Friday Finds: 10/6/17

I hope it’s feeling like fall where you are – it’s almost 90 here, but I’m trying not to complain about it.

Here are a few links and other things for your weekend.

The National Book Award announced its nominees earlier this week. Out of 20 books nominated in non-fiction and fiction, I am both surprised and a little embarrassed to say I haven’t read a single one! I do own Sing, Unburied, Sing (it was one of my Book of the Month picks last month), so I will make reading it a priority. I haven’t even heard of most of them.

I mentioned Free of Me by Sharon H. Miller in my September reading summary.  Sharon wrote a great piece for The Gospel Coalition highlighting the themes of her book. Read this and if it resonates with you, get her book.  I think it’s great.

Melissa Kruger also had a great post on TGC’s site this week: Life in the Shadow of Death.  She’s another one of my favorite authors.

Worth a Listen

Here are a few sermons/podcasts that made me say “Amen” more than once.

Curtis Jones of Bayou City Fellowship in Houston, TX: “The Good Samaritan and Race in America”

Nancy Guthrie at TGCW16: “Three Little Words that Change Everything”

Rockbridge Church (my church!): “Church Works: The Building” and “Jonah: Part 1”

And, lastly, a couple new albums that I’ve been playing on repeat: Where His Light Was by Kristene Dimarco, and Lecrae’s latest release, All Things Work Together.

Enjoy!

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What I Read: September 2017

Long story short, I didn’t read a whole lot in September. That’s not true – I read 7 books but never got so engrossed in one that I couldn’t put it down and that is unusual for me. Hopefully I find some winners in October.

Here’s what I read in September.

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The Breakdown (B.A. Paris) – A good suspense novel. A woman thinks she witnesses a murder, then becomes convinced the killer is stalking her. However, the evidence suggests she’s actually losing her mind. What’s going on? I must say I figured out the twist a third of the way into the book but I won’t spoil it here.  Worth your time.

The Pursuit of God (A.W. Tozer) – I can’t tell you how much I’ve been challenged by these short books by great Christian thinkers.  I read this one on kindle and I think it hurt my ability to get as much out of it.  I need to buy a hard copy and read it again.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J. K. Rowling) – I just can’t with Harry Potter, you guys.  There is nothing about this series that appeals to me.  I borrowed the entire series from my sister nine months ago and this is only the third….ahhh! My goal is to return them to her (read) at Christmas.  It sounds like torture and I’m sorry.  It’s just not a genre I care about. I don’t even want to watch the movies.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid) – I really enjoyed this book. Please don’t take that as an endorsement of every action taken by the title character…but I loved the way it was written and that, while not a mystery or suspense novel, kept the reader wondering until the last page.

You are Free: Be Who You Already Are (Rebekah Lyons) – as far as Christian-themed memoirs go, this one is pretty good.

All the Missing Girls (Megan Miranda) – I don’t think I had the mental energy for this book…or maybe the style wasn’t for me. It’s a murder mystery/suspense novel but the story is told backward, so you start with the last day, and back up to the day the crime was committed. I want to try a different novel by this author before I decide whether it’s her or me. 🙂

Free of Me: Why Life is Better When It’s Not About You (Sharon Hodde Miller) – this is my favorite book of the month.  It actually releases tomorrow (October 3).  Miller uses Scripture and personal experience to challenge us to raise our gaze to experience the freedom of self-forgetfulness.  This is an important book.

So there’s my relatively short list.  I’ve read 93 books so far this year and hope to reach 100 this month. I’ll be back in the beginning of November with another update.

Happy reading!

Something for your Sunday

I needed this today: “Hope for the Unhappily Single”

“If we are married in this life, it will be for a brief moment, and we won’t regret that brevity ten thousand years from now. We really won’t. No one will say, ‘I really wish I had been married’ — much less, ‘I really wish I had been married for five or ten more years on earth.’ That would be absurd when those years seem like seconds compared with all the gloriously, thoroughly happy time we have when our marriages end at death.

“We need to think about that as we weigh the intensity of our desperation to have it now. We need to ask whether we have made marriage a qualification for a happy and meaningful life. Am I undone and miserable by the prospect of never being married? Do I think of myself as incomplete or insignificant as an unmarried believer? These questions might reveal red flags that warn us marriage has become an idol.

“Ultimately, we will all be single forever, and it will be gloriously good. We will all be finally married forever, joined together forever with our Savior and First Love. We’ll know well then that the marriages here on earth truly were small and short compared with all we have in Christ.”

Friday Finds: 9/29/17

This may be the weekend in which fall arrives in Virginia! It’s been hot as blazes this week, but the weekend forecast finally shows low 70s, which is wonderful considering I will be outside much of the day tomorrow.  College Gameday is going to my beloved Blacksburg so I will be watching closely for views of my hometown (and, later, tuning in to see the Hokies upset the Tigers…hopefully).

Here are my notable “finds” of the week:

If you need some reading recommendations, there are several good books on this list. I like that they are all on the short side — sometimes 400 pages is intimidating — even for me!

These articles have an interesting take on solitude and being alone: “The Pursuit of Loneliness” and “The Importance of Being Alone.” I’d love to hear what you think.

So Hugh Hefner died this week and while I really don’t want to give him any additional attention, the response on Twitter has been fascinating.  He was clearly a polarizing figure for obvious reasons, so it was no surprise for some to hail him as a hero and others to make him the villain.  What I appreciated, however, was this post by Emma Gray of the Huffington Post — I think it’s worthwhile because it shows the way the Sexual  Revolution is actually anti-feminist (and does so from a non religious perspective): “The Contradictory Feminist Legacy of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner”. And, since I’ve already brought it up, did you hear about how he bought a spot in the mausoleum next to Marilyn Monroe? He’s basically a stalker/sexual predator even in death . It’s disgusting.

I also found this rather old article by Jen Wilkin and really liked what she had to say – I guess this is Christian feminism…? No matter what you call it, let’s raise strong girls who can’t be easily manipulated: “On Daughters and Dating: How to Intimidate Suitors.”

If someone wants to buy me this poncho, I wouldn’t be sad.

And, last but not least, I have a sad story. I spent the better part of an hour last night looking for a new pumpkin recipe to try. I couldn’t find one! It seems people are all about pumpkin and chocolate combinations this year, and that is one flavor profile I cannot get behind.  What about you? Fan or no? And do you have a non-chocolate pumpkin themed recipe to share? I’d love one!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Finds: 9/22/17

This has been the longest week! A relatively good one, but a long one nonetheless. I have a pretty busy weekend lined up, but hopefully I’ll find a few hours to rest – I need it.

Here are this week’s finds.

For those of you craving a fall drink and don’t love the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks has a few new drinks to try. My sister tells me the Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte is pretty good.  I’m personally looking forward to trying the Maple Pecan Latte.  It sounds delicious!

I am beyond excited about my summer plans (already, I know).  In June, my sisters and I are attending The Gospel Coalition’s Conference for Women in Indianapolis. I cannot wait to hear some of my favorite teachers in person – including Jen Wilkin, Gloria Furman, and Melissa Kruger.  And speaking of Jen Wilkin, here is a great article she posted this week: “Think Fake News is Scary? Try False Teaching.”

Some of you may know, but I love personality typing systems. I’ve recently learned about the enneagram and find it fascinating.  Here’s a link to a great podcast I listened to yesterday with Annie Downs and Beth McCord (it’s podcast episode 53).  Beth is an enneagram coach and you can take an assessment on her website here.  I still can’t figure out which number I am – I’ve narrowed it down to a couple, but haven’t convinced myself of either one.  On the podcast, Annie recommends a couple books that I want to get my hands on.

That’s all I’ve got….enjoy your weekend!

Friday Finds: 9/15/17

Happy Friday – we’ve made it through another work week! Mine was extremely busy so this post will be brief.  Here are a few finds from the last few days.

I really appreciated the way the Modern Mrs. Darcy described her 9/11 experience. Her words reminded me of the way I felt after the April 16, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech.  Trauma is real and impacts us in ways we can’t predict.

I think I’ve mentioned the podcast “Pod Save America” on here before, but it’s worth mentioning again. This week’s episode is an interview with Hillary Clinton and summarizes much of what she discusses in her book, What Happened, which released this week.  While I don’t agree with Clinton on every issue, I respect her greatly and appreciate what she has to say about sexism in America.

And since there’s so much heaviness in the world, I’ve had to make sure my TV watching provides an escape, so I’ve been watching “Parks & Rec” and I LOVE IT! I know, I know, I’m way late to this phenomenon but I’m glad I found it now.

What are your plans this weekend? I will be getting my household chores done, reading, and watching football on Saturday.  On Sunday, we’re celebrating my nieces’ second birthday(s?) with family.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone…and holding my nephew Will who was born this week!

Church of the Small Things

Does any of this matter?

This is the question that haunts me on the bad days, the days when the mundane and seemingly trivial tasks get on my last nerve.  How many times with I have the same conversations with these overly dramatic 7th graders? Why does the kitchen sink stay so full of dishes when I’m the only person living in my house?!  I thought my life was going to be more than this. And I know it is more than this, but it’s also very much just this.

The answer to the original, of course, is yes, yes it does, and that is why I am so excited for Melanie Shankle’s book, Church of the Small Things.  In this book, Shankle shares the way these small moments can be beautiful and breathtaking in their own way.

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Her stories resonated with me and as I read her words I remembered many similar moments in my own life.  Like just last week when my almost two-year-old niece pulled up a chair next to me while I was watching football and put her hand on my knee.  Just an ordinary beautiful day…

The most powerful memory, however, was that of the church house group my family went to when I was young. We met every Tuesday night at a dear elderly couple’s home.  My dad played the guitar and we sang worship songs together, then the kids went into the basement while the adults did a Bible study (I mean, I guess that’s what they did) and prayed together.  We kids played outside or in the basement until we heard the host call out “Ahoy down in the engine room!” – the signal for us to come running for snack time!

That house group was my family: my honorary grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my older brothers and sisters.

I remember some Tuesdays the adults took longer than others.  As the kids got antsy, one or two of us would sneak upstairs to see what they were doing and maybe get an idea of when they would be done.  Once when it was my turn I peeked into the room and saw a woman in tears, sharing something difficult, while several others held her close and prayed.  In that moment I saw clearly what the church was called to be.

Now, over 20 years later, I am the single 30 something in a multi-generational house group.  I stay upstairs with the grownups while the kids go into the basement.  It’s come full circle for me.  My favorite part of the group, though, is the kids. Because I know full well what a beautiful thing it is they get to see each week, and I hope I am showing them the love I received.

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All that to say — GET THIS BOOK!  Church of the Small Things doesn’t release until October 3rd, but if you preorder now (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) you will receive some awesome gifts just for preordering.

Once you’ve ordered, fill out the form here and receive:

  • My Favorite Things ebook by Melanie Shankle
  • Church of the Small Thing Video Study Session 1
  • 4 Downloadable prints from the cover artist
  • A book themed lock screen
  • The first 3 chapters of the book so you can start reading now!
  • Coupon codes for some discounts on Melanie’s favorite things
  • 5 recipes

(And, the book usually arrives on release day when you order it this way, so that’s an added bonus.)

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