Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Felicities: Jan 25, 2013

Friday Felicities

My boys' handwriting on our blessings list
Being flexible
Homemade cookies from scratch
Getting ready for Thursdays
Playing at writing, being fun
Knowing Hubby is reading my Tornado book
Feeling the wall inside break down
New friends
Funny TV shows
Clean lines of notebook paper
Leila's voice on the line
My sister sending me yummy recipe suggestions
Origami boxes made by little hands
Biography of a girl with Tourette's Syndrome
Good hard sleep

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Poem: Wine from Ashes

The wine will flow from ashes
and the dead will leave their graves.
Baptism first by water
and then by fire saved.

His ruling spared the sinner.
It was mercy our king gave.
No rocks would ever hit her,
because the Savior came to save.

My Lord, the Lord who dances,
who waltzes over waves.
He sets the sea to spinning,
then dies, our hope to save.

Today, our grace is broken,
the Bride is rotten with decay,
but this world is on the second
of a wait that lasts three days.

No man alive can steal her,
the Bride he took with him to the grave.
The murdered God, He chose her,
so her purity is saved.

The wine will flow from ashes,
the dead leap from their graves,
we've been baptized by fire;
He is the God who saves.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

31 for 31

It's that time of year again. Welcome to January, my birth month. I decided to continue with last year's birthday theme: Random Acts of Kindness. If you don't remember or weren't reading back then, here are links to the posts I wrote on the subject:

Turning 30
30 for 30: Let the Party Begin
30 in 30: Wrap Up

This year, two things are different. The obvious difference is my age. This year will be 31 for 31. The biggest difference, however, is timing. My birthday falls on a Sunday this year, thanks to Leap Year. A lot of places I plan to visit won't even be open. So, I am going to do one of two things. Either, I will celebrate on Monday or else I will spread out the 31-yumminess over a few days or my whole birth week.

I'd appreciate any ideas for small acts of kindness or places to drop off baked goods. My list, so far, includes many of the same things from last year, such as dropping homemade goodies off for the librarians at our local library, the janitorial staff at our church, the therapy group that works with Haydn twice a week, etc...

So, if you want to help me celebrate, do your own random acts of kindness around my birthday. Help me spread the smiles.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

When is Jesus Coming Back?

Yesterday, the boys were anxious for their father to finish his work and play football with them. Corey has finished seminary (Magna Cum Laude), but he still has work to do as part of the ordination process. He'd told the boys he would finish up the question he was answering and then meet them outside.

These questions require very in-depth answers. They are questions theologians write entire books on without ever exhausting the subject. He is supposed to squeeze his own answers into about two pages per question. Corey writes as he does anything else, with much thought and purpose. So, on average, he can write about one page an hour. I tell you this so you will understand; when he said he would finish answering one question, they didn't know how far into his answer he already had written. In other words, there was no set time when he would be finished. It could have been two minutes or two hours.

I was sweeping the kitchen floor, half-listening to the kids at play and the ballgame on TV. My mind was, basically, wandering to and fro, until I heard the front door open and a heated discussion commence. I'm going to paraphrase here, because I can't remember their exact words, but you'll get the gist of it.

Haydn: Aren't you coming outside? 
David: Later. 
Haydn: But Dad said he's coming out. We can play football. 
David: Yeah, but he isn't coming right this second. I'm going to play on the computer for a while. 
Haydn: But he is coming right this minute. He said.

The argument continued in this vain until I broke in and told them when their dad would be finished. He was almost ready to play football. They had fifteen minutes or so to wait. As the front door closed and my sons disappeared on the other side of it, I thought about their debate. Something about it rang true inside of me. Then, standing on my white tile floor, a broom in one hand, I was startled with Truth, the kind of Truth that only comes in a moment of epiphany, one of my most favorite experiences in all the world, the kind of moment that makes me want to be a writer, always always always be a writer.

My sons had just acted out their own little eschatological discussion in the hallway. I played over their conversation in light of this new ray of Truth. And this is what I heard...

Christian 1: Come on already, Jesus is coming back. We have to be ready. 
Christian 2: Nah, He won't be here anytime soon. I'm gonna keep on doing my thing. 
Christian 1: No, really, He is coming back RIGHT NOW. 
Christian 2: He said he was coming back when it was time, but He didn't say He'd be back today at this time.

And on it goes. Until someone reminds us of the truth that no one knows the day or the hour but we still should be ready. Both parties are right about something. Just like my sons were each right about something. Haydn knew his dad was coming as soon as he finished writing, and David knew it would take his dad quite a while to finish writing. Only I, standing in the kitchen, unobserved, knew how far Corey had gotten into his answer and how much longer he would take before going out to play.

Jesus is coming back. In ten minutes? Ten years? Ten centuries? I don't know. But he said he was coming, when it is time. Only God the Father, standing unobserved in Heaven and in every bit of his creation, knows for sure how long before the work is finished. Neither of my sons were exactly right, but each had part of it correct. Haydn knew to be ready, that his dad hadn't lied to him. David knew there was time to live the life at hand, staying always ready to answer his father's call.

Next time you see a woman sweeping the floor, don't take her domesticity for granted. She may be solving great theological issues with a broom and a smile.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Currently: January Embers

Current Books: I'm about half through with a kids' book called True (Sort of...). It's really wonderful. Delaware was on my list of possible names for future characters. It made me smile to see someone else thought of it that way. David is reading to me, for a change, and we are about halfway through The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. With the boys, I am reading Crazy English and There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, also poems from various volumes. I am still in Psalms every morning. After my Psalm, I read from Red Letter Revolution by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne.

Current Playlist: I found the CD I have of Mom singing Loretta Lynn songs. I finally got it imported to iTunes. But it's probably not helping my homesickness.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Wearing sweatpants and my giant UK sweatshirt or some variation of that ensemble way too often around the house. I'm more productive if I follow Flylady and put on real clothes, but I'm exhausted lately.

Current Colors: Kentucky blue. Can't beat that.

Current Fetish: Project Life. I keep searching out idea pages and freebies to download. I need to replace my color ink cartridges.

Current Food: I just finished off a couple of blueberry cake donuts. Yummo!

Current Drink: Coffee from my Keurig. I use a re-usable cup, so I am not gunking up the environment with all those little plastic k-cups. I fell in love with a cheesecake creamer I found. *happy sigh*

Current Favorite Favorite: G2 pens. These pens allow me to write without my carpal tunnel acting up. At least, for a while - for longer than other pens allow.

Current Wishlist: Color ink cartridges, lots of good cardstock in size 8.5x11, more G2 pens, a handful of Kindle books, someone to clean my house every couple of weeks (I'm dreaming, I know), an extra few hours in the day now and again, a few cute aprons, a trip to London, magical inspiration for the Somewhere book, 3 new bathrooms in our house...

Current Needs: Well, the bathroom repairs are needed, along with roof repair. When it rains, it pours, right? But, truly, there is no life or death needs right now. We have more than we need, actually.

Current Triumph: Recapturing the fun of writing stories. Also, Haydn has been re-testing to check our progress. The kid's a bloody genius. Two years ago, when I first pulled him from public school, he was behind his age in almost everything (except spatial memory) and now he's surpassing superior on the same tests. His therapist and meds have helped tremendously, but I am allowing myself to feel some triumph over this.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Waiting. Waiting is just so hard.

Current Indulgence: Liquid coffee creamer.

Current Mood: So homesick it hurts. It's a heavy sick feeling in my gut.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He shoulders so very much, and he does it with grace. He supports my dream of publishing novels, even while it is paying nothing.

Current Outfit: Polo jeans from Goodwill in Columbia. I bought them shopping with my mom. Also, a Hendrix College shirt Abby bought for me and sparkly black TOMs. My Thespians hoodie from Brandon High School.

Current Link: Inspiration board for the current writing project.

Current Quote“There's nothing worse than waiting and not knowing what'll happen to you. Your own imagination can be crueler than any captor.” ― Richelle Mead

Current Photo: I am putting on make-up in the mornings lately. I'm making a concerted effort to feel prettier, because I feel happier when I feel pretty.

Title from this excerpt:

“Your hair is winter fire
January embers
My heart burns there, too.” 
― Stephen KingIt

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top 10 Reads of 2012 (the grown-up edition)

by Kate Morton

This book took me forever to read, because I picked it up at a really crazy time. I went out of town for a week, and we had Girlchild here. I was running around trying to get ready for Christmas and working on a book project. Despite all that, I enjoyed this book. The story put me in a Rebecca-like mood. The old castle brought Manderly to mind. If you love a grand Gothic tale, this book is for you.

The Best Essays of G. K. Chesterton

Wow. Wow. Wow. I have seen Chesterton quoted in all sorts of places for as far back as I can remember reading. Why had I never read him before this year? I have no idea. Corey heard a Chesterton scholar speak at his seminary, and he brought two books home for me. He said he just thought I would like the writer, and oh boy did I. I read this book in chunks over the year, savoring the essays. Chesterton is quite likely the most brilliant man who ever lived. He and C. S. Lewis are now tied for my favorite dead Brits. Oh, to have sat at a table with those men. That is something that makes me look forward to Heaven. You all can have your crowns and mansions and streets of gold. I just want a hearty meal at a little table with Chesterton and Lewis for company, thank you very much.

by Marilynne Robinson

Tupelo read Gilead together as a town, which I think is really cool. I had already read Gilead a few years back, and so had my book group. To join in the town-wide read, we decided on Home. Same characters, different story. I had forgotten how elegantly Marilynne spins a tale. I probably highlighted more that half of this book. Her wording... it's simply beautiful. She made me love Jack despite himself, and I appreciate that. I appreciate that, because there are plenty of people like Jack in real life, people we love even when loving them hurts and makes our life a mess. We love them because of who they are inside, because of the person we see when they stand in their best light. Home is a love letter to the hard to love and impossible not to love people in our lives.

by Joshilyn Jackson

I read everything Joshilyn writes and have since her first book. We were once in the same writer's group and now we share an agent. Sometimes, I remember that we share an agent and get butterflies in my tummy. Joss is brilliant, irreverent, funny, and the gritty kind of real that punches you in the gut. Pretty is my favorite of all her books, and the others were hard to beat. If you're interested, here is the post I wrote after reading Pretty, at the start of 2012: Twinkies and Toilet Paper (or Closing the Cover on the Best Kind of Book).

by Lydia Netzer

I picked this up as a review book from the Amazon Vine program. I selected it based on Joshilyn's recommendation, and I didn't regret it at all. I'd say it easily makes the Top 5 for all of the books I read in 2012. I simply adored every page of it. Also, if you do audio books, Joshilyn reads for this one, and I have heard her read. She's good. I will be watching for Lydia's next book. I can't wait to read more by her. And here is my original post for this book: Wanna Shine Shine Shine?

by Jodi Picoult

I read everything Jodi writes. I wrote her an email, years ago, and she replied. I love when authors are real people. When I first read Lone Wolf (while lying on a beach in Florida), I wasn't 100% in love with it. However, as the year went on, I found myself liking it more and more in retrospect. Especially when I took Haydn with some friends to see real wolves. We spent hours there, talking to the couple who care for the wolf pack, and I mentioned this book. It led to a lovely conversation, which I wrote about HERE.

by Chris Cleave

This is another book I snagged in advance of publication. I loved Little Bee, so I was excited to read Gold, but also worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. It did. And then some. I would rank this one in the top 5 as well, I believe. Chris gets metaphor, and metaphor is my favorite literary device. In this story, "gold" is the overarching metaphor, and it is a brilliant one. 

by Tupelo Hassman

I won my lovely hardback copy on Twitter, and I was inspired by the way she broke the novel into such tiny bits and pieces. I was, at that time, struggling with how to organize my Tornado book, and I tried out her style. It helped me a LOT. The book isn't in those tiny sections anymore, but writing it that way helped me isolate the important scenes and develop them. I will be forever grateful to Tupelo and her gorgeous debut novel. Warning, however, I know some of you do not read books where children are hurt and misused. If that's you, skip this one.

by Lisa Samson

I am not a fan of most Christian fiction (Christian is a noun, not an adjective), but I do like Lisa Samson. I have read a handful of her books and liked most of them. This one was wonderful. I loved Mary Margaret and loved the boy she loved. I can relate to the whole loving the bad boy thing, and I really appreciated her faith and how she loved God and others, even when it was a struggle. 

by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock

I was raised Baptist (primitive, independent, and southern), and I am from the hills of Eastern Kentucky. I related to a lot of Elizabeth's life and I learned from it as well. Also, I laughed my rear end off. You can't help but laugh when you read this book. It was a lot of fun.

Also, my Top Ten in Kid-Lit and YA can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top 10: Children's and YA Reads for 2012

These aren't in any specific order, and my list includes my favorite reads for the year, not my favorite books published in 2012. I doubt I read ten newly published bits of kid-lit in 2012. 

by Rebecca Stead

I just adored this book. I spent the year overcoming my fear of time travel. I didn't set out to overcome it, but it happened, and I am glad for it. I loved how the main character was reading A Wrinkle in Time. It is one of my favorites. I will definitely read more of Rebecca's stories and share them with my children.

by Tanita S. Davis

I picked this book up at the library, completely based on its cover. I do that sometimes, pick my next read based on an appealing appearance. In this instance, I was happy with my selection. Not only was it good writing, it also taught me a lot of history. This would be a great classroom read.

(The Books of Elsewhere, Vol I)
by Jacqueline West

I absolutely loved this book. The concept was creative and well put together. The main character was charming in her uniqueness. I loved all of the paintings and the magic magic magic. I listened to the audio while driving to Huntsville for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to get my hands on more of this series.

by Norton Juster

How did I miss this book in childhood? I swear, I was so anxious to grow up and read grown-up books that I completely missed a ton of books and am now discovering them in adulthood. Last year, that meant Anne of Green Gables. This year, the Phantom Tollbooth and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I loved this book so much, I plan to re-read it many times. That's high praise from me. I don't do a ton of re-reading.

by Sy Montgomery

This was a newly published book I received for review. I read it aloud to my oldest son. He is on the autism spectrum, and we both loved this book. Not only did we learn a lot about cattle and the engineering that Temple is so good at, we also got a peak at how successful a person can be, how big obstacles don't have to mean big failure. Temple is one of my son's heroes, and he sure picks good heroes.

by John Green

This was also the year of finally reading John Green. Well, I read Paper Towns sometime last year, but the library had no other John Green books. This year, I borrowed An Abundance of Katherines on my Kindle and was greatly entertained. The Fault in Our Stars is probably one my my top 5 books for the entire year. I could not put it down. I swam in that story long after I closed the cover. Do yourself a favor and buy this book right now.

by Mike Lupica

My sons both play baseball. I borrowed the audio version of this book from our public library, and both kids were hooked. The main character is a lot like my son, who can pitch like nobody's business when he is relaxed and not trying to pitch like nobody's business. After reading this, we made our way through quite a few of Lupica's book. The boys love them, and I am learning a lot about sports. That's helpful when parenting two athletic sons. I'm the only girl in the house. Even the animals are male.

by Tony Abbott

This is another we listened to the audio for. It was definitely quirky, but in the best possible way. The kids learned a lot about Florida and got a taste for old-fashioned detective stories. We laughed a lot. It was a really good book.

by Kate DiCamillo

I think Kate is my favorite living writer of children's literature. She just writes good stories, and this is one of those good stories. I long to write like Kate, with such simplicity of manner. Her books are full of heart and overflowing with the best kind of magic. I sent a copy of this novel to my stepdaughter for Christmas. I hope she will read it and love it as much as I did.

by Terry Pratchett

I grew up with Pratchett as a household name, along with Douglas Adams and a few others. I read my first Discworld novel as a young teen. Dad handed me this volume last year, I think. It sat on my shelf until suddenly it sang to me. Sometimes, books do that. They bode their time and then sing their siren song where only you can hear. I adored Tiffany Aching and I'm planning to steal with rest of her series next time I visit my daddy.

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