2015 Reads

One of my goals for this upcoming year is to spend less time in front of the TV and more time with my nose in a book.  As much as I do love a physical book, I’ve seen several folks I hear and see  out there in blogs, Instagram and podcasts -(Emily, Jessica and others) talk about the ease of a kindle and how it’s really helped them to read more–especially being super busy gals, wives and moms. After using the app consistently on my iPad in the fall and actually making it through several books, I was grateful to receive the Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas.  I’m excited as it’s much easier to use one-handed than the iPad (which will come in hand when the Bebe arrives!) I also love taking the kindle to bed because I’m much less apt to browse social media when my only option is the book I’m reading.  And it automatically updates to Goodreads which I’ve re-started using to keep track of my reads (you’ll see a nifty new little widget down there on the right side of what I’m currently reading). I will say I am still a fan of a traditional paperback for non-fiction especially and love the kindle for fiction, but it’s hard to pass up a great Kindle sale on some of the books on my wishlist when they are $1.99!

Goodreads has a yearly reading challenge each year which I’ve never “officially” participated in. My goal this year is 26 books, which seemed really lofty.  The beau did it a few years ago and warned me that it was challenging. Granted his book selections are quite different than mine, I felt up to the challenge.  So far I’m ahead of my needed pace and have already finished 3 books–ALL on the Kindle!  One additional thing I love is that two of the three books were checked out from our local library!  One challenge is only having 7 days to finish them, but I’m making it work and it’s keeping me on pace.  I plan to update each month with my books read the previous month, so be on the look out for that post soon!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share the 11 books I read in 2015.  I have logged them on Goodreads but hope to do a better job of sharing a review on there as well this upcoming year. These reviews are MUCH shorter than the upcoming ones will be!

Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have-Annie Downs

I met Annie a few years ago at Allume and it felt as if we were instant friends.  Reading this book was like catching up at her favorite coffee shop. Fantastic read!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette-Maria Semple

Super duper fun fiction read!  Highly recommend.

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life-Shauna Niequist

Shauna is probably my favorite voice right now speaking right into this season for me.  This, her first book, was no different than her more recent works. I love the short story-ish format.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful-Myquillyn Smith

Not your “typical” book, but a great illustrated example of how I hope to create our home as we’ve journeyed through a year of renovations (the end is in sight!) Love reading her blog and this book was no different.

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon-Sophie Hudson

This was purchased on a kindle deal and it was a great fun read.  Definitely one that’ll make you laugh!

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption-Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton

This was our Common Reading Experience book selection at UK this year and although a difficult read, an important one.

Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul-Jennie Allen

I had purchased the previous version on a kindle sale, but after Jennie updated this with a bible study, I jumped in with two feet with a group of 20-ish other ladies at 6:30am this summer (YIKES!) It is such an important book with an amazing take-away.

Big Little Lies-Liane Moriarty

After a heavy year and hard season I needed some more fiction.  I heard a lot of great things about Liane for several guests on The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast and found this one at half-price books on the discount bin.  I’ve read several more of hers since then (some in 2015, some in 2016 already) and this one is still probably my favorite.

The Husband’s Secret-Liane Moriarty

My second Liane read–another great one!

 

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards-Jen Hatmaker

Read this book.  I took it with me to Virginia when my mom passed away and Jen’s truth and humor were a balm to my saddened heart.

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World-Emily P. Freeman

This book. I slowly savored this book since the fall and didn’t finish until right before the new year. It was released the same day as For the Love–which everyone seemed to be guffawing about at the time–and rightfully so, but my heart was in this message. Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. There were nights I’d read this before bed and just be in tears (It could also be that pregnancy had something to do with that). I can’t wait to go back through this with a pen and highlight my favorite parts. The first go through just wasn’t enough for me.  Looking forward to a long weekend with nothing to do but just devour this after savoring it.

What reads do you recommend I add to my 2016 list?

Day 10-Rest…in it’s practical form (Part 1)

So this rhythm of rest that we’ve adopted–what does that look like actually? I thought I’d share just a few things that have helped me change on this journey to being over-busy to being intentional and creating space for physical, mental and emotional rest and health. Yes, we do our best to Sabbath each week, but I’ve found that it’s just as much the day-to-day that makes me feel I’ve experienced rest or not. Sabbath isn’t just something that was intended to be practiced weekly, but daily, in small ways.

Please know I am not an expert and many of these are still a work in progress.  

2014-06-07 08.08.38-2

  1. Create breathing room-I don’t schedule things back-to-back in one night. A few years ago, my Wednesday nights went from 5pm-10pm with three meetings after being at work all day.  Although the meetings were energizing, I was so physically exhausted I couldn’t follow up on any of the things that I was to do, or process the good work that was happening in these meetings. Even now if I I have more than one thing on the calendar in one evening, I don’t schedule them back to back. I leave space to breathe. To pay attention to the sunset as I drive. To arrive early. To run by the half-price bookstore or Target. To make a phone call. This has been truly monumental and I’d say that it’s been the most long-standing change made.
  2. No more than two activities in an evening-this might seem impossible for you, but just as I learned that the breathing room was important, I’ve learned that the more I pack into my schedule, the less present I am with those things. Even good things. Or seemingly mindless things. For example, I may have a chiropractor appointment, a meeting and need to visit my mom all in one night. To be honest, the thing that probably would get nixed is visiting my mom. Or I would go and be rushed or not fully present. I liken it to a piece of a pie. If I have 4 things to do every day–I can give the best of my attention to those four things. So with the above example, I also add in work and personal/home care and I’ve got a pie 5 things–each slice is a little smaller and my attention is lessened.  If I cut one out, then I’ve got 4 pieces and all is well. Sometimes it’s the small changes that make the biggest impact.
  3. One weeknight with nothing on the calendar– this has been hard.  But probably the most necessary.  This is the night that is open on my calendar other than the note that says “Home night”.  That day (or sometimes the one before), I can decide how I want to spend it. That’s the key–it has to be something I want  to do.  Sometimes, I’m in a state of wanting my house more clean or wanting to have no unfinished laundry hanging over my head. Sometimes the want is a bath. Or Call the Midwife. Or a walk. Or water aerobics. I also try and make this a night that Lew is working.
  4. Balance of productivity and rest on the weekend. When you’re renovating a house and you and your spouse both work full time (one working shift work at night) sometimes you have to take what you can get. I will say that I think balancing out the productive and rest is key.  It can be quite easy to see a fully open weekend and already have a huge list of all that you want to accomplish on whatever project you may be working on. Or perhaps it’s work outside. Or cleaning the house. Or prepping for the school project. Or even good, fun things–going to the orchard, the football game, dinner with friends, birthday party, etc, etc. The list can always go on. And even the good things leave us exhausted. So maybe it’s one day of work on the house and the next of rest, family time, celebrating, etc. Or mornings of productivity and fun evenings.  There has to be balance though or else I come straight back into the work-week flat-lined.
  5. Sabbath-So that Sabbath state. In the traditional Jewish sense, Shabbat was from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. In doing a little refresher research to make sure I had my facts straight, there is even a Sabbath app that will tell you the exact Sabbath times for your location. I’ve read several book on Sabbath over the years (and hope to do a refresh soon) on some of my favorites. One of the books that resonated the most with me was Sabbath in the Suburbs, by Rev. MaryAnn McKibben-Dana. It was practical. And talked about how to observe Sabbath with a family and soccer and church responsibilities and friends and all those fun things we listed above. So how do I even define Sabbath? Her definition has stuck with me:

    Am I making forward progress on something?

    Now, we can over-analyze this to death.  Your knitting or coloring or even playing solitaire is making forward progress, but it’s also relaxing and probably something you don’t do every day.
    So in a nutshell, my definition of Sabbath (traditionally) is from sunset one day until sunset the next (sometimes longer) and includes not making forward progress on anything. I’ll get even more practical about what our Sabbath looks like later today! (And yes, I took yesterday off from forward-progressing this 31 day series for Sabbath).

Books I’ve enjoyed on Sabbath:

I realized I had more to say on this topic so check out part 2 here!

Check out my other #Write31Days challenge entries here.

February 2015

What I’m learning:

There was so much learned during this sabbatical month. It’s hard to even put into words. I’m actually still in my last week of sabbatical life so I’ll be back to share a bit more of my takeaways at some point later in the month. All I know is that some amazing things can happen when you quiet your mind and calendar and spirit to receive.

I do know that I love how things work out–call it my “connectedness” strength coming into play–we received almost an entire week off of work due to a major snow-storm that had records snow-fall and low temps for our area. Talk about a blessing of a sabbatical within a sabbatical. I also had 2 sick days during this time–definitely not a blessing, but I think sometimes our bodies respond and tell us when we need attention and rest. I have definitely been cashing in on the “good sleep” equation of my February plans.

Overall I would say that it is amazing what you can learn about yourself when you take a step back and quiet yourself, your calendar and even your house (definitely something I’ll be doing in the coming months). I have found some clarity on things I’ve been pondering for some time, passion fueled for things that had been simmering for some time and joy out of simple things like a spontaneous at home date night when the beau opens up the good bourbon. And having a clear schedule to take advantage of UK tickets that become available to you the night before a game isn’t too shabby either! GO CATS! 30-0!

uk game

Books I read in February:

February collage

What I’m loving: 

  • Podcasts in general.  Such a great way to absorb and learn.  I love music, don’t get me wrong, but with a commute, it’s so nice to think and use that time wisely.  I’ve been enjoying some new music at work, which is great but trying to absorb more on my drive.  Some of my favorites:
    • Relevant Podcast.  So hilarious.  Great guests.  Great way for me to get some news (since I’m off social media and don’t watch the news)
    • This Radiolab. The idea of Facebook and social science research and how we share and retrieve and communicate. So fascinating both personally and professionally.
    • That Sounds Fun from Annie Downs. This girl makes me laugh like no other and I just LOVE the episode I linked on Nashville food.
    • The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Absolutely love hearing this gal talk with a girl friend over things that are really meaningful, fun, real topics–and sometimeshard ones.
    • Catalyst Leader Interview with Shelley Giglio.  Cannot even begin to say how powerful this was for me.  I want a transcript of certain parts of this.  Shelley’s interview starts at the 20 minute mark and ends around the 45 minute mark.
  • Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR.  Have loved these for a while, but really great to discover new music or see a new side of an artist.
  • The Lone Bellow. My love for NYC meets my love for all things southern.  And there’s a mandolin playing red-head.  (You can combine the last two by watching the Tiny Desk Concert of The Lone Bellow).  So very very sad their conert in Louisville sold out literally as I was getting ready to purchase my tickets. Same thing happened with StubHub. Guess it wasn’t meant to be!
  • Behind the Mask–absolutely LOVE this Hulu original —“Behind the Mask” dives into the colorful, unusual side of sports through the eyes of four mascots. (description via Hulu).  It’s a good heartfelt show that’s fun and has had both the beau and I in stitches and on the verge of tears.
  • Feedly. With the lack of social media in my life, I’ve been taking  more time to read not only books but blogs.  Man, oh man, I have been missing out on some great stuff.  I love feedly to manage my subscriptions and easily share via email or social media (which I’ll be doing more of I’m sure!)

What I’m saying YES to in March:

  • Savor –the devotional by my gal Shauna Niequist-releases March 10th and I’m super stoked. Pre-ordered and ready. “Living abundantly where you are, as you are.” Could not be more perfect for me right now.
  • Refit Revolution Live Master class! So super pumped. This way of working out has really been sustaining to me working out while we had snow and freezing temps outside. And I can barely make it through this workout without tears.
  • Real life connections. Coffee dates. People over appointments or things. Hosting dinners in our home.  Voxer (oh my gosh–I love Voxer–if you are on, please connect with me there! I love hearing actual voices and not just reading texts!)
  • More intentional dates with the beau–we’ve come up with a list of restaurants we love and some new ones we want to try and when it’s date night out–we’ll draw from the list–excited to try this out starting this month.
  • Clean eating and fun movement!

What I’m saying NO  to in March:

  • Facebook and Twitter on my phone.
  • Things that put ME in the spotlight. I want to serve and let Jesus be the focus.
  • Time-Wasters. I know that if i start a Gilmore Girls episode, I’ll likely watch 3. I want to make the most of my time especially after work in the evenings.
  • Clutter. Mental and Physical stuff that is in excess and not necessary.
  • Self-doubt, self-judgement and self-criticism. I want to be in the ring of my own life fighting hard even if the outcome isn’t what I wanted.  I don’t want to be my own critic.

it-is-not-the-critic-who-counts

 So what book recommendations do you have for me?

And what will you be saying yes and no to?

Weekly Roundup-February 24, 2012

Goals:

  • Physical–It’s been a good week.  This week’s running schedule was a little lighter as compared to last week’s 8 miler to cap the week.  Speaking of that 8 miler–I did finish it.  Man—what a feeling of accomplishment and exhaustion all wrapped up into one 1/2 hour of laying on the couch with my legs elevated after it was over.  I know that continuing to lose some pounds will help out with some of the pain I’ve been experiencing in my knees.  I’ve been a little more lax in my eating –still eating “Paleo”, but with more choice meals and items than I know is good for me.  That will definitely be reigned in as I’ve seen such a difference in my energy level, my weight and just overall temperament this week.
  • Spiritual–I’ve put The Circle Maker on a bit of a hold to read a book I ordered so that I could participate in an online book club over at The Clothes Make The Girl for The Gifts of Imperfection.  Man–it is similar to One Thousand Gifts, in that I want to make this a book I read multiple times a year.  The author, Brene Brown, is a researcher at the University of Houston, but there have been so many spiritual “a-ha” moments, its’ just crazy. One thing I think is so neat is just the way that God chooses to echo certain things over and over and over in your life.  Right now, it’s all about the darkness and the light. In the [somewhat] words of Kari Jobe, “I am the light of the world–I am a city on a hill…”  I wasn’t able to go to an Ash Wednesday service this week which made me very sad, but I had some great discussions with some students about it.  Being that I’m giving up one of my major vices, I’ve had to retrain the folks at the local establishments I visit that my ‘”regular” order will be sans my favorite beverage for a while. More on this to come…
  • Creative–Still at a standstill in this area.  But, I did read a great thought on creativity last night in The Gifts of Imperfection that really got me motivated. Brene says “If creativity is seen as a luxury or something we do when we have spare time, it will never be cultivated.”  (p.97). Talk about being convicted for “lack of time” for projects!  I must make this a priority to cultivate my giftedness–whether that is blogging, crafting or letter writing.
  • Home--Things just feel so much “homier”–it’s amazing what real furniture, lamps and some intentional home-care will do.  We still have some projects that need finishing, but I’m hopeful to have some updates on those soon.  And I was reminded that I really need to post some photo updates of our hose on the blog–I can’t believe that hasn’t happened yet!  Perhaps that will be a project I tackle in March–I only have a few days to finish my February project!  This week we began implementing our daily cleaning blitz and so far, I think it’s gonna be really great for us to make sure our home is clean on a consistent basis.  When you live in an older home you are renovating, in the beginning it just NEVER feels clean, but since it’s feeling more like home, it’s just become more obvious how dirty our old home can get. 🙂  We take 15, 20, 30 minutes (really just depends on if we have dinner in the oven and how long that will take) and tackle an area of our home.  We just do this three days a week, but I feel it’s going to make a huge impact.  One day is surfaces, the next day is floors and the last day is bathrooms and just general “picking up” prior to the weekend when we’re more likely to have folks over.
  • Personal–Been a bit of an “off” week for me–very pendulum swinging from super slow to oh-my-gosh-how-did-my-day-become-so-crazy-am-I-gonna-survive?  I’m looking forward to a nice Sabbath rest on Sunday. And some crafting.

Mom Update: Mom was moved to a different room this week and has a roommate now!  I think this will be really great for her–we all can get lonely from time to time and being in a situation like she is, I’m sure it’s only compounded.  There are always adjustments, but we’ll make it work.  If you’d like her new room number (for card sending purposes) let me know!

Yummy Recipes! Again, with the crazy week that was, I don’t even remember the recipes from this week other than they were some old standards.  However, I did make some super yummy Cabbage Soup that was just amazing (even though I used purple cabbage so my leftovers the next day were quite colorful) and the most amazing Banana Carrot muffins.  There was no added honey or maple syrup and these bad boys were delish!  I was very proud that we didn’t devour them by Tuesday!  They were that good.  I forgot to take photos of either (Photo Phail!) but I’m sure they’ll both grace the menu again soon!

“Pinteresting” Things:  If you’re on pinterest, feel free to follow my boards!

Very cute “upcylced” Christmas tins–what a great re-use.  I’ll have to scour the Goodwill for some of these!

Upcycled Tins

This is an awesome bathroom–love the dark walls with the lighter fixtures and vintage accessories:

Dark and Light

Finally, I absolutely LOVE this vintage kids room–what a great idea to furnish a kids room on the {fairly} cheap!

Vintage Kids Room

Things I’m learning: Margin.  Balance.  Rest.  Themes I can’t seem to get away from. I question a lot that doesn’t show up on this blog and spent time in prayer and reflection wondering if my life is having the meaning it is intended to…(okay–so now it’s on the blog).  I want my life to mean something.  I want the business of my life to be for eternal and intentional gains; not personal ones for me or others.  Not quite sure what all this means, just a bit of what floats around in my head…

Interesting quote/Scripture:

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” p. 82, The Gift of Imperfection, Brene Brown 

“The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.” John 1:5

“You belong to the day and the light not to the night and the dark.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5

And now for some Kari Jobe-you were meant for more than this…

Hope you’ve had a great week!  Happy Weekend!

Community follow-up

Just read this little quote in my current read and had to share after yesterday’s post about community.

If we are honest about life in human community, we must admit that the people closest to us are not only our connection points in a support system that we depend on for our very lives.  They are that, for sure, but they are also mirrors who reflect the hidden shadows of our souls.  ~Wisdom of Stability p. 94

I hope that there are folks in your life–some community in your day to day–that will help you see those hidden shadows.  It is in those times of discovery, we are continually shaped into the men and women Christ longs for us to become.  Thanks to not only my small group, but the other folks and mentors who have allowed me to look back at my reflection, see those shadows and have the courage to change.

Best,