Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Books? Yes, Please.

So... I must love reading. I mean, I know that, and you probably know that, but in case you didn't, it really is true. I love reading. When I move to a new place, one of the first things I do is find the library and get a library card as soon as I can. Barnes & Noble is a very dangerous store. I believe I have only walked out of there with no new book in my hand maybe a handful of times in the past 10 years. So I don't go unless I have money to spend or a specific gift to get for someone else - then I get out as fast as I can before I splurge!

This year, I tracked the books I've been reading for myself - both here on this blog and on Goodreads. I wrote a post about it back in March. I have really enjoyed doing it, too. I have heard many people talk about trying to read 50 or 100 books in a year. I still can't quite fathom 100 if you're someone who works outside writing book reviews... but to be honest, even 50 sounded impossible. That's about a book a week. And while I read fairly quickly, and more than one at a time as well, I just imagined I'd make it to about 30. By September, I'd read 25 books, and I felt pretty good about that. I thought I might be able to get to even 35 by the end of the year.

As of today, I've read 42 books. That's only 8 books shy of the impossible. I've set up 2015's list and can't wait to see how far I get in the new year. I'd like to see if I can hit 50 next year. The interesting thing - at least to me - is that out of 42 books read this year, only 4 (FOUR!) of them are re-reads. People, I re-read books all the time. But there have been so many good books that were new, or that I just hadn't read before that I finally got around to, that the re-reads have taken a backseat. Even my common re-reads (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, the Harry Potter series, the Narnia series) didn't get read this year. You can bet they'll be part of next year's goal. :)

So, on with the books. As always, feel free to let me know if there's one you think I should read. I'm always on the lookout for more to add to my "to read" list (because 104 isn't enough)!

Monday, December 29, 2014


Today, both of my parents are having surgery. In fact, my mom's in hers as I type this. They'll both be fine, and I shouldn't really be worried, but that's the part of me that is my mother's daughter. But I'm also my father's daughter, so I find myself in this detached worrying state. If I think about it too much, I start to freak myself out - but I'm not so far gone that I can't recognize what's happening and stop it. It's sort of like part of my brain is saying "freak out! your parents are in SURgEry! you can't do anything! and your mom insists she doesn't want help once she's home even though that sounds crazy! yOU HAVE to be there for the next 2 weeks to be sure they're ok!!" and the other part of my brain is saying "seriously? chill out man. help 'em out tomorrow, but good grief, calm down. they're fine. the doctors are good and your dad doesn't seem worried so just quit it. and your mom's not even as worried as you'd expect so just cut it out. drive them home tomorrow and then go on with life." Yeah, ok brain. Whatever you say (that's the first part breaking in again).

Because of this, I have found myself researching thyroids and gall bladders over the past few days and I know the symptoms related to problems, and the expected recovery time after surgery. I (thankfully) did not dig to deep, so I don't know complications or weird stories that have happened to the 1 in a thousand or whatever. And I feel confident that they'll be fine. I really do - but sometimes your emotions start to try to convince you otherwise. I mean, it's my parents!

Of course, I start thinking I should distract myself. Read a book, watch tv, do something crafty, whatever. Just get busy. I started thinking about posting about the books I've read this year. But as I even thought through that post (which I'll likely post tomorrow instead), I realized I should address what I'm really thinking about so I can let it go and not over do the stress on myself, which really isn't necessary. My youngest brother is with them today, my other brother and his family are praying warriors, and I'll be there to get them and help them tomorrow.

So what do I do now? Well, I'm with one of my dearest friends, and we both need rest today, so we plan to get some decongestant medicine and such from the store and then chill and watch Doctor Who for most of the day. I will also be knitting. We'll likely take some time to read as well. But you can bet I'll have my phone beside me all day, waiting to hear from my brother (who's with them) or until I can call them myself.

Then, tomorrow, I'll be the one to pick them up and take them home. I know they've already had friends dropping off meals and offering to help, which is encouraging. I will hang out there until we all feel comfortable with me leaving - could be same day, could be longer. Good thing I like reading and quiet, huh? Of course, I have movies to watch as well. :)

So if you're the praying-to-Jesus type, please join me in praying for them. For peace, for steady hands of the doctors and nurses, for quick and full healing, for little pain and good pain control, and for rest. Pray for low stress levels. Pray for the rest of my family not to be worried more than we should. And praise Him for the blessings - both surgeries are fairly common, my parents convinced the hospital to put them in the same recovery room, and my brothers and I have all been available to help.

At the end of the day, and all throughout it, actually, despite surgery, worry, and stress, God is good. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Part of a Promise

I have finally had (read: taken) the time to process some of the Christmas/spiritual life thoughts I've been having lately. Because of that, what began as a short post on Facebook became this blog post. And as I wrote, it kept lengthening. But it's so good to think through these things - for me it helps them sink in better...and I need that!

I've been reading a daily devotional I received (thanks, Mom) that is designed to prepare you for the arrival of the Son of God through the month of December (Advent) through January 6 (Ephiphany). The reading from yesterday has stuck with me, especially as part of this past weekend's sermon echoed these thoughts as well.

WE are part of the story! WE are still receiving the blessing that resulted from the faith of those in the story we read. WE should be amazed and awed at the wonder God has shared with us and sing praises giving thanks to Him. For unto US a child was given, and He is our Savior and the Prince of Peace (paraphrased Isa. 9:6). Because of His birth, and our part in the prophecies foretold (which, incidentally is also because of His birth and our salvation through His death), WE (should) celebrate the glorious arrival of Jesus and His infinite wisdom, power, and love.

How can we just sit still? I mean, we don't really, but we do where it matters. I do! I am so tired from all the running around, the planning, the trying to be sure I haven't somehow left someone out or hurt them (how ridiculously far I over think this, few of you have any idea).

How do we not shout the news like the shepherds, or make the journey like the wise men? (This still makes me think of little Gladys Herdman: "Hey! Hey! Unto you a child is born!" When you haven't heard it before, it really means something, and it's worth shouting! People gotta know!)

How do we not trust like Joseph or wonder like Mary? I get so caught up in what I need to get done, or planning who to see and when (which is good, I grant you, but not enough), that I completely forget to TRUST God with the things that are stressing me out (today. this happened MULTIPLE TIMES - TODAY.) and I forget to wonder at the amazing story that He has given us, and made me part of when He made me His child!

I have always loved Christmas - just ask my mom. I love the seasons, the change, the beauty of each one, but winter is my favorite, and I know a lot of that is because of Christmas. The joy in the air, the family (both biological and chosen), time with friends, activities, and demonstrations of love through food, fun, gifts, laughter, and shared craziness - it is a wonderful thing. But often, I let the stress society (and myself) puts on it seep into my enjoyment. I let the stress of preparing to be away from work for a few days overshadow the joy and celebration of the season.

Then, today's reading spoke of mercy. The author describes mercy as "that which fulfills our heart's desire, that which gives purpose to our lives, that which also allows us not only to be loved, but also to love completely." While I'm not sure I agree with this definition 100%, I do love the perspective it gives and the direction it looks. Mercy from God is something that "always astonishes us." Or it should. Have you become accustomed to the mercy God grants? I pray it is not so! I pray you are always awestruck by the grace of God in granting His mercy to us. I hope that we are all astonished by the things God puts into our lives as He shows us His plan.

Lastly, the sermons at my church this month (first 3 weeks of December, anyway) have been about the 3 great blessings that are ours because of Christmas: Joy, Peace, and Hope (you can listen to the sermons here). I cannot tell you how much a blessing these have been to me these past couple weekends, and how much I am looking forward to this coming one! What gifts. Joy inexplicable! Peace that calms the soul. Hope that looks up and out and forward. Glorious Savior indeed!

Now, go enjoy your Christmas, and don't let the stress in - let HIM in!