happily ever after

happily ever after

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Have you ever waited for something?

Maybe this is a ridiculous question because of course, our days are filled with waiting. We wait for the dryer to buzz to begin folding clothes. We wait at stoplights and in rooms designed for this sole purpose.  We wait for results and answers and solutions.

But I am referring to the big and exciting category of waiting, like a trip or a Broadway show. Maybe it’s to hold the keys to unlock a new home or to land a dream job. Or repeatedly checking the mailbox for tickets to watch a favorite team or band and then waiting to take an assigned seat.

For me, it was a long-awaited book. I know, perhaps I need to work on larger dreams. But in my opinion, books are a reason to celebrate.

I had been waiting to get my hands on the latest book by an author whose debut novel had consumed a few days of my summer eight years ago. I couldn’t contain my anticipation to experience the next world she would conjure from the weavings of her imagination.

Once the book was in my hands, I quickly gazed at the beautiful dust jacket and then removed its folds to expose what laid beneath, black woven fabric embossed with gold letters and designs. I fanned the pages, careful not to reveal any clues and marveled at the intricate care and thought behind the book’s assembly. Newly released hardcover books can feel like an investment but I immediately felt the worth of this book, a gift.

It would be a safe bet to envision my next scene, sitting in my favorite chair with the book spread over my lap and a cup of tea by my side. However, this particular time, your wager would be wrong.

I finished gushing and placed the book next to my chair and later in the evening, I took it downstairs to my to-be-read shelf.  I visited this book often as I grabbed any other book but it from my shelf in the following weeks. 

Somehow the build-up in my mind about this book felt paralyzing. What if this book wasn’t all I had hoped it would be? I mean, what if I didn’t even like it? 

When I finally took the book off the shelf at the beginning of February, my fears weren’t relieved. The plot was slower developing than I anticipated and at times, I was confused. I couldn’t immediately figure out what was happening or how certain characters connected or were they? I was interested but I didn’t feel immersed in the book. I was impatiently waiting for an instant pay-off and craving fore-knowledge of an enjoyable reading experience.

The book is just shy of 500 pages and at nearly 200 pages in, I realized, I had two choices. I could abandon the book or slow down and trust the author. 

/////

I have grown accustomed to holding my breath.

Sometimes I am waiting to be thrilled and other times to be disappointed. 

I create scenarios in my mind that rarely materialize.

In fact, when I spend an inordinate amount of time dwelling on these possibilities within any given day, I neglect to sink into actually living within the designed mystery of each 24 hours.

I want the revelation of the future or the unraveling of an ending in advance and this mindset shields my eyes from the present. 

I want to know how my life and the lives of the people I love turns out. 

Perhaps this is merely an introvert’s struggle but, I have secretly longed for parties or gatherings to be over in order to know a good time was had. Did I find someone to talk to and avoid feeling awkward? Did my presence matter? This is a guarded way of living because it robs me from deeply inhabiting each moment or to allow my mind and soul to be anchored to what is before my eyes, not in a rearview mirror. It’s my grasping to control when it was never in my job description.

I only get to live the pages titled today. If I am persistently looking for the sentence,“…and they lived happily ever after”, I will miss all the preceding paragraphs. I won’t be able to comprehend the ending without the context of beginnings and middles. 

As a daily practice, I open the book of my life and lay it open before the Author and Finisher of my days, letting Him fan the pages to my occupied place. I watch as he indents paragraphs and scribes long chapters, adding every necessary comma and period. He tenderly whispers that I might not always understand how my life stacks up until I have inhabited every section of my life, maybe not until I reach the other side.  I unclench my fists to allow me to smooth each wrinkled page of this precious mysterious life I have been given.  To think, I am given a new story every day scribbled with bits of wonder in characters woven in and through the pages. 

I slow down and trust the Author.

Oh, how did my long-awaited book end? 

I will let you know.

I am still savoring it.

 

 

the opposite of speed reading

the opposite of speed reading

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“Everywhere there are doors leading to new spaces and new stories and new secrets to be discovered and everywhere there are books.”
~from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

There are days when I wonder if Carl knew what he was subjecting himself to when we married.

There are the days when a casual walk through our home is marked by a trail, a gathering of books I am currently reading. Each book blending into the landscape until I scarcely realize the sum.


However, over the last year when my life felt tangled and out of sync from aging, mounting stresses at work and dealing with chronic pain, I reaffirmed my shift to living more simply and slowly. My affection for books didn’t diminish but I grew weary of seeing books scattered everywhere. The physical clutter caused me to feel anxious by the vast quantity of literature surrounding me at all times.


Those who live with me, understand this is a slow process. I am not perfect but I am trying to rein in this habit and retrain my ways. It’s a delicate balance to keep order among the books I own and those retrieved from the library.


Two months ago, I lassoed every stray book and took the weighty assortment to my downstairs workspace. Once assembled, I sorted those books into two piles. One pile represented library books that no longer interested me or were not the right timing and would be returned. The second pile was comprised of books I wanted to read, either my own or library owned. I cleared out a section on one of the shelves above my work table and separated library books from owned books. I attached small post-it notes with due dates along their spines.


Any book entering our home will first be placed on this shelf. From this collection, my reading material will come.


I hadn’t realized the weight I felt from having books, even those I was enjoying, spread throughout my spaces. All these unfinished books seemed akin to feeling indecisive and overwhelmed. My reading attention had become scattered and splintered. I was highly distractible. My digital habit of keeping my computer or phone tabs open morphed into countless bookmark usage. After all, I am surely capable enough to read a book, catch up on Netflix with Carl and text a friend simultaneously.


This year, I am endeavoring to read one book at a time. Well, to be honest, one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time. I have also decided to no longer set goals related to the number of books read in a year. My personality drives me towards speed reading instead of savoring the experience of a great book.

Maybe you haven’t read a book in years and have no concept of my issue.

Have you let magazines spill over the coffee table?


Surely you meant to take out a pen to complete the Sunday crosswords but watching each week’s edition cover the previous one leaves you discouraged.


It could be too many clothes to fit in your closet, so they “decorate” other areas of your home?

Are you afraid to open your inbox because the number of emails, unread or otherwise has reached staggering numbers?

Putting my overflow of books in their place and beyond my line of sight brought freedom. No longer am I letting my books manage me.

A small newly created habit where I scan the shelf, assess which books are due soon, which ones cannot be renewed for extra days and the books which have lost their luster for now. Then weed out books and decide which ones might be next in line. I leave the books in their appointed place unless it is time to bring one upstairs.

Since I am a mood reader with a capital M. My previous routine was to gather an armload of books when deciding on my next read, peruse the first few sentences or pages and whichever one captured my attention was the winner. Now I use the same method, but I don’t sit in my living room chair but before my work table. Nothing comes upstairs unless it is my chosen book, not a hopeful contender.


Like keeping a tidy home, tasks need to be done regularly.

To keep my mind tidy, I must be vigilant to not create piles of any sort.
Tidy up, my friends.

Once you finish, why not take 15 minutes and read a good book?


I am off to practice what I preach as I see a few stray books attempting to create a book stack. But here’s a peek at what I am reading now:

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The Next Right Thing
This book is about making decisions. I preordered it before I knew a big job-related decision was looming. I was completely undone with indecision and didn’t have the attention span to read this book. However, one of the bonuses for preordering was a video and workbook course called Discern and Decide. I spent most of one day and completed the course. A different medium helped connect the dots. Months later I was ready to make the decision to leave my job. There will always be decisions to make, large or small. I am hopeful reading this book will aid me to make my next decisions regarding work. The course is still available for a fee, it was immeasurably helpful to me.

The Starless Sea
I have been waiting for Erin Morgenstern to release a new book after loving The Night Circus more than eight years ago. Her newest book is beautiful inside and out and required restraint to delay reading until I had sufficient time to fully immerse in the richness of her storytelling. I have read the first 25 pages and by the time this post is published, I hope to have spent the weekend between the cover of a captivating book.

*****

I love this quote from James Clear’s most recent 3-2-1 newsletter:

Reading is like a software update for your brain.

Whenever you learn a new concept or idea, the “software” improves. You download new features and fix old bugs.

In this way, reading a good book can give you a new way to view your life experiences. Your past is fixed, but your interpretation of it can change depending on the software you use to analyze it.

This post is a part of the slow collection. Never miss future posts by subscribing to this blog. Email subscribers are always the first to read new posts and updates. Find details on the sidebar. I appreciate your readership.

friday joy (transitions edition)

friday joy (transitions edition)

 

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I believe joy is always present.

It’s just that during roll call, joy frequently chooses to respond inaudibly.

But joy is there.

Even when it has to be dug up from the depths.

Sometimes joy hides.

Or we push it away and simply don’t have or want

our line of vision adjusted to spy it.

Joy can seem like a fickle companion cloaked in mystery.

You might feel all frowny, out of sorts and then without warning

joy lands as unexpected as a dragonfly lighting in your midst.

Joy is a direct hit to the soul, like shouting,

“You sunk my battleship!”

Except even if your vessel takes on water,

you win.

Your soul has been saturated with an ocean of joy.

          *****

I skipped last Friday’s joy post.

Last week, was an exceedingly difficult one for several people I love.

So many dear ones have been in long and short holding

patterns of waiting for the deepest sorrow to land.

Friends waded into the crashing waves of grief as

they said goodbye to a precious 2-day old baby,

a brave husband and a dearly beloved mother.

I am sure if I took a poll of readers, you could offer

your own version of pain or sadness you experienced.

It seemed hollow to write about the joyous wonders of

ice cream or a favorite pen.

It’s important to mourn with those who mourn.

I am praying  each family will discover joy hasn’t

abandoned them, it’s pressed down during this

time of weeping and reflection.

I haven’t witnessed the dragonfly landings of last summer.

But I know dragonflies exist.

We might not always feel joy.

But joy exists and quite remarkably can

coexist with sorrow.

(If you don’t believe me, take yourself to see the
movie Inside Out immediately….brilliant!)

Joy came and is coming to me in two ways this week:

Ocean Joy

Honestly, I am kind of cheating as I write this post.
(see what I did?)

But by the time, you read these words, we will be on

a beach, enjoying cooler weather and my soul will

be drunk with joy and rest.

I love the Oregon coast for so many reasons.

I feel the presence of God in every thunderous clapping of waves and

each cycle of foam skimming my toes.

 I hear Him in the wind that inevitably destroys my

hair style yet rebuilds my frame.

It’s where I first knew without wavering,

I loved Carl and we told

each other those three huge words.

Don’t let anyone convince you to believe

“I love you” are three little words.

Our time on the coast will look quite different as

there will be three in attendance.

You may have noticed, I didn’t use the word “only”.

It’s obvious I want our family of five to always be together,

especially at the beach, but I am learning when I use

the word only, it minimizes the number and members.

The word only can kind of have an attitude and I am fighting

this with all I have.

There will be three of us at the beach and we will

build sand castles of joy right beside a couple of missing footprints.

Life verse of joy

I paraphrased a verse to a friend in an email this week.

It caused me to reflect on how this verse has given me

not only peace over the last decade but it also has established

joy in the midst of trials.

“and that is why I suffer these things.
But I am not ashamed,
because I know the One I have believed in
and am persuaded that He is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.

II Timothy 1: 12

Our family is dealing with growing pains.

I suppose this is the right term for this patch of time.

The only way I can express this season is to say if our family were

a piece of elastic, there has been gradual and rapid stretching away from

the hands who have held the elastic.

And just when our hearts settle into acceptance of this newly created space,

this new dimension, the elastic snaps back into place with a ricochet of hugs.

The elastic remains but changed.

No longer can you run your hand across its smooth surface as

it now possesses ruffles all along its length.

So when there are days when I feel the stretching as well as weeks

of slack, I remember that really in all things but especially regarding my children,

I know God will guard them as I continually entrust them to Him.

I wouldn’t entrust them to anyone but I am confident I can hand

them to their Maker because I know whom I have believed.

I know He remains tethered to me and my family.

I know He is the fullness of joy, because He is the

Designer of dragonflies and oceans and sunsets.

On sad or happy days,

He remains my joy.

*****

Book Joy

Finished: Wild in the Hollowssuch an incredibly honest and transparent memoir. I loved it.

Beach Reading: Big Little Liesbecause I am going to the beach and it was on the Lucky Day shelf at the library.

May joy curl up beside you this weekend and bring you comfort.

And if it’s too hot, may joy come waving a fan to cool your body and soul.

friday joy (take care of yourself edition)

friday joy (take care of yourself edition)

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When you set after chasing down joy, it comes out of hiding
and doesn’t seem quite so elusive.
Perhaps it was always present,
never left,
was right before my 
eyes,
yet I refused to invite it to cross my threshold.
It has been a fun week of discovering joy’s appearance
within the bookends of Fridays.
My line-up this week seems to fall under the category of
self-care. It wasn’t intentional but perhaps instructive.
Tending to ourselves is vital in ways which may be
mutually and individually meaningful.
My little list may not be close to what would bring you
joy but as you read them,
consider how you might be a more intentional
caretaker of your soul.

Chatbooks

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My friend Cheryl introduced me to the wonders of Project Life,
a simple and wonderful way to document your life in photos.
It encouraged me to quit hoarding my photos on my phone
but instead to print them out and let my family run their fingers
along pages of memories.
The difficult part is I tend to get behind then caught up and
then I get behind again.
It’s not causing me to lose sleep but
it does bother me when I am months behind.
So a few weeks ago,
I gave myself a pardon,
a break,
a pass.
Hello Chatbooks.

Chatbooks takes Instagram photos and creates books.
Each book is 60 pages in length.
It’s like a chronological Instagram book.
Of course you can delete any photos you don’t want included.
So I used a free book offer and made 4 books.
it took a few minutes and they arrived this past week
.
(It’s killing me how I lined up the books in backwards order. Sigh.)

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I was so excited to unwrap the small package and impressed by the quality.
They are so adorable and precious.

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You can also make custom books from your photos as well if you are not an Instagram
user.
I kept the captions to my photos but you can customize your books.

Think you might want to try it, use my referral code for a free book NWX6HXK6

Joyous book making!

No Schedule

It has been several months since we have had an unscheduled
weekend. It was the most glorious kind of joy which wrapped
itself around my soul all week-long.
To have a few days to cease from rushing from one event to
the next was such a luxury.
Life shouldn’t feel like a race.

Caleb and I met Carlen for lunch downtown then we puttered
around Powell’s which is so dangerous but in the best way.
It is probably the one place where my children can depend on
Mom saying yes to their asking.
Caleb and I came home with a stack of books and full tummies.
There was time to sink into studying the book of James, write,
play games, stroll through a Farmer’s market and snack on crepes
with Carl.

I also spent a couple of hours making play lists on Spotify.
It’s taken me forever to completely understand the difference
between Spotify and Pandora.
Busyness can make me forget my need for music.
Now I have many of the tunes which bring me joy
at the touch of a screen.

Tip: Try the 7-day free premium trial to enable
adding songs with the most ease.
Currently they are offering a 3-month premium
trial for $0.99. Sounds like a great way to try
out the premium features but free is grand too.

Pedicures

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See how much I love you?

I am sharing my toes.
This was actually from an Instagram
post showing me wearing pants because
the weather was actually cool.

Finally.

I made a commitment in early May to get a pedicure,
if possible, every two weeks.

My rationale:

  1. I would like to have nice looking toes during the summer
  2. The leg and foot massage is a gift.
  3. Regular pedicures will cease the undecipherable chatter
    from operators about my feet,
    namely their condition between pedicures.
    I know they are talking about my feet.
    They are!

Carl thinks I need to have better foot esteem 🙂
Perhaps he is right.
But for now, I am going every 2 weeks-ish and
isn’t  FootJoy a shoe brand?
Well, I have foot joy and my foot esteem is climbing.
Bonus: I haven’t heard any whispers or seen
any rolled eyes in months.

Speaking our wishes out loud

On Wednesday, all the kids and I were sitting
in the living room around dinner time when
unprovoked I blurted,

“I want to go to a concert so badly.”

Carlen responded casually,

“Well there is a pop-up concert in the park at 7.”

We gathered all the necessary supplies

for a picnic accompanied by music.

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An unexpected evening listening to Mike Posner.

It’s what happens when you cast your wishes into the air to be heard.

Joy photo of the week

Joy isn’t always perfect with hair disobeying the call of wind
or eyes open at the most ideal angle.
Joy isn’t about looking skyward to try to erase the lines
and duplicate chins.
Joy is time spent with those you love and who know
when you put your hand over your heart, you are deeply
happy and at home,
it means laughter spilling over your frame as your shaky
selfie skill-less hands attempts to capture
the joy with the net of a lens.

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Joy is meant to be shared.

Book joy

Finished: Chasing Francis

Currently Reading: Wild in the Hollows

 

May you take care of yourself and lasso joy in the attempt.

 

 

friday joy (hot weather edition)

friday joy (hot weather edition)

Remember those mason jar flowers standing strong
in the midst of the harshest of temperatures?

Behold 5 joys that stood out to me during this recent hot spell:

Meet Fantasia, my personal fan!

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What took me so long to buy one?
This has been the best $12 I have spent in a long time.
I am sure it is common for mates to have differing body temperatures and such
is the case for me and Carl.
It has always been this way but to put it delicately,
since arriving at the doorstep of 50 ,
I’ve had to “welcome” spontaneous temperature flares, if you gather my meaning.
With the twist of a dial, a breeze comes to the rescue.
Gone is the usual night table clutter now that Fantasia has won my heart.
If the photo captured the floor, you would see our dog Hazel happily
dozing on my side of the bed as well as a few books scattered on the carpet.
Ahhh, Hazel and I feel so much better, thanks to Fantasia.

The Sorta Awesome Podcast

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It’s summer and the days have been long and hot.
My morning and afternoon work commute has been the same.
Instead of getting an attitude (well, most of the time),
I have started listening to The Sorta Awesome podcast.
You may have read Megan Tietz’s blog Sorta Crunchy over the years.
She made the decision to discontinue blogging this past January.
Heavy sigh.
However her archives remain online. Yay.
As an aside, Megan is responsible for what qualifies in my blogging world as creating
a viral post for me.
I am forever grateful for her sharing during her Sunday Brunch series.
I loved her blog but she is a natural at podcasting with her group of co-hosts and special
guests make it the perfect accompaniment for driving, cooking dinner or simply eavesdropping while sipping iced tea in an Adirondack chair.
The topics are a wide variety of, well awesome.
My favorites so far have been about making friendships as an adult, personality types and summer. I am saving several for the car but I plan to listen
to the newest one on how to build a love-filled home this weekend.
Check it out here. I use Stitcher to manage the podcasts I enjoy.

Everything I Never Told You

I read Everything I Never Told You a few weeks ago and I
continue to think about it.
This book contained a vitally important reminder regarding the words
I say to my children. My words may be filled with the highest intentions
and the most noble motives, but how are they interpreted by the hearer?
It has made me ponder the repetitive words/sentences I say over my
children.
What truly is my motivation?
I have had to wade to a new shore of understanding to find if my words
are pure or perhaps wrapped in bandages from my past life wounds.

Tillamookies

I hesitate to post something that is not widely available in the U.S.

Yet I have to share how much joy these little ice cream sandwiches have created
during the heat of the evening.
I don’t have mad skills when it comes to eating ice cream in a cone.
My confession sounds ridiculous but you have never observed me, have you?
There’s a reason why I always order ice cream in a dish.
We all have our issues and mine comes in the form of a waffle cone.
These little sandwiches hit the spot and satisfy my waffle cone envy.
Plus they are not outrageous in the calorie department.
Try them and if you live faraway from Oregon, go here.
Enter your zip code and if you come up with nada,
press the Tillamook Please button to create a form to
give to your local grocer!
Everyone should have a Tillamookie!

Inside Out

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Caleb and I escaped a hot Friday and went to see Pixar’s newest movie Inside Out.
Oh how I loved this movie!
In fact, it was discussed on one of the Sorta Awesome podcasts and I was nodding
away in agreement.
I think Caleb was the perfect age to see the depiction of emotions as he embarks
on the adventure of middle school. Yet as an adult, I gleaned a lot as well.
I think it is the perfect movie for everyone.
Plus do not get to the movie after the previews as the Pixar short was exceptional.
It made me cry…which is quite easy but still, it was precious.

Okay I fibbed, I need to add a favorite photo of joy and one more joy to round
out the Friday Joy, do you mind?
That’s a lot of joy in one sentence!

Photo Joy-The Peanuts Movie and Caleb!

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We cannot wait for The Peanuts Movie!

The Beginning, The Middle and The End of the Urban Adventure Quest

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The Beginning.

A little background is in order.

We are a family of five.
Carl and I are a week shy of 29 years of marriage.
Hooray!
We have two daughters Carlen and Courtney who are 25 and 22 and a son Caleb who is 11.
Also hooray!
Our family dynamic is changing.
The majority of our days have shifted to Carl, Caleb and me on the home front.
This has been a slow shift.
You need to know this because I often hear so many parents, especially moms
saying “We only have “fill in number” more summers with “fill in name of child”.
This is true.
But it isn’t always true.
I am not pointing fingers because I moaned the same words.
I believed when Carlen was handed her diploma that life as we knew it was over.
It would never be the same or the five of us.
It was a time to celebrate and grieve.
Life does change but it doesn’t always mean the age of 18 marks THE END.
My advice is to enjoy all the years and seasons and don’t bemoan the future
before it has been written.

Rewind to the night before the 4th of July.
Carl and I had said good night to Caleb and as I was leaving his room,
he peeked out and sadly said his sisters were not going to be with us
tomorrow and it was THE FOURTH OF JULY!”
Hugs commenced.
It was about 11pm and Carl and I sprawled on our bed with laptop and Portland Monthly’s
summer guide and tried to devise a plan to make the 4th fun for Caleb.
We stumbled upon the Urban Adventure Quest which is a smart phone driven scavenger
hunt around downtown Portland  as well as other cities in the U.S.
Think The Amazing Race which is one of our family’s favorite shows.
We whispered a prayer for God to lift Caleb’s spirits and for
his weary parents to have energy despite the heat.

The photo above is the three of us ready to start at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

We had a blast trying to decipher clues and solve puzzles.
What added to the adventure was running into other people who had the same idea.
We felt we knew our downtown quite well but often we drive past buildings
and never see the details. We uncovered a whole new world and learned
more history of our city.
We were sweaty but we were having such a great time when we found this guy!

The Middle

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If you don’t recognize him, this is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and an All-Star.
It had been a rough week of trades for the NBA team and Damian will remain and
be the face of the franchise. He was so gracious to take a moment for a photo.
Caleb was brave enough to ask.
To say this made our Caleb’s day/week/month/life is an understatement.
He kept saying amidst giggles that this was the best 4th EVAH.

The End

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We did it!

Several hours later, we finished, solved all the puzzles and found all the clues.
We were hot, sweaty, exhilarated and famished.
Now we want to do the one in Seattle 🙂

I couldn’t help thinking over the last few days about how God takes our feeble
attempts and adds to them in spectacular ways.
We did our part by finding something fun to do and we simply asked Him to bless us
with energy of body and spirit.
He adding something unexpected in the middle to our beginning and ending.

It’s a joy to be loved by God with such imagination and timing.

Sometimes joy is as close as your night table and often we need

to sit and reflect on our days to recall what made joy bubble up in your spirit.

So tell me, what’s your most recent joy?

resolving the unresolved

resolving the unresolved

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Somewhere between the intersection of Sunday night and Monday dawn, I awoke on

the New England Patriot’s 1-yard line.

With my eyes closed, I rolled over and attempted to realign myself with my comforter

instead of the rough artificial grass.

Slowly I recalled the previous afternoon and how the game ended.

The game clock displayed side-by-side sets of zeros and it was over but in my

mind and apparently my dreams,

the outcome felt unresolved.

*****

There’s nothing like a good book

but lately I can’t seem to

bring myself to start or finish a book.

There are books I couldn’t wait to hold in my hands

and several received as gifts still wearing shiny book jackets.

Over the last few years, I have attempted to read more fiction as my default has

always been non-fiction.

Now I look forward to escaping into the pages of a well-crafted story and perhaps

my mind hasn’t been willing to release the characters, the story line or

even the ending.

Maybe I can’t resolve the final pages to move onto fresh beginnings.

*****

My journal is like a map of bullet points consisting of people

and things which concern me.

What’s not on the list?

Everything else in my head I don’t allow a pen and paper to document.

Whether written or unwritten, I am sure you have lists of your own.

There are a litany of areas in my life and maybe yours as well

which could be labeled unresolved.

I can’t help but think this is the appeal of making a resolution.

It is an opportunity to

dig in your heels,

state for the record,

draw a line in the sand,

declare right here and

right now your intention to resolve

“this thing” which thus far

has remained unresolved.

But when resolve feels

shaky and improbable,

one more item lands in

the pile of unmet resolutions.

*****

So my mind is littered with a fair amount of clutter.

Some resolved, I just would rather a different end result.

Some unresolved and may never venture close to  a finish line.

Still others I have absolutely no vote or control in their

resolution.

This is probably why I dream of a small bits of football

real estate or different ending to books.

When I pray this is why my mouth lingers open

to drink in just enough air to chat with the Father about

the unresolved.

*****

In the past, I would try harder when the pieces of my

life weren’t lining up.

Today I need a gentler approach.

When  the clutter of my life disrupts my sleep

and leisure life, structure steeped in kindness is necessary.

I want to keep or add  practices to days

strewn with unresolved matters:

  • Breathe deeply 
  • Get fresh air
  • Sip on water and not so much tea
  • Take a walk or even a stroll
  • Continue to keep company with God
  • Get plenty of rest and take naps on the weekend
  • Eat like an adult 🙂
  • Light candles not just at night
  • Stretch (I am loving this 7 minute yoga app)
  • Spend time with the people who live in and outside
    my four walls and reach out to the wise ones
    faraway

Could any of these ten practices help 

you wade through the land of unresolved things?

 

reading…

reading…

The days between Christmas and New Years Day have always

had a particularly nice shine to them.

I like to plan time for reading books,

watching movies and playing

games.

Oh and watching dozens of college bowl games as well.

I try to ignore the approaching arduous task of putting ornaments back in their

protective boxes.

Here is a line-up of books I am reading this week and in the days to come.

Some are writing books and meant to be savored in small doses.

Others are a ticket to be transported from curled up couch

position to another place and time.

One is simply practical.

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Whenever I finish a book, I want to start a new one immediately.

Yet I can’t.

My mind and heart still belong to the completed book.

It usually takes a day or two to begin reading again.

Saying goodbye to a year feels the same.

As much as I am ready to start fresh once again,

I know that I will still write 2014 for weeks until

I am fully ready to begin again.

Tomorrow I will be sharing about what I learned

in 2014.

Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky shared her

list today here and invited others to link their thoughts

tomorrow.

So until tomorrow…

may you find moments to

read,

watch movies

and play games.

P.S.The movie Into the Woods is fabulous!

 

**********

All The Light We Cannot Seethis book was on my Christmas list and I see it
on all the year-end best book lists. I am looking forward to some uninterrupted
time to experience the buzz about this book.
(Courtney, thank you for all the effort that went in to wrapping this gift for me.
I am so glad you didn’t have to wrestle anyone for this precious last copy.)

The Crack in the KingdomDespite the cover of this book and the one
preceding it (A Corner of White), it’s not about the cover but yet it is!
Personally I don’t love the covers of either. But no one consulted me 😉
I read a series of interview with famous authors sharing the authors they love.
Liane Moriarty said she loved her sister’s books and that Jaclyn was a better
writer than she. I found this so endearing.
I finished A Corner of White the afternoon of Christmas. I flew through this
book. If you haven’t, give Young Adult (YA) literature a chance.

The Sacred Year-it’s about slowing down, intention, spiritual practices,
paying attention and lessons from monks. Need I say more, I am all in.
I have had this book for several months and I am reading it slowly.

Chasing Francis-I kept seeing this title pop up in different places
and found it on a trip to Powell’s. This is a novel about a pastor of a
mega-church losing his church and his way, traveling to Italy and
learning lessons from a saint who lived 800 years ago, St. Francis
of Assisi.

On Writing-I can’t tell you how many times I have checked this out
of the library and risked fines because it is always on hold. Thankful
for a well-timed Christmas gift. (Thanks Carl.)

On Being a Writer- Ann Kroeker’s blog was one of the first I read
regularly when I began blogging. Those were days before having a
“following” was as big a deal as it is now. It was way before social
media, but Ann most definitely had a following. What I remember most was that
no matter how insignificant any comment I made on her blog, she would
always respond. There is a special kindness in Ann and I was overjoyed
to learn she had co-written a book about sustaining a writing life.

Still Writing-I am enjoying reading small chunks each day of this book
on the perils and pleasures of the creative life.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up-I am tired of the treadmill
of tidying up and never seeing any lasting change. I am so hopeful
there is another way. I will let you know 🙂

 

book stack love

book stack love

11200-Stack-Of-Books

We have reached the end of this series celebrating books.

I must admit, I have talked and written more about books than

I thought possible.

This series will forever hold a sweet spot in my heart when I reflect on

interviewing my children, my mom sharing her words of wisdom

and continuing the conversation on Facebook.

No matter how much technology changes,

you simply must give your whole attention to reading a book.

Whether you like to fold back the cover of a paperback or touch

a screen to turn a page, you can’t read a book and do another activity

simultaneously, at least not very well.

If I could open my front door and welcome each one of you inside.

I would.

If we could sit in the living room warmed by a fireplace

filled with flames of gold and coals glowing orange.

We would.

We would sit with a stack of literature between us and one

by one I would offer you the gift of a good book.

Oh how I wish we could.

Sometimes magic only resides in books, so the next best thing

is to offer you my virtual book stack.

Welcome.

Grab a seat and pretend there is a roaring fire in your midst

and I will attempt to share the contents of my towering book stack*.

Some of the best books come in small packages:

The Nutshell Library
Any book by Joan Walsh Anglund

If you ever dreamed of being Harriet the Spy,
Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown:

The Flavia de Luce Mysteries

When you need to believe in magic:

The Night Circus

When a tear-jerker is good for the soul:

Me Before You
Tell the Wolves I’m Home
The Book Thief
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Ellen Foster
The End of Your Life Book Club
The Year of Magical Thinking

When you want a book to tell
the truth about life, the joys,
sorrows, doubts and hopes:

Cold Tangerines
Bittersweet
Still

Run don’t walk to get these books:

The Gifts of Imperfection
Daring Greatly

When you need to read something honest
about addiction for yourself or someone
you love:

Sober Mercies

When you want to learn from monks
without escaping to a monastery:

The Hawk and Dove trilogy

When you are afraid:

Hinds Feet on High Places

When church makes you feel like
Stretch Armstrong:

Introverts in the Church

When you need solid timeless wisdom:

Keep A Quiet Heart

When you desire discipline to 
produce freedom:

Celebration of Discipline

When your soul cries out for rest
and you don’t know how:

The Rest of God

When you want a book combining
countless genres and is inspired
by the Creator. I give you the 
Book of all Books:

The Bible


What book would you offer me from your  book stack?

*It has taken me several days to finish this post,
mainly because I put too much pressure on myself to 
include EVERY book. This list represents what has 
crossed my mind or hasn’t been mentioned in a 
previous post during this series.
There are more books to read and many books I will
recall moments after pressing publish. Grrr.
But for now, this is the stack of books given to
you as possibilities to behold along life’s journey.

 

This post is part of the 31 days…yet again series.
You can find all the other posts at the top of the blog
by pressing the circle with 3 lines button or here.

 

 

a weekend thought

a weekend thought

a_stack_of_books_and_a_good_cup_of_tea_by_mind_wolf-d7dnka5

 

I didn’t mean to disappear last week.

I will finish up this series next week.

It should come as no surprise that we have

books all over our house.

At times it gets a bit ridiculous especially

when I bring home a small stack from the library

to add to the piles.

I read the most interesting article this week.

At first it made me shudder but it also made

me think so differently about the books I house

on my shelves.

I haven’t formulated my final opinion but i might

implement some of the actions.

Over the weekend, I hope you get a chance to read

a good book, sip on the hot beverage of your choice

and if you have a moment, read this piece on

book sentimentality.

I would love to know your thoughts.

Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books

Books I am reading this weekend:

The Secret Zoo (for boys book club)

The True Secret of Writing

The Skinnytaste Cookbook
(one of my favorite food blogs finally
has all the goodness in hardcover.

Happy Reading!

 This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

chatting books with my girls (part two)

chatting books with my girls (part two)

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This is part two of my book discussion with my daughters Carlen and Courtney.
You can read part one here.
With a week between conversations, the girls added a few books they had forgotten and
we had an equally grand time. It bolstered my estimation of the books read during their
childhood. I found their reading history wide and varied.
Parenting can be all-consuming and
often we only see the faintest brushstrokes of the life canvas our children are painting
but some days we catch the briefest of glimpses of how the portrait is taking shape.
In an instant we are reminded of when we first laid eyes on them and believed
they were a masterpiece.
Now all these years later, the truth remains but the visual is more
breathtaking than imagined.
I adored this time with my girls.
As to not be outdone  by their brother, they chose to display their selfie love
with Caleb-like photo antics.
Enjoy.

Me: Okay girls, let’s get right down to business. 
What did you forget to mention from the last conversation?

Carlen: Favorite all-time read aloud: The Search for Delicious.

Court: The Wind in the Willows.

Me: The Wind in the Willows was great but it took such a long time to read.

Carlen: It was a fun read aloud because you didn’t do any accents.

Me: Hey, watch it!

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Me: Middle school is a period of time when many people start to not 
enjoy reading.
What is it about middle school and what were some of those
books that you were required to read?

Court: I remember reading A Day No Pig Would Die and it was quite graphic.
It was good but still a bit much.
I think it depended on your teacher and their preferences. In sixth grade,
I remember reading Huckleberry Finn which had a lot of language in it.
I also read To Kill A Mockingbird around that same time as well.
I seem to remember reading a lot of Steinbeck.

Carlen: Speak, A Place to Stand and The Kite Runner.
Into the Wild and Breaking Free were memorable.

Court: It definitely was teacher dependent.
Carlen read Persepolis in middle school,
I didn’t read it until high school.

Carlen: By the time I got to high school, I was really burnt out on reading. Especially after
my freshman year, we read so many books with such intensely hard racial issues.
It was difficult to be the only person of color in class.

Court: Oh yeah. It gets kind of old being the voice for your race.

Me: Yes, all eyes on you.

Court: Freshman year, we spent a lot of time reading Eye on the Prize and watching the film. We also read a book from a young local author The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and
The Secret Life of Bees.
Oh and we read Fences.

Carlen: I loved my freshman English teacher she was very passionate about reading
books about different cultures. We read The Color Purple, The House on Mango Street,
When the Emperor Was Divine and Night.
After awhile I asked her if I could read some other types of
non-fiction.
It was not until my senior year when we could read books of our own choosing
as long as they were varied in genre.
That’s when I began to enjoy reading again.
Before senior year, I went into a long phase of reading comic books. Ha.
I just needed a break.
I wore out my copies of Calvin and Hobbes.

Me: Depending on your life experience or season of life, books can be powerful
but also emotionally exhausting if they don’t arrive at the right time..
Tell me some of your favorite books over the years.

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Carlen: The Catcher in the Rye.

Court: I know you are supposed to love that book, but I hated it.

Carlen: I think it is one of those books you love or hate. It’s okay.

Carlen: I loved Of Mice and Men, Bridge to Terabithia, Regarding
The Fountain, How to Win Friends and Influence People, My Sister’s Keeper,
The Hunger Games, any book by John Maxwell, Holes or any book by
Louis SacharJerry Spinelli or Shel Silverstein.
I also loved authors Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Court: For me I would say, A Corner of the Universe, A Series of Unfortunate Events,
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Gone Girl, A Change of Heart, Among
The Hidden, Beastly (totally boycotted the movie). Room was a book where
I really didn’t like some of the characters but it still was really good.

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Me: I couldn’t wait to share Nancy Drew with the two of you. 
Why wouldn’t you give her a chance?

Court: I had Nate the Great, that was enough for me.

Carlen: Okay, The Box Car Children was pushing it with me.
I think I read about 5 of those books.Those books were so old.
I just was never into  mystery as a genre.
I liked playing Clue but that was about all.

(Laughter)

Carlen: OH! Columbine by Dave Cullen, Courtney and I
both read that book a few summers ago.
It completely changed my whole view of the media.
We never know the whole story.

Court: The book is laid out so well and is divided into different
categories. It was of course really sad but very good at the same
time.

Carlen: I bawled all the way through the book.

Me: Do you ever read books over again?

Court: I don’t usually read books again.
The only books I have read repeatedly are A Corner in the Universe
and Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl.

Carlen: I think I read Holes about 7 times and even listened to the audio tape.
I read Regarding the Fountain a lot, it is so funny.
Calvin and Hobbes: Something Under the Bed Is Drooling, I read it to pieces.

I read Out of the Dust several times. Karen Hesse writes amazing poetry.

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Me: Let the battle begin: Book or movie first?

Court: (stands up) Read the book first! I like to go into a book with anticipation.
I like not knowing  what is going to happen. There are more details in the book.
Even if changes are made in the movie, it makes more sense because you
have the book as the explanation. A movie may have plot holes which do
not make sense unless you have read the book. Reading the book after seeing
the movie, I doubt I would pay as much attention to details because I have already
seen a visual outline of the book.
POW!

Carlen: Watch the movie first. When I read My Sister’s Keeper first,
I was devastated when I saw how they changed the book and the ending.
Now, I see the movie and I can enjoy it for what it is. I know I
will probably enjoy the book more but reading it after the fact, makes
the movie experience fuller.
I am more of a movie buff anyway.

Court: Yeah, I am the book lover.
So this makes sense.

Caleb: Can you tell if a book is good by looking at it?

Carlen: Absolutely not. One of my favorite books, has the most
terrible cover.

Courtney: No, I remember when we had a book club and all of us
wanted to read this 101 Dalmatian chapter book based on the cover.
The book was horrible. All the moms made us read it anyway.

Me: I think it was probably because we secretly didn’t want you girls
to pick the book in the first place. I admit, we were mean.

Me: Court, you have an uncanny way of reading books sometimes
years before they become huge hits. I had a great track record
of finding children books before the masses when you both were
growing up.
What’s your secret?

Court: I don’t know. I am always on the look out.
I read book lists. I search the library’s new books.
I read anything that has a book list and see what strikes
my interest.

Me: Last questions, what are reading now and what have you
been meaning to read?

Court: I am reading The Stand, House of Leaves,
Songs of the Humpback Whale, High Rise and 11/22/63.

It’s crazy but I wanna finish East of Eden.
I have like 20 pages left.

Me: Court, that was like 2 summers ago.
Finish it already.

Court: I know, I know.

Carlen: I am reading Gone Girl and Outliers.

I want to read White Oleander and Anna Karenina.

Me: Girls, it has been the most fun to talk to you
about books.
It was my hope that you would love books as much as 
I do.
Let’s keep the conversation going.

Carlen: Next time we should talk about movies.

Court: Oooo, that would be fun.

Me: Or maybe debate whether book covers should
be changed to the movie poster?
I vote an emphatic no!

Carlen: Yes, in most cases.

Court:No, no, no, definitely not!
I didn’t like it when they changed the cover of
Holes or The Hunger Games.

Me: On opposite sides again, I see.
Until next time.
Now I have the task of turning
all these sheets of notes into a blog post
and adding dozens of links.
Wow, you have read a lot of books
and I know I won’t be able to add them all.
(I didn’t…aren’t you glad?!

I love you, my sweets.

Carlen: I love you Mom.

Court: I love you Mama.
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This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.