Monday, May 30, 2016

One day reading

These days since it takes me so long to make my way through a book, I forget what I want to read next. I also have a to-read list that's been languishing on Goodreads for quite some time. I used to add books to it regularly. I'd read a review of a book that looked good and add it to the list. Of course, often something else would come along, or a favorite author would release a new book, and the "this looks interesting" book never actually made it into my hand. And I haven't added anything for a while, but I think it's time to start utilizing that list a bit more again once I finish my current read. Here are the top five books on my Goodreads to-read list: 

1. Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo 
          A new book (series?) set in the Russian-inspired fantasy world of Bardugo's Shadow and Bone.           I know nothing about this book except the author, and that's enough for me. I also have a vague           memory of seeing it compared to Ocean's 11? 

2.  The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow 
           Again, can't remember much of why I added this, but I have read a book by this author before,            and really enjoyed it, and I do remember seeing rave reviews.

3.  A Brief History of Montmaray, by Michelle Cooper
           Historical fiction that has actually made it onto my Kindle. I'm always in the market for good              historical fiction.

4. The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen
            I think I once read this book compared to The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, and I                   could seriously write paragraphs about how much I love that series.

5. The Girl You Left Behind, by Jojo Moyes
             Not sure of the plot of this book, but I am a huge Jojo Moyes fangirl.

Honorable (non-fiction) mention: Start, by Jon Acuff 
             Several friends and the hubby have recommended this book to me. Time to get it on the                        nightstand.

Well, we'll see how well I stick to this, or what shiny book bumps one of these down a notch. At least I have a plan for the "what to read next" dilemma. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Monday list

1. You may have noticed it's a Presidential election year. You know, if you have eyes or ears. I'd like to also remind everyone that in addition to educating yourself before voting -- not just buying all the sound bites -- remember that the President is not the only person we are electing. And, for those who have forgotten a lot of what we learned in civics/government/social studies, the executive branch is not the only branch of our government. We also need to pay attention to who we're electing to Congress and the Senate at both the state and local levels, to School Board, County Commissioner, Mayor, Governor, etc. There are a lot of elected officials that affect our lives in big ways, and I think if we really want change in our country and in our government we need to look at all levels, and all positions.

2. On a lighter note....hiding chocolate chip cookies in the freezer doesn't necessarily mean 'out of sight, out of mind.'

3. Another hot and humid week ahead. I'm not ready for summer weather. Although I always love summer produce.

4. Speaking of produce...I've got some basil growing! Finally! Now I just need to get some rosemary going. I may jump start that with some seedlings.

5. Reading...The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm taking my time. Partly because I'm also in a Netflix mood these days and partly because I want to savor every moment. Savor writing that gives you lines like this:

"It had been a lot more straightforward when she'd just assumed that she could despise them all from the thin air of the moral high ground"

"She just wanted to be friends with Gansey forever, and maybe one day also have carnal knowledge of him."


Storm Clouds Rolling In (Bregdan Chronicles, #1)Saint AnythingLock and Key

 I've finally finished a few books in the last couple of weeks (just in time for the release of Raven King which I am simultaneously SO EXCITED to read and putting off because then the series will be over officially). 

I've mentioned it previously when I started it, but Storm Clouds Rolling In is the first in a Civil War fiction series. Overall I really enjoyed the book. You could tell that the author put a lot of time and care into researching, and that she was passionate about her subject. I did find the writing to be a tad overdone, and the romantic stories pretty cheesy. But, I'm interested to pick up another book or two in the series and see if the author's writing improves.

Whenever I'm in the mood for a quick read, sweet romance, complicated family relationships, friendships, and well-written characters I know I can't go wrong with a Sarah Dessen book. Saint Anything and Lock and Key did not disappoint.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

be different

It's a common complaint: the internet has given us the distance and opportunity to be hateful. We have forgotten how to have civilized conversation about sensitive and passion-provoking topics. Our culture is one of divisiveness and extremes. Us versus them. For us or against us. Tolerance has become synonymous with agreement. 

But a funny thing happened a few weeks ago. I read a Civil War novel (Storm Clouds Rolling In, by Ginny Dye) that reminded me very vividly that passionate division is nothing new. Disagreement turning to hatefulness is nothing new. Of course, throughout history, this often leads to more open conflict like civil wars, revolutionary wars.

So it's no surprise then, that when the Bible talks about what the Kingdom of God looks specifically addresses how we talk to each other, how we disagree with each other, and how we treat each other. If we call ourselves children of God, If we consider ourselves part of the Kingdom of God, then we are called to look different. To act different. To BE different than those who have not yet taken up residence in that Kingdom. And the funny thing is, if I'm full of the Spirit, living a Kingdom life...that's going to make God's Kingdom look like a pretty great place. Maybe it will make people want to find out how to live there too.

I will be the first to say that sometimes God does ask us to rise up, stand against evil, and seek justice particularly for those who are marginilized or can't easily help themselves (how many times does Jesus tell us to take care of widows and orphans? A lot. And that's just one example). I believe God calls us to speak truth and live rightly, and when the circumstances call for it (mostly when it comes to other God-followers), to gently and lovingly point someone who is sinning back to Jesus -- to come alongside them and walk with them back into reconciliation with God.

Much of what God calls us to do comes down to relationship. Relationship with him, relationship with others. Not everyone has a public forum, and not everyone needs one. If God gives you an opportunity to do good, fight for truth, make a difference in making our broken and hurting world a little better or a little more in line with what God wants -- take the opportunity! If it's on a large scale -- awesome! If it's on a small scale -- awesome! Sometimes it's taking the time to vote, or taking the time to say hello to your neighbor, or offering someone a cup of cold water or a smile.

Several Bible verses have really stood out to me lately and seem particularly applicable our cultural atmosphere of vitriol. I'll say it again: it's okay to share what you believe, and it's okay if that's different from what someone else believes, and it's even okay to be bold in the right context. What I want to think about these days though, is not always what I'm saying, but how I'm saying it. I want to ask myself if I'm listening, not just talking (it's called conversation). Am I praying for discernment that God will help me know when, what, and how to speak to others about tricky subjects.

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." - Galations 6:9-10

"Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. he will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him..." Psalm 37:1-7

"Before destruciton a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor" Proverbs 18:12 (pride goes before the fall)

"If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge...death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who live it will eat its fruits." Proverbs 18:13, 15, 21

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to dirnk; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:18-21

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Wednesday list

1. Family visits! That's the theme of May (well, end of April and May). A visit from Oma and Papa from Missouri...a visit to the East Texas homestead...and an upcoming jaunt to see the Austin cousins. We all love it!

2. Iced coffee. 'Tis the season! (Hot) Nothing quite like some cold brew.

3. Yoga. Still running, of course, but I'm also really digging yoga at the moment. A friend recommended an instructor with some YouTube videos and they are perfect. A little variety and not too long. (Erin Motz, if you're interested)

4. Reading. Catching up on some Sarah Dessen (Lock and Key and Saint Anything), which is always fun. Great contemporary ya fiction. Listening to some Brandon Sanderson, and trying to find the perfect time to start Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater. It's the fourth and final book in her Raven cycle and I am so excited to read it and sad it's over. I got to go to a book signing last week (thanks Jeremy!) to buy the book and get it signed. Maggie is so funny. She tells a story like...well, a storyteller. It was fun.

5. Short list today...diapers wait for no one.