Friday, August 31, 2018

Watch Your Mouth

So last week I started talking about some thoughts I had about words. I wasn't really done, but I didn't want to make the post too long. So I'm going to put more thoughts here.

Photo credit: Maggie-A-Day

A LOT of people in world speak death! They say nice words in a tone that isn't nice and you know those words are really death. Sometimes they use death words with a death tone. Sometimes they say death words with a nice tone and you aren't sure, but you think those words are death. They use words on the internet with no tone and maybe those are death too. It is really depressing and disheartening to be around people that so often speak death. It is so easy for a few misplaced words to make you feel less than or to set off your anxiety or a thousand other rotten negative feelings that you don't really want.

And maybe it is you using some of those death words and death tones. Let's be honest at times it is all of us. We all need to be more conscious of our words and how we use them. A few thoughts about how to do that.

Acknowledge and Affirm - Acknowledge what they said. Let them know that you heard what they had to say. By doing this, you are valuing their thoughts and feelings. You are valuing their humanity. Even if you disagree with them, acknowledge that they feel that way. Affirm the parts you can affirm. Like with my 4 year old. I need to acknowledge what she said and feels even if she is yelling it. I get her on to my lap and affirm what it can. "It is hard to be patient." "It is hard to grow up." "It is okay to be sad." "It is okay to be angry."
Then say the part that you need to disagree about. "You can't yell." "You can't hit." They are much more likely to listen to you because you listened to them first. As adults, we must do this with each other. We can not just do this with kids and not do this with each other. When you really want to let loose those death words or death tones, take deep breath. Then put aside yourself and try to listen to them. Try to see where they are coming from. Be aware of what else you have said and how that could make them feel. That leads me to my second thought.

Try to see both sides of the story. You might be angry and frustrated. You might have a good reason to be angry and frustrated. But try to see things from their perspective. Maybe they are angry and frustrated as well. Maybe they are afraid. If you can sympathize with their situation and what they might be feeling, you are less likely to use death words or death tones. If you have to confront them about something, then you can use a reasoning that affirms them and encourages them. You can still confront them, but you will confront them in a way that uses life words and life tones.
For instance if someone isn't living up to their end of a bargain. You are frustrated, but you also know they have a sick family member or extra work at their job, etc. You can start with "You aren't doing enough." OR you could start with "You have a lot going on right now." Then present the situation in a way that acknowledges their side and affirms what they have been doing. They will be ready to talk to you reasonably about the solution. They will listen to your concerns and issues because you saw their issue first.

So try to speak life more often. (And sometimes relationships are just toxic and it is best not to speak at all. However, that is a different story for another day. )

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Words Have Power

Photo Credit: Tom Magliery

The last few weeks I have had a particular verse come to me over and over again in multiple different situations. When that happens, I assume it is something important and I should pay attention to it. The verse is Proverbs 18:21. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

So what does that mean? Lots of things! I will mention a few of them.

1. Your tongue has power! The words you say and the way you say them have power. You can make things better by speaking life. Or you can make them worse by speaking death. Life and death are strong words, but your tongue is a strong instrument. James 3 talks about that.

2. You love your tongue. You may not realize it though. We all love our tongue because of what we can do with it. You tell people that you love them and they smile. You feel better because they feel better. Other times you are angry and your words aren't nice. Your tone is mean. Whoever you fired your words at flinches away from them. Again you feel better because you got that negative out at the person who 'caused' it. There are countless variations to those two options, but most of the time it will break down to one of those two options.

3. There is fruit that grows from the power of your tongue. If you constantly use your tongue for death, the death will live inside of you and infect your relationships. The fruit from your tongue will be death. If you constantly use your tongue for life, life will live inside of you and bloom in your relationships.

I have more to say about this, but I think I will leave this here for now. Next week I will talk about the rest. For now, take some time and see how you use your tongue. Do you speak life or death? What do you really want to use it for?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Waiting for Home

Photo Credit: velo_city

This week has been a rough one. We are a couple weeks away from our move in day and it doesn't look like we will hit that date. The rebuilders haven't used the word delay, but this is week 3 of hoping the inspection happens. So it seems that we won't be back home until later. I have tried really, really hard to not to be depressed about it. I mean how many times have we seen a delay on HGTV? Mentally I knew this would happen, but I hadn't seen it yet. So we had started thinking that really is our moving home date.

This week I have tried multiple ways to reorient my expectations, but it is hard. As good as our displacement has gone, it is still not home. We have been waiting to sleep in our own beds again. We have been waiting to spend time in our own bedrooms and watch TV in our own living room. We have been waiting to cook in our own kitchen and eat in our own dining room. Waiting is hard. Waiting is tiring.

Just earlier tonight, I was thinking about how I have been focusing on my physical home. But this is kinda like my spiritual home as well. Waiting for Heaven is hard. Waiting for Heaven is tiring. This world is a hard place in which we can never really get comfortable. We get tired of hearing all the negativity. We dream of a time when things are truly fair and love really is the greatest. We dream of a place where we don't have to fight so hard all the time.

So maybe while I am waiting impatiently to be back in my physical home, I can think a little more of my spiritual home. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I’m Not Interested in Being a Good Baptist

Photo Credit: Phoebe Stewart

I’m also not interested in being a good Methodist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian or any other denomination. I’m not even interested in being good. I just want to follow Jesus.

These last couple weeks I have seen so many people grieving. They were grieving the loss of a child, a parent, a marriage. I have seen people living in fear. They fear that they aren’t loved enough, they fear being in conflict with others, they fear messing up too much. Some of those people are even me.

This world is hard and painful. I need Jesus. I need him more every day. I just want more of Him, so I can give more love, more grace, more mercy. I can’t worry about a denomination. I can’t even worry about being ‘good’ by the standard of the world or people around me.

I just want to follow Jesus. I just want to be real and honest. I want to make a difference in this world by bringing more people to Him. I want more people to experience His love, His grace, His mercy. We all know deep down that we are broken and we don’t measure up. That truth lives in our hearts even when we try to deny that it is there. When we admit that it is there and we ask Jesus to fix it, there is so much good and peace and love. Jesus can make it better. The more we try to be like Jesus and follow Hom, the more we get better. So I just want to be better and help others be better.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Quiet Too Long

Photo Credit: Drew Ward

When you are quiet too long, it is hard to know how to start speaking again. Things have happened. You are not the same person that you were before, but how do you tell someone all the stuff you learned.

Maybe you needed the quiet to process all those things you learned. Do you tell people all that stuff all at once? Do you tell them in bits and pieces? Or do you just keep this knowledge to yourself?

I don’t know the answers to any of that, but I think I will start talking again and see if I can figure that out.

(Yes that is the inside of my house before they started putting it back together.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Life Lessons in Midst of Hard Times

A few months ago I told you about the fire at our house.  We are still displaced and will be until Labor Day hopefully. They should start working this week. We are basically getting a whole new house because of the smoke damage. It will be nice when we get there, but it is not easy in the meantime. These hard times teach us things and draw us closer to God. When we are in the middle of hurting, we don't like to hear that. But you will get through it and you will be better eventually.

Lesson 1: I'm Glad Life Isn't Perfect
A couple weeks ago in Sunday morning church, I looked over at Ben and noticed he had ketchup on his leg. I had seen it earlier and thought it was a scratch. I was wrong. It was ketchup and I had let my son go to Sunday School and sit through a large part of the church service with ketchup on his leg. That seems like a thing I should have caught earlier. But in that moment of thinking, I should have realized that. I didn't go on to beat myself up. I thought, 'I'm glad life isn't perfect.' Someday sooner than I want to think about Ben will be too old to sit by me in church and way too old for me to wipe ketchup off his leg. On those days, I can look back at that Sunday morning and smile.

Lesson 2: There is Still Beauty in the Ruins

Photo Credit: Me
Lesson 3: I am Still a Work in Progress
It should be no surprise that life has been a little stressful lately. 3rd grade is hard. Potty training is hard. Not living in our own house is hard. Living in another person's house is hard. (Yes those are two different hard things.) Working and keeping house is hard. I try not to let the stress get to me. I try to take one day at a time. I try not to solve all of my problems in one day. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fail big. But I'm thankful for people around me who help me figure out what went wrong and how not to do that again.

Lesson 4: Reading Should Be Fun
I have trouble going to the library and not getting a book. I also have trouble not jumping on a really good Kindle deal. So at times, I collect lots of books. There are also times of the year when I read less than others. So when the 'read less' times cross with the 'book collection' times, I get stressed out about the books I'm not reading. (Yes, I know I'm a book addict.) This isn't the first time it has happened. It probably won't be the last. But after stressing myself out for a few days or weeks about the books I'm not reading, I tell myself I'm being ridiculous. I turn in the books to the library and cut myself off for a few weeks. I tell myself that reading should be fun. When it isn't, then put that book down. Life is too short to be stressed by reading. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

God is good!

God just keeps showing up!

Photo Caption:

I'm not saying that life is perfect right now, but every day God shows up to give us a hug or a wink. We had planned a beach trip the second weekend in March. It was so nice to get away after a couple weeks of fire stuff. It was a great stress reliever.

Yesterday on the way to work my phone stopped. I tried several things to fix it and nothing worked. So I had to call and get a new one. That was a hassle because they had to text several codes to a phone. Since mine didn't work, that meant they had to be texted to Drew. Then Drew had to message them to me. Whew! That was a long process, but I got it done and my new one is on the way. When it is all said and done, I will be going from Android to iPhone and gaining SO MUCH storage! The 'God wink' in all this? The expanded storage means that Ben can finally get the WWE Immortals game he has wanted for a while.

The fire was started by a wire that wasn't capped off in Drew's hot rod. We have been going back and forth about what to do with the car. We really just want a car to cruise around in and the Buick was good for that. So we thought maybe rebuilding it as a convertible would be a good idea. But maybe that was just more work than we were willing to put into it right now. So we just thought we would wait. God showed up again! Drew saw a 64 Belair on sale at a great price. It has been used as a daily driver. That car is now ours and will be in the car rider line tomorrow. We can all pile in and cruise.

A few more things... Ben is walking the dog and loving it. When it warms up a little, Ben and I will be running together. Lily and I have gotten in lots of extra cuddles and some great pretend play. We are planning a little reading nook for me when our house gets put back together.

God keeps showing up. His love never ends and provision is enough.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I Will Praise Him in the Storm (or Fire)

Friday, February 23rd I was enjoying an art lesson about anatomy with my art club. I got a phone call. My husband was on the phone. He told me that I needed to come home because the house was on fire. I didn't believe him at first because that doesn't happen to me or in real life. I was wrong. It does happen to me and it does happen in real life. My house was on fire.

Photo Credit: Drew Ward

It took me about 30 minutes to get home. Before I turned on to my street, I saw people standing and watching. In case I didn't believe it yet, this made it real. I turned and saw lots of fire trucks. Later I found out it was about 6 trucks. I parked the car up the block, grabbed my keys, and walked toward the house. I saw a fireman in full gear coming out my front door. I saw other firemen standing around, but I didn't see my family. I started running down the street. As I passed several trucks and got to the corner, I saw my husband. I felt a bit of relief and hugged him tight. He told me the kids were at his mom's house just across the street. I stopped shaking so bad and went to her house. When I got in, the kids ran to me. Ben was first. I think he told me our house was on fire. I don't remember if he finished the sentence before he started crying. Lily came to me as well. She didn't say anything. She just started sobbing. I picked them both up, took them to the couch, and hugged them tight. After a few minutes, they dried their tears. I moved the car to a better place and went in and out of my mother in law's house for the next few hours.

Eventually, the hoses were rolled up and the trucks left. The last truck stayed until the first part of the investigation was done. We found out several things. Upstairs most of the damage was smoke damage and the stuff should be saved. It was saved because Drew shut the door when he ran upstairs to get the kids and the dog out. There was an exposed wire in the Buick that we didn't even know was there and that started the fire. There were things in the basement that could be saved even though they were right next to the car. We will be out of the house for 4 to 6 months because they have to gut it.

Photo Credit: Drew

More than any of those things, we found out that there are so many good people out there. One of the firemen apologized to my husband because he was concerned that he was rude while he was putting out the fire. The Red Cross Disaster Relief was there before all the firemen were gone. They had stuffed animals for my kids, toiletries for us, and a gift card for us to buy things we needed.  My brother in law had dinner delivered to us that night. An art club student emailed me to check on my family and my house. There were a couple kids riding their bikes later that night that asked if we were okay and if we had a place to stay. The insurance guy that took my claim information that night was so nice and patient. Our friends asked for prayer for us from their church. That church collected a love offering for us and we don't even know them. People from work and church have given the things we have asked for and assured us that they will be there when we need more. Other friends and family have checked on us regularly and continue to assure us that they are there when we need them. Friends are on call when we are able to move the Buick. They are ready to help with whatever my husband wants them to do with the car. My mother in law is letting us stay with  her. We have received anonymous donations. Another church helped pay our mortgage for this month. My son's school has given them some clothes. The insurance people have been nice and helpful. ServPro has been amazing! Our mortgage company has been really clear and helpful. So many people have given us hugs and prayers.

I can't say that this has been easy, but I know God has been with us every step of the way. I know he had his angels were protecting us and our things that day. I don't feel like we deserve such love from Him, but I will take it. I will praise Him in the storm because He is still with me no matter what. We can grieve the things that can't be fixed. We can be relieved for the things that can be fixed. We can praise Him for the things that don't need to be fixed. We still have so much, so many people who are here for us and will be here for us. That is worth praising.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Photo Caption: David Locke

Sometimes God has you in a tough place. You are reading your Bible and praying. You have talked to Christian friends. Still you have no solution. The situation hasn't gotten better. The people haven't come around. So now what?

I wish I had a good answer, a quick answer, but I don't. There isn't an easy way to fix some things, especially things involving people. Humans are flawed and broken creatures in a flawed and broken world. We all know that intellectually, but in the middle of this hard place, your heart doesn't care about this head knowledge.

I'm just here to tell you that you aren't alone. There are people who have been through hard things. They will listen. They will give hugs. They will pray with you. Keep praying. Keep reading. God is working and you are not in this hard place for no reason. You will come out of this stronger. And mostly you will come out of this.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jesus, please hold them in your arms.

I have thought several times about what I want to write about today. There are a few posts I could put up here that would sound okay, but they wouldn't be from the heart. What has been weighing heavy on my heart this past week is some tragic news from my hometown.

A young girl ran away around the 4th of July about three and half years ago. Just after Christmas some remains were found and last week those remains were positively identified as that girl. I did not know this girl or her family, but I have followed the story and desperately wished for her to come home safe. My heart has broken many times for her mother, her family, and her friends. And now for it to 'end' this way is just so much more tragic. Then to think it hasn't really ended because they are still investigating what really happened.

I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts. I read cozy mysteries. I watch police procedural dramas. But now here is a situation near me and it is all so much more awful and heartbreaking. I know there are so many people with such strong feelings about this and they are completely entitled to those. But those feelings of outrage and heartbreak weigh heavily on me as well. I hope and pray the family isn't seeing that. I don't know if that is the right thing to feel, but I don't want them hurt any more. So I hope they don't have to have these feelings laid on them as well.

Ultimately, my heart is breaking for everyone involved and I don't see it getting better any time soon. The only thing I know to do is pray.

Jesus, please hold them in your arms.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Things Saving My Life Right Now

Every year about this time, Modern Mrs. Darcy, makes a list of things that are saving her life right now. I try to take time to think of that list for me as well. It is easy to focus on the things that are draining you, but the easy thing isn't always right.

So in the cold of February with no break in sight, these are things that are saving my life right.

1. Working with great people. I am so blessed to work with this group of people. We had a SUPER long day last night. It happens about the same time every year. So the administration gets us some kind of food since we will be there through dinner. Last night we had steak and baked potatoes. There are a few guys that did the cooking and the administration did the buying. It was so good to have a nice dinner together in the middle of a very long day.  Then when there were still a few parents around and I was going to help close up, they told me to go home because I have little ones. It was so good for a working mother's heart to have someone recognize that. 

2. Lily smiles and hugs. 3 year olds are hard to deal with. Having a red headed 3 year old girl seems so much harder. She is quick to cry and with the cry comes the screaming. If she doesn't get her way, she likes to kick and throw things. But she is also quick with a hug. And she throws her whole self into that hug. When I come home, she runs down the hall and yells, "Mommy." Then she throws herself at me in one of those big hugs. She tells me about the best thing that happened to her that day and runs off to keep playing. Those moments are wonderful.

3. A new water bottle. I recently got a new water bottle and I love it! I am drinking more water and feeling better. And since I'm walking more, more water is needed.

4. Books. I haven't had the time I would like to have to read. However when I do sit down to read, I escape into 1900s New York or Themyscira. Those escapes even for just 10 minutes means a lot.

I could probably think of more things, but these things are good. They are really good.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Too Much to Read!

Those that know me probably know I'm a book worm. In case you don't know, let me make my case.

Photo Credit: MotaWord

1. I chose my purse based on the biggest book it could fit inside.
2. I chose my house in part because it had nice book cases.
3. I go to the library once or twice a week.
4. I have 4 book apps on my phone.
5. I read over 100 books/audio books last year.
6. This is my kind of click bait. (#4, #6, #7, and #8 are my favorite.)

I'm sure there is more I could think of, but that should suffice.

As we approach the end of the first month of 2018, I have read 3 books and abandoned 1. One of my books from the library I even had to renew twice! I will probably finish one more tonight, but I added 10 to my To-Be-Read list. I'm not moving in a positive direction. It kinda bothers me. I see the books on my ebook shelf or my physical bookshelves and see how many books I want to read. It kinda depresses me that there are so many books to read and so little time to do it.

I guess what I'm saying is that I've been busy this month. Too busy to read is too busy. Fingers crossed that I have more time to read next month. In fact, I think I will finish this here and pick up my book for a few minutes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Working together for the good

What a difference a week can make!!!

Photo Credit: Eva Cristescu

We had a massive snow storm right at the end of the first semester. And that really threw off everyone! So now all the school districts around here are trying to put together a new plan to get everything in and start the next semester. Whew it has been a whirlwind!

In the past week, my car has been in an accident due to the snow. I'm fine and so is the other party. It is getting fixed and the car is even still drivable. God was with me and protecting everyone. There were several tiny ways that God organized things to make the accident as easy to deal with as possible. I am in awe of his protection of me.

Also in this week, I have gotten an opportunity to change my schedule a bit and help out another school. It may not have been my first choice, but it will be good. It will be a shake up in my teaching which I need sometimes. It will force me to get some more exercise. It will help out in a few different ways. Again, I am in awe of the way God is looking out for me.

Neither one of these things might have been my number one choice, but God was with me and he is using it for my good. I didn't doubt that he was working things out for my good, but I guess I wasn't looking out for it either.

Whether it is lemons or lemonade, God can make it all work together for the good.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Listening to Their Stories

Photo Caption: Britt Reints

I deeply and genuinely believe that personal stories matter. Even if I don't agree with the way the person is living out their life, I still need to listen to their stories. Sometimes it is hard to listen, but it is important. Recently I picked up a book that seemed interesting, but as I got into it, I realized it was important to read it. It was science fiction, which I don't read often. So it was a bit of a challenge for me to get into it. Also there was A LOT going on in the plot of the book as well. That was also a challenge, but I'm glad I kept reading. In the end, it was a good book and I'm glad I read it. The story was good and the characters were great. It is always a pleasure to read good books, but there was more benefit than just that.

I was listening to a story of someone very different than me. If I'm honest, it made me a little uncomfortable. I don't like being uncomfortable. Who does right? But I dislike it for a reason that might be unexpected. I dislike it because I feel like I'm being a bad human. When I am hearing someone's story and it makes me uncomfortable, I feel like my attitude is saying to them that their story is somehow not good enough. And that is NEVER a message I want to send.

So I read the book and felt uncomfortable and dealt with it because hearing someone else's story is important. More important than my personal comfort.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On Being a Parent

Some days being a parent is easy. The kids are behaving or you have an extra dose of patience and life is good. Some days being a parent is hard. The kids are fussy or you were out of patience before you brushed your teeth. And then there are other days.

There are days when being a parent feels impossible. The days when your kids ask questions that you don't know how to answer. The days you have to reevaluate what you believe about yourself or your kids. The days when you don't know the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do, but you know you have to do something.

I have had a few of those days recently. Ben has struggled with 3rd grade. He is always well behaved, so that isn't a problem. He has struggled taking tests and getting number grades. He has improved, but it has been a lot of hard work and a lot of reassuring him. As a teacher, I am fully aware of the faults in the systems and the way it fails students. I am totally aware of the narrow focus of many school requirements. So I totally see how number grades won't show the real ability of my kid and his teacher knows that too. However, I also know that I am not changing the entire system of schooling any time soon, so he needs to figure out how to work around his issues. Some days are good and we get through homework quickly. Other days take lots of extra time because there are tears. Some papers we get home have good grades and some papers are not good. We celebrate the good grades and talk about the bad ones, but that doesn't always go well. Living in this space this school year has been so hard. Teaching him how he learns and how to review his work is hard, but worth it. We are seeing some improvements. His grades are up and so is his confidence. There is still half a year to go and I am hoping and praying for good things.

And Lily.
Photo Caption: Me (so it's blurry.)
She has been talking about being a princess and needing to color her face. She is 3 years old and I have to talk to her about make-up and I didn't even get started on the term princess. She said she had to color her face to be a pretty princess. I told her she didn't need to color her face because she is pretty without it. However if she wants to color her face, she can. (Yes those are markers. She loves to color on herself with markers. We don't fight it. We just wash up later.) She disagreed with me, but she likes to disagree with people. So maybe she was actually listening. And then last night as we were reading a Disney Princess book, she said she was Princess Aurora. I just said okay and moved on, but my mind was all over the place. There are so many issues with the princesses, but what if the issues I see are my issues and not hers. If I talk to her about those issues, do I create issues that aren't there? Probably. So I'm not saying much for now. I'll just sit back and listen to what she says before I start saying what I think she needs to hear.

Friday, January 12, 2018

One Word 2018

I am normally very pleased to share my One Word of the year. I proudly tell people that my resolutions are a word and not a list. I tell them how it helps me move forward with the things I want to accomplish, as well as help me deal with the things that come up in the year.

However my word for this year feels unconventional and a bit outside of my comfort zone. So maybe this isn't the exact form of the word that I want, but something in me says this is the right word. So what is this word?

Photo Caption: A photo I found on Google and edited. Sorry if I messed up your work

For something to sparkle, it needs to reflect light. It doesn't have light of its own. I want to reflect the Kingdom. However unlike a mirror, sparkle reflects light in different intensities in different directions. So it isn't the same light for everyone. Sparkle is also happy and I wouldn't mind some happy. Not a fake happy, but a real happy with who I am and where my life is. I will sparkle more by being more of myself, more of the things that make me the woman God wants me to be. I will sparkle more by being more like Jesus and drawing closer to his light.

If I'm honest, this word scares me a little. I don't know where this word will lead me. I know it will take me out of my comfort zone. That's scary, but I think it's important. So 2018, bring it on! Let's sparkle.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

One Word 2017 Wrap-Up

My One Word for 2017 was a bit of a journey for me, but I eventually landed on Abide. And I am SO glad I did.

There are many reasons that this was one of the hardest years of my life. Losing my father in law was hard. (You can read this post or this one.)  We are still grieving and we are still struggling to accept our new normal. And as I said in the previous posts, there are so many things that changed. Things that really shouldn't have had anything to do with my father in law's death, but they did. People that we expected to be there and they weren't. There were also people we didn't expect to be there and they were.

There are so many ways that life is different this year. Both good ways and bad ways, but through it all my word, abide, has gotten me through. I am closer to God and I know myself so much better. Those of you that have experienced deep grief at the loss of dear people can attest to this process. This deep grief carves out a canyon in your heart. There is a divide from before the loss to after the loss. You look back across that canyon and a part of you wants to be there. You want to go back to those happy blissful days before you knew this hurt. But you know even if you could cross that gorge you aren't the same person. You will carry this knowledge of grief with you. You are nostalgic for those times because you can't ever get back there. You miss the laughter and some days you even miss the annoyance because at least you had that person with you to cause that. Now here on this side of that gorge you are a wiser and braver person. You can relate to a whole new population. You have become one of those missing a part of your heart.

I have lost special people to me, but this grief is new. Maybe because it shared by so many or maybe because it is so new. Either way the grief from my losses this year has often left me with one word to hold on to, abide. When so many things were going wrong in 2017, I just held on to Jesus because where else would I go? This word has brought me so much comfort this year. I am better because of these difficulties and the word that got me through it.

Friday, I will tell you what word I have for this year.

Friday, January 5, 2018

More Reading in 2018

I mentioned in the previous post that I plan to participate in the Read Harder Challenge.

There is always a good possibility that I will change my mind, but for now these are the books that I am planning to read for the challenge.

A book published posthumously Hadji Murad by Leo Tolstoy or The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
Hadji Murad                  The Dream of the Red Chamber

A book of true crime - Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders that America Forgot
Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders That America Forgot

A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci/fi, fantasy, romance) Rebecca by Daphne duMarier or Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Rebecca                                 Peter Pan

A comic written and illustrated by the same person - Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez
Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse
A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)  The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
The Madonnas of Leningrad
A book about nature Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks by Mark Woods
Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks
A western - The Blessing Way(Leaphorn & Chee) by Tony Hillerman
The Blessing Way (Leaphorn & Chee, #1)
A comic written or illustrated by a person of color - Ms. Marvel by Sana Amanat
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal
A book of colonial or postcolonial literature No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu
No Future Without Forgiveness
A romance novel by or about a person of color The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
The Light of the World
A children's classic published before 1980 I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I Capture the Castle
A celebrity memoir - Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Born to Run
An Oprah Book Club selection The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1)

A book of social science The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History by Stephen Talty
The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History
A one-sitting book - Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez
Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies
The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series Sorcery and Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede
Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)
A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon or The Talented Ribkins by Ladee Hubbard
An Unkindness of Ghosts    The Talented Ribkins
A comic that isn't published by Marvel, DC, or Image Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez
Lady Mechanika, Vol. 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey
A book of genre fiction in translation The Prisioner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3)
A book with a cover you hate Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: The True Story Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubenstein
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts
A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert
Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles
An essay anthology - Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60 A Peach of A Murder by Livia J. Washburn
A Peach of a Murder (A Fresh-Baked Mystery, #1)
An assigned book that you hated (or never finished) The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The House of the Seven Gables

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Non-Fiction Reading in 2018

For several years I have done this post and I basically don't follow it. I read by feeling most of the time, so planning ahead doesn't help much. However, I like to have the post here in case I get stumped about what to read. I can come back here and check on what caught my imagination. As I said in my previous book blog post, I read a lot of fiction in 2017. I think I am ready for some non-fiction. So I'll start with several non-fiction titles that are on my radar. I am also planning on participating in the Read Harder challenge from, but I will save those for another post.

Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul by Erika Morrison
I'm ready to explore my unconventional. I'm ready to embrace it more than I have. 2017 brought a lot of changes and I came out of all that more comfortable with myself than I have ever been before. So this seems like a good book to help with that.

The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam S. McHugh
The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction
I started this one at one time, but couldn't focus on it. Ironic isn't it? I still think this is important for me to listen more and listen better.

Girl Slueth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
I think I accidentally found this one while searching for something else. I'm sure there will be lots of cultural things for me to learn about as I read this one. Nancy has had several different interpretations since she was created. I like all the ones I've read about, so I bet I will like this one too.

The Black Hand: The EpicWar Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History by Stephan Talty
The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History
I heard about this group in one of the non-fiction books I read in 2017 and then it popped up on my Goodreads feed. Sometimes I like reading about old crimes and this seems to fit that bill.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
In today's society, it is more important than ever to listen to the stories of other people. This is a good start in listening. It is long and intimidating, but I think it will be worth it.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
I have heard her on a podcast and I have heard others discussing her work on the podcast. I need to hear more of her work. I want to know what she has to say and what I can learn from it.

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Bad Feminist
I generally don't consider myself a Feminist for several reasons, so I avoided this book. Then I heard great things about it and reconsidered.

Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders that America Forgot by Michael Arntfield
Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders That America Forgot
I started reading this one in 2017, so I will finish in 2018. And I'm a sucker for anything that says "America forgot."

Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks by Mark Woods
Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks
There are very few things that I see on my Facebook account. The National Parks are one of them. So this book is a no brainer.

No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu
No Future Without Forgiveness
This has been on my TBR list for awhile. 2018 seems like a good time to read it and learn.

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer
I have read another of her books and it was very well done. This sounds like an interesting historical case. So this year will be a good time to pick it up.

I have a few more thoughts about what my reading life will look like in 2018, but I will save those for later.