favorite things

happy friday!

i'm starting something new today, something i'm going to call favorite things fridays. every friday i will post about four things that make my life a happier place or simply make me smile. i hope you enjoy it.

cara black books
i am not sure how i was first introduced to these murder mysteries all set in paris, but i am so grateful that it happened! the heroine, amy leduc, is a private investigator living on the ile st. louis who gets herself into more messes than any one should! she may not be as super cool as sydney bristow in alias, but she can hold her own in stilettos just fine. and because the books are all set in paris, every time i pick one up, it's like taking a mini break to my favorite place.

woodless colored pencils
a trip to the art supply store is definitely one of my favorite saturday things to do. on my last visit there, i found these beauties, colored pencils from the czech republic that have no wood in them! i'm not sure how they are held together, but it doesn't matter. they are pretty, they draw beautifully, are perfect when underlining in my Bible and other books, and quite simply, i love them! one day soon, i will have to discover more than these four colors, though!

i make no apology that i love this television show, not to mention its visionary creator, j.j abrams {also the creator of alias}. even when it has left me with more questions than answers, i have remained steadfast in my love of the show. now that we are only four days away from the beginning of the final season, i am filled with a mixture of excitement, sadness and dread. excitement, because i've been waiting so long for the story to continue. sadness because by may it will be over... and a tiny bit of dread that the end won't live up to five years of creative madness and brilliance. if you're not into LOST, it's not too late. start now. even my friend rick, who is as anti-television {except sports} as a person can get has watched all five previous seasons in the past few months and is as eagerly awaiting the rest as i am. did i mention it was brilliant?

mom & dad
i adore my parents. this july they will have been married for 45 years, and if ever two people deserved each other, it is my parents! they are two very different people who love each other despite their differences, and even after all these years, still love to spend time together. they are loving, kind, creative people who i am exceedingly proud to take after. right now, they are driving around the florida keys and having the time of their lives. i miss you, mom and dad. hope you're having fun!

well, that's it for today. have a super weekend!

review: 50 Ways To Feel Great Today by David B. Biebel DMin and James E. Dill MD and Bobbie Dill RN

in one respect, 50 Ways To Feel Great Today: Keys to Beating Stress, Worry and the Blues really had me at the title. after all, who doesn't want to improve how they're feeling? but then there was that skeptical side of me, that felt as though the book cover was offering more than it could possibly deliver. so i cracked it open...

each chapter is one of 50 suggestions of things that almost everyone can do with little or no cost, that will enhance their life within a short period of time. from simple things like 'make a memory' and 'save your day with a nap', to some that require a bit of planning, such as 'schedule a massage' and 'visit a museum', this book is packed with great ideas whose only goal is to help the reader enhance their life.

none of the suggestions are earth-shatteringly original, but given given the relentless everyday-ness of life, it is the simple things that we tend to overlook, and most need reminders for.

i recommend 50 Ways as a resource to help view life from a different perspective, or simply pull one out of the doldrums.

available january 2010 at your favorite bookseller.

review: The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

this book surprised me. to be perfectly honest, the only other book about the amish i had read was less than exciting, but The Choice was a totally different experience. factoring the time necessary to sleep and go to work, i read this book basically in one day.

carrie weaver had her life all figured out. in just a few days she was leaving the amish community where she grew up with the love of her life, and the two of them were going to begin an exciting new life together. but then, the unthinkable happens, and carrie is faced with not only tragedy and heartbreak, but is left with a young brother in her care.

suzanne woods fisher weaves together a story of forgiveness, hope and life-saving community in the face of life's harshness and uncertainty.

while this isn't a book i would normally have picked up, i am grateful that i read it, and wholeheartedly enjoyed it.

available january 2010 at your favorite bookseller.

review: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

we all have secrets, and the main character in The Silent Governess, Olivia Keene, is no exception. but as she is in the process of fleeing from her own secret, she happens upon the secret of another. someone who cannot afford to have her share what she discovered.

but before Olivia has a chance to say a word of what she discovered, an attack leaves her without a voice and even fewer options. Lord Bradley, whose secret she is now in possession of, demands she accept a position caring for two young children in his home, so he can keep an eye on her and ensure that his life-altering secret does not get out.

filled with mystery, the bonds of friendship, the power of love and the tangled roots of a family tree, you can see the author's love of 'all things Jane— Jane Eyre and Jane Austen' {author's bio} throughout the story.

if you like historical fiction, with a little nineteenth-century england flavor, you will love this book.

available january 2010 at your favorite bookseller.


happy birthday frodo!

what better way to celebrate elijah wood's birthday, than a quote from The Lord of the Rings?

all that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.
from the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renenwed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king. |
j.r.r. tolkien



this morning, my Solo devotional posed a question:

if you were to complain to God right now,
what would you complain about?

interesting question, but one that i didn't find especially easy to answer when i was actually looking to complain.

yes, there are things about my life that i am not completely happy about. but the truth is, the majority of things i could whine about are primarily my own fault. repercussions to my own actions, or fall-out from decisions i have chosen to make.

strangely, giving myself permission to find something to complain about, i have a lot less to say than when i am simply living my life, and not paying attention to where my mind wanders, when i seem to have far too much to bleat about.

and i will admit that for someone with such a propensity to whining, i have very little tolerance for others who have the same bent. {i believe the word is hypocrite. ouch.}

reading in exodus, i have to admit that both moses and God have an incredible capacity for dealing with the constant complaining of the isreaelites.

why did you bring us here to die? grumble.

we're thirsty. whine.

we miss egyptian food. moan.

their grumbling doesn't seem to end. and yes, reading about it kind of annoys me.

two things i am walking away with this morning:
  1. i need to think more and complain less.
  2. i need to show the patience and love and care that God shows me to those in my life who share my same predisposition.
* * * * *

how do you handle the grumblers, whether it's you or someone else?


favorite day

tuesday's child is full of grace... | nursery rhyme
i think i have always loved tuesdays.

the madness of monday is a thing of the past, and we're as far from it as one can possibly get.

tuesday is the day i arrived on earth. given the line from the nursery rhyme above, i always wondered if perhaps i was born on the wrong day, since i was more akin to a bull in a china shop than anything known to be of refined movement. but now i know that the grace is God's, not my own.

for many years while working in retail it was my day off, the one day away from the madness of materialism. to get in my car and go to a happy place.

these days, tuesdays are the quiet one. the nights when i come home from work, shut the door, and know that this is time to read, to write, to set aside a few hours to recreate.

these are just a few of the reasons why tuesdays are my favorite day of the week.

what is your favorite day?



hello, world. it is monday.

you know those mornings, when shortly after your alarm clock murders sleep, the only thing you really desire is to fast forward until you can get back into bed and once again fall asleep? that is the morning i am experiencing.

so what else could i do, but pull out the big guns?

“in the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own
history, there has never been another day just like today,
and there will never be another just like it again. today is
the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading
since the hour of your birth. it is the point from which all
your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death.
if you were aware of how precious today is, you could
hardly live through it. unless you are aware of how precious
it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.” | frederick buechner

what are you going to do with it?



"i've been thinking Hobbes —"
"on a weekend?"
"well, it wasn't on purpose..." | calvin & hobbes
it's friday morning.

matt lauer is in my living room talking to the world. the smell of my parisian nights blend is everything coffee should be. a towel is wrapped around my head like a turban. i've written my three pages, and got a new vision of gratitude via my life journal.

it's friday.

i am not usually a TGIF kind of girl. i have a great job, that i actually love. my co-workers are the best. some of them i would even give a kidney if they needed it.

but this morning, i am tired. it's been a long week, through which i have been fighting a cold, have not slept through an entire night, and my crowning achievement happened yesterday, when in an advil cold & sinus-induced stupor, i deleted all the images from the PORTICO website.

did i mention i was tired?

but it's friday, and at 4:30 pm today, it will be the weekend. i have no real plans for the weekend, just some ideas, but at this point it doesn't matter. it will be the weekend.

so, wherever you find yourself this weekend, i wish for you peace and rest and recreation and joy. so that on monday morning, we'll all be ready and excited to jump back in refreshed and prepared for all next week will hold.


to hope...

i'm thinking a lot about hope today, although i'm not quite sure why.

perhaps it is the visuals from haiti that keep breaking my heart. or the friend whose health situation has simply not improved. maybe the unrealized dreams in my own life.

but whatever it is about, i am grateful for all the things that i still hope for, all the things i am still waiting to see fulfilled... for all that is unfinished, for all that is undone.

after all, i'm still alive, and another day is about to begin...

all human wisdom is summed up in two words—
wait and hope. | alexandre dumas père

for in this hope we were saved.
but hope that is seen is no hope at all.
who hopes for what they already have?
but if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently. | romans 8:24, 25

hope has two beautiful daughters.
their names are anger and courage;
anger at the way things are,
and courage to see that they do not
remain the way they are. | augustine of hippo

to hope means to be ready
at every moment for that which is not yet born,
and yet not become desperate
if there is no birth in our lifetime. | emily dickinson



can you believe that as much as i speak of my great love of g.k. chesterton that i've never read his most known work, orthodoxy?!

so the fifth of this year's 75 books is this little gem.

to give you just a little peek at his genius...

imagination does not breed insanity. exactly what does
breed insanity is reason. poets do not go mad;
but chess players do. mathematicians go mad, and cashiers;
but creative artists very seldom. | g.k. chesterton

how could i not love this man?!


happy pooh day

today just happens to be winnie the pooh day.

to celebrate this felicitous occasion, here is one of my very favorite pooh quotes...

if ever there is tomorrow when we're not together
there is something you must always remember.
you are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.
but the most important thing is,
even if we're apart...
i'll always be with you. | winnie the pooh



i will admit that this week's tragedy in haiti had initially left me feeling somewhat disconcerted.

how does one pray for such immense devastation and hardship, when all your heart can cry is, 'O God...'? and with so much need and urgency, the little that i have available to give seems so insignificant, and more in the 'why bother' category than anything else.

when the magnitude of what is needed overshadows the what we think can offer, what is a person to do?

“nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing
because he could only do a little.” | edmund burke

you do whatever you can.


right now.


review: If You Want To Write

by Barbara Ueland

every once in a while you come across a book that makes you wonder how you survived your whole life without it. If You Want To Write is just such a book.

you would expect a book with this title to help you be a better writer. what you wouldn't expect is that it not only does just that, but it makes you want to be a better person as well! in one chapter she says just this...
...i have come to think that the only way to become a better writer is to become a better person. {p. 117}
she writes of such authors as tolstoy, blake, and goethe, saying...
their writing, their art is merely a by-product, a cast-off creation of a great personality. and that is why i think we should all, great and small, be creating all the time, casting off our works but forgetting them, and looking always toward the work ahead. for only by seeing that our creations are vulgar and mean can we see what our souls are, and then, by our imagination, see how to be better. {p. 117}
the author had a serious crush on russian writers, quoting Chekhov and Dostoevsky and others numerous times, has caused me to add their works to my reading list.

even though the book was originally published in 1938, it in no way felt dated. sure, there were some places that were a little odd, especially when she quotes from some of her student's writing, but never once did it lose my attention or feel at all awkward.

i was truly sad to turn the last page of the book. i could have easily read the book had it been three times as long. and not only was i saddened by finishing the book, i actually feel a loss that i will never get a chance to meet this brilliant woman.

so, if you want to write, become a better person, or create better art, whatever your art may be, i highly recommend you pick up this gem. don't waste any more time before you get it into your library.

{book 2 of 75}



i don't know if i've ever mentioned that i have a serious crush on charlotte martin's music. serious. like i own almost everything she's ever done kind of serious. like i listen to her every day kind of serious. like i wish i could hang out with her at starbucks so all the cool kids could see us together kind of serious.

if you need a reason why, she has a hauntingly beautiful voice, and her piano playing is heartbreakingly beautiful. check out her cover of the cure's just like heaven, or the absolutely beautiful snowflake. and to prove that she really is the super-coolest chick EVER, she goes and does an absolutely brilliant track gloriously entitled the stalker song, which i will admit to singing around the office at times.

as i was listening to her tonight, a line of one of her songs jumped out at me, something that every single girl should consider...

if you can't breathe with your head under water,
why should i be with you? |
many rivers

if you've never listened to anything from her, stop now, go to iTunes and buy something. anything, it won't matter. her newest CD, piano trees is instrumental and so, so beautiful, but to really capture her at her lyrical best, start with something like orphans, or reproductions, or veins, or...

did i mention that i like her?



i am grateful to my friend phil, who introduced to me to Solo, a new devotional book before he moved down south. during the time we worked together at PORTICO, phil actually introduced me to many books that have helped shape my life, but i am especially indebted to him for this one.

in this book, i was reading genesis 3, so close to the beginning of all things, when both adam and eve daily walked in the garden of eden with their Creator. but there was something lurking in the garden...
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?"

"Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden," the woman replied. "It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, `You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'"

"You won't die!" the serpent replied to the woman. "God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil."

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the mans and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?"

He replied, "I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked." (Genesis 3:1-10)
the thing that hit me as i read this today was this, 'they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves'. as soon as their eyes were opened, they realized that they, themselves were not enough. they needed to make clothes, they needed to add to themselves be acceptable. so close to their creation, so close to their Creator, they suddenly realized that there was something wrong, and they were lacking. they needed to add things to cover their shame, to make themselves worthy.

i think that almost every stupid thing i have ever done has probably been because i don't feel like i am enough. that i need to be smarter, funnier, better dressed, more together, prettier, holier... whatever, before i can be accepted... before i am good enough... before i am enough.

so this morning, i feel a kinship with eve and adam that i have never felt before. having the advantage of a few thousand years on them, i do have some perspective that my friends lacked. i know the rest of the story that God alluded to as he evicted them from the garden of eden. i know that lifetimes later there would be a baby born who would save the world from their incessant quest to be enough. that this baby would grow into a man who would turn the world upside down with his teaching, and in his death, bridge the gap between mankind and their Creator.

i know this.

so for today, i won't try to be more anything. i will be faithful to my God who made sure that i would have everything i need to be complete in him.

because of Jesus, i am enough.


review: Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore & Kim P. Davis

confession: i am a sucker for a pretty book.

with that out of the way, Voices of the Faithful: Book 2, a devotional by beth moore and kim p. davis definitely qualifies for a check mark in the 'pretty' category. but it doesn't stop there. laced through the pages of this beautiful devotional are the real stories of joy, pain, unbelievable courage and overarching love of those serving in the mission fields of our planet. true accounts of a different kind of beauty.

each reading is a narrative of ordinary people living extraordinary lives simply by being obedient. broken down by months into different themes, as you read through the month, you cannot help but be moved. my favorite months were january {prayer} and november {encouragement}. january's readings reminded me of the incredible power of prayer, and how God's omnipresence is no match for the vastness of our world. november was a great reminder for me of exactly how strong a little encouragement can be for people who are up against more than we may ever imagine.

with our pace of life it's too easy to forget that there are those living out their faith in places without the conveniences we have at our fingertips, places where living out faith can be a dangerous prospect. Voices of the Faithful: Book 2 is the perfect tool to inform us of what is going on in the lives of other believers outside of our neighborhoods... and maybe even inspire some to live extraordinary lives of their own!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


consider how you listen

do you ever notice a theme recurring in your life?

as i've lived through the eight days already behind me in this year, there has been one repeating theme, and that is of listening. the most recent occurrence being in this morning's devotions, when in the book of Luke, after explaining the parable of the sower to his disciples, Jesus said,
"consider carefully how you listen".
to be honest, i don't know if i have ever considered {carefully or otherwise} how i listen. but given the fact that this seems to be the theme of this year so far, i am going to have to change this. perhaps 2010 will be the year of listening.

* * * * *

it is the province of knowledge to speak,
and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. |
oliver wendell holmes



yesterday in her blog, margaret feinberg threw out what she calls The Book Challenge 2010. she committed to reading 75 books this year, and challenged her readers to pick the number of books they were going to commit to reading in 2010.

this came just after i changed the column on the left of my blog noting the number of books i've read from 'read in 2009' to 'read in 2010', and noticed that i only read 23 books in 2009.

only 23?! that's not even two a month.

i know that the more you read, the stronger your mind and focus becomes. the better you write. the more creative you are. and that is just the process of reading itself! the actual content of the books you choose to read can help shape and redefine the way you look at life.

given all this, i think it is needless to say that i was less than impressed with my total, so when i heard of this reading challenge, i jumped at it.

i have committed to reading at least 75 books this year, with a secret hope that i will hit 100. and it's not like there is any shortage of reading material. my bookshelves are lined with books i promised to read long ago... not to mention that i actually got four books for christmas this year! {three cara black mysteries and francis chan's 'forgotten God'}.

so, what about you? feel up to joining in this challenge with me? it doesn't need to be 75 books, you just need to pick a number, and go for it. it can include textbooks and audiobooks.

are you up for it?



as i am sure you've noticed by my lack of posts, i am having a difficult time getting back into the swing of things. a busy christmas season followed by a very busy nine days with the family, throw in a two hour time difference, and 2010 has not seen the early riser that i know i can be.

so in this, my first post of the year... decade, even, i would be greatly remiss if i didn't begin with a quote from one of my two favorite men—writers, of course.

this is from a relatively new book called A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke. this is the reading from january 1.

i choose to begin
ranier maria rilke

i love all beginnings, despite their anxiousness and their uncertainty, which belong to every commencement. if i have earned a pleasure or reward, or if i wish that something had not happened; if i doubt the worth of an experience and remain in my past—then i choose to begin at this very second.

begin what? i begin. i have already thus begun a thousand lives.


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