in and involuntarily required by her style of writing…the lesson being: slow down, take time to enjoy the delicate, intricate nuances of the myriad of things that are all around us…offered to us as gifts from our loving God. Joy isn’t the source of gratefulness, gratefulness is the source of joy. So very much to ponder in this amazing book.

Favorite Quote: “Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here. I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment. And when I’m always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter. And time slows. Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows…”

 


#1  Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

My number one favorite read of the year is Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak. Books that speak of finding your destiny, calling, passion, and purpose are endless. I’ve read many of them as I, like so many, look to ensure that I’m living a life of meaning. This little book (only 128 pages) is a breath of fresh air in that search. Encouraging us to look at our life instead of some elusive purpose that might be eluding us and just out of reach, Parker brings a whole new way of thinking to the idea of vocation, bringing the peace and calm that comes from finding answers to the inner struggle that often accompanies a quest for meaning in our lives. You might just discover you’re not as far from the answers as you might have thought.

Favorite Quote: “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” 

 

Now that you’ve seen what I’ve read and enjoyed might you offer a suggestion or two for my reading in the upcoming year? I’d just love that!!

 

Happy New Year everyone!

Oh, and by the way…the January photo-a-day list is updated and can be found here.

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Linking up with Book Musing Mondays

One Word 2015

One Word 2015

file0001458427763With the New Year approaching I’ve been doing some thinking about what to choose as my One Word for 2015. This year was my first for choosing one word to focus on as opposed to making the famed and failure prone list of resolutions. I did make lists of things I wanted to accomplish and do this year, but unlike the usual nature of resolutions, they weren’t change oriented. I reserved that distinction for my One Word. It honestly made a difference.

When you think about it there are usually only a few things, not a whole list of things that are hindering, haunting, or holding us back. I’m finding that focusing on just one…consistently, for a full year, can bring unexpected revelation and lasting change. I say lasting change because after nearly an entire year of constant, committed attention to one single word, I daresay I will take it into succeeding years without any forethought whatsoever. I’ve seen it occur even before the year’s end. As the days passed and my attention waned, my word would nevertheless pop into the forefront of my mind, announcing itself, nudging me with a reminder in any and every situation where honesty was needed to proceed accordingly and make necessary adjustments, creating new habit patterns and bringing more and more freedom. I truly believe it’s one unexpected benefit of the One Word approach… change that endures.

Knowing this, I’ve decided to do it again for 2015. We’ll see what develops as I ponder and pray about what to choose as my One Word for 2015.

What I Learned in October

What I Learned in October

DSCN4604eEmily Freeman is hosting her What I Learned link up again this month, one of my very favorites. The great thing about this link up is all the additional things I learn by reading others’ posts…outstanding blogs I wasn’t aware of, not so trivial trivia, fun facts, inspiration, and so much more. Head over to Chatting at the Sky to peruse. For me…here’s what I learned in October.

 

….something I didn’t know about how women who show up show up 

So…everyone’s already reading Momastery, Glennon Doyle Melton’s terrific, truth-telling blog, right? (Sometimes don’t you feel like you’re late to the game and everyone already knows the stuff you’re just discovering? Well, just in case you’re not privy, I’m just sayin’….) Maybe I appreciate Glennon so much because my OneWord focus this year is HONEST and she is nothing if not that. Or, maybe it’s because she’s actually implementing the very thing I still struggle with…doing things afraid. I can’t tell you how long I’ve had this displayed in my house, yet have shied away from heeding its advice. When I have heeded I’ve succeeded. I’ve sucked it up, quit being a chicken, jumped in, allowing no time whatsoever to talk myself out of it, and in those rare times, low and behold, it’s proven to be a wonderful experience. Nevertheless, it is not happened enough…not nearly enough. So why am I talking about all this? Because Glennon has made an amazing discovery concerning this, and I want you to hear her share the powerful truth of it. Oh my goodness, how terrifically terrific these wisdom words are…especially for people like me. If you too have been waiting, searching, wondering when or if you’re ever going to begin living the life you were meant to live, listen to this short video. Hear and heed. And if you’re like me and you’re still paralyzed by fear or insecurity or doubt or excuses, or whatever it is that’s holding you back from being brave, then at the very least you might get just a wee bit closer to throwing caution to the wind and _____. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the help I can get. Watch Glennon here.

about a new perspective on purpose 

While we’re on the subject of searching for the life you were meant to live, may I also suggest a terrific book I’ve read recently? Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer provides a refreshing perspective to the frequent perplexity involved in searching for one’s purpose. This book takes that search from the mentality of discovery to one of realization, thus the title…let your life speak. Could it be that, like most things we go questing for, it’s right under our noses but we’re too busy looking for something out there…somewhere outside our self? Palmer says, “Vocation at its deepest level is, ‘This is something I can’t not do, for reasons I’m unable to explain to anyone else and don’t fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling.’” What am I already doing? What is that thing…no matter how unremarkable I deem it? Explore that. Let Your Life Speak is a short, easy read that packs a powerful punch…uncommon wisdom and inspiration that I’ve decided will have a permanent home on my bookshelf. You can read an excerpt or listen to a sample of the Audible audio edition here.

that God, in His great mercy, keeps finding ways to tell me to r-e-l-a-x 

Pretty quick here you’re going to start seeing a pattern tipping you off to what’s been on my mind of late, and thankfully lots has been crossing my path about it lately. I told my niece recently that I’ve had this feeling like the clock was ticking and I had to hurry up and discover what it was I had to do to say I’d lived a life of meaning. Menopausal musings? Maybe. My mind’s been racing like a hamster on a wheel getting nowhere. It’s what’s caused me to seek out books, music, new habits…any and everything that promotes peace in the midst of this mental mayhem. Finding that elusive thing we call “meaning”, that thing we’re all searching for, well how much peace could that bring?  These fabulous words, also by Glennon Doyle Melton (again…I’m just sayin’) were so. very. heartening.

about a unique, creative way to document life 

Thanks to my sons (one who brought the sales pitch and the other who bought the phone) I’ve joined the ranks of iPhone owners. Learning my way around the new operating system hasn’t been much of a problem but replacing my favorite Android apps with similar iOS apps has been a bit time consuming. Nevertheless, while searching the AppStore I did discover a terrific little app called Stellar, which allows you to create beautiful visual stories to document your travel adventures, favorite photos, recipe creations, family fun or simply your everyday life…all using your own pictures, videos, and text. There’s lots of inspiration to explore by viewing what others have created (you can follow and like the people and projects you admire) to get your own creative juices flowing or to just be entertained. I’m no expert in photography or in using this app, but here is my first little creation documenting our most recent motorcycle trip. If you create an account let me know so I can follow your “stellar” life.

…that there’s no shortage of corn in America 

On the spur of the moment my husband and I decided that, rather than using a transport company, we would fly to Iowa to pick up his new(est) motorcycle and drive it back to New York…a 12oo mile road trip on a not-any-wider-than-an-alligator seat through the heartland of America. The weather forecast for the next 10 days was picture perfect along the entire route so we bought the tickets and set out for what we hoped would be a wonderful adventure. Thankfully, it was! Totally terrific. With no particular agenda but not wanting to tax ourselves too much we set out, making time on super highways while still making time for scenic byways.  We saw lots of sights along the way, stopping spontaneously at charming shopping villages, classic car shows, interesting eateries, and even the little Illinois town where we first met over 37 years ago. But what we saw the most of….corn! Field after golden field for miles and miles, combines rolling state after state after state…harvesting some of the 87 million acres of corn grown each year here in the United States of America…six of which we saw under the spacious skies and across the fruited plain that is America the beautiful…riding on an alligator seat.

corn1

 

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