Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I tried - reading the Divergent series {November reads and December deeds}

Hey cozy friends,

That time of year where we all want to sit next to a fire place, fill our bodies with hot drinks, and just be warmed by one another's love.


We are already 1/5 into December and I am just now getting around to post about November's book, wrap up the month and look forward to what is ahead.

November was lovely.  I decided to take a small break from facebook - deleted the app.  It was nice not being plugged in all of the time.  I thought I would miss people's lives or articles or funny clips.  And I might have missed those, but instead I gained TIME!  I was able to really focus on what is important.

I truly believe because I removed one distraction from my life allowed for another to move in - reading!  Although not a bad distraction, what I was reading could have been more beneficial.

November I read not just one, not just two, but three books.  I read the entire Divergent Series by Veronica Roth!

These are fun young-adult dystopian fiction stories. The best part of reading these books was getting to discuss them with my students.  I would spot a cover of one of the books and instantly be able to strike up a conversation with them.  Acknowledging them and their choices   - making their day.

The books are good, and at times the "romance" for 16 year olds was a bit too much or adult-like.  But over all I enjoyed the books.  If you are looking to buy books for a teenager this holiday season, I would highly recommend these.

Now on to December. 

I have not yet made any goals or commitments.
I have not yet written down any scripture or prayer focus.
I have not yet written down any to-do's or projects.

My focus for this month:
Read - Glory Happening by Kaitlin Curtice  (a high school friend of mine).  It should arrive at our house on Friday!!
Scripture - I am currently still in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and appreciate reading through Romans and really getting a better understanding of it.  I am also following along with my husband's Advent Project: here.
Health - For the past few months I have been hanging around the 158-161 range.  Which is great that I have not gained any weight I've lost back; but still frustrating at times that I have not seen any changes.  But healthy focus and not vain perception is important too!

Don't let the to-do list, the events, the pinterest perfect ideas get in the way of what matters this season.

People matter.

Love you all,
A mom who tries

Friday, November 3, 2017

I tried - The Turquoise Table {October book and November update}

October I finished leading a group through "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  We started it in September, so I wanted to read another book for October.  I choose "The Turquoise Table" by Kristin Schell.

The Turquoise Table was more than a book.  Seriously, it is like pinterest, instagram and facebook all rolled into one.  It was more than a book for it had recipes, quizzes, places to journal and take notes even check out her cute ideas on page 83.  The book included pictures, beautiful pictures, and quotes and other words of encouragement that make you enjoy the book just a little bit deeper. 

A beautiful piece of literature. 

The book starts off explaining the back story of where the table came from, but then it goes deeper into why it's important for our neighborhoods to have a table like this. 

I kept coming up with excuses and reasons why I couldn't (EVEN THOUGH I DESPERATELY WANT TO) do this. 

We live on a hill - where does the table go?
I have little ones - where do they play? In the street?
My neighbors work nights, move frequently, hardly home?
What if we move soon - is it rude to set people up to let them down?
Does this have to be me a "me" thing or a "family" thing?
Where do we find the money to buy a table?

Seriously, I had every excuse under the sun to not make community a priority. 
Here are some little truth bombs or quotes from the book that I love and will use to help me make my excuses into a thing of the past.

* Romans 12:13 - take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.   Hospitality.
* To be present, the only UNwelcome or not invited guests are the iphone and other technology.

* I can be an "embassy of the kingdom of heaven"

* WE all need the table.  It's community.  We need to gather.

* There is a difference between being and doing.  "You can tell what people are doing if you take time to notice."

* We are able to love because we were first loved.

* "We are all broken, that's how the light gets in." - Hemingway

* The more vulnerable we are, the longer the table we will need.

* Page 142 "The most beautiful people I know were their imperfection with grace and confidence."

* A HUGE difference between Hospitality and Entertainment.  Hospitality is serving, brokenness is welcome, non-judgement, grace, NO to-dos, A HAPPENING. Entertainment is "me" focused, pinterest perfect, judgement of self and event that occurs after a list of to-do's are complete.

* Page 147 "Part of loving others is allowing them to love us too."

* You need to hold the bucket sometimes for someone else, or yourself.  Word vomit is a thing.

* The ministry of presence is something worth praying for every day.

* People are hungry, craving for connection and community, a place to belong. 

The book had so much more wisdom and experience to share through her own and others stories.  This is a great book and I give it 5 stars.  A quick great read.  If you are wanting to change up your neighborhood, this is a great place to start.

November is underway already and I haven't taken the time to update on our goals.  It seems like yesterday that I started tracking and looking for goals.  This month I really want to focus on self communication. 

I often feel isolated and alone, so in order to help with not realizing it, I deleted the facebook app off of my phone.  I haven't figured out the game plan - other than I don't want to be on there any more; or as much.  I find myself wasting time reading articles, looking at pictures, or watching videos that have no regards to improving my life.  I can find the news through other means.  I can reach out and pray for friends by actually connecting to them.

Documenting the boys and sharing the joy they bring us with family and real friends.

I can still text pictures or even email.  I can do a "mass" end of the month "share" of what the kiddos have been up to.

Missing events around the community and social circles.

Personal invites are a thing that we should bring back.  Jeremiah is still on facebook and can keep us in the loop. We can also look for things on the weekends.

Reaching out and praying for people

Use other communication.

Feeling isolated and alone.

Interactions that due occur will be genuine and out of true love and interest, verses conveniently scrolling through my life tossing out thumbs up. 

Other things I would like to focus on during this free time.... I am going to read Divergent by Veronica Roth (I know, I am a little late to the fad) and who knows, I might be able to read the sequel too.

I would also like to continue to document our joy as a family and focus on each other, gratitude and grace. 

My physical health is always of importance; but mental and spiritual health have to be balanced in order to achieve that. 

Here's to November of peace, pausing, and true growth.  <3

I tried - friendship

Dear Friendship

Now I lay you down to rest,
For honestly, I have given it my best.

I am tired and weak from all that you have done.
We had a good race, maybe one of the longest.
But you have moved on, to pursue others, and honest
I am not surprised at what is coming.

Goodbyes are never easy.
They break and crack ones heart.
I will and have always been here for you.
But now it's just too hard.

Excuses are what I have heard;
A different season and time too short.
Excuses are what I hear
For your actions speak louder than words.

Goodbyes are not for ever,
But we face them now together.

My dearest friendship,
I love you deeply and hate to see you go.
The moment has come for me to say.

an old friend

Monday, October 16, 2017

Me too - An open letter to women and October

Dear October,

You didn't give us much room to breathe after September (suicide awareness month). But here we are, in the middle of it.  Facing breast cancer awareness but also infant and child loss awareness don't forget national coming out day and now there is a call to the "me too" movement advocating on behalf of women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

You make my heart heavy,

Dear Women,

To the women who are currently suffering, have had conquered, or grieving the loss of those battling breast cancer; you are strong and courageous! I literally have sat at my computer screen for minutes, trying to orchestrate the words that share my heart; but only silence is played. The battle you are facing is not one that people envy you for.  Thank you for being beautiful in all moments and stages of life; from the hair loss, to breast removal surgeries, to the inside as your heart going through times of being bitter and angry to finding life once more. You are not alone, you are loved.  

To the women who have lost a child or infant. This is a topic, in my opinion, that our society and our churches do not speak on enough, giving it the light and justice that it deserves.  Truth be told, this is a topic that I am not very good at navigating myself. So many variables to how you are handling and processing these major events of your life.  Stories after stories; I had a facebook friend share a picture of her box that holds treasured memories of her son's passing - something that took leaps and bounds to not only open, but open for all to see, letting us into her heart.  I can't imagine what one goes through day to day knowing a child is gone. Reading this article, about a family who donated their daughters organs, making a sacrifice to share life in the midst of loss.  My very own student showing me her baby brother's ashes that she binds around her neck, close to her heart, a beautiful necklace she just got today.  To all of my friends and family who I have cried with, hugged, and loved on during these tragic events, there are far too many. These stories are important, your child is not and will not be forgotten.  You are not alone, you are loved. 

To the women coming out. October 15th came and went and for those who were brave enough used the day to share their story. I personally want to step up on a soap box, I hate how a person has to be "brave" in order to be themselves, it bothers me (gets off soap box)... please keep sharing your stories.  I am listening. For my female friends who have already faced the masses, thank you.  Thank you for allowing me to be apart of your life, learning to judge less and care more. You have taught me so much.  You are appreciated! Your story matters. You are not alone, you are loved. 

To the women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. You are not a victim. You were not "asking" for it. It was unwelcome, not invited, uncomfortable, forced, and something - that no matter what you do - will never go away. From physical touch to hurtful words, the scars that are left will never heal fully; shaping you daily into the person you are.  The movement "me too," starting on twitter, has been sweeping social media.  This letter is for you, that as you type those words "me too" I hope that you feel welcomed into a sisterhood of understanding, grace, and compassion.  That as you slowly tell your story, leaving or including as many details as you wish, healing will take place; a process that takes time. I want you to know that you ARE worthy. You ARE important.  I believe you. Tell me your "me too". You are not alone, you are loved. 

This letter is for all women.  Through stories (and sometimes coffee) we bind ourselves back together, weaving a tighter sisterhood.  If I could only reach through the screen and wipe away your tears I would. If I could only gently grasp your shoulders, drawing you into a hug, letting your rest your head on my shoulder - I'd carry that for you. If just for a moment I could stop time and let you take that deep heavy sigh and catch your breath, I'd wish it in an instnat.  You are not alone, you are loved. 

We all have a story. I am more than another number.  I am more than a statistics.  I am a me too. 

You are not alone, you are loved,
~Megan #metoo

PS - A letter is a form of communication, please feel free to write, message, text, call, e-mail me so we can continue our communication and sharing stories.  If possible, let's schedule time. I want to hear your story.
PPS - Men, yes I understand you can have breast cancer, loose a child, come out and be sexually harassed - you are loved too. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I tried - joy {September book and update}

Hi everyone!
It is that time. My post slow down as life rushes around. My plans focus on educating 126 young minds all while having a functional hospitable home, doing both with love.

Y'all, it's exhausting.

For the past six weeks I lead a Facebook group, reading through Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" - and although at first her over poetic flowery word choice was a bit much for my dry soul, I learned to love her words - they, her words, could take scripture and etch it deeper within my heart.  I think at the start I was just jealous that I couldn't write as eloquently as her.

When I started reading this book in September, I also starting writing down 3 joys, gifts, happy moments on a piece of paper.  Listing out on the times that brought cheer.   Some of my favorites include: 
undisturbed water droplets on a yellow leaf spotted when running in the rain
squeals of laughter as the youngest plays snake and squirms down the hall after older brother
reading books to a babe with lavender smelling hair
raining Saturdays with slow non-rushed starts
parking lot conversations with new friends
chick-fil-a (gotta keep it real)
someone asking if I am okay and wanting to listen 

I have now been listing for 41 days.

It's changing me. Just as Ann experienced in her highly recommended book.

Today's list:
asked to cuddle with oldest
moments to read another book

run in a long sleeve shirt clearing my head

This time of year is my favorite, but I also tend to drown in facts of my reality and loneliness.  My phone lies idle, my e-mail box empty, mail box vacant, truly just alone. As an introvert, I often prefer to gain energy being alone or in small intimate groups.  But this is the dark alone, not one of energy.  And as every year past, as long as I can remember, time will move on and self pity will weaken transitioning into go-mode again.

So I list, and once I find my joy, I cling to it.

On occasion my oldest, who's 5, has been asking me to cuddle with him, he use to want to sleep in our bed at the start of every school year.  Unknowingly I thought that it was because he missed me going back to work, he too could feel the crispness, the turning, the sense of "sighs."

Now, I realize my little-man didn't need me, God designed him because I needed to find joy.  God gave me the biggest gift I could have asked for (next to transforming me and my husband into Christians).  He gave me a son, who at a very young age, knows how to care.

Tonight when he asked me to cuddle him, minutes after prayers (naturally I am already tucked in my blanket with a book) I tell him I will be in in one minute, never have regretted spending time with him/

I climb the ladder to his creaky loft bed.  Oh, why did we buy a loft bed?  As I am climbing I tell him I am getting to big for his bed and don't want to break it.  He responds with "would you like an animal, here's a blanket, you aren't too big, you are perfect."

I take the big monkey (technically it was mine from years, decades, ago) and pull the blanket up around my shoulders.  We are finding peace in the midst of our chaos. I can feel his breaths slow as I know it won't take long for him to be asleep.  I smell the children's toothpaste, thankful that he brushed. I kiss his sweet forehead.  The same head that use to carry a huge red angel kiss birth mark.  The same forehead that holds incredible thoughts and dreams.

A sweet little voice simply says "Thank you."
"Thank you for what?" I ask.
"For kissing me."
"I will always kiss you."
"Even when I am older?"
"Yes, you won't be able to stop me."
"I can't wait for you to visit me in my house when I am older."
"Yes, our visits will be grand.  I love that you dream and think about your future, but don't grow up too fast."
"Why not?"
"I like you just as you are, my son, my five year old."
"Mommy, I will always be your son."
"I will always be your mommy."

With that he takes his perpetually sticky hands and holds my face. "Thank for cuddling with me." Then kisses my forehead.

No my dearest child,  THANK YOU.  Thank you for asking me to cuddle.  Thank you for reminding me that I am needed and loved.  Thank you for being joy.

PS - totally read her book.  It's good. =]

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I tried - the news

Dear Heavenly Father, 

My heart is tearing like the veil. 
The news. Cops making MY friends, GODS children walk into on coming traffic - yelling at her and her 1 year old son.  I am outraged. Protect them. ALL of them. Black lives matter - they are white but were peacefully loving their black family, neighbors, friends - their home. 
The news. A local teenager took their life. A home is missing their son.  
The news. Earthquakes destroying, fires burning, droughts in Africa - Mother nature is raging war globally. Homes no longer standing in existence. 
The news. Our country might be bombed; by a person, another human - that others have degraded by calling him rocket man.  (Because that's professional).  Home of the brave we claim? 
The news.  Our president.  Sigh.  He needs prayer. Break him. Humble him. Use his loud mouth. I pray the loudness will be truth one day.  So our home will continue to pray for leaders. 
The news. Unwanted relations. Be with the children. Heal their hearts, bodies and mind.   Make home safe again. 
The news. People are fleeing. They have no home. 
The news. Explaining accidents to my kindergartener, again, as we drive home. 
The news. Another job loss. Another home facing foreclosure. 
The news. Another child hungry. Another homeless friend. 
The news. Another marriage ending. Another home torn. 
The news. Another miscarriage occurred. Home is in deep sorrow. 
The news. Another sick loved one; surgery, cancer, illness. Hospitals unfortunately more frequented than home. 
The news. 

I. Am. Overwhelmed. 
The news is, I look forward to Heaven.  The news will be different there. This world is not my home. 

God - as you and only you search my heart, may you find the words to my prayer, for this world is falling apart one stitch at a time. Being ripped. 

Thank you for the GOOD news. We fervently await your return to take us home.  

God, I ask that when given the opportunity I can love people better. Feed the hungry. Welcome the stranger. Hug the hurting. Stand with the black, refugee, homeless, gay, orphaned person.  God,I cry from the pits of my soul to do more.  

But. I am at home. So I pray. 

The news. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I tried - reading Mississippi Bridge [September book and updates]

September!  Hooray!  

This month I started an online book club/study to read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts"

So far, the book is going really well - in fact it is a quick read.  I am doing my best to slow down, really dig deep and get into this book; not just to be a good facilitator for these women, but to find peace for myself.

Fall is my favorite, and as I am sure I have blogged before, although fall is my favorite, it is also a somewhat sad time.  I just feel like I need more time to enjoy it - that it this is my time to find my pace and speed for the next season of life.

One Thousand Gifts couldn't have come at a more perfect time!  Because we are reading the book over a period of 6 weeks, I wanted to keep reading other books, being engaged.

Labor Day my dad gave me a book and said it would take only 20 minutes.  Well, I'm a slow reader, but it was done in less than an hour.

Mississippi Bridge is a short book by Mildred D. Taylor (she wrote Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry).   I was doing research for what age the book would be good for (5th grade) but honestly, I would love for some adults to read this amazing piece of fiction.

It is so incredibly relevant to today.  How, even today, there are people who are teaching their children hatred (and some do it without even knowing they are!).  But for some children, they will "rebel" and fight for what they want to understand better - loving people.

The ending is great!  No spoilers here, just read the book yourself!

Believe me, it reminds me of the story of the Old Man his White Horse - Perspective.

Perspective is everything.
This book hurt me to read, how people are so ignorant and unkind. Perspective.
I am torn between wishing I lived in a previous time period or not.  That I would be an activist, if I didn't get myself killed. Perspective.
The ending. Perspective.

So, Here's to a great month.  A great season. A season of peace and gifts.  A season to love and be present.  A season to be outside, reading, educating and helping others.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I tried - fighting {Who are you fighting for}

A little bit about me - for vulnerability opens hearts of others.

I am loyal to a fault,
and stubborn.
Favor the underdog.
Going against the norm, is my norm.
I ask tough questions,
making people mad and uncomfortable.
Believe in justice on all levels.
I am a white, working mom.
My heart is elastic.
I love quickly, deeply and hard.
When I am hurt, I rationalize the situation to pieces.
Over thinking is my hurdle.
If you hurt others, I hurt for you.
I do not believe in the death penalty.
I do not believe in war or harming others.
I do believe that love will win.
More times than not I feel very alone in this world.
Holding on to Joshua 1:9.
Taking care of others is my passion.
If I am not careful, my words are sharper than arrows.
One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 12: 9 - 21 (and many more).
My dad thought I was going to be a lawyer, I am a fighter. 
Now, I am a teacher. 

Earlier this week I got into one of those fun "word wars" on facebook feeds.  With a family member.  A lot of hurtful words were thrown my way, including the twisting of what I said; topics that were not even being debated were brought up - low easy blows - from a person who doesn't know my story.

I finally, said my peace and stopped responding.  Other people have since made comments; the carrot is in front me, waiting for me to nibble.  I have, on occasion, even typed up a response - pausing and deleting it as God asks me to.

My heart is heavy.  I have learned that if something bothers me long enough, that I need to share; regardless of if anyone agrees with me.  With enough prayer and honesty, I know God will be searching my heart one day; as he will do with others.  It's not my job to soul check others.  Gotta keep me in check.

I can't get over something that was said to me.  "You claim you're a Christian and you're standing up for injustice? No that's what I'm doing, defending president Trump, showing that he was never racist until he ran for president, and defending him from liberals and the media who have nothing better to do but insult him with impunity."  -JM

Who are you fighting for? 

Should our president's actions and words need so much defense?  A person of authority, leadership, great power, constant media coverage - constantly needing defense.  I don't need memes or youtube videos to hear the words that come from his mouth or see the "tweets" he post.

Later, this same word war, it was stated in my direction that if liberals weren't so closed minded and would see the truth and just listen for once that we wouldn't miss it.  *heavy sigh*  little do we know about each other.  Bubble living.

Who are you fighting for?

If you are asking someone to look for truth, but then do not welcome their comments, thoughts, insight, personal beliefs.... are you walking the walk or just talking the talk?

I was in tears over this conversation.
Angry tears.
Hurtful tears.
Mourning for their soul tears.

These people that I care about, and yes the strangers on this feed, are missing it.  

Who are you fighting for?

As you fight for the president....
Who's fighting for
the poor?
the oppressed?
the refugee?
the orphan?
the sick?
the homeless? 
the gay?
the widow?
the porn addict?
the prostitute?
the neighbor?
the least of these? 

(Matthew 25:40)

As I look back at these last few days, I have to remember that I am not here to fight for the President who has dug his own pits. The only way I will fight for him is through prayer.  

But I am hear to fight the good fight.  At least that is what I am trying.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I am overwhelmed {with today's news}

Most of my blog titles contain the words "I tried" or "I am trying"
Today I simply, am.

I am overwhelmed with heart break, confusion, anger, compassion, and love.

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog about being the devil's advocate when it comes to black vs blue lives mattering.  A few months after that, during the election, I posted about loving all people.

Today, many of the same thoughts raise up in me.

Saying I am overwhelmed is the easy part.  I can not seem to find the words I am looking for as current history is taking place.  Today, everything I have been watching (Brene Brown/Vulnerability), reading and listening to, have all pointed to the same feelings within me.  Overwhelmed.

I was thinking it was irony.  God's too big for irony, my day was neatly woven by Him.

I keep typing half sentences, then holding down the delete button with vigor.

over. whelmed.

Pray for - the KKK - those that are racists, the men who claim to be superior.  For their darkness is not welcomed. That their hearts will break and love will fill their lost souls.  That truth and love will shine brighter than their torches.

Pray for - the injured and dead - as these marches and riots take place that lives can be spared and that peace will be restored.

Pray for - the families - of the victims and all that are involved.  That generations of hate will not breed anymore hate.  That generations of love can prevail.  That the armed services will find safety and be able to use knowledge over weapons. 

Pray for - the church - that we can come together and pray for these events, people, his kingdom. Be advocates. I pray that the church does not turn a blind eye. That the church will not stand with such atrocities.  But stand against.  When the dust settles, the history is written, that the church will come together picking up pieces. Hold the hands of those who hurt. Hug the ones who have lost. Pray with and for the ones who have hated. Supply the basic needs in replace of destruction. 

Pray for - Trump - he is our President, whether you like it or not.  We are asked to pray for our leaders. That his words will be humble and helpful.

Pray for - war - that is happening, has happened, and will happen.  Christians are currently at war, a peaceful war.  Lives and souls are at stake.  If our country continues to act the way it does, I am afraid we will be like Syria or any other war-torn country.  

Pray for - history - that it not does not repeat in its fullness.  Honestly, hate has never stopped.  From Biblical times, to WWII, to now... the shape of hate is the same and the darkness still exist.

Pray for - USA - that our country will not continue to fall apart in pieces as immaturity and ignorance tears apart the seams of this country.

Pray for - knowledge - that for people, like me, will be called to do what they need to.  Be it prayer, or to be active in Charlottesville, that all people will be armed with truth.

Be bold. Live loved.

I tried - reading lots of books! [August book review]

With a little extra down time, I was able to finish up July's second book, "Hoot," as well as read Philip K Dick's "The Man in the High Castle." Ambitiously, I plan on reading "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo - but.... with school starting very very soon... we will see how that comes along.

First, a short little write up about Hoot.  My dad gave me this book a long time ago, knowing that it was for young adult readers, or even elementary readers, he thought I would enjoy it to relate to my students.  I found out that the movie is, or was at one point, on Netflix and plan on watching it soon.

The book itself was an easy read.  Had cute relatable characters and a bit of mystery to the entire story (if you are 12).  Was it life changing, no not for a 30 year old.  Was it something I could easily pick up and put down for interruptions, yes.  Recommend this book, yes to the target audience or anyone that wants an easy read.  It was cute.

This book was a bit more difficult for me than Hoot was.   I am not for sure if it's because I tend to be a slow reader or if it was because there was a lot of "difference" to process through. Differences like, German and Japan names that I had to properly pronounce to develop characters.  Differences like, the time frame this took place was a real historical time, but yet futuristic as well.  Differences like, the geography was the same but ruled by other groups.

The differences were good though.  I really liked this book. 

The Man in the High Castle takes place in 1962 with an alternative outcome to the second world war.  Franklin D. Rosevelt was assassinated and therefore the journey for the USA to overcome the depression was never a success; causing Nazis Germany and Japan to win the World War II 15 years later, and take over other countries.

(Having this map might have been helpful, however, I was able to picture this in my head to some accuracy)

The book had several story lines and characters that overlapped one another and was neatly woven together.  The book not only offered an alternative outcome to war, but also within our science, technology, and anything the human race dealt with - the futuristic part - traveling at warped speeds from countries, studying and traveling/living on Mars the book was incredibly well thought out.

Two of the most intriguing parts of the book were:
1) The book did not take place in a Christian world, and because of the outcome of the war Christianity as a religion as well as American culture ceased and was replaced by German or Asian culture.  The historical 'book of changes' - the I Ching - has been China's ancient divination for centuries and it was the center belief for this story. Even though the Bible was only mentioned once, maybe twice, as an old USA artifact, the other cultures had Christian theology.  For example, at the end of the book Mr. Tagomi thinks "When I was a child I thought as a child.  But now I have put away childish things.  Now I must seek in other realms."  Starts off fairly biblical, but changes back to his current beliefs.  It was just interesting to see different religions and cultures mesh together.  It was sad at points, thinking that Nazis could have won the war and our 2017 state of living would be in hate.... but even in current news, we haven't come very far from this. 

2) One of the common trends, for many of the characters, was the book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" by the fictional character Hawthorn Abendsen - Ironically (for I just mentioned that TMITHC doesn't discuss much of the Bible or other Christian theology) is based off of the Bible's Ecclesiastes12:5.  Now, this fiction book in TMITHC,  follows what would have happened if Rosevelt escaped the assassination. A BOOK WITHIN A BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK. COOL.

With a quick google search I found out that in 2015 Chandler Duke did write "The Grasshoper Lies Heavy," a story that takes place in 1966 (4 years after TMITHC was written) about if the United States was actually ruled by four countries.  Whether Duke wrote this after reading High Castle, I am not for sure.  On Amazon, Chandler writes that he did have finally have a professional edit and read his book.  So I am not to for sure who much I want to invest in this book.

The book is good.  I would not have finished it if it wasn't.
The book is complicated - you have to not have distractions while reading it, or you'll miss important details.
The book is interesting.  I would have not read the book in a week.  I could not put this down.
The book is a tv show.... wait, what?  Yes - on Amazon Prime there are not one, but two seasons, of the Man in the High Castle.  

I eagerly can't wait to start watching them!  

If you like history, fiction, war, drama, culture, thought provoking outcomes, differences, than read Dick's, "The Man in the High Castle."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I tried - to control too much [August.... and September Goals]

As you may know, I am a teacher.  And with that comes certain responsibilities; like I have to enjoy summer.  It's a rule, I'm sure it's in my contract... right?

Well, summer was great! Yet, I am still looking forward to the job I love. As I speak about these events, it is as if it is over.  But... IT'S NOT!  I still have two weeks before I go back to work.  OKay, I have two weeks before students start filling my classroom, slowly becoming my own kiddos.

Here's the deal.  As much I have tried to post regularly about my goals each month, and also revisiting how I did the previous month - well, that's probably not going to happen at the start of the school year.

I can only control so much.  My life can not be constantly filled with schedules and to-do's.

My reflection on July... it was not restful.  Was it enjoyable?  Yes.  But I still did not find my rhythm that I was so looking for.  I didn't find my tribe you could say.  We were able to see a lot of our favorite people, went to several weddings and events, went on a trip as a family.  Had family stay with us for a week - life was jammed back... and NOT with rest.

I eagerly look forward to August for that reason.  Look forward to finding a good pace, a healthy stride for our family to tackle the first semester.

Yes, I have already tried to excel a schedule for my family.
Yes, I have already looked at our budget and what school supplies I want to buy my kiddos (students).
Yes, I am still thinking of goals and challenges to make myself better.

But something will always take priority while something else will slip away.  I don't want that. So here are my not-goals, but my life.

Goals set me up for failure - but, living life, well I can be successful at that. 

August Life:
Health - I am happy to report that I have lost and kept off about 10-15 pounds this summer (HUGE DEAL!) and I am going to keep doing what I am doing.  Sensible eating, focusing on eating clean healthy non-processed foods.   I am going to continue to find ways to challenge myself physically, including doing this as much as I can throughout the week.

(attempting to do longer plank, more push ups and might change lunges to leg lifts)

Book - I did read/finish Messy Grace for the month of July and about 1/2 way through Hoot.  Although I did not read both for July, I am about to go on another trip and should be able to knock out Hoot rather quickly.   For August my book is going to be The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick. It looks rather interesting and hopefully a page-turner.  For those days going back to work.... I am tired when I get home.    While we are talking about books I will add, for those who are curious, that I will be reading and leading an online group through Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. This will take about 6 weeks and will find another book to read for September too! 

Scripture - although I am slacking at memorizing all of these, it's been great to be digging into the Word to find exactly what I am looking for.
Psalm 150:6
Colossians 3:12
Matthew 6:34
Isaiah 56:1
Proverbs 31:30
My wonderful husband also bought me the She Reads Truth Bible!  It weighs more than a new born baby, but that weight is because it's filled with knowledge and beauty.   My goal is to do their studies for Titus, Philmon and Hebrews and for September work on Proverbs.

Fall is my favorite.
I welcome you.
Giving up control.

Monday, July 17, 2017

I tried - being mentorable {open letter to my future mentor}

Dear Future Mentor,

Thank you.  I have needed you for some time.  I needed you without even knowing it was you, or the idea of a mentor.  I needed  you more than I realized.

See, I feel as if I am in a weird spot in the church.  I don't feel like I belong.  I did not grow up in the church that we are going to, so my roots are more shallow than others. I did not attend the Christian college, as my husband and friends did, feeling as I orbit their social circle. I have a "worldly" job... I mean ministry... ahh, whatever teaching is these days, which does not allow a lot of time to do do "mom" things or minister to others.  It's weird for I have a loving mom and great friends, but I am missing...

missing you.

I need guidance spiritually.
I need wisdom that challenges me.
I need patience, strength, calm, investment.
I need cared for.

I need you.

As I currently write you, my family is going through a season of transition. A time of reflection and re-centering our lives back to God's plan.  A time of waiting to see what is in store.  Prior to this season I had directly asked several (4) women to be my mentors, and asked handful of other women to just hang out - but it always falls through.  Some of these women graciously turned me down with positive answers.  Some didn't really have the time, respectively.

But I truly, prayerfully plead for someone to reach my hand and say "it is I that will get coffee with you! Listen. Talk. Pray. Check-in. Invest."   Okay, you don't have to talk like that.  I promise.

Mentoring is an odd topic to talk about in the church.  Sometimes it happens organically, very natural.  Other times it is forced.  I pray that whomever gets paired with me, it is a relationship that happens naturally, God driven.

See, I am a mess.  To my peers, it might appear that I am put together.  Got all the answers.  Life is grand.  But, I am human.  Just as my blog title states, I am trying.  Honestly, I don't know what I am doing from day to day.  Grasping at straws.

I know once this season of transition changes, there might be more time and opportunity for investment.

A  few weeks ago I was talking to an older lady about my parents helping take care of my children as we were at a conference she said "at least you have your parents, we always lived so far from family."    I just wanted to respond with, "but you had the church.  You had people come to you and watch your kiddos to give you a break.  Bring you a meal.  Pray with you.  Call you to see how you were. Being a mother is hard.  Working in a church is hard."   But I just acknowledged the truth that I am thankful that we are currently close living to my family.

A year ago I had a friend talk about how she doesn't have many deep relationships or mentors and how she wishes her mom lived closer.  Yet, in the same conversation I could count on two hands the older women in her life.  ASKING to babysit her new baby.  ASKING to clean her house or offer help.  ASKING  her over for coffee and conversation.  Yet it appeared that she is oblivious to all the good she had.
Future mentor, or can I call you friend.  I am a bit bitter.  I don't want to be.  I ask God to help soften my heart.  To give me courage to ask the right women to be apart of my life. But as a horse chases a carrot on the stick, I am always just a tad short.

So future mentor, future church.  Thank you.

Thank you for loving me, the messy me.  The real me.  The speaks before she thinks me.
Thank you for loving my family.  Challenging us to be humble kingdom workers.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to acknowledge that I exist.

That's all that is takes.
Letting people know that they are important.

I do my best to be intentional with my friends.  But having someone who has gone before me, to hold my hand through prayer, tears, excitement and opportunities is who I am looking for. (holding my hand can be figuratively - don't want to make anyone, myself included, uncomfortable).

If you are an older woman, regardless of age, who are you investing in?  The generation younger than  you?  The new mom?  A student? A babysitter?

Dear future mentor.
I needed you.
I wait for you.
I appreciate you.
I appreciate God's timing of you.

With love,

Freebie Find: 100 Questions and mentor conversation topics - to make this mentoring thing easier on all of us.  =] 

I tried - reading Messy Grace [July's Book Review]

A while back I, like more years than I can remember, I started and almost finished reading Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach but for some reason I stopped reading it, in fact I let other people borrow it!

At the end of June I had the honor hearing Caleb speak and I decided that I must finish his book for July; it wasn't a difficult task.

"Can someone be gay and go to heaven?  I think if we're going to ask that question, then we have to ask if someone can be an alcoholic and go to heaven?  Can someone be addicted to drugs and go to heaven? Can someone be a gossip and go to heaven? Can someone be a worrier and go to heaven? Can someone be jealous of others and go to heaven? Can someone be an arrogant know-it-all Christian and go to heaven?"

Spoiler alert - that was the fourth to the last page in his book.  But it gets my point across.

Messy Grace is Caleb's story and journey of growing up with gay parents, learning to hate Christians, then later becoming a Christian and serving pastor.

I love this book.  The first time I started to read it, and the second time.  It's full of thought provoking ideas, truth woven statements, and pieces of little "ah-ha!" nuggets.  The title says it all.  Grace is messy.  The church is messy.  Being a Christian is messy.  So how come we do such a horrible job at loving our gay neighbor, our gay child, our gay parent or co-worker?  Are they not human too?

Although he was more focused on loving the gay community, I couldn't help but also apply everything he wrote to other communities that Christians sometimes struggle with loving.   The quote above could also include, in my opinion, can someone be a liberal and go to heaven? Can someone be republican and go to heaven? Can someone have tattoos and go to heaven? Can someone born in a Muslim family go to heaven? Can someone who is black go to heaven? Can someone who is a cop go to heaven? Can someone who is a soldier go to heaven? Can someone who works for an abortion clinic go to heaven?

Can someone who disagrees with me go to heaven?

The very same page he writes, "Most Christians I know wouldn't have an issue with saying that any one of those people could go to heaven (talking about gossip, etc), but for some reason, when it comes to homosexuality, some think that is too tall of an order for God.  I think it's because their view of God is too small.  He's calling everyone into this kingdom all the time, as hard as that may be for us to believe."

This summer I also participated, well... attempted to participate in, a Beth Moore study called "Entrusted."   On page 106 of her workbook she writes, "Have you ever wondered how we Christians get away with some of the things we do? We rename the sin something noble.  We call gossip informing, judgement discernment, misogyny authority, anger righteous indignation, lust appreciation, arrogance confidence, profanity passion, and hate debate, and voila, misconduct gets reframed as Christian duty."

By renaming our sin, we simultaneously are trying to let others know that their sin is worse than ours.  But, sin is sin. And love is love.  

(My favorite is Romans 9:12-21)

I urge everyone to read this book, and truly seek their own hearts, get to know someone from the gay community, truly know them, don't fear them... they are people too!  My biggest fear or worry (and I know I shouldn't have any, for God is bigger than even my own small fears) is that the people who truly NEED to read this book, won't give it a second glance.  That more often than not, the ones reading Messy Grace are already trying to love their gay Christian and non-Christian friends.  But this is just me making an assumption, which is not healthy either.

So, I challenge you, regardless of where you stand on your beliefs of homosexuality in the church, to read this book.  Not just read it, but come to it with an open mind and ask God for it to touch your heart.  That your heart can reflect God's heart, one full of love and grace (even if it is messy).
To my LBTQ co-worker, friends, family, I am sorry if you have been hurt by the church.  The church is not a place of perfection, but a place of brokenness.  Our identities should be mirrors reflecting Christ, not our own thoughts and ambitions.  If you (homosexual or heterosexual) have been hurt by the church and need to talk, I will listen.  You are loved.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I tried - teaching math {our society, and it's math inability}

It feels great to be blogging again!  Thanks for reading my friends!  [edit - and it's a longer read - with a call to action and solutions... enjoy.]

A few nights ago my family and friends all visited the drive-in movies... you know, where you sit in, or around, your car and watch a movie, or two, outside.  Yes, outside!  During one of the movies - I believe Captain Underpants (don't judge, it was really adorable) a student shared how they failed a class. It was math.

My husband looked at me, and before I could say anything, he stole the words out of my mouth, "it's always math!"

See, I have this theory, that our society is creating a culture that accepts math as the impossible subject.  That math is only for those with magnificent brain power.  A society that instructs its pupils that math is pointless.

Honestly, next time a movie or tv show starts talking about school see which subject is being addressed. I am pretty confident that if the student/actor mentions failing or struggling in a class, it's math.  I am also fairly positive that if a kid is "blowing off" homework as if it's not a big deal, that the homework was for his or her math class.


It breaks my heart every time! Our culture is creating a double standard.  As a a MATH teacher, it's frustrating.  I am asked to help my students understand content that is not respected or expected to be learned by society.  Our culture wants me to teach mathematical concepts in the classroom, to students, who will later go out into society where they are told that what I taught them is pointless and it is acceptable to not understand the concept either.  And this is what I make the big bucks for (insert eye roll for dramatic effect).

Seriously, who uses math anyway?  Last year I was teaching some very basic algebra concepts to my advanced/accelerated class.  One very vocal young man interrupted, as he often did, and just asked "when will we ever use this?"  Any time a student asks that question I respond with "what do you want to do when you are older?" so I can then answer by giving an example that is related to their career or job.  This advanced, very bright student, told myself and the class he wanted to be an engineer - but yet, he thought basic algebra was pointless and a waste of his time.  Believe me, other students stared at him with a puzzled look more than I did.

Oh mercy.

Our society does a poor job of respecting math.  I work with a math teacher that says "you can't read a math book if you can't read" .... although very true, not going to argue there, this same thought process is why math is often over looked and under studied. I am not a strong reader or writer.  I am sure my husband and English teachers are frowning as they read this little article of mine gasping at every common error. However, I am getting my point across. Not miscalculating medicine for a patient or anything important.  But the moment that we, a society, place one content slightly higher above another is the exact moment that shadows and depths will be created.

Students are struggling in math for the time, energy and resources are not spent on it.  Back when I was in college I wrote a paper over math anxiety.  How female students are more inclined to develop the belief that she is not "good" at math.  This belief is often a reflection of her relationship with her mother and/or female elementary teacher that also view math as a "man's game."  You can read my paper here, if interested.    Another fascinating blog about girls being 'bad at math' can be found here.  Props to this author.

Again, our society is creating a culture that not only places math of a lower importance, but also oppressing young girls to believe that they are not capable at learning math.

**Little side note, if you are a woman, or a parent of a girl, please watch Hidden Figures.  These WOmen were NASA's calculators...before calculators were a thing.**

Before I started writing this blog, I went to google to see what I could find about math in movies and society.  Instead, I found a New York Times article "Why Do Americans Stink at Math" by Elizabeth Green.  It's a rather lengthy article, a few years old, but had some wonderful ideas and even strategies I want to see take place in my classroom next year.  If you have time, I suggest you read this article.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but have comments, some snarky, some preachy, some prayerful, some praises.

Math has always been a hot topicin the education world.  Clearly our film industry believes that it's the most difficult of subjects.  Elizabeth Green writes, "In fact, efforts to introduce a better way of teaching math stretches back to the 1800s.  The story is the same every time: a big, excited push, followed by mass confusion and then a return to conventional practices."

She later states, "The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it." (can I get an amen here!?)

I have parents who say that math has changed so they can't help their student.  But it hasn't. Numbers are still numbers.  The challenge is still a challenge.  And Americans have stunk at math, and for some time.  In Green's article she shared a story from around the 1980's when A&W started to market a 1/3 pound hamburger to off set McDonald's quarterpounder. The marketing team states that customers thought it was a better product, but also thought they were being charged too much and therefore not buying it.  When in fact, the price of the 1/3 A&W hamburger was cheaper than the quarterpounder.  Customers did not understand factions.

I believe there are solutions.  We will need a change of mind and attitude in order to see a change in our culture through empowerment of our people.  

Some of these solutions I am going to present are my personal opinion.  I have not taught as long as some.  I have not taught in other content or other grade levels outside of 7th grade math. I have not done any significant research, this is all from personal observation. So, if this doesn't settle well with you, it might mean I need more information.  Okay, proceed.

Solution 1:
Empower elementary teachers. Make elementary teachers proficient in math.  If a first grade PE teacher had to go to school to learn physical education, and all of it's methods and strategies I believe that every grade should have a math teacher.  Someone who is strong in their content and is capable of helping other teachers who do not feel as if math is their strength.

As I continued to read about why Elizabeth thought Americans stink at math, I read: "'Remember,' Lampert says, 'American teacher are only a subset of Americans.' As graduates of American schools, they are no more likely to display numeracy than the rest of us. "I'm just not a math person," Lampert says her education students would say with an apologetic shrug."  At this point in the article, I just want to cup my face and weep.  I remember being in educational courses hearing that elementary teachers wanted to teach elementary classes because the math was too difficult, intimidating, or impossible.  Really, the same math that you had to take in school, now as a professional, is too much for you to handle?  When I graduated there were around 75 elementary teachers graduating.  There were 4 middle school math teachers.

Solution 2:
Empower all teachers. Give teachers adequate time to not only learn but to implement and teach appropriate math.  Elizabeth states, "With the Common Core, teacher are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own.  Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals - who are no more skilled at math than their teachers - remain unprepared to offer support."  This isn't about common core, an entirely different article about how common core are standards.... however, what she is saying is that we are asked to go to a conference for a few days and then the moment we step back into our classrooms start teaching an entirely different way.  Same content, different methods.  Common core, rigor and relevance, quad-D are all fancy jargon that is being replaced by the very popular STEM and STEAM projects. YET math has not changed.  (her statement about principals, oh so true, my principal reminds me that he taught history for a reason).

Elizabeth continues to write,"There, as in Japan, teacher teach for 600 or fewer hours each school year, leaving them ample time to prepare, revise and learn.  By contrast, American teacher spend nearly 1,100 hours with little feedback."  Just going to let that set in.  And for those who are struggling, American teachers are spending more time teaching, but with worse results.  Reread that paragraph, please.

If you want me to be a better teacher give me the time to learn these methods and implement them.

Solution 3:
Empower students' time. Students, unless they have a true deficit and possibly IEP, should get the same amount of time for math content as it does for art and every other subject.  One content should not receive more time than the other.  When a school, or classroom, establishes different time frames for different curriculum, eventually students subconsciously believe that one content or curriculum is more important than the other.  

Solution 4:
Empower words, methods, rituals, strategies, terminology and procedures.  I believe in differentiation. As a teacher, when I see a student struggling I do my best to find a method that "clicks" or sticks with that student.  However, I teach math.  But when we start using fun little butterflies to help a student learn how to add fractions, the student gets lost in the antennas. "The answer-getting strategies may serve them well for a class period of practice problems, but after a week, they forget. And students often can't figure out how to apply the strategy for a particular problem to new problems." I couldn't have said it better Miss Green.

I would like for a main stream, common idea of how to do math, common terminology.  Teach the foundation and save the fun little methods to help with differentiation.  Teach students how to think to solve instead of solving on how to think. If a student has something to focus on, other than which of the 12 methods to use, they might be be able to learn math.

My biggest frustration is even in mathematical symbols.  Students spend half of their education learning that X or x means to multiple.  Then, all of a sudden, when we introduce algebra we ask them to relearn several years of education.  'X' is no longer a symbol for multiplication, but is now a variable.   Oh, and by the way, parentheses can mean multiplication too, you know that fancy distribution.

Seriously, why can't we teach multiplication with the *  or the dot?  Why am I having to reprogram my students' mind ON TOP of teaching them new algebraic concepts?

Solution 5:
Empower parents. My favorite thing about parent teacher conferences is when I am given the opportunity to remind parents that they are able to do math and therefore are able to help their child with math. As a society we don't have to no longer tolerate the reason of "I'm bad at math, so my kid is bath at math" type statements.   Even if the wonderful Hollywood would start empowering parents and their families that math is something other cultures are capable of doing, so be default, Americans can too.

Solution 6:
Empower the curriculum.  This is a stretch, and would take an overall in the education.  Greens article discusses how children in Brazil that help their families by selling peanuts and coconuts could routinely solve complex problems in their head to total a bill or make change.  However, when the same students were presented the same type of problem on paper with pen, they stumbled.

Math IS real world.

This is a tricky solution.  I love my job.  I really do enjoy teaching pre-algebra to middle school students.  However, the day that I had a student exclaim that their homework was similar to their parents' college work, was the day I started to realize that maybe we are doing this all wrong?

Studies have proven that brains develop at different rates.  And that algebraic reasoning is a skill that requires certain brain development.  So, if your brain is not ready for the concept I am about to teach, you are going to think you are not capable, regardless of how much you try.

If we would just wait for students' brains to develop, we might be able to teach concepts that they are truly ready for, saving lots of time (and tears...for everyone). Slow down the standards in math so more students are more proficient.

Math can be real life.  Lets bring math back into classes with cooking, constructing, even budgeting or buying car insurance and loans as many students will face after high school.  Math seems to be unrealistic to many students, but it's all how we empower the curriculum. I mean why do students need to have all of this math, when they learn the same martial in college?  Yes, some students will not go to college, so shouldn't we equip them with math that they will be using daily?  I would rather see a class in high school talking about how to count change back then see more students spending time in classes that they don't value or even compute.

Just as Elizabeth stated in her article, people do math regularly for their jobs, in fact those same adults who failed classes can often be more efficient in their jobs for they have learned the math that is suited to their career.  

(I just put this there for a smile)

Leave me a comment if you made it this far.  Seriously, I feel like it should be like a kickstarter, where you get a prize or something for reading all of this.  I started out wanting to write about math and movies, and this is where I got.

Our society, education, parents, teachers, students, and even movies all need to stop picking on math.  It's really not that bad.

"Odds-defying individual teacher can be found in every state, but the overall picture is of a profession struggling to make the best of an impossible hand." - Green

Links to movies you should watch....

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I tried - resting {finding peace in chaos - July's goals}

I realized that I never made a post over June goals.  Therefore, I can not make a post about how June went. (went really well!) When I started to type this post, I thought it was going to be a simple post over July's goals and what's happening in my corner of the world.

But then I realized that all of my goals reflect back to what I heard at church this morning.

"Shattered plans are often the result of our poor choices or God's sovereign will." - Dr. Mark Scott.  

Over all he was preaching about Jeremiah 17 and 18 and how that sometimes our plans are interrupted to get our attention (disobedience) or because God wants to remake us, for He is the potter and we are His clay.

It really was the perfect sermon for me to hear. God's perfect timing too. I have been reflecting on the word "PAUSE" and what that means for me and our current family situation and environment.

It seemed like several of my July goals are related to reflecting more on life.  Stepping back.  Stepping down.  Stepping outside, holding hands of little' more.  Stepping in tune with others.

July I am going to re-read/finish "Messy Grace" by Caleb Kaltenbach.   Recently I heard him speak and was drawn again to his story and wisdom of how to better love our gay neighbors.  I figure this would be a quicker read the second time around and if time allows would like to read "Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen - a middle school novel my dad told me to read in a day.  We shall see!

I am going to continue to do my version of "weight watchers" - watching macros, meaning I am eating very clean foods - low sugar, carb, processed.     I am currently finishing up a four week Diet Bet game with some local friends.  I have to loose one more pound this week to make sure that I get my money back (possibly make some too).  I plan on investing the money I make into a different game.

June I was focusing on reading and studying 2nd Timothy because of my study, "Entrusted" by Beth Moore.  Now that that is wrapping up I will be going back to my weekly scripture focus.
Back to memorizing, or at least focusing and meditating on for the July week's:
Exodus 14:14
2 Corinthians 9:6
Habakkuk 2:20
1 Samuel 12:16

Continue to eat healthy.  I am also 12 days into a physical challenge (squats, pushups, plank and crunches) and would like to finish that out.

My two biggest challenges and habits that I want to create this month are;
1) Wake up before the boys at least 4 days a week - even if it's just 15 minutes before.  The trick to this is the fact that it IS summer and our boys don't have a strict waking time from summer schedules.  It is typically after 7:30.
2) I want to spend LESS time on my phone.  That's it.  See what's around me more.

Pause. Breathe. Repeat.

I tried - reading 7 women [June's book review]

At the start of June I joined a Bible study over 2nd Timothy.  As we were meeting the women, in those sometimes awkward situations, I had to answer and discuss the question of, "which famous person would you like to spend time with?"

One of the women I was interviewing mentioned that her woman of choice was a result of reading the book "7 Women" - so I made a mental note .....okay, I did write it down too....

A few weeks later at the library with my boys I remembered the book and thought, why not.  I need to start reading something for June!

I strongly urge all people to pick up this book.  It really makes you reflect on the life at which we have been given.   This is not Eric Metaxas first biography.  He has also written over Bonhoeffer and a title called 7 Men.  Given time, I am interested in reading 7 Men as well. 

The seven women that Eric chose to write over and were also the following seven chapters:  Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Pairs, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa.   Of these seven women, I was familiar of 3 of them.

Honestly, of these women (and I'm sure there are so many others..... watch the film "Hidden Figures" please!) but of these women I could not pick a favorite.  

I have always been drawn to the Holocaust and WWII - so the stories of the rebel Saint Maria of Pairs and Corrie ten Boom intrigued me greatly (not your Anne Frank story). Their selflessness.  Their style.  Their fearlessness.

Susanna Wesley and Hannah More had interesting stories relating to church and which movements started to develop - and their desire to educate all people.

I am passionate about justice and human rights, so learning more of Rosa Parks and her life was fascinating.  And honestly, the fact that we aren't so far from her story still breaks my heart.

Mother Theresa was a name I knew, so seeing her heart being poured out on pages was beautiful.  Her hurt for all people was by far inspiring.

Warnings - if you do read this - be ware that the first chapter, Joan of Arc, was difficult for me to get through.  I am not familiar with French (anything) and war words.  But the rest of the book wasn't as 'dry'.    Also, it really.... really.... REALLY bothered me that it was not 100% chronological. Even in his writings he would mention siblings, but write their birthdays out of order, or by significance, I'm not really for sure.  The lack of linear-ness was frustrating at times, but not frequent enough for me to stop reading it.    Main example,  Rosa Parks was born after Mother Theresa, but Rosa came before Mother Theresa in his book - but all the other women where in order of birth.

Please don't let my pickiness stop you from picking up this great book.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I tried - reading Present Over Perfect [May's book review]

Summer - we are in full swing of long nights, grilling with friends, park dates, fresh produce, and bug bites!  But we love our summer.  With summer also comes a different pace; main reason for my May book review a weekish late.

May's book was going to be the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - honestly, I didn't read it.  I was struggling getting into it.  I am not for sure if it was the season I mentally was in (finishing up teaching, planning my husband's graduation party, transitions) or what.  But it wasn't pulling me deep into it's pages.

At the end of May, Jeremiah got the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist 

This was a wonderful book to read right before summer.  Shauna is an older version of me. Like I am pretty sure we are related somehow. Hopefully that's not an insult to her.  Seriously, she loves cooking and gathering around the table, being intentional with making sure to feed people.  Her place to recharge is by a river, or a small simplistic house but yet she's drawn deeply to live in a bustling city.  She is not perfect by social media's standards when it comes to size - but absolutely gorgeous she is!  She has two boys (yes, I understand that) her husband is a worship leader (check). She obviously enjoys writing - girl, we are sisters!

I am so thankful to have read her book, for I can see myself living another 10 years doing everything wrong.  Okay, everything wrong is a bit extreme.   But I can give myself grace!
Her book is written with a short-essay style.  The chapters, very brief, were her stories and they filled my heart.

Shortly into her book I felt myself nodding along with her thinking "me too" or laughing with her for something I can see myself doing.  I was relating to her as she kept saying she was the responsible one, therefore she kept taking on more and more and more.  

It made me reflect on a conference I recently went to back in April where we discussed spinning plates - and at some point, something will give and break. 

She stated on page 102 "This is actually my life, and it doesn't matter one bit if it would be lovely for someone else to live.  What does matter; does it feel congruent with how God made me and called me?" 

That hit home hard.  

I have the ability to remake myself.  Look again at where and who God is calling me to be.  I do not have to always feel like I should meet everyone's expectations - except God's (and his is really the only one that matters).

This summer, as my boys tug on my shirt to get another 'dink' (drink) or want to hit one more ball in the yard, I am going to pause and practice being present.  For as I searching for my calling or pray for my families next move - I can be present.   There will always be dishes, laundry, media, things that can eat up our times.  

Chores are not my calling.
Tasks are not valued.
The choice to love is my calling. 
People are valued.

I am going to remake myself through pauses.  

I am going to practice being present.  
I am going to love
and let my soul be free.