Currently Into: Fall 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 24, 2017
Yesterday was all kinds of gorgeous. It was the kind of day where it truly feels like summer, but looks like fall. I worked in the yard for most of the afternoon IN A T-SHIRT. Everyone keeps saying that every nice day is going to be the last. So far, they've all been wrong. I'm sure they're not mad about it. I know I'm certainly not. 

Along with spending as much time as I can outside when it's nice, I've also been...

Watching: The Last Time I Saw Paris on DVD and The Invisible Guest on Netflix. I watched them both several times. They're that good.

Reading: "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Agatha Christie and it's making me laugh out loud. I cannot read this one in public unless I want to look like a fool!

Listening To: September Song it's so dreamy and peaceful. Plus, with September in the name, it's made for fall!

Eating: My take on this overnight oatmeal and kale salad .

Working On: Keeping things straight and finding a writing rhythm.

I'm Also Really Into: Those resets I mentioned the other day, especially long walks.

What have you been into?

The Best Part

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

December 19, 2014
Sometime within the last month I heard Khalid's song "Young Dumb and Broke" for the first time. I found myself bobbing my head to the beat and getting lost in the chorus of yi-di-di-di-di-di-di-duhs and then all of a sudden I realized what it was that I was hearing.  I laughed out loud and turned it up a little louder. He was rapping about the life of the American teenager and every single thing he said was true. I had my window rolled down and I looked around at the people in their cars around me and I thought to myself, "This song could be the anthem of our youth."

I played the song for my Mom later on and asked her opinion. It didn't hit her the way it hit me. But, it's been sticking with me. I've listened to it over and over again in an attempt to figure out why it grabbed me the way that it did. Part of it is the beat and his voice and that peaceful little chorus. Part of it is the pain I hear behind the bars, the desperation and hopelessness that expresses what I see lingering in the corners of the eyes of teenagers I run into. It's the kind of song that gives you something to think about. 

Fast forward through the weeks that have stretched out between the morning I heard that song for the first time and the morning I'm writing this post. 

I've been better about calling the people I need to call to stay in touch with them. I made the effort to see Jay while he was in town and didn't let the fact that we didn't have coffee by the lake or go for a drive or do any of the things we normally do when he comes to visit disappoint me. I jumped on the opportunity to see Heidi and her family and all but begged them to come to my house after I met up with them for her son's appointment. I celebrated the birth of my friend Amber's DAUGHTER and stayed up way too late reliving the details of it all with her. I had tea with Leah and her daughters and pizza with Olivier and his wife. The conversation I've been trying to have for months was finally had and made me more happy than I ever imagined it would. I let myself feel all of the emotions that come along with seeing family from the East Coast when my Aunt announced she was coming to visit.

It's a foggy Tuesday morning and I've made it to the end of the string of things I was looking forward to. 

I'm sitting here thinking about Khalid's song and my life and the lives of the ones I love. There's so much to be grateful for. So much love to have and to give and to celebrate and to enjoy. Life isn't neat or tidy. It's totally unpredictable. 

The best part, is that it's all in God's hands. That's why we know we'll make it through. That's why we can be grateful. That's why being young, dumb, and broke is never the end of the story. That's why we don't have to give into hopelessness and despair and disappointment. 

I'm a glutton for time with the ones I love. Enough is never enough. And yet, I've noticed...Just when I don't think I can go much longer without them, here they come. A string of visits (almost always spur of the moment without room for anticipation or planning) pile one on top of the other. I'll see one friend and then another and then another. I won't have time to realize how excited I am or how much I needed that time with them. Before I know it, I'm in the middle of it all and feel as though I've just swallowed the moon. 

And then it's all over and the the happiness I felt continues to overflow. I don't know how long it'll be before it's back and though I'm tempted to obsess think about that very thing, I do my best not to. It's good to be together. So good. 

And it's even better to trust Him with the time in between.

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?


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. 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.