Reading Lately: Getting Lost In A Good Series

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

     

My school librarian was the best. I didn't know it at the time, but what she did for me is something that not every librarian can do or is even willing to do. From the time I learned to read towards the end of second grade, I would go to the library week after week. I dropped my book into the bin by the door and she would greet me. I'd head over to wherever she was so that we could talk about what I was going to read next. Sometimes she had been waiting for me to come back so that she could put a specific book into my hands. Other times, she'd ask me what I was in the mood for. She was the best literary matchmaker I have ever encountered. Ever.

The years went by and I learned my way around that library. To this day, I can picture the layout in my mind. Now that I'm working in a library, I find myself walking the stacks of the library from my past in my mind in order to find the perfect book to put into the hands of readers that come to the counter asking me for recommendations. The shelves where what came to be my favorite authors' books lived live on in my mind waiting to be revisited so that I can pluck the title off the shelf to introduce someone else to the words I was so excited about all those years ago.

I'll never forget following Mrs. W over to a new area of the library to meet what was sure to become my next obsession. She'd say, "Have you read ____ yet?" and I'd say that I didn't think so. Her eyes would light up and she would lead me to the shelf where their books were stored. She'd pull one off and put it in my hands and then leave me to decide for myself. When I finished that book, I'd go straight back to the shelf to pick another one. I loved knowing that I had a whole shelf of books to make my way through.

I still get excited over discovering a new author. When I find one I especially enjoy, I like to read all of their books that I can get my hands on. I was always especially excited when the author had a series to their name. I still find myself craving a good series to get lost in more often than not. There's just something really good about meeting characters that get more than one book in which to come to life in.

Years ago Becky posted about how her teenage daughter was LOVING The Maze Runner series. The cover of the first book looked intriguing and reminded me of several of the covers of books that I had loved when I was about the age her daughter was. I filed the series away as a good one to read someday. Fast forward a year or two and I found myself watching the first movie in the series over Christmas break with our friends in GA. It convinced me that, yes, I really did need to read the books. Several more years went by and I met someone who gave me the final push I needed to get around to reading these books that I've been meaning to read for so long.

It turned into a challenge...I learned that another movie has been made since then and that the final movie is coming out in February. I told myself that if I read the books, I could watch the movies. I set the goal of making my way through the series BEFORE the final movie made it to theatres. Over the last few weeks, I made good on that promise to myself and now I'm here to finally collect my thoughts about this series all in one place.

Whew. That was a lot to get out. I hope you're still tracking with me and I didn't loose you with my ode to Mrs. W. You ready to talk about The Maze Runner? I hope so...because I'm just getting started!

The Maze Runner // If the movie hadn't been as good as I remember it being and my friend hadn't stood by these books saying that they're a little lame, but really worth it, I definitely would have given up on this one. The way the boys were talking to one another was driving me crazy. It was foolishness to the max and I didn't really care about any of them. Dashner was taking sooooo long to the get the story off the ground that things were hardly happening. I stuck it out, but only under great duress.

Somewhere around the 200 page mark, something switched. I don't know if Dashner found his sweet spot or what, but there was a definite shift in the book and I read the last half of it in no time at all. I was hooked! I wanted to know where these characters had come from and who they were and how they knew each other. When the book ended, I could not wait to get my hands on the next one. I took back every harsh word.

The Scorch Trials // This book was by far my favorite in the series. I flew through it. It held very little that disappointed me. Now, I don't know if this is because my friend warned me that things got more lame than they already were or if it's because this book truly was better. With the exception of the section on Crank Town (no spoilers here), the pacing of this book didn't include any lollygagging. Things moved right along and I kept having to remind myself that everything that was happening was happening over the course of a very short period of time.

The characters were coming to life. They had actual decisions to make. Decisions that required serious thought and came with pretty high stakes. The tables turned and turned and turned. When you thought you had something or someone figured out, you realized just how little you actually had to be sure of.

The Death Cure // Then, came the book that I liked only a little more than the first book. Like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia before it, the book that I didn't particularly enjoy is the one that came with the words that challenged me most. This is the book that I copied several quotes down out of. All the while, my friend's words kept running through my mind. Pushing me forward and serving as the reminder that I still had something to figure out, that the story was far from over. The phrase "WICKED is good" was just something that I couldn't wrap my mind around.

The thing about this series that is so far removed from anything we will (hopefully) ever have to go through or can even relate to is that, like so much of great fiction, it relates to reality in a way that stopped me in my tracks. As I read about the horrific things going on in this world Dashner created, I couldn't help but see the parallels to our own world. I kept thinking about the questions we ask in the middle of suffering. I couldn't help but think about how our own minds respond and function in the wake of devastating tragedies. There was purpose in everything just the way there is purpose here. Dashner never mentioned God, but I saw Him in the pages of these books. They read like Ecclesiastes and put feet on the desperation that we are all so familiar with when our trust is not resting firmly in God and His providence.

My final words: The Maze Runner is so much more than a bunch of shuck-faced shanks being tortured to the point of turning into cruel Cranks who are out for blood. Wrapping your mind around what they're going through may surprise you with what it has to teach you about what carrying on actually takes.




Have you read this series?

What's one series you've been meaning to read for a while?

Resets

Thursday, October 12, 2017

June 1, 2017

Sometimes you just need a reset. Maybe you've been going a mile a minute. Maybe you've been feeling super unproductive and you've allowed yourself to procrastinate far too long. Maybe you're just getting over a cold or through some commitment that took more out of you than you expected it would. Maybe things have just caught up with you and you barely feel like you're holding your head above the surface. That's when you need a reset.

A reset, allows you to clear your mind and some space around you. It allows you to get down to business, so that you can keep taking care of said business. Resets can look like a lot of different things. I've done some serious resetting lately and thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite resets with you here.

So, here they are...10 of my favorites in the order that they popped into my brain. And one bonus activity to do that doubles as a reset and reward all at the same time.

Clutter bust around your house. You can pick a room or a floor or whatever. The key is to be quick and to put whatever you pick up all the way away. Don't get distracted with cleaning or rearranging, just bust the clutter.

Clean out your fridge. Again, this isn't a total overhaul. Go through the containers. Put things back in their rightful places. If you spot empty shelf, wipe it down. Go through that produce drawer.

Spend waiting time tidying up your car. If you arrive somewhere early, have an extra long wait at a stop light or a drive thru, or even pulled into your garage, take a few minutes to tidy up every space you can reach from the driver's seat. If you have a wipe handy, wipe down any surface you can reach while you're at it. Take the trash out and take any stray items into the house to put away.

Make a favorite meal or five. If you find yourself in a cooking rut, cook one meal that you love. It doesn't matter if you just made it last week. Just cook. Enjoy it. It can be as simple as chili cheese dogs or meatloaf and mashed potatoes or as complicated as chicken and dumplings or that soup that takes all day. Once you've made and enjoyed one, you might just be surprised at how easy it is to do it again the next day. That favorite meal might be just the jump start you need to get cooking again!

Sit down with a blank piece of paper and write it all out. This is HUGE. I usually do this right before or directly after a round of clutter busting. There's something about clearing the clutter in my brain. Getting tasks down where I can see them helps me to make a game plan that is doable.

Sort the laundry and do one load all the way. Pretty simple. Wherever laundry hides from waits for you, round it up, sort it, and get started. Pick one load. Wash it. Dry it. Fold it. Put it away. You're done!

Make a list of or gather up the books you hope to read next. This is especially helpful if reading is how you relax OR something you've just been meaning to do more of. Write them down, share them on your blog, or stack the actual books up some place that you'll be sure to reach for them.

Go for a walk with nothing playing in your ears. Getting outside can do so much for a lot of us. You pick the pace that's best for you. The key is to focus on what's around you. Smile and wave at people you pass. Stop and chat if it seems like a good idea. It's not about exercise, it's about clearing your mind, stretching your legs, standing tall, and getting some fresh air.

Call one person you've been meaning to call for too long. Believe it or not, making that phone call is A LOT easier than putting it off another day. That's all I have to say about this one. You know who you need to call. So, do it.

Wash your bedding. Sheets, comforter, blankets, and even the pillows. There isn't ANYTHING like clean sheet day. If you can manage a nice hot shower an hour or so before bed, that makes this one that much more magical! Just saying.

You ready for that bonus activity? Celebrate a clean house (or ROOM) and light a candle.  If you curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea at the same time you'll get even more out of this one! Enjoy your hard work by grabbing one of those books you've been wanting to read and putting your feet up. It doesn't matter if it's three o'clock in the afternoon or thirty minutes before it's time to get supper started...These minutes are time well spent.

What are some of YOUR favorite resets?

When do you know that it's "time" for reset?



No Better Way

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11, 2017

My Aunt Linda turns 60 today and her oldest son also turns 26. In a few short weeks, my brother will be turning 25. And...my friend Amber is STILL in labor. Or her phone died and no one has thought to send me the latest. Technology is weird and wonderful all at the same time. 

I spent all of Sunday afternoon on the phone. I called my Grandma because I hadn't talked to her in way too long. It was a Sunday afternoon and one of my second cousins was home on leave from the Marines, so her house was buzzing with people. I said hello to just about everyone and finished up with a conversation with my Grandpa. He didn't know it, but he brought up a theme that's been on my mind lately. HOPE. I can't even remember exactly what he said. My Grandpa doesn't tend toward hope. He's more like me...He worries about everything and does everything that he can possibly think of to be prepared for WHATEVER may come his way. So, hearing him talk about hope in the way that he did was really something. 

The very next night, as I sat curled up in my reading chair, I came across hope once again. I was reading "The Death Cure" by James Dashner, which happens to be the kind of story that knocks the feet of hope right out from under you. You can't figure out who is good and who is bad. You can't figure out who you're supposed to trust or who you even WANT to trust. All of a sudden, Dashner got all deep on me...You ready for it?

"Fear of the unknown no longer controlled him. Hope had found its way in and taken hold."
-James Dashner

God means for hope to take hold in the hearts of His people. Which was exactly what Andre preached about Sunday when he was unexpectedly invited to be the guest preacher after our pastor's mom passed away. I'm telling you, hope is front and center right now. Which is a really good thing. 

It's so easy to put our hope in things that will disappoint or to think that things are too far gone. That there is no hope to have. That we're just moments away from the thing that will most certainly wreck us for good. 

It's not about being happy or safe or comfortable. It's not about nothing bad ever happening again. It's not about hanging on tight to the way things are or the way we HOPE things will be. 

Hope is rooted in the character and nature and promises of God. Hope is the thing that fills us up and gives us every reason to be GLAD in Him. We run into songs and books and movies and posts on social media that tempt us to rest in other things. We cling to memories of days gone by and think that if we can just get back to the way things were then, it'll be better. We turn things over and over in our minds believing we just need to figure things out. 

All the while, God is there reminding us that He is I AM. I AM God. I AM working for my glory and your good. I AM holy and just and righteous and true and faithful and full of steadfast love. Hope in Me. 

Hoping in God drives out everything else. It's like bumpers on a bowling alley. When your hope is in Him, there's only one way you can carry on. 

There really is no better way. 




The Thing Is

Monday, October 09, 2017

September 12, 2017
I've been getting daily updates from my sister on just how many days it's been since I've blogged. As of this morning, it's almost been an entire month. That's far too long. The thing is (and she doesn't know this), towards the end of September I was thinking about challenging myself to a few objectives for October. I wanted to post one fresh picture (hopefully taken THAT day) along with whatever was on my mind at least 4 days each week.   

If I'm honest, I wanted it to be EVERYDAY, but I knew that might be pushing it. For me. And for you. I thought it would be fun to sit down each evening and let the words flow. Needless to say, THAT hasn't been happening.

But I'm here tonight. Giving the idea a shot for THIS day. I'm going to give myself 30 minutes and just write about whatever comes to mind. The first things that came to mind as I was getting my computer out to begin this task have since completely floated away. I know one of them had something to do with the fact that Shania Twain is blonde now. Apparently. I'm not really sure how I feel about that. 

Let's move on, shall we? 

As a former barista, I kind of have a certain standard when it comes to coffee. It better not be too sweet, but it better be strong. I'm not a snob about it, though. My daily brew involves Folgers Colombian Roast and the tiniest countertop coffee pot you've ever seen. I consider Don Francisco's Colombian Roast "fancy" coffee and only pull it out when it's been a while. That said, I'm a little disappointed in my ability to turn out a consistent pot of coffee. Do you have any tips? Thanks to a lightning round of research, it sounds like the answer is starting with HOT water because rinky-dink machines don't do the best job of getting the water hot enough and keeping it there throughout the brew time. Help me out! 

I've had some really fantastic grocery store experiences lately. People have been exceptionally patient and nice. And it's not even Christmastime yet!!! I had a chat with a lady in the nail polish aisle just because. An older woman totally waited on me to scope out the coffee aisle and I didn't notice her until I was heading away from there. I apologized and she smiled and said she was happy to let me take my time. And she meant it. There was a man who really wanted me to go ahead of him because he wasn't in a hurry and only went on ahead of me when I assured him that I wasn't either. Last Friday, there was a boy hopping ALL over the store on one foot without a care in the world. He made my entire weekend with his antics. A good attitude is so contagious. 

September 12, 2017
I've been reading The Maze Runner series. At first, I wasn't sure what I was doing. Then Book 2 got me excited to keep reading. Now I'm on Book 3 and the jury is still out. I'm pretty sure these are the first dystopian novels I've ever read. Pacing seems to be EVERYTHING for me. There aren't a lot of details, the conversations drag on and on, action sequences kind of bore me, so...I just need the story to keep moving. I'm excited to see all the threads come together as the back story is fully (HOPEFULLY) revealed and then...I'm having a movie marathon! Have you read these books? Are you a fan of dystopian anything?

It's full on fall around here. I'm hoping we get a nice long fall and I'm trying to make the most of it. I've been eating my lunch outside at work as often as I can. Even if I do look like a crazy woman with my glass containers and actual fork. Madeleine L'Engle says the older you get, the less you care. I'm pretty sure she's right. I've come a long way in the being by myself and doing what's important to me department. There's nothing ridiculous about this next one, but I've also been taking as many long walks as I can lately. It's my favorite way to clear my head, stretch my legs, and get some fresh air. What are some things you've been working to get better at or enjoy more of lately?

October 7, 2017
One morning in July, the 9th if I remember correctly, a woman popped into my mind as I sat at the counter eating my morning bagel covered in enough cream cheese to...well...make me happy. She came out of nowhere and I stopped eating said bagel to get a rough sketch of everything about her written down in my purple notebook. She kept stopping by to bug me and by the end of July, I had the basis of a novel ready to get going. Then, things got crazy and I decided to leave it for later. Well, that woman just wouldn't leave me alone. I thought about her all the time and found myself being really curious about what made her tick. Over the last few weeks I've started getting serious about the project. I've worked on a few key chapters, brought other characters into the mix, made a playlist inspired by the original character who started coming to life back in July, made an outline of where I think the book will go, and...started research! Since it involves the Fitzgeralds, it's a project I'm excited to stick with. If I'm diligent, this could honestly be the kind of story where the first draft takes like three months to crank out. We'll see. 

I've lost track of the time I've spent writing this post. My friend Amber is currently in the process of birthing a baby. We talked last night for a long time and I realized that it's the last uninterrupted conversation we'll have for a good long while. I'm not sad about it. It truly is beautiful watching my friends become mothers. Amber and I have never lived in the same town, but we've maintained a friendship for so long. She's the friend I can call whenever, wherever and chat as long as we both have time. She always used to call me when she was driving and I'd often call her when I was doing housework. We can talk for hours at a time. I'll miss those chats, but I'm so happy that this thing she has waited on for so long is happening as I type these very words. What's something you've waited on (or are waiting on)? 

Well, I think I've typed enough words for now. Maybe I'll be back before another almost month goes by! See you then. 


Beyond Because

Monday, September 11, 2017

April 21, 2017

I've been kicking the phrase "beyond because" around since the end of June.

It comes from a little poem by E.E. Cummings, that I mentioned before.

The poem has to do with doing what you do beyond because. It makes me think of carrying on without any particular reason. No matter what. It makes me think of being who you are and putting one foot in front of the other even when you're not sure what you're actually doing or even why you're doing it.

It's living life without having to explain things every step of the way. The because is implied in the doing and because of that it stretches beyond it. It's a given.

One thing I want to be a given about me is my faith in God. I want my walk with Him to be THE thing that IS the because. THE thing that stretches beyond it. Every now and then I meet people like that. It's an admirable quality and seeing it expressed in another person is always a gift.

Like the lark who wings his why beyond because, these people know what it is to do what we were created to do and to keep doing it.

The lark of this poem won't let me be. I'm a person that is obsessed with whys and becauses and yet longs for diligence to carry on. The lark doesn't worry about those things. He flaps and flies and carries on because that's what he was made to do. The because is implied and the why is lived.

God intends for His people to be such larks. Winging our why beyond because by His strength and for His glory, now and forever. We see His grace in one another and the why is beautiful and the because is understood.

Here's to winging our why beyond because...Whatever it may be!



Currently: September 2017

Friday, September 08, 2017

September 8, 2017
September is the perfect month. Summer isn't quite over and yet the back to school season has
everyone feeling as though they've been granted a fresh start. I've been thinking about all of my favorite fall things lately as I do my best to soak up every bit of summer that we have left.

This summer went by at a slow and steady rate. It was FULL. It didn't seem like it flashed by and yet I'm definitely not ready to bid it farewell just yet. I traveled and we had a part to play in a handful of productions. There was plenty of time for beach days and hiking and somehow I spent less time with my friends than ever, but it didn't bother me too much.

A new month is here and I'm currently...

Celebrating: The pieces of summer that are hanging on, my birthday, and this new season of life that we've entered into.

Watching: We finally finished up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. We've also watched Compete to Eat, The Help, Monk, and a little Sue Thomas. I've been in the mood for Downton Abbey, but haven't actually turned it on yet.

Welcoming: Change. For the first time in my life...I'm not completely sold on the idea, but I'm doing my best and trusting God with the rest.

Preparing: My fall resolves. I've had some specific themes on my mind and I'm doing my best to zero in on the tone I want this fall to have.

Photographing: Hardly anything. I haven't used my camera camera in MONTHS. I've been itching to get back into it.

Linking up with Anne and Lowanda!

What makes your currently list?

Reading Lately: Summer 2017

Sunday, September 03, 2017

       
                                     


I keep saying that 2017 is the year I've read a lot less than I have over the last few years. Sorry if you've been missing the book related posts. There is something about reading less that makes getting lost in a good book even more meaningful and enjoyable than it normally would be. I'm not sure how this happens, but it's definitely something I've noticed. 

So, I haven't read much this summer...Here's a look at what I have read and what I thought about each one. 


Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger // After taking part in a fiction writing contest (that I didn't place in) and running across a reference to Salinger's short story "A Perfect Day for Banana Fish", I knew I needed to take some time to read some short stories. So, I picked this volume up and did my best to enjoy the stories even though I was in it to observe the craft. My relationship with Salinger is an interesting one...I don't particularly like or relate to his characters. He has a way of getting under my skin. And THAT is why I keep coming back for more. He challenges me in a way few authors do. I read a few of these stories out loud to whoever happened to be in the living room and let him remind me that short stories don't have to be tidy. They can raise questions and confront people with uncomfortable topics. They can have a moral that isn't resolved. In short, it went the way it always does.


Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon // Somehow, I had placed a hold on this book at my old mail order library. Since moving, I haven't really been using their services because I thought postage might be too much. Well, they contacted me and said, "You have a hold on this book. Do you want it?" To this day, I have noooo idea how this hold took two years to catch up with me or even WHY I placed this book on hold. It came in the mail and I read it feeling like I was "supposed" to. The whole time I wondered what I had gotten myself into and by the end of the book I gave it three stars. It's the kind of quick, easy read that doesn't really stick with you. This one happened to be about a wedding. It made me cry and caught me in a bit of a vulnerable place. It's about a good guy settling down with a special lady and the two of them being joined by a bunch of friends who might as well be family who are just as happy that they've found each other as they are. Every now and then, something this sappy is good to take some time on.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling // My journey to the end of the HP series was a LONG time coming. I've written about the whole thing here, there, and everywhere. While this book wasn't my favorite in the series, I still gave it five stars. It took me MONTHS to make my way through it. While I wanted to finish the series, I guess I didn't really want it to end. The intensity of the conflict between Voldemort and Harry came to a head...The movies cannot prepare you for the way these books will impact you. Especially when it comes to this final installment.


MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Berstche // After slowly making my way to the end of HP and not reading much else all summer, picking this light hearted book of essays on friendship up with my book club friends was the PERFECT way to transition to the end of summer reading. I'll admit, I was a bit embarrassed to be carrying this book around or to TELL people what I was reading. In a lot of ways, it felt like a kind of summary of the last two years. I've "dated" quite a few girls trying to find my people in this new town. I've integrated myself into different circles and have wondered when I'll find one that feels even a little bit like the circles of friends I've left behind leading up to now. Rachel's take on and journey to friendship is considerably different than mine, but reading her stories was entertaining. She was crasser than I would have preferred, which means I won't be plopping this book into people's hands.


Troubling a Star by Madeleine L'Engle // This was the first of the "books to read before you turn 27" that I assigned myself in the month leading up to my birthday. I picked it up at a thrift store sometime last year and was waiting for the perfect time to read it. When I got into it, I was pleasantly surprised that Vicky was getting ready to celebrate her birthday too. She remembered her Grandfather and reflected on his wisdom every now and then as the mystery unfolded. This wasn't the best book plot-wise, but it was as beautiful as L'Engle's prose always is. The details made the story come to life and the themes were perfect for chewing on during the days leading up to adding another candle to my cake.


So, that's what I've been reading this summer. 

What have YOU been reading lately? 



On Time

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

September 6, 2010

It's time for my yearly "when the next age is a month away" post. Only, this time around, it's 17 days away. UPDATE: It was on the day I wrote this, at least...

I've been thinking about time in general lately. It might be because summer is almost over and my birthday is just around the corner. It might be because we're coming up on the second anniversary of us moving to this new town (that really isn't new anymore). It might be because my youngest brother started college (on my parents' 21st anniversary and the day of the big eclipse). It might be because my friends and I are now the ages my parents were when so many of my memories of them were made.

I've been blogging for so long now that I've watched people who have become friends dream up and accomplish so many things. They've gone from college students to career women. They've gone from internet dating to finally finding someone to settle down with. They've moved across the country and back again. They've become mothers and grandmothers. They've lost loved ones and celebrated recoveries others have made. I say "they", but I'm talking about YOU.

Following along and emailing when we can has been a real treat. As I read your words and scroll through your pictures and keep you in my prayers, I can't help but think about what you're doing and what I'm doing and how we got to where we are now.

I never knew it when I registered this domain name all those years ago, but blogging has turned out to be something that has helped me to be honest with myself. A lot of people talk about the comparison game and give up on social media because they get so caught up in the picture perfect lives people post about...I'm not saying there is nothing to that, but I can say it's different for me. I think you'll know what I'm talking about, because it's probably true for you too. We CAN look at people's posts and get sad or jealous...but, we can also look and be grateful. We can let our gut reactions tell us things about ourselves that we may not have noticed or been willing to admit.

Emily and Dan's bravery of moving to CA and then to NYC and finally back to VA showed me the beauty of living life TOGETHER. They've gone after what they wanted and admitted that sometimes that changes.

Rachel and Christopher's recent journey to becoming parents had me begging God to see them through and trusting that He would. Now, their precious baby girl is here and I still haven't stopped feeling absolutely giddy when I think about them.

Amy and Eddie found each other and got married and moved to New England. Every time Amy posts anything Eddie related, I'm reminded of the special work God did to bring them together and I tell her about it every single time.

I could go on and on...Each one of you shares your story and I see the hand of God. You post the best parts and sometimes we email about the worst parts. Watching you be who you are and go after what you love and press on even when you're not sure you can teaches me more than you'll ever know.

I've learned and finally been able to admit that as much as I don't want to be hurt or trapped or betrayed...I actually do want to get married. I would like to transition from being the single lady who is always helping other people with their house and kids to the married lady with a house and kids of her own. It snuck up on me.

It wasn't until sometime over the last year as I scrolled through "we're getting married" posts and saw the happy faces of content toddler after content toddler that I finally realized what had been happening. I know it didn't happen in that year. I know it didn't happen over night. God was doing a work and I have no doubt in my mind that it was the testimonies of beautiful marriages and day to day motherhood that you've shared as they've slowly but surely come into being that have brought this about.

It's good to be honest. It's good to trust God. It's good to be brave. 27 is 17 days away and in a lot of ways, I'm amazed. I'm getting closer and closer to 30. Most of my friends have already made it there. I'm in the middle of transitioning out of what has shaped my life for the last 10 years. I know who I am and I know who God has made me to be. Ultimately, this life of mine is about Him and His glory and it's great to look back on the last 26 years to see His hand. I know how I got here and I know how I'll get to where I'm going.

I'll keep reading your posts. I'll keep praising God with you and thanking Him for what He has done. I'll keep swapping emails and texts. I'll keep going to Him with the things that are getting under your skin. And...Your lives will continue to do the work He has for them to do in mine.

Time goes by and brings all kinds of changes. There has been a lot of change in me. I wonder what kinds of changes the next ten years will bring. Whatever they are, I'm excited to share them here and to watch as yours unfold as you share them from wherever you find yourself.

Harry Potter Quiz

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


So, you guys...I finally finished reading the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. It was already like a month ago now, but I'm here today so that we can talk about all things HP.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed in the series. Rowling's writing was pretty amazing, but somehow, it wasn't quite as dreamy as I expected it to be. The characters that I thought I knew so well from a childhood of movie watching, turned out to have sides that I had yet to see. For the technical problems I saw in the writing of the books, the characters made up for it.

Book 5 was by far THE hardest book for me to read. I put it down for a long time because Umbridge was making my blood boil. And yet...As it was with Narnia, the book that got under my skin is the one that I look back on with the most fondness. I always loved the first book and I always said the third book was my favorite, but now that I've read them all, I know that five is the book that stayed with me the longest. The joy I felt at Hagrid's return is an experience few books have been able to create for me.

These stories tell the story of good and evil. They bring us face to face with the things we see and admire and dread in ourselves and in one another. Using a made up world that mirrors the spiritual and physical realities of our own, Rowling wrote something to life that will outlive us all. And rightly so.

How about some HP questions and answers?


Favorite book?
I've always said book 3 and then I wrote a review saying that book 6 was my new favorite when I finished it. So, it must be 6.


Favorite character(s)?
It may be cliche, but I grew a super special fondness for Hagrid that I never had before. Another character I finally grew to appreciate is Dobby. He drove me crazy causing trouble in the movies, but things were different in the books. 


Scene that stuck with you?
I'm going to go with the various talks around the fire in the common rooms. I want a family room modeled after one of them!


Quote you <3 i="">
 "'...Don't you see? Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back! Voldemort is no different! Always he was on the lookout for the one who would challenge him...'" (Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pg. 510)


Favorite movie adaptation?
#7 pt 2 will always be my favorite. I watched it over Christmas break a few years after it was released and it was the perfect ending to the saga. I remember thinking to myself, "We made it."


SPOILER: Biggest surprise?
Learning that Lupin and Snape are good guys. I have never been able to trust either one of them. I'm still not sure I do even though I'm supposed to.


Character you really didn't care for? 
Umbridge. That woman is evil in human form.


Do you know anything interesting about Rowling or the books or the movies or anything else HP related?
I read that she never got to really go over book 7 with edits and that it bothers her that it shows. I also read about the time she locked herself up in a hotel room to write and found that the stuff of dreams. If the stories about the girl who played Luna in the movies and Maggie Smith's cancer are true, that's inspiring! That's all I've got for now.


Is there one book that you think you NEED to read again?
The one I want to read again is book 3, just because. The one that I should probably read again is either 4 or 6. I flew through 4 and was super impacted by book 6.


What house would you want to be sorted into?
I always thought I was a Ravenclaw. The new site assures me I'm Hufflepuff. I'm so confused, but they're probably right.


Hogwarts or Ilvermorny?
I'm going to have to stay loyal to Hogwarts.


Memory tied to reading the series?
I started reading book 7 in the Boston Airport. I picked a spot by a huge window and had Dunkin' Donuts on the other side of the wall I was resting up against. It was lovely.

I also want to remember finishing the series on July 30 in my favorite ratty old camp chair in the garden I never got around to planting this year.


Food obsession?
Where do I begin? Chocolate to ward off the effects of dementors. Hot coccoa and tea. The lavish meals at Hogwarts. The role food played in these books caught me by surprise. I enjoyed every minute of it.


How old were you when you first finished the series?
26. It was a long time coming, you guys!


Fav time of year to re-read it?
I expected to fly through them in a summer, which would mean that would be when I would want to re-read them. But, I think they're best suited to late fall and winter reading. We'll see if I stick to this belief!


Do you want people to read them (why or why not)?
Yes, I most definitely do. The thing is...These books deal with every theme we face and wrestle with in life and don't exactly seek to provide answers. They give you a safe place to confront them and leave you to think through the issues yourself. It's quite an accomplishment!


Which character would you definitely be friends with?
I had trouble settling on a character. I asked my Mom her opinion and she said (with zero hesitation), "Draco...You'd befriend him and bring out what little bit of good there is in him." She's not wrong. Like Anne Elliot before me, I'm always becoming friends with the people nobody else has time for.

After some thought (and a little help), I came up with Colin Creevy and Dean Thomas.


Which professor would you most like to have?
It's going to be a nurturing woman or a wise man. Which leaves Madame Pomfrey (technically a nurse) or the ever loved Dumbledore (technically the headmaster). Maybe Firenz! I'm definitely going with him.

Funniest moment? 
For some reason, the humor in these books caught me by surprise. Certain ones had me laughing constantly. I don't have a specific scene in mind, but I know Peeves made me laugh quite a few times!

Saddest moment?
There were points in book 6 when I got super, super sad. The kind of sadness you can't shake. I also found myself missing Sirius right along with Harry. And of course...the detentions Harry got from Umbridge literally made my blood boil. I cannot take children being mistreated by cowardly adults.


Happiest moment?
In book 5, when Hagrid returns. I got unexplainably happy over that moment.


LOTR, Narnia, or HP?
I still haven't read LOTR, soooo, I'm not really qualified to make a choice. Narnia is a faster read (I read those in one week). I'm going to have to pass for now.


Which family would you most like to be a part of? 
I think I would fit best in the Granger family. But, I'd want to have a family like the Weasley's. Don't we all? Also...Neville's Gran is pretty awesome, even if we had to wait until book 7 to see why.


Copy and paste these questions so that you can answer them in the comments, on your own blog, or in an email to me!!! 

All Along

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

June 4, 2011

I've been helping my Mom costume another show which means that with the exception of last Monday, I have been at the theatre for some kind of rehearsal or performance every single night since the beginning of July. I've hovered over an ironing board, steamed costumes, learned to sew on buttons, and been a master with blue painter's tape and safety pins. Green room shenanigans have involved learning all about Brigmophyseters and Megalodons from a little boy named George and swapping every imaginable story with the cast and crew. There may or may not have been a few rounds of Mad Libs as well.

In a few short weeks, we will have been living the theatre life non-stop for two straight years. There were times that I was convinced it was killing me (this is no exaggeration). I was staying up way too late and getting up as early as I always did. I was making dinners to go and squeezing in grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning whenever I could carve out the time to do it. I was driving here there and everywhere and turning the van into an office during rehearsals. I worked props and costumes and the hospitality side of things and even found myself backstage being a kid wrangler. I made a fool of myself using sports terms instead of theatre lingo (think half time instead of intermission, locker room instead of dressing room, roster instead of playbill, and having ZERO clue what "house left" or "stage right" meant).

That said, this adventure is coming to an end. My sister is ready for a break. My brother is starting classes at the college. And I've been told the next show they even audition for won't be until Christmas. We're two years in and the thing that has shaped every hour of my life since we've moved here is going to disappear. At least for this fall anyway.

In a way, I'm excited. There will be normal bed times and time for friends. There will be family dinners and movie nights. Our weekends will be our own. But, just like every hard thing, I'm realizing that I'm sad it's over. This thing that required so much of us all, brought us together. It gave me a chance to be stretched and pushed way outside my comfort zone. My brother and sister got to have THE time of their lives and I got to tag along for the ride watching them grow and shine and enjoy themselves. It gave me a chance to give and give and give and trust in the strength that God provides. The last two years have been the best kind of hard and an amazing gift. I knew it all along, but now I feel like I'm finally seeing them for what they were. Perspective...It's really something!

With the end of one adventure, comes room for another. As you all know, I've spent much of the last 10 years keeping house for my family and taking up other jobs as they came my way. It's weird and I've never tried to deny that. My parents made a commitment to me and I made a commitment to them and I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to be a part of my siblings' lives and to be able to serve people whether they could pay me or not.

I wouldn't trade those 10 years for anything and the decision to bring them to an end came with a lot of wrestling. The thing is, my brother and sister are entering new seasons of their own. Our family is changing shape. And it's time for me to move on. I knew the days of being their "other mother" wouldn't last forever, which was why it was so easy for me to ignore the pressure I so often felt to "DO SOMETHING."

I got to teach them and play with them and cook for them. I got to help with Awana and summer reading programs and VBS and all the plays they were in. I got to be there for dentist appointments' and grocery runs and every errand associated with the animals they used to raise for fair. I got to take them out to eat and to the movies and spend endless afternoons at the park or the pool. I got to give them baths and read bed time stories and build Lego and play hospital. I cheered them on at Little League games and waited in the car during practices. I can still hear their giggles and look back on the times they needed a good cry and an extra hug. When they were little they were so afraid that I was going to move away and go to college and marry a big hairy man....There was so much dread with being sure that I would disappear.

And then, the years went by. I opted to do college online. I never did meet a man (hairy or otherwise) that made me want to get married. I moved away for a few short stints, but I always left most of my things at home and promised to return when my time away was finished. In some ways, I wish that I did have a house and family of my own. I won't have forever for those things to happen. But, then I look back on the last 10 years and I realize what a treat they have been. They've taught me to care more about what God thinks than what anyone else (myself included) thinks. They've taught me that my worth and value are not in what I do, but in who I am. They've taught me to do whatever it is my hands find to do the best that I can. In short, they've taught me to live by faith. I don't have a lot to show for those years other than gray hairs and laugh lines and some of the most precious memories I'll ever make. I've known it all along, but now I'm really seeing those years for what they were.

I wouldn't trade them for anything. Not a house of my own. Not a family of my own. Not a bank account bursting with security for whatever tomorrow holds. There are some things that are worth more than you can ever imagine and God used the last 10 years to fill the cup that holds those things to overflowing.

As we made plans for this fall, an opportunity came up for me to apply for a job. I kicked the idea around and around and turned in my application hours before the deadline. In the meantime, I was offered another job. A few weeks later I went in for an interview. I left the interview feeling dread. Which job SHOULD I take? Should I take either job? Did the interview even go well enough to give me a shot at the job? They told me I could expect to hear back the next week. I made the decision I had to make and waited to hear back on the interview. I made peace with my decision and handed it all over to God. The next morning, I got a call. The interview went well and they were pleased to offer me the job. The first of August was scheduled as my start date, which gave me plenty of room for the commitments I had made with this last play that we're doing.

I'm getting paid to write on project based schedule and I'm working at a library. Those 10 years of learning to wait on God, I had quiet dreams coming to life. I dedicated myself to continuing to write. My hope was that someday something might come of those scribbles. Something has. Another dream that came to life was the realization that THE career I wanted was to be a librarian. I stumbled onto that dream when I used to fill in for Julie. During a long stint of that, one day it dawned on me that THAT was what I wanted to do. I researched degrees and positions and let myself get used to the idea of the possibility of it.

The same waiting and trusting and working that have shaped the last 10 years will continue now that I've got a few other commitments to juggle. The summer of 2017 will live on in my mind as the end of one season and the beginning of another. I've told you that there were things I was holding back until the time was right. Now you know what they are. There are a few more things I'm keeping to myself for now, but these ones are honestly the biggest.

As I learn to juggle everything and adjust to the way things are going to be now, I'm still planning to keep up this blog! I've given myself the freedom to enjoy this summer that may just be the last of its kind. Thanks for tagging along and reading when I write and commenting and emailing even when I'm not putting up fresh content.

You're the best!

Halfway There

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's the middle of the middle month of the year. Summer is here in all its glory and as I always say, time is flying as fast as ever. I'm almost to the end of both my journal and my current purple notebook. These three things are working together to set my mind on taking a step back to consider the progress of the year so far.

This morning, I sat in my garden writing a fresh essay on the writing life and reading over the different things I've put down in my purple notebook.


I ran across this essay that I wrote on December 31st and decided that now is the perfect time to share it with all of you. We're halfway through this year already and yet that night at the end of December doesn't seem all that long ago. I'm sure you feel the same way...


December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

It's only almost 9, but I'm doing what I do when I check the time and adding three hours, which means that my family and friends on the east coast are minutes away from the big moment. I'm home with nearly 20 people and a Harry Potter marathon going on in my living room. A hot shower, dry hair, my fluffy bathrobe, some Bechet, and a cup of hot coffee are my companions now that everyone else is onto year five. I'm in my room with lamps and Christmas lights and the last 140 pages of book four. I'm doing something else I do...Wondering ahead to next year. Where will I be? What will I be doing? With who? What will my "word" be? Will I be as happy then as I am now? Happier? I've been thinking through things and seeing possibilities. And turning each and every one of them over into God's hands.

Last Sunday I was reminded that He RULES everything. The very Psalm that was comforting to me in the summer of 2010 is comforting me all over again. That summer, as I hovered around Baltimore in a plane with a big storm going on in the sky around me - complete with flashes of lightning - the words of that Psalm were on my mind explaining the peace I had. I've never forgotten that flight. I hope I never do. Trusting God in that moment was natural and easy and a total game changer. I guess it was because I didn't really have any other option.

I often wonder why it doesn't come so easily in other situations. The same truth applies. The same power He has over the wind and the rain and the lightning and even the course of that plane are exercised over every person I come into contact with, every circumstance, every opportunity, every ability...All of it. I'm going into 2017 with my mind set on these things and a resolve to BASK in His light. When I bask in the sun, I am full and happy and at ease. My cares melt away. I often doze off. There is nothing like it. I want it to be the same with God. It's going to take His Word. And it will be a good year.

I'm holding a few words back. They are here...I guess I'm afraid to unleash them. Why is that? Here in this "safe place" where they aren't going to go anywhere? Maybe that's something I'll work on. Why not now? Why do we hold things in? Is it fear of each other? Fear of being "found out"? And what is so wrong with that anyway?

Well, I started this piece with intentions. And it has taken a shape of its own. Holding back is harder than letting it out. I'm tired. Not sleepy tired, but the kind of tired that comes of writing your heart out. Only, I didn't quite get there.

* * *

2017 has been a year of much basking. I've been to MA and to SC. I've entered two different writing contests and put my words out there again and again. I've met so many new people and finally gotten around to getting to know people I've met since moving here almost two years ago. I've read less and written more.

My brother and sister have been in play after play. I've helped with props and costumes and volunteered on the hospitality side of things. I've packed more dinners to go than I can possibly keep track of and tucked little notes into each one. 

Circumstances really haven't changed much at all and yet I've poured myself into trusting God and continually looking to Him.

All in all, I'd say it's been a pretty good year so far!


How did you spend New Years?

What were your hopes going into 2017? 

What's on your mind now that we're halfway there?

A Little More On Faith

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

March 30, 2017
Back in May, Jay and I were texting about some life stuff. As it always does, it came around to God and His Word and the hope that we have in Him. Jay is famous for coming up with simple sentences that are packed with meaning. During our conversation he put 5 little words together and I've been thinking about them and planning to write about them here ever since. He said, 

"He heard us the first time." 

Jay's point was that so often, we pray and pray and pray like a little kid who is just SURE that our Mom hasn't heard us yet. After all, if she did...Things would certainly be different. God hears the prayers of His people. He doesn't sleep. He doesn't tune us out. He doesn't need us to shake His shoulders to get His attention.

This is not to say that we shouldn't keep asking or keep seeking Him. As we continue going to Him, this belief changes the way we wait. We pray and we rest assured in the fact that He has heard us. The first time. We can carry on, knowing that He heard us.

Not only does He hear us, but He also delights in this hearing.

When these two principles begin to shape the way we think, they'll be sure to shape the way we pray and live. This is faith in action. That kind of faith can't help but obey. It's the kind of faith that feeds obedience and delight and perfect trust in God. What comes after believing and praying like He heard us is trusting Him and putting effort toward what is up to us while knowing that the rest is up to Him.

We can ask Him to show us our part and to give us the courage and the strength for it as He grants us wisdom to see beyond the NOW. We can set our minds on trusting in His will, His way, and His time for the eternal picture He is painting of His power and glory. Even our requests are part of a story that will outlive all of us.

Remember this, He heard the first time and He is delighted to hear. Now, it's up to us to do what depends on us and trust Him with the rest.

Letters

Friday, June 30, 2017


I've got a fresh batch of letters for you today. They're a little bit sappier than usual and I hope you don't mind. Write a few of your own when you're done reading mine and leave them in the comments OR make a post of your own.

Dear Jean Pierre,

You French speaking darling, you...Thanks for being brave enough to shout "big cup!" across the airport late that night in Denver. I smiled and you drug your garbage can closer and the conversation that followed is one that I hope to hang on to for a good long while. You said, "we have God or we have nothing" and you were right. The joy in your eyes and the chance to use a little French and to talk about the treasure we have in God was a real delight. See you on the other side, my friend! I wasn't joking when I said I'd look for you.

Dear Brother of Mine,

Everyone keeps asking about my trip and my response is always something along the lines of, "Really good! Mostly." You're the reason behind that mostly. I enjoyed every millisecond I got to spend with you. The teary goodbye in the garage and the heart to heart and the letter you wrote me after I pulled out of the driveway...They mean the world to me. I miss you more than you'll ever know the same way you miss me. I can't wait to see you again. We're gonna plan it and you're gonna have some time off from work. I love you!

Dear Austin,

Thanks for choosing the healthiest restaurant I have ever stepped into for lunch that first Friday after I got home. I now know that I really like tangerines and that they make a great addition to a salad. I'm not sure that I'll go back, but it was way outside of my comfort zone and like everything in that category, it wasn't so bad after all.

Dear Old Bamboo,

When Leia watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang every single day I swore I would never ever watch it. Time went by and I ended up watching it. More time went by and my brothers and I would sing "The Old Bamboo" as we used the giant one that came from who knows where to get the stray birdie off of the roof. I had no idea that even more time would go by and the little boy dancing around in his underwear with the bamboo shoot that was five times his size would don a fancy costume and learn an amazing routine that he would perform on stage in his first professional theatre contract. What a run we've had!


What letters do you have to send today?

What has the power to make you sentimental?


Summer Reading 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


For years now, I've been making summer reading lists for myself. It just didn't happen this year. I went back and forth over what to do and then I realized that I kind of have a list going in my head...

This summer, I plan to read whatever I make it around to. I'm back to reading a lot less again, which is just fine, but also means that planning my reading is more overwhelming than it is helpful. Life is full of seasons! The important thing is being able to recognize which one you're in and doing whatever you need to do to make the most of it.

This summer, I've got my eye on:

Making progress on C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy

"This Side of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf

Getting started on The Maze Runner series 

I've made it to the Psalms in my Bible reading plan and I'm picking up E.B. White's essays, E.E. Cummings's poetry, and Packer's "Keep In Step With the Spirit" when I need to mix things up. Oh, and I'm still working my way through "HP and the Deathly Hallows", which means I am the last one of my siblings to finish reading this series. Surprise, surprise!

As I make my way through this "list", I'll be sure to post reviews!

What are you reading this summer?

Chinese Chicken Salad

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

via Instagram...I apologize for this being all you get. :)

This is the kind of salad that is loaded with lettuce that you eat in a bowl, NOT the kind you put between two pieces of bread. Of course, maybe you're into that. I mean, when I was in SC I made a big batch of broccoli salad and my Grandpa couldn't keep himself out of it. He came wandering into the living room with a grin on his face and a sandwich in his hand. The only thing between those pieces of bread was a heap of that broccoli salad. I've officially seen it ALL.

Back to the salad I came here to tell you about! Summer days are the perfect time to incorporate lighter meals. Half because nobody wants to heat up the kitchen and half because people just don't each as much when they're hot. One thing my family LOVES to eat a lot of during summer is salad. If I announce "salad bar" for dinner, there is sure to be an honest to goodness celebration happening.

I dream of coming up with a rotation of four or five different salads that I can keep in the fridge for afternoons when you want nothing more than to head to the fridge for something to eat that is both cool and satisfying. I've been working on it for years now and have yet to come up with some options that everyone is crazy about...Which is unfortunate. BUT, this salad puts me one step closer!

It's quick and easy and you most likely have everything you need on hand. Like every salad before it, this one is open to any tweaks you might want to make to it! I used bottled dressing because that dressing happened to be the inspiration behind the whole dish, but you could sub your own favorite asian inspired dressing whether it happens to be bottled or homemade.

You ready?

Here we go!

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar

1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salad:
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
3 green onions, washed and sliced
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 c. crispy chow mein noodles, toasted
1/4 - 1/2 c. Newman's Own Sesame Ginger Dressing

Combine chicken, soy sauce, and brown rice vinegar in a zip top bag, tossing until mixed well. Place bag into the fridge for at least one hour or overnight, turning occasionally.

Brown chicken in sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil over med-high heat for 10 minutes, turning once. Remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice into bite sized pieces.

Meanwhile combine the lettuce, carrots, green onions, toasted almonds, and toasted chow mein noodles in a large salad bowl. Toss in chicken and salad dressing, continuing to toss until your salad comes together.

NOTE: May sprinkle with a little pepper and some extra onion powder if you like!

Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge. The noodles get a little soggy, but I enjoyed it just as much on day three as I did on day one.

Enjoy!


What are some of your favorite "fancy" salads?

What's the strangest sandwich you've ever seen?




May I Be

Friday, June 23, 2017

March 30, 2017
Back in May, I read a poem by E.E. Cummings that really resonated with me. It was one of those instances where the poem found me at the right time. My Mom saw the book (titled 73 Poems) lying at the top of a stack of poetry books and said, "Read number 43."

So, I did. And then I read it a few more times. And then I thought about it for days afterwards. And then I got out my journal and copied one of the lines down and drafted a little list of my own.

May I be...

holy
satisfied
full of joy
full of peace
patient
humble
GLAD
helpful
kind
compassionate
quiet

None of these things come naturally to me. Just being real. Getting to know people and deciding how we're going to explain ourselves to them has a way of bringing us face to face with who we really are. If moving teaches you one thing, it's the truth about who you are. 

People want to know where you came from and why you're here and where you're going. They want to know what you like to do and what you hope to do. They want to see you laugh and some of them want to know what makes you cry. 

You listen to their questions and do your best to give them answers. You ask questions of your own and you wait for them to come with answers. And then you go home and you  think about the people who already know you and you wonder how long it's going to take to get to that place with the people you're just now getting around to letting in. 

And then, you read an old poem on some random night in May and you carry it around with you and everything comes full circle. Your life is full and you are who you are, but it's never too late to think about who you want to be. You make a list and you trust that God won't leave you where He found you. 

And that's why I like poetry!

What's on your list of things to be?


What I've Been Reading

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My last reading update was already a few months ago. I've read some doozies, but I've also read some really great things that I have been soooo looking forward to telling you about.

  

Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham // I can't remember how I found out about this book...After my recent trip to Provincetown, I was in the mood for more MA. This book isn't one I'd recommend, but I will say that it was just as quirky and beautiful as Provincetown itself.

A Life in Letters F. Scott Fiztgerald // I picked this book up within 24 hours of being home from MA to take care of a little Fitzgerald craving I had. It was just what I needed. It's a monster of a book, but for someone as crazy about the Fitzgeralds as I am, it was a real treat. In July, I get to read one of his novels for the first time for the last time. Reading over the letters he wrote to his wife and his parents and his daughter and his friends and strangers and his wife's doctors was a great way to get to know him while I looked forward to the end of a journey. He was honest with people. He offered writing advice at every chance. I look forward to re-reading his books!

A Beautiful Place to Die by Philip R. Craig // My attempt to tell a friend what I had been reading when I had to admit to having just finished this book clued me into my true feelings about it. Craig has a whole series of these Martha's Vineyard mysteries (seeing the theme here?) and I had HIGH hopes. It was three parts cozy mystery one part where did that come from. If you're looking for a cozy mystery with a great setting, I'd recommend Laura Childs's Tea Shop series!

  

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier // This skinny little book took me nearly two months to get through. It was what I would call a literary thriller and it was REALLY good. For whatever reason, I just wasn't in the mood when I first picked it up. This one is for lovers of Mary Higgins Clark, whose style DEFINITELY imitates du Maurier's in the best possible way. I'd recommend saving it for fall, as it is just the kind of moody suspense fit for the days that are growing shorter and colder.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly // Towards the end of April, I found myself in a serious reading rut. This book club read helped to pull me out of that. We saw the movie before I picked up the book, but my friend Shauna provided the motivation I needed to stick with it. This books reads like a history of America and of both planes and rockets and of women and of civil rights. There's always more than meets the eye and Shetterly attempted to bring the truth into the open as she collected the stories behind the figures that needed a little solving.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles // Another book club read. This is the first novel to really hook me in months. It's formatted and arranged in a unique way. There is TONS of dialogue, but it's rapid fire conversation that keeps even detail loving people like me engaged. In case you haven't figured it out, this book is one I couldn't WAIT to tell you about. I was impressed! The nod to George Washington and the setting of 1930's NYC couldn't be beat. Up until the last section, I thought this might be one of those books that I'd be passing around to EVERYONE for months to come. Things went a little crazy in the last section. A little crazier than I'm personally comfortable with. And then, the Epilogue comes around and makes everything all better again. This is one of those beautiful novels that moves along even though not a whole lot is happening. There are characters you can't quite figure out and you have no idea what the point of the book is going to be. The words are crafted in a way that has you reaching for a pencil every once in a while to copy down a sentence you want to remember. If you've read this one already, please tell me so we can talk about it!

Coming soon is "This Side of Paradise"...I can hardly wait!

What have you been reading lately?

Life Lately

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 9, 2017
During my little blogging break, life was full of so many things just like it always is. 

I've been:

* Cleaning and organizing to prepare for and to make up for my time away. It's good to leave a clean a house. It's good to have a clean house too.

* Going to the movies in the middle of the night. Just before I left, I got a text saying we were going to  Pirates after one of my brother and sister's performances. I ran a brush through my hair and trooped down to the theatre in my comfy clothes. I even managed to stay awake for the whole thing!!!

* Watching my brother and sister do more of what they love on the stage. Shows and showcases and more shows. It'll be slowing down soon, but for now, we're in the thick of it and they're shining BRIGHT!

* Traveling to SC and GA and NC. I was gone for two weeks and have so very much to say about the whole trip. For now, I'll just say, I can hardly believe it's already behind me.

* Hiking every chance I get. My most recent excursions all happened in the south, but I've got plans for lots more in the months to come!

* Geocaching with whoever wants to go. My Mom and I did a brand new series here in town and then I took my Dad and my Aunt out for their first time while I was in SC. We completed my first ever geotrail and I am the proud owner of my first geocoin. It's the little things, you guys!

* Getting together with friends and family to eat and visit and stare at each other see the whites of each other's eyes. Texting and FB and talking on the phone are all great, but you cannot beat time to be TOGETHER in person. My two weeks in the south were alllll about getting time with people I don't get to see nearly enough. I'm home now and have continued my attempts to get together with people I don't see enough of since moving here.

* Holing up to write. Between writing contests, people reminding me to keep at it, and a couple of my favorite writers, it seems that inspiration and motivation are everywhere. I've been writing anywhere and everywhere and even saying no to things to make time to write. It's been good to recognize the place writing can and should have.

So, that's what's been happening with me...What have you been up to lately?







Another Saturday Night

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 12, 2017
Last time I wrote, Memorial Day weekend hadn't even happened yet. It still felt like spring and the promise of summer had me STOKED. Summer is here. I've been swimming and my trip to SC has come and gone. I've napped in the sun and sipped that first iced toasted marshmallow latte of the season (and taught you how to make your own). My freckles are back and everyone is commenting on them. Summer will forever and always be my favorite. 

I still haven't planted my garden. In fact, it's been several weeks since I've done anything other than sit out there to read which means a good round of weed patrol is going to have to happen before I can even THINK of planting anything. I wonder what kind of harvest I'll have now that it's as late as it is. We'll find out!

I've been thinking about the future and summer commitments and writing and what it takes to keep things straight. The answer to it all is staying in God's Word. The future is in his hands. The strength to keep our word comes from Him. The reason for writing is that storytelling is rooted in Him. Distractions and alternatives are all around us, but so is His truth. There's a rap for this...I've got my head to the heavens.

I've been in a Sam Cooke mood lately. It all started  several years ago when Joy the Baker mentioned a man that walked through her neighborhood singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" every single morning. Well, one of my characters listens to Cooke, so I have been too. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm turning into one of those people who "knows" their characters. This particular character drinks his coffee black and has a gray cat named Scott, in case you're wondering.

It's Saturday night and I made plans to stay home to get some writing done. So, I'm off to work on a fiction piece that's due in a few days. I'll be back here again soon. In the meantime, what are you up to this weekend?