Friday, August 2, 2013

2013 Reading: May - July Edition

My top recommendations from this edition of What I've Been Reading include:

Ruta Sepetys is one of my new favorite authors. Both Between Shades of Gray (read earlier in the year) and Out of the Easy are fantastic historical novels. Just read them. :)

I particularly enjoyed the first half of Rootless. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it as a whole, but I was a little disappointed to discover that it's a series. I felt like if crafted just a little differently, it could have been a great stand alone YA novel. But still, I appreciated the dystopian world Chris Howard created. It's sometime in the future and there are no trees left (though there is a rumor about one remaining living tree somewhere), there are flesh-eating locusts, and genetically modified popcorn is what everyone eats.

The River of No Return is a time travel story about a young man from the 1800s who jumps forward in time 200 years to escape death. His world is, obviously, turned upside down, but he adapts; however, he is thrown a few curve balls by the Guild, time travel officials.

The World's Strongest Librarian is the memoir of librarian with an extreme case of Tourette's syndrome who uses strength training to help control it. Part of the reason I enjoyed this book is that I could totally relate to his stories about working in a public library. It is an engaging and easy read.

In previous posts I highlighted favorite quotes from Galatians for You and Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta
Zen Habits by Leo Babauta
Help Thanks Wow: the Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Slated by Teri Terry
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Rootless by Chris Howard

How to Be Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Galatians for You by Tim Keller
King's Cross by Tim Keller (audio)
Walking on Water: Reflections on Art and Faith by Madeleine L'Engle

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Writing and Prayer

Thoughts on writing and prayer from Madeleine L'Engle's wonderful book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.

     So we must daily keep things wound; that is, we must pray when prayers seem dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain.
     We may not always be able to make our "clock" run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound so that it will not forget.


     To work on a book is for me very much the same thing as to pray. Both involve discipline. If the artist works only when he feels like it, he's not apt to build up much of a body of work. Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it, because the largest part of the job of the artist is to listen to the work and to go where it tells him to go. Ultimately, when you are writing, you stop thinking and write what you hear.
     To pray is to listen also, to move through my own chattering to God to that place where I can be silent and listen to what God may have to say. But if I pray only when I feel like it, God may choose not to speak. The greatest moments of prayer come in the midst of fumbling and faltering prayer rather than at the odd moment when one decides to try to turn to God.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Devotional Thoughts

As part of my personal devotions, I recently finished reading/using Galatians for You by Timothy Keller. While there were so many sections that spoke to me, I just wanted to share a few particularly thought provoking portions.

Solitary time with God is fundamental to the Christian life; but the Christian life is not a solitary one...We too must be deeply rooted in church communities. We have to avoid picking what we need here and there without ever becoming grafted into a cohesive community of other believers.

God does not promise to bless Christians by removing suffering, but to bless Christians through suffering.

Christians think that we are saved by the gospel, but then we grow by applying biblical principles to every are of life. But we are not just saved by the gospel, we grow by applying the gospel to every are of life. (Dick Kaufmann) 
-The Spirit works as Christians don't rely on their own works, but rather consciously and continuously rest in Christ alone for their acceptability and completeness. 
-The Spirit works as you apply and use the gospel. 
-The Spirit does not work apart from the gospel. The gospel is the channel and form of the Spirit's power.

Galatians 3:27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 
The idea of being clothed in Christ is a daring and comprehensive metaphor for a whole new life. It means to think of Christ constantly, to have His Spirit and His character infuse and permeate everything you think, say and do.
-To say that Christ is our clothing is to say that our ultimate identity is found in Christ.
-To say that Christ is our clothing is to call us to moment-by-moment dependence and existential awareness of Christ. We are spiritually to "practice His presence." To practice the presence of Christ entails that we continually think and act as if we were directly before His face.
-To say that Christ is our clothing is to say that in God's sight, we are loved because of Jesus' work and salvation. When God looks at us, He sees us as His sons because He sees His Son. The Lord Jesus has given us His righteousness, His perfection, to wear.

We are to live today knowing we are, and always will be an absolute beauty in the eyes of God. (Isn't this incredible?!)

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Jeremy's birthday fell on a Wednesday this year. I left for work at 7:20 in the morning and Jeremy didn't get home from his work until 9:30 in the evening, so needless to say, we didn't celebrate that day. Although, I did make him some jam-swirled donuts (gluten-free, vegan, and tasty!) as a little breakfast surprise.

Operation Birthday Celebration was scheduled for after I got off on Friday afternoon. We enjoyed pizza and a movie and then came home for dessert (homemade brownie pie with strawberry coconut milk ice cream) and presents. He was obviously celebrated in style...Christmas wrapping and abbreviated decorations! :) That's what happens when you want to make a birthday special, but you just started working full-time and there really isn't time to do it all.

Ultimately, though, I was able to celebrate my husband, which is really what is important anyway!

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Just a few photos from the last month...

Summer supper out on our balcony.

Father's Day dinner with Jeremy's dad and oldest brother.

Beautiful flowers Jeremy surprised me with during a week I was feeling a bit blue.

Jeremy being goofy with his brothers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I live in a town with around a 15-mile square radius. And in this town, the parks and rec department maintains 18 miles of continuous, wide, paved biking/walking trails.

We live in a 3rd floor apartment, so it's no small feat to haul our bikes down, but I'm finding it is worth it. The other day, I lugged my bike down the stairs and set off. It was a beautiful day with lots of sun and a little extra wind. I cycled along appreciating the wildflower weeds growing around, the bridges over little streams of water, the parks dotting the trail. I stopped to read for awhile. I was hot and tired by the time I returned home, but I'd easily put in about 9 miles.

I've owned my ten-speed for over half of my life. It was a huge surprise for my 13th birthday (a time in my family's life when money was a bit tight). We went camping for my birthday that year and not long before we were supposed to be leaving, I was blindfolded and led outside to my awaiting bike. I was absolutely shocked and so thrilled!

All these years later, she is still a quality bike, but she's a little worse for the wear. The painted lettering has flaked off; the handlebars need new grip tape; one of the gear shifting wires is missing and therefore it isn't actually a ten-speed bike right now; the tires are starting to crack; the brakes are a little worn down. Much of this can be repaired and replaced and really I should (some just for safely reasons!). Some days I want a new bike, but there is something so sweet about looking at my navy blue bike and being reminded of that time in my life and the generous gift my parents so lovingly gave me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


So, a week ago we enjoyed our first vacation since moving out west. In truth it was a "stay-cation." (I really don't like that word, but it is the perfect description for the vacation we enjoyed.) We're still new enough to the area that we had lots of places to explore. I didn't get pictures of everything we did, but here are a few from our "stay-cation" adventures...we thoroughly enjoyed spending time together and exploring our new home.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Jeremy enjoying the "penny" arcade.
A cute, though admittedly touristy town.

Awesome museum that we only saw about half off.

The last day of our vacation!

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