Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nine down

So I'm realizing I need to keep track of the books I've read in this challenge as I keep forgetting what number I'm at! I've now completed nine books. Here are the last three from April and early May:

7. Orphan Train
This was a good story, but not my favorite. I often gauge books based on whether I want to share them with others or sell to Half Price. This one wasn't bad, but it's in the Half Price pile.

8. Wave
Holy flipping cow this book was depressing!! I knew it would be to a degree based on the subject (it's a true story of a woman and her family in the 2004 tsunami), but it was never resolved. Which is because it's a biography and it's her way of working through the hurt. So, from that perspective it was good - raw, emotional, honest. I don't know that I'd recommend it since it is so sad, but then sadness is a part of life so I'm thankful to have read it and had a glimpse into her life and the tragedy she experienced. It definitely softens your empathy!

9. Princess
This one is really good! It's a biography of a Saudi Arabian princess from her childhood through the 90s. It is also raw and real at times as it describes the plight of women in the oppressive culture. Incidentally, it was an interesting perspective as my community group has been doing a study of women in the Bible. It's interesting to see the dichotomy between how God sees women and what is told to the women of this culture (and so many others).

Next up is The Great Gatsby! I've actually read this before, but it was 16+ years ago so I don't remember a lot of it, just that I liked it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ode to Learning



Recently I was in a conversation with a group of folks and realized that I may be a nerd and a bit of a weirdo. Perhaps others are like me and they are silenced by fear of what others may think. I really don’t care what they think – or I should say, I do care what people think too often, but not in this.

In college, I had a professor of a Creativity class I took who said something that has stuck with me. She said:
Some people die when they’re 25 but aren’t buried until they’re 75.

Her point was that some people quit growing, learning, and experiencing at 25 – in a sense “dying” – but aren’t physically dead until they’re 75.

This is not something I think I have the capability to ever fall into. Why? I’m a GIANT NERD!

You see, I absolutely, positively LOVE to learn. While I’m sure it goes back farther genetically, I want to credit my grandparents for this as each of them have impacted a piece of the ways I love to learn. So, in order of oldest to youngest grandparents, I want to give an ode to their lasting impact on how they raised my parents and how that has in-turn shaped me.

Granddaddy – my mom’s dad
My inquisitive nature comes from Granddaddy. Every time we'd visit Mammy and Granddaddy, he'd find some time to take me aside and really learn about what I was interested in, doing, etc. He'd quiz me on my swim practices, ask about what books I was reading, try to understand my job (which isn't very clear-cut), and then tell me things he learned/saw/experienced. While yes, some of that was because he loved and cared about me, but I know much of it is his nature and desire to learn. I know this by observing him - he joined the High Pointers Club when I was in high school, subscribed to tons of magazines, and read a lot. I am grateful for the desire to learn new things through questioning and seeking answers that Granddaddy instilled in me.

PaBert - my dad's dad
He is the big traveler and I share his love of history, particularly U.S. history (as does my dad). To me, the love of travel and understanding history stems from a desire to learn about other cultures, ways of life, and ways of thinking. I know from conversations with PaBert about his travels that this is true for him. I also know he takes steps to learn while at home, which I do too. I am grateful for PaBert's impact on my love of history and experiencing new cultures, places, and things.

Mammy - mom's mom
I credit all of my creative bones to Mammy. My love of art, music, writing, film, etc.; anything creative stems from her. Mammy is always, always creating something - she's a brilliant artist and a fabulous writer. She's also exposed me to wonderful music and films of her generation. As a kid, times with Mammy were always an adventure filled with making things, exploring, and playing. I'm so thankful for the ways Mammy helped shape my creative side and different way of seeing the world.

Mema - my dad's mom
She is also the definition of reinvention - when I was 8, Mema went back to college to complete her degree! She showed me that learning is not confined by age. Also, her subsequent career following that degree was as a case worker with MHMR of Tarrant County. She loved her clients who were people with challenges, hardships, and who the "world" often looked down upon. Although I did not recognize it as a child, Mema impacted my heart to love people. To see all people as valuable and have a desire for them to know that. I am thankful for the ways that Mema impacted my empathy for others, particularly the "least of these."

At times I get overwhelmed by the multitude of things that I want to learn, do, experience, and see. And yet, while it can be overwhelming, it's also invigorating. They help change me, grow my point of view, and, more than anything, grow deeper in love with the Lord as He is the Creator of all these things. He is the greatest Artist, the most acclaimed Writer, the best Musician, the keeper of all Wisdom and Knowledge, the ultimate Empathizer, the Beginning and the End.

Learning and growing and experiencing is a gift. And that gift is made so much sweeter when it's used to grow my affection for the Lord, His Creation, and His people.

May I keep living until He calls me home, not a moment before.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Challenge Update

I'm about 80 iPad pages from completing my sixth book of 2014! I'll likely finish it this weekend. Here's a recap of my initial six books:
1. Gone Girl - I technically started this right after Christmas, but am including it as I read most of it in 2014. Starts slow, gets crazy, and ends crazier!!

2. Margot - fictional story if Margot Frank had not died in a concentration camp. It was an intriguing story and addressed some of the treatment of Jews in America after WW11 that I wasn't aware of but hard to consider since Margot was a real person who was killed

3-5. Divergent, Insurgent, & Allegiant (Divergent series) - I almost feel badly counting these as they are teen books, but they're books and not short ones! I enjoyed the first two books and read them quickly, but the last book was slow and I didn't love the ending.

6. Redfield Farm - this is what I'm still reading, but it's so good! I started it on Sunday if that gives any indication. :) It's about a Quaker family who works the Underground Railroad freeing slaves.

Not sure what I'll pick-up next. I have several options to consider from! I'm liking this challenge and hoping it'll be a "resolution" type challenge I achieve. :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Change Your Life

This fall I embarked on a journey that I'll never regret.

It started as a whim and quickly (and thankfully!) turned to reality.

I had lived alone a few months after having a roommate for six years and a small nagging picked at my brain. One that I hadn't realized I missed.

I'm talking about dogs.

I grew up with dogs, specifically golden retrievers. Merlin and Lucy were a part of our family. And yet after college, I had placed being a dog parent in the bucket of "things to do when I get married."

I started toying with the idea of getting a dog this summer, but didn't verbalize it for a bit. Then my cousin, Libby, adopted a sweet dog Lola and I started thinking maybe I could do that, too?

My dad was out of town for over a week and I visited my mom. I told her about my thoughts of adopting a small poodle mix dog like Libby (reason being I live in an apartment so wanted something smaller and poodles are the most intelligent dogs and don't shed). She thought it was a great idea. While there I found a picture of what I wanted and the name! I said I'd want an apricot boy and to name him Crosby (short for Bing Crosby who I adore). We talked about the pros/cons of adopting vs. buying a puppy. After some research, I was leaning heavily toward adopting as they are dogs in need of a home and I know people with great success! My parents' precious basset hound Winston, my aunt Liz and uncle Grant's four dogs Diamond, Sydney, Patch, and Felicia, and Libby's puppy girl Lola.

So I started my search when I got back to Dallas after visiting my mom. I quickly learned of a no kill shelter in Dallas called operation kindness.

Then one Thursday morning I looked on their site and saw a poodle mix puppy named Gremlin. He wasn't the color I was wanting, but it said he was a puppy so I thought I'd check him out. The shelter is open late on Thursdays so I decided to run by after work and see what it was like, and visit Gremlin.

Thankfully God had other plans.

I got to OK and they showed me to the dog area. I quickly did a once over for Gremlin, but his kennel said he was out on a walk. PRAISE GOD!

Why? Well as I was waiting, I noticed this sweet little apricot poodle mix boy who's name was Archie.

I decided to request to bring Archie out of his kennel. He was so unbelievably sweet! Kind of dirty as he had just come to the shelter from a rescue group, but so so sweet.

I wanted him.

But I'm a rule follower and felt like I needed my apartment's permission. I also knew I had zero dog things at home!

So I left.

And I called my parents who graciously convinced me to bite the bullet and go back to get "Archie" (he didn't know that name as OK gave it to him when he was taken in).

Friday I got to work and sent a note of prayer to my Mammy and aunt Liz, who are some of the biggest dog lovers I know! They were graciously supportive as well.

At lunch I left for OK and prayed that if it was God's will, he'd still be there.

He wasn't.

But then the employee noted he was just at the groomer! Hallelujah!  I went through the paperwork and waited.

Then he came and he became mine. I renamed him Crosby.

And I've never looked back.

Sweet puppy boy has dramatically changed my life in a great way. God has used his precious, loving spirit to teach me more about His love. Crosby doesn't hold grudges. He doesn't remember when I've left him longer than I should because my workday was nutty and I couldn't swing home over lunch. Or if it was frigidly cold and I didn't take him on a walk.

He forgets.

He loves anyway.

He is so excited to see me.

No, he's not perfect. I mean, he's killed a chicken... And he struggles to learn commands like "sit", but  I still firmly believe God has used him greatly to teach me more about His love (and I'm sure He will continue to).

My mom once told me that she believes God connected Crosby and me to help each other. I agree.

And now I'm learning about worry! He has a sore on his chest and I've been so nervous! He's my furry child! I trust that he'll be okay and my worry is for not.

I thank God for using this fluffy, sweet boy to enrich my life and teach me more about His unfailing love.

I encourage everyone to adopt! So many sweet puppy dogs in need of homes. And I know God will use them to bless you, too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Exodus

Anyone who has spent time with me studying God's word learns quickly that I absolutely positively LOVE the Old Testament. There are so many reasons why:
- the history!
- Judaism and the nation of Israel
- Jesus was a Jew
- the pace and story telling format
- the prophecy
- the prophecy of Jesus
- studying it richens the New Testament
- I relate to many of the people
- and on and on

And of the Old Testament, one of my most favorite books is Exodus. I know that's probably weird, but I don't care. :) This book has been used to deepen my faith, see the picture of Jesus' sacrifice more clearly, and understand the process of chains of slavery being broken to release freedom in Christ.

I've written devotionals here and there on the book, and have always had a little nagging to write a study - one that specifically focuses on freedom from slavery. I've typically pushed it aside thinking that'd be a waste of time since I'd just be writing it for me. Yesterday, while looking through my resources and running across a devo I wrote on Exodus 14, I realized it doesn't matter if I'm the only one who ever reads it. I learn more about God's word when I'm writing. I dig deeper, look for connections, and cross-compare with other parts of Scripture. So, I'm going to start. Not sure what it'll look like or if it'll go anywhere. I'm considering if I'll share as I go or wait until the end to see if there's anything worth sharing (well of course the bible is worth sharing, more my part in studying it).

And if nothing else, excited to dive even deeper into this fabulous book. I know it'll bless my heart and I pray draw me closer to the Lord. That makes everything worth it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Something Yellow

January 11th
Three yellow things that strike you as a fresh memory
So, I don't have three things... Honestly, I kind of forgot to look at the joy for this day and therefore wasn't looking for yellow things. But, it's one of my favorite colors (along with purple and orange...though not all shades of orange, just the burnt variety :)) so I naturally flock to it.

BUT I do have a joy for Saturday! I feel re-energized. I tried out a new gym this weekend that I'm super excited about. I've been going to the Y for a while (don't really remember how many years) and after moving this spring, I pretty much changed locations as the previous one is not in my stomping grounds. Through this new location, I found a dance instructor who is downright awesome! She's way better than the previous lady I enjoyed, and has a contagiously cheery and positive attitude. It was an answer to prayer as, when my first zumba instructor quit, I was nervous I wouldn't find another class as the others at that Y were not the best and, to be honest, I didn't have much experience with zumba since she was the first one I'd ever had. Well, Brandi kicks tail. There are some ironic things about this that I don't think I should share here, but makes me question more about my first instructor.

Anyway, Brandi only teaches one day at the new Y and there are only two other days with dance classes that could fit in my schedule. One is 6pm on Mondays which is REALLY hard for me with work. So I'd often just go to Brandi's class and Saturday and, while the Saturday instructor is so sweet and a good dancer herself, I don't connect with the choreography. Brandi mentioned that she teaches at another location that's actually closer to my office and new apartment so I decided to check it out. I went to her class on Saturday and another instructor's class yesterday. It was awesome! They have five dance classes that fit in my schedule (not that I'll go to all five each week, but nice that I have more options if I have to miss one!) and a slew of other great classes. So, I'm going to switch gyms. :) And I feel super energized about this - this will be the year I hit goal weight. I am proclaiming that to myself!

January 12th
1. Something above you
It was a GORGEOUS day yesterday!! I love cold weather, but by January (since I don't love January) I'm 100% okay if it starts to warm up. I primarily like cold in the fall and Christmastime. Yesterday was such a gift and I took Crosby on a big long walk and then left the porch door open as I did my afternoon cleaning. It was lovely. 

2. Something below you
Last night I saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks (the screen was sort of below me...). It was so good! The story is beautiful and honestly, although I know parts are fictionalized, it made me love Mary Poppins even more. Which is saying a lot as that's one of my favorite Disney movies. There is a sadness to it, but there is a beauty and magic in the sadness. I have a lot of thoughts, but I'd highly recommend it. 

3. Something beside you
This fall I joined a new community group and it has been such a joy and gift. There are elements in the girls' stories that match mine and there are stories that don't. With both, there's a level of understanding and connectedness that is a huge blessing. I'm in a really good place right now, too, so am able to encourage others or see the potential for growth and freedom. I'm excited to see how God continues to work. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In Your Heart

January 6th!

Six days done. Time sure does fly. In any case...

1. One thing in your bag
Zyrtec! I know, weird. But I take it pretty much year-round now as I realized often when I'd feel run down it was allergies. I keep thinking, what did people do before antihistamines were invented?!? I actually am interested in checking out possible holistic medicines for allergies since I'm a year-rounder now...

2. One thing in your fridge
My brother gave us some Campbell's samples over the holidays and Sunday I made this one for my lunches this week:

I used chicken, but didn't end up making any sides like rice or couscous, purely because I was being lazy. :) But, even so, it is so good! It has a good spice, was SUPER easy (as in put the chicken with the sauce on it and cook for the designated time). I recommend it!

3. One thing in your heart
This one I can't really explain in this space as it involves other people and I don't believe it would be appropriate. Suffice it to say, I learned last night that someone I care about has been hurting and I wasn't aware (not because of me, from something else entirely). It's extra tricky for reasons that, again, I don't feel are appropriate to share here, but my processing has taught me a few things:
  - Just because someone doesn't share with me doesn't mean I failed in my leadership
  - Even though I wish I had known to be able to pray and care for this person, I know God knows
  - Healing is always possible through Christ