Reading Lately: January 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers // The first book of 2018 called for a visit with one of my favorite authors. I'd been craving Sayers, so I found the shelf on the library where her books are kept and chose one I haven't read yet. I was disappointed to find that Harriet Vane wasn't in this one. I've always known that I adore her, but I didn't realize how much she influenced how much I enjoy Sayers's books. This one was good and I did enjoy it, but it definitely isn't where I'd suggest anyone start. In other words...It's no "Gaudy Night".

When Did You See Her Last by Lemony Snicket // This is book 2 in the "All the Wrong Questions" series. Snicket's style is as front and center as ever in these books and if you liked him then, you'll love him now. I can't stop taking reading breaks to fly through this series OR pushing it into the hands of readers who don't know what to read next.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum // I've been meaning to read this book for a few years now after seeing the cover highlight post after post on IG. I finished it because I just HAD to, but it really wasn't that great. The premise if this book was GOLDEN. The characters seemed real enough and the details of their lives aligned pretty well with the strange things we find ourselves up against. Overall, there was a lot of teenager drama,humor, and language that I just didn't appreciate.


Nothing Stays Buried by P.J. Tracy // I snagged this one after it came across my desk at the library. It's the most recent installment in a series written by a mother-daughter duo (and most likely the final one, as the mother has since passed away). Knowing that made it mean even more. Their writing reminded me of Dee Henderson's books. In short..I'm looking forward to going back to the beginning and making my way through the rest of the series.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman // This book club read was a great addition to January's stack. This one is for fans of "A Man Called Ove" for sure. You'll find yourself pitying Eleanor and yet cringing when you realize just how much you can relate to her. I'm convinced that's why everyone likes this book. Give it a read and let me know when you do!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle // This was a re-read in ONE DAY book. I started it in the morning, read some more on my break at work, and then curled up on the sofa to finish it that night. I was supposed to go to a discussion which is what inspired me to re-read it in the first place. I didn't go and yet, having that day to go back through this book having read so many more books and lived so many more days since my last time around was discussion enough.

That's January in books so far. I'm also currently reading the final book in the Maze Runner series and a memoir by Ruth Reichl.

What are you reading?

That One Habit

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

I have lots of habits that are worth the work. I go to the grocery store with a list and a rule that if it's not on the list then it's not in the store. I am capable of using coupons without getting sucked into spending more than I would have if it wasn't for the coupon. There can be a chocolate cake sitting in front of me and I will be satisfied with one normal sized piece. I'm not one to let clutter build and build and build, I deal with it here a little there a little so it's never really out of control. I have this thing where if I'm sitting in a car waiting for something, I will tidy it up. I'm never overwhelmed by laundry because I always stay on top of it. I am really good at waiting because I don't see it as a bore.

These are little habits that I've developed and they serve me really well. They aren't huge. They don't require hardly any effort. The payoff comes with what they accomplish. Most of them are completely mindless. They're just part of who I am. The thing is, I'm really grateful for each one. For every good habit, I know I have bad ones. I put butter knives into the dishwasher handle up and refuse to pre-wash anything before it goes in. I only check the pockets on laundry that hasn't made it to the hamper yet. I carry around ice water like my life depends on it and leave water rings all over the place. I wait way too long to clean the beater bar on the vacuum. I'm not very generous when it comes to, well...anything. I am really good at leaving accomplishments for "someday" and not being bothered that I haven't even tried yet. My handwriting has been called chicken-scratch on more than one occasion. My posture is basically terrible. I repeat myself if it doesn't seem like I've been understood.

My point is...I have habits. Some good, some bad. Every single one of them with a traceable impact. Some I work on, some are little more than mere accidents. They're all worth considering and either strengthening or eliminating. We all have that one habit that makes the most difference in our lives. It's the thing that we can come back to for an automatic reset. It's the thing that we never abandon altogether. It's the thing that grounds us and centers us and grants us perspective. It's the  constant that everything else depends on.

For me, that habit is my time in the Word.

Nine times out of ten, it's as simple as sitting down with something to drink, a pen, my journal, and my Bible. That's it. No fancy books. No elaborate handouts. No accountability partners. No markers or paints or color coded highlighters. I go through spurts where I tie in another book or a deeper study, but I've found that what I crave most is just undivided time to read large chunks of Scripture and write out my thoughts and prayers and the ways what I've read intersects with what's going on in the world. I plod through chapter after chapter, going back to certain ones again and again while trying to make sure not too much time passes before I make it back around to the ones I'd otherwise forget about.

The one thing I hear over and over again where habits are concerned is that people wish they'd be better about reading their Bibles. And I get it. It IS important. And yet, it's the thing people tend to put off. I think it's mostly because they haven't formed a habit. I also think it's because they think it requires some kind of something that they don't have in them.

You don't have to be a scholar. You don't have to be a writer. You don't have to wake up extremely early. You don't have to have someone checking up on you. You don't have to have THE best translation.

When I first started, I often read my brand new Bible with my name on the cover in the car. I started with Revelation because I wanted to know what hadn't happened yet. Then, I moved onto Ephesians because I memorized a verse from there in Sunday school. In those days, that's all I did. I was 9 years old and I read the Bible the way I read any other book. Before I knew it, I found myself sitting on the blue shag carpet in my bedroom pouring over magazine versions of the Bible with a pencil in my hand. I filled notebooks with verses that were especially meaningful or challenging and scribbled thoughts of my own alongside of them. Then, I went to a leadership conference and was forced to spend solid hours in silence with my Bible and a journal outline. The assignment was to read a given text, copy it down, and work your way through it interpreting it and praying about it. I took that journal home with me and kept it up until it was full. And then, I bought a regular journal and kept reading and writing and praying my way through the Bible that way. Before I knew it, I had been at it for years. The habit that still seemed new, like something I do "now" but that hadn't really been doing for very long, had become a given.

I have a feeling it's similar for all of us. Whatever it is, we put effort into something and find meaning in it and before we know it, we don't ever really get away from it. Maybe it's Bible reading. Maybe it's walking. Maybe it's only ever taking showers first thing in the morning. Maybe it's going to the grocery store when we know it will be the least busy. Maybe it's stopping by our favorite coffee stand for a specific drink heated to the perfect temperature, no matter what. Maybe it's eating salads for lunch even though we'd rather have something hot and deepfried.

There's one habit that ties everything together for all of us.

If you've ever wanted that habit to be your time in the Word, give it another go. And keep giving it a go. It doesn't matter if 3 days or 8 days or 4 months go by between journal entries, choose a time, keep it simple, and watch as something you've wanted to be true of you becomes true of you. Before you know it, it'll be everything you hoped it would be. All because you stuck with it. All because you didn't give up. All because, it's part of who you are.

All you need is a Bible, a pen, a journal, and some time.

A Day Off

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

February 4, 2014

On Monday, Zach and Monica drove over to spend the day with us. I had been planning a few different options for the day, but when I heard that they were coming, I gladly pushed everything else aside and looked forward to being with them. My youngest brother turned 18 on Sunday and their trip was inspired by that, so the day felt like another chance to celebrate.

We laughed over old times. Had heart to hearts about the days ahead. Played games and ate and enjoyed every second we had before they had to leave. Monica and I made the most of the sunshine and blue skies with what might have been a 3 hour walk.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. day, so nobody had anywhere to be and every errand sat forgotten. They're the kind of friends that are easy to just be with. They don't require entertaining. They'll let me feed them tacos with canned refried beans and toast and tell me how good it all is. And they'll  even help me make it. We've all known each other so long that we pretty much can't remember not knowing each other.

Being with them was kind of like the shopping cart full of goodies. And it got me thinking and realizing that that's what I'd put in my cart...A day to just be with the people I love.

We'll eat and laugh and talk and play games. We'll make messes and tidy them up. We'll enjoy fresh air and probably a walk. We'll be quiet. We'll listen and ask questions. We'll remember.

All it takes is a day off.

What would you do with a day off? 

The Promise We Forget

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

January 25, 2015

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

We're all familiar with suffering and affliction. None of us can escape it. When we go to the store, we see people who appear to be struggling with all kinds of things. When we sit in the doctor's office, we rub shoulders with people who have received news that leaves them stunned. When we pick our children up from their activities, we chat with other parents who are questioning their ability to do right by the ones they love most.

Suffering and affliction are everywhere.

As Christians, we know that none of it is wasted. We know that all of it falls under the "all things" that God has promised to use for our good and His glory. We know that we're being made into the image of Christ. And so, we press on. Or, at least, we try.

We talk through it and pray through it and listen through it. We lend a hand when we can and accept help when it's offered to us. We do our best to hope in Him even when the situation leaves us wondering how we're ever going to muster the strength to get out of bed.

We know the truth and we beg Him to help us live like it.

Like so many other verses that we hold dear, we forget about something that's very important. We forget about what comes next, what comes after, what is tied directly to the very things we preach to ourselves on our darkest days. At least, I have.

As I face uncertainties and surround myself with reminders of God's truth and soveriegnty and the prayers of those who know what it is I'm up against and offer up prayers of my own for those who have let me into their suffering, I have completely missed the words that come next.

So, I'm here to share some news with you that you might need to hear as much as I did this morning.

We prepare for suffering and we do our best not to be undone by it, knowing that it is promised to us. But, do you know what else is promised to us?


Not just any comfort. Like the suffering, which is in God's hands and promised to accomplish His will in His people, this comfort is comfort that comes from Him and has a specific purpose.

We will be comforted by God. We ARE comforted by God. Right now, in the midst of whatever you're going through or whatever you're watching someone else go through, that thing in you that puts a smile on your face and a skip in your step and allows you to say, "You know, things are a mess, but somehow, I'm actually okay.", it's the character and presence and truth of God comforting you.

You might barely be able to say that you're okay or that things are going to work out for the ones you love, but the thing is, you can say it. You can always say it. And you will always be able to say it.

Because God is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do. He was with Christ and worked through Him and didn't let His suffering go on for a millisecond longer than it needed to to accomplish His glory and Christ's good. He was there comforting Him and that comfort is what got Christ through.

That same comfort is ours. Right now. Tomorrow. And forever more. He means for us to share in the suffering and the comfort and the hope together. With Christ and with one another.

After all, He is our God and we are His people.

What I'm Into Right Now

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

January 3, 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the year. I've been cleaning and doing laundry and brushing dogs (we're watching a friend's dog this week and there was SO MUCH HAIR) and squeezing in a quick visit with a friend and taking a precariously slow walk and losing (AGAIN) in a game of Ticket to Ride. Ordinary days like this one are kind of my favorite. They're not too full. You don't really know exactly what they'll hold, so you just move on from one thing to the next. 

From one thing to the next. Some things are hard. Some things are good. There's always some kind of next just around the corner. Here's a little round up of the nexts I've come across lately and found especially enjoyable. 

*Pretty much every video these people put online. Here's just one example

*Piper sermons on repeat. I listened to this one yesterday morning. 

*Movie marathons. I've watched more movies in the last few weeks than I have in the last six months. The Hobbit. Maze Runner. LOTR. And random movies that seem like the perfect thing to watch in twos. 

*One of the pairings was Nerve and the soundtrack got stuck in my head. These are my top four songs from the album. 

*Speaking of songs...I've also been listening to these songs by Trip Lee and Tedashii and NF.

*Copying down and hanging onto Scriptures like this one.


*Oranges. And fresh fruit in general. 

*Getting up early, opening the curtains, and taking coffee back to bed to watch the glimpse of the sunrise I get. 

*Writing in public places. I can really do it now without getting totally distracted. 

What have you been into lately?

Living That Way

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

February 15, 2013

It's the second day of a new year. The first day of business as usual. It's time to get ourselves back together and resume the lives we were leading before we got all distracted by all of the holiday shenanigans.

As I've clicked around the internet the last few days, I've seen post after post about what people are hoping for and planning to accomplish in this new year. Some have been super heartfelt, some have been very practical pieces offering five simple steps to take with you, and others have been quick little reflections.

They all got me thinking.

For one thing, I'm actually pretty happy with who I am and where I am and the habits I call my own. I'm always hearing people ragging on themselves about how they just don't sleep enough or don't drink enough water or would love to exercise, but just can't find the time. I hear them talk about how they procrastinate and hate cooking and cleaning and keeping up on life's minutiae. Every time I hear these kinds of comments I think, "WHY? How hard is it to do what's important to you, especially when you know it'll be good for you?"

I've never stopped someone mid rant. I've never looked at them with raised eyebrows and exclaimed, "Wow. You're a mess." I mean, that's what they're trying to tell me. They're a mess and they know it. And they want to change it. Only, they don't realllly want to. Otherwise, they would.

It's the second day of a new year and I'm in a different place than I have been in over two years. I have a contract waiting for my signature. Once I sign my name to the solid line, I'll know for sure, that I will be in this town at least until the spring of 2019.

Ever since August of 2015, I've been in this weird in-between place. At first, I thought my life was going to consist of going back and forth between The Queen's Cottage and our old town every three months or so. Then, it became clear that that wasn't going to happen, but I assumed that eventually we'd go back for an extended period of time. And then, we never did. We only went back to pack up the house and within a few months, we had a buyer. By the fall of 2016, they had the keys. After that, reality started to sink in. We didn't live in that town anymore. We LIVED here now. This was truly my next "home for now" place.

I wondered how long we'd be here. I gave up on finding my people even though I'd kind of found them like three times over again. I pushed my arms out and went back to being the homebody I used to be. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I volunteered and drove all over hill and dale getting people to where they needed to be. For all the changes and uncertainty, I took a lot of comfort in the fact that MY daily life hadn't changed much at all. I clung to the familiar rhythms of cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping and doing laundry and having a garden.

And then, in the summer of 2017 I did a few things for myself. I entertained the possibility of working outside the home and just as fall was getting started, I agreed to two positions. We took a break from theatre and I took a break from every non-essential while I threw myself into figuring out how to do MOST of what I had already done as well as I could now that I had about half as much time to do it in. It wasn't a difficult adjustment. My family is great and I didn't have a choice other than to be patient with myself.

Anyway...Back to this whole new years thing. I know I'm not anywhere close to perfect, but I'm actually pretty happy with who I am and how I spend my time. For the first time in two years I have a bit of a long range picture of where I will be and I've finally agreed to do a few things while I'm here.

I won't be trying to get to bed earlier or to drink more water or to be more active. I won't be trying to buy less junk food and more produce or spend less time on the internet. I won't be trying to read my Bible regularly or spend time actually praying for the people I told I'd be praying for. I certainly won't be trying to lose weight or do a better job of eating out less. I won't be trying to care about people more or doing better at putting them first. And the fact that I can honestly say all of that has me grateful. It's nothing to brag about. It's not because I'm this awesome person who has it all together. The steadiness in my life isn't a work of my own drive or makeup or effort.

All of it, every good habit, every smile, every ounce of dedication, all the willingness to pursue and apply wisdom come straight from God. It's His grace poured out and worked out in me. All I have to do is look to Him in eager expectation and keep looking and then obey.  And even those things come from Him.

So many of us run from living that way. It boils down to thinking that our way will be better and make us happier. We can't and won't follow Him until we hear Him beckoning to us.

I'm going into 2018 with a single word on my mind and the resolve to keep pressing on. One day at a time. One good habit at a time. Sure, there are things that I can work on and I'll  be sure to do that. As I do, there will be one line running through my head, namely, it's God that's getting me through.