Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. I'm visiting an old friend this week -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Some friends decided to read it in anticipation of the movie adaptation coming out soon. They asked if I wanted to read along with them, and I am all here for it. I loved this book! I started my re-read last night and even just a few pages in I was transported.

2. I've gotten really into Instagram the past year or so, and one of my favorite people to follow is the children's book author Sally Lloyd-Jones. Instagram is all about photos (and sometimes captions), and Sally Lloyd-Jones' feed is partly adorable pictures people send her of children reading her books, and pictures of nature or architecture -- the kind of picture you take when you're out on a walk and something just catches your eye. She lives in NYC and travels quite a bit, and looking at her pictures are like going for walks around the world with your favorite aunt. They fill a tiny corner of my soul that loves finding art in the mundane.

3. Needtobreathe (my favorite band) recently announced a new tour by dropping a new song that you can either purchase or stream on their web site. Go listen to it...

So good, right? They're coming to Houston in the fall, right around my birthday, which is when they've been in Houston their past few tours. It's basically a birthday tradition, and I am NOT complaining. If you haven't seen them live, do yourself a favor and find a tour stop near you and get tickets. I could listen to their albums all day long, and they are even better live.

4. I've got an idea brewing...I know, I feel like I say that every week. And it's kind of true. I'm trying to stay tapped into my creative writing gene, and keep up the momentum I started building last year. It's life giving (and actually...John Eldredge talks abut that in The Journey of Desire, which I'm still reading and still loving). I'm also trying to use the kids' time at Mothers' Day Out to see if I can channel some of that writing/editing energy into extra income. It's been slow going, to be honest, which keeps me in an almost constant state of re-evaluating my efforts and focus. And to be honest again, all this thinking has become my excuse for getting as active in submitting my finished manuscript to agents. I'm finding excuse because if I don't submit my manuscript, I can't get rejected, right?

5. And for a little Wednesday inspiration, here's another quote from The Journey of Desire:
"The kingdom of God brings restoration. Life is resotred to what it was meant to be...For it to be good againis not for it to be destroyed, but healed, renewed, brought back to its goodness...When he announces the full coming of the kingdom, Jesus says, 'Look, I am making all things new!' (Rev. 21:5 NLT). He does not say, 'I am making all new things.' He means that the things that have been so badly broken will be restored and then some."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. What day is it again? Yesterday was what felt like my first routine day in a weeks. I wouldn't call myself rigid, and I do like adventure and spontaneity now and then; but my brain thrives on rhythms and routines, so going straight from travel to illnesses was driving me crazy.

2. I like Spring, and Spring in Houston really is beautiful....except for the thick layer of yellow pine pollen that covers everything for a good month or two. I wash a lot of yellow kids clothes in March and April. The saddest thing these days is that it's perfect weather for sitting outside and enjoying our screened in porch. guessed it. It doesn't help that there are two pine trees right at the corner of our porch. I love the shade in the summer, but's not so much fun right now. That said, I'm itching to get outside with a bucket full of rags and do some cleaning back there. Having a screened in porch is one of my favorite things about our little rental house.

3. Speaking of Spring...Christina's favorite outdoor activity these days is to wander through the yard (or the neighbors' yards) picking "flowers" -- i.e., flowering weeds -- and bringing them home to put in little cups of water all over our house. It's pretty adorable. Also a little messy.

4. We got a new mattress this week! We bought our previous mattress 15 years ago, and while it's been a really fantastic and comfortable was time. We're trying out Tuft & Needle, one of the foam style mattresses (the kind that get shipped to you shrink wrapped in a box). We get 100 days to try it out, but I'm currently loving it. And the kids are loving the box it came in.

5. I sped through a young adult book last week that I'd bought on sale for the Kindle a while back (I think I saw a positive review of it somewhere before buying it) -- The Start of Me and You, by Emery Lord. It was a really excellent book, the kind of contemporary teen fiction that balances heavy and light in a way that grounds the story in reality, but doesn't get too dark and depressing (there is a place for dark and depressing teen fiction to be sure, but it's not my personal favorite). The story touches on grief, family, change, and friendship. It's about discovering that life is a journey, and we're not meant to stay in one place. On a personal note, the story has some nice details that speak to my nerdy heart -- lots of literature references, some love for the beloved tv show Firefly, and teenagers that love to spend an evening sitting in a coffee shop reading (hello, 16 year old Amanda) Plus, what's a young adult novel without a little bit of romance, right? And this one is on point.

6. I have to end the list with another quote from The Journey of Desire, which I mentioned last week that I started reading (and am still loving). I've been thinking a lot the past couple of years about what it means that the Kingdom of God is now, not just in heaven ("your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." And this illustration speaks powerfully:
"For most Christians, heaven is a backup plan...heaven is an investment we've made, like treasury bonds or a retirement account, which we're hoping will take care of us in the future sometime, but which we do not give much thought to at present. It's tucked away in a drawer at the back of our minds while we throw our immediate energies into playing the stock market."

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Wednesday list...

1. "Back to life...back to reality..." We were on vacation last week, a trip out to Atlanta to visit some good friends. When we planned our trip we were looking at just a long weekend, but it was so much cheaper to fly out for a whole week we decided to just make a vacation out of it. And really, it's hard to beat a family trip that involves both fun and friends. We relaxed, played outside, went to playgrounds, the Children's Museum and the Georgia Aquarium, played cards, ate good food, and of course had lots of great, leisurely conversations (as an aside...sometimes leisurely conversations feel like such a luxury, and something I want to prioritize in my life). We got to meet new people, and unexpectedly got to visit with some other friends who now live in Charlotte. I have a full heart!

2. A full heart is good because I also have a little kiddo who has some kind of sickness. I'm praying hard that I've sprayed enough Lysol around the house to spare the rest of us. Sometimes, my brain likes to play tricks on me and convince me that if I just did all the right things my family could avoid all illnesses. Ha! Except that we don't live in a bubble so...I have to give myself a little truth pep talk and humbly remind myself that illness is just kind of part of life.

3. I started reading The Journey of Desire, by John Eldredge - a recommendation and loan from the friends we visited last week. It's thought-provoking and I'm enjoying it a lot so far.

4. Speaking of stories, I've also been slowly making my way through the new Star Trek: Discovery series on CBS All Access. The tone is somewhat cinematic, and similar to some of the more intense and dramatic seasons of Deep Space Nine. Discovery certainly started off with a bang, and I wasn't quite sure what direction they were going to take, but it has the heart of Star Trek -- compassion, curiosity, adventure, relationships, and asking big questions through small stories -- so I'm here for it (I have less enthusiasm to the visual re-imagining of the Klingons, but I guess that was inevitable).

5. I'm searching for an agent at the moment, but have also started a new story. It's in the newborn stage at the moment, and while I'm thinking it's going to end up being a young adult novel, I'm not one hundred percent sure. I know it has siblings, friends, and music. I'm not breaking any new ground, but as a creative writing professor once told me -- there are no new stories, just fresh ways of telling them. I've also been trying to think of other ways to use this blog besides just an outlet for my random thoughts every week and the occasional longer book review. I'm toying with the idea of finding weekly or bi-weekly creative writing prompts and playing around with those on here, just to use my writing muscles in a slightly different way.'s just the start of a thought.

p.s., here's a quote from The Journey of Desire that I keep thinking about:
"Christianity is not an invitation to become a moral person. It is not a program for getting us in line or for reforming society. It has a powerful effect upon our lives, but when transformation comes, it is always the aftereffect of something else, something at the level of our hearts. At its core, Christianity begins with an invitation to desire."