Monday, May 2, 2016

Bout of Books 16

Bout of Books

This is my official sign up post, cause it's here again, Bout of Books 16! It happens three times a year, but the spring happening of Bout of Books every year is my favorite! It's the one where I actually get a good amount of reading done. It's always fun to see people's plans for making the most of their reading time as well as the locations and snacks they prefer. The events, giveaways, and Twitter parties are fun too. And not that we need an excuse, but it helps to push aside responsibilities for the sake of a read-a-thon.

If you've never heard of Bout of Books, here's the official blurb: 

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team


Hope to see you on the blogs and Twitter next week!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Begin the Week with Words: A Poem

My students and I had a discussion on poetry. I came to the conclusion that I like to read and write it, but discussing it and teaching it gets tricky. Maybe because we aren't exposed to it enough?

But there were other thoughts to our discussion. There's something about deep emotion that draws the poetry out of people. If there's anything poetic within you, a deep moment of revelation will find it! Poets exist everywhere. There are the classic (Emily Dickinson), the well known modern (my favorite Tyler Knott Gregson), and the every day people nodding hello as you walk by. At its most heartfelt, even poetry that isn't well written touches on what it is to be human.

And so, poetry it is today. I present this particular poem because I can see it in my students' faces when they think no one is looking, in the moments of earnestness, and sometimes their actions. I present this particular poem because I think others can relate, even if only in the past or in random moments. As such, I present today's #SundaySentence, with the explanation for its inspiration:



"Saw a glimpse of two friends hugging today - it was sincere and without restraint, joyful and kind of like a dance. It was sweet, beautiful even, and I had a sudden sinking feeling that I am not that person. That I am intrinsically unable to be that friend, a friend someone enjoys the presence of without a doubt."

I'm not the girl people are naturally drawn to
I'm not the girl people think of randomly
I'm not the girl whose smile invites you in
I'm not the girl whose friends flock to her
I'm not the girl who finds her personality favorable
I'm not the girl who finds herself caught up in a hug, of either sadness or joy
I am a girl of restraint, of thought
I am a girl whose smile tries, whose effort is tired
I am a girl who wishes to feel free of herself, to feel needed, and enjoyed
I am a girl who longs to be who she wants to be, not who she is.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

I've said numerous times in reviewing her books, her blog posts, and her quotes, that I love Ann Voskamp. So it shouldn't be surprising that I'm bringing her around again for Sunday Sentence. Some quotes here from her blog post on friendship.


"What can ever be more of a priority than a person?"

"Friendships never just happen — they are forged."

"To be a friend that curves her heart into this safe cup for all words and feelings to spill,  the good and the grit, the grain and the chaff all mixed. Then in faithful silence to always sift for the good — and with a whispering prayer — blow all the grit that chafes away with a breath of grace."

Friday, April 22, 2016

Voyager (aka Outlander #3)

Source: dianagabaldon.com
I've collected all eight Outlander books at this point and just finished reading number three, Voyager. However, I accidentally read (instead of glanced at) a piece of the jacket summary of a later book when glancing through them at B&N. Big mistake - I swear I saw something about Jamie and/or Claire married to other people and I hurriedly shoved the book back on the shelf in horror. (Please, NO SPOILERS.) Since then, I've read my Outlander books with fear niggling the back of my mind.

So you can imagine my relief when Jamie and Claire find each other again in Voyager (that's the only spoiler, if it even counts as one). And the mini cardiac arrest I had each time they were separated. This is perhaps the magic of Jamie and Claire Fraser for me.  They've drawn me in so that I can't stand to see them apart even for a moment. I'm only happy if they are doing every single thing in the world together!

Impractical, unreasonable, and unrealistic...I don't care. That's what I love about books - it's not unrealistic to want in books what you can't have in real life! And things that don't work in real life (living every single moment next to the same person), works in books.

Anyway, Voyager has everything readers loved from the first two Outlander books: Jamie Fraser, plenty of adventure, plot twists, an ending that sets up the next book amazingly, and did I mention Jamie Fraser? Secret identities, surprising pasts, pirates, kidnapping, treasure, witchery, and more of the same characters we love and some we love to hate. Set twenty years after we last saw Jamie and Claire together, it makes for a pretty glorious reunion if you feel about them as I do.

If you've read the first one or two, keep reading! If you haven't read Outlander at all, get reading! Drums of Autumn (#4), here I come!


My reading buddy, Samoa

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

A while back I randomly started following a woman's official page on FB because I saw friends reposting her pieces of wisdom. I didn't know who she was then, but it turns out Christine Caine is a well known speaker, author, and activist. She and her husband are most well known for founding The A21 Campaign, a nonprofit organization that fights social injustice, mostly human trafficking.

I didn't know this when I first found her on FB; it was her amazing bits of wisdom that kept me following. Since then I've followed much closer, reading her books and signing up for her daily email, First Things First, in which she sends a bit of wisdom to focus on for the day. Today's email was a good one for me.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

I have a cool little calendar sitting on my filing cabinet, next to my desk at work. Each day is a book lover trivia question. Those are fun, but I've begun to look forward to the weekends when there is a quote given. This weekend is one of the best I've seen on the calendar so far...I think because I've experienced what it is saying. I can look at my current path and point to the month, year, and experience that put me on this piece of my journey. The hindsight of it amazes me...I look back to see where I've journeyed from and look ahead to wonder where it could possibly take me.

"A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead." The End Of the Affair, by Graham Greene

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Confident Heart

Source: reneeswope.com

Some way, somehow, I really don't know, every evening this past week was open! I had no commitments. I made it to my usual workouts, spent some time with my kids and husband, watched Survivor with two different friends on two different nights, attended my students' musical, and READ. I finished a book - a book I wasn't teaching! My personal reading life has become so sad.

A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises, by Renee Swope, is one of those books I bought because it sounded so good, but I never got around to reading it. I happened to pull it up on my Kindle a couple weeks ago and it was like "read me now!" Sometimes, as is the case this time, it's all about timing. In the spirit of Owen Meany, I'm willing to bet it wasn't a coincidence. 

First off, I'm not going to rewrite a perfectly good Amazon summary: "Often the biggest obstacle to living out our faith is our own doubt--about our worth, our abilities, our relationship with God, and situations in our lives. A Confident Heart gives voice to the questions, doubts, struggles, and hopes so many women have. Author Renee Swope shows us how to identify, overcome, and learn from our self-doubts so that we can live confidently in God's assurance, truth, and grace. Perfect for women's small groups or individuals, A Confident Heart is an authentic, insight-filled and encouraging message for any woman who wants to exchange defeating thought patterns with biblical truth that will transform the way she thinks, feels, and lives."

Secondly, it's no secret that I love "character improvement" books (not quite self-help, maybe I'll explain that in a post some day). I think because I spent so much time in my 20's not liking who I was, I'm pretty willing to look for my weaknesses and take steps toward improvement. There are certain aspects of life I feel fairly comfortable with and others where I doubt myself constantly. I feel confident as a teacher and student typically, but doubt much about my worth and ability as a wife, mother, and friend. Kind of a big section of relationships in life, right? This book helped. It broke down all the ways in which we doubt ourselves and shows why they aren't true. More importantly for me (because I've heard the ways and whys many times from other sources), Swope discusses the how. She gives guidelines - speaking not only to prayer and Bible study, but also what to do with these things - and provides charts and lists to organize the information she wants you to follow. Of course, a good book and a plan won't do you any good if you don't act upon them.

It is definitely a book to highlight and note, so I am glad I purchased the Kindle edition (which I've been doing with all of my nonfiction/topical books lately). I will definitely peruse my highlights and possibly even reread A Confident Heart. The truths it contains are vital to being who I was made to be. I'm determined to confidently be her.