Posted in Life

A Small Exciting Thing From My Week

Last week I was returning things to the libraries I go to where I do not work. At the first one I went in and ended up sitting in a comfy chair and skimming through a book that turned out to be not worth the time. I drove away going, “Well, I should have just dropped my book in the drive through return box.”

But because I went in the library, I saw a sign about their winter reading program. So I got on the website and entered the books I’ve read this year and didn’t think much more about it.

Then Sunday after lunch I picked up my phone to discover a missed call and a voicemail from an unsaved number. Probably some scam call and my voicemail caught the end of the spiel, I figured, checking the message.

Nope.

I won the weekly gift card drawing from the reading program.

I now have a Panera Bread gift card.

I am very pleased.

Advertisements
Posted in Christianity, Life

Yet More Great Books I’ve Read This – No, Last – Year

March’s post
October’s post

If I do these for 2018, maybe I can manage to space them out more evenly…

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris
This book. Is. FANTASTIC. The poems are clever. Some are intricate and sophisticated. Some hardly seem like poems at all (in a good way). Many are hilarious. A few made me teary. But it’s not just the poetry that’s great; everything about the book is clever and interesting. Even the page numbers.
It reminded me of Jack Prelutsky, which is a high compliment. If you are a poor soul who has never heard of Jack Prelutsky, 1. You’ve likely heard of Shel Silverstein, and that is also a good comparison (but I am a rebel and always liked Jack Prelutsky better), 2. Go track down the book A Pizza the Size of the Sun and enjoy it along with I’m Just No Good at Rhyming.

Recess Warriors: Hero Is a Four-Letter Word by Marcus Emerson
Graphic novels aren’t really my thing, but once in a while I find an exception. This is one of them. It chronicles the recess adventures of a group of kids, and it captures the power of imagination beautifully. It’s written and illustrated as though these adventures involving pirates and zombies and cowboys are really happening, but once in a while the characters say things like, “If the principal asks, you did it.” It’s a really fun balance and a great portrayal of how kids see their games and their lives. There is now a sequel (Recess Warriors: Bad Guy Is a Two-Word Word), and it is also lots of fun.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I read this in high school, and I kind of enjoyed it then, but I have since discovered that I really love Dickens. He’s subtly hilarious. Something about his particular brand of wordiness appeals to me. So I’ve been meaning to reread this so I could appreciate it more, and sure enough, I did. “I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.” It’s a story of one small family and acquaintances and the love they all have for sweet Lucie – her father, her husband, family friends, one man who pines after her – and how they get caught up in the horrors of the French Revolution. I didn’t think the ending would make me cry since I knew what was coming, but it did.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
I’ve been wanting to read this for a while, and I’m so glad I got around to it. It’s something rare: fantasy written for adults that is not a rip-off of either The Lord of the Rings or fairy tales and is also not horribly inappropriate. It made me laugh regularly but was not cheesy. I liked the characters. I wanted to just sit and read it for hours.
The main character is a spy for the Library, which collects books from different alternate worlds. She gets sent on a mission to a dangerous alternate with a new apprentice, and they have all sorts of risky adventures involving a Holmes-esque detective, zeppelins, werewolves, a traitorous Librarian, and the like before they get the book they were after. It’s the first in a series, and as I have just started the second one, I can’t vouch for the rest, but this one was great. Not 100% clean, but I loved it enough that I found it worth putting up with a few content issues.

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin
This book came up in last week’s post, but I wanted an opportunity to express how good it was. Jen Wilkin laments the lack of Biblical literacy among Christians (and I completely agree with her on that point), and then offers a method of how to study the Bible for yourself. If you read last week’s post, you know I’m not saying you must study the Bible this way or anything like that, but it is sensible and accessible, and if you struggle with this and are looking for some guidance, it is an excellent place to start.

Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Do Not Follow This Advice

I read quite a few books on religious topics. One thing I’ve been particularly noticing recently is that people like to tell you what works for them.

Three examples from books I’ve read in the past year:

  • In The Book of Not So Common Prayer: A New Way to Pray, a New Way to Live, Linda McCullough Moore shares how she started praying for three (or maybe four, I don’t remember) 15-minute segments spaced throughout her day. It changed her life, led to growth, and deepened her relationship with God.
  • In One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp talks about how a friend challenged her to list 1,000 things she loved. Keeping this list and the constant focus on gratitude it encouraged became something that lasted well beyond the thousandth item. It changed her life, led to growth, and deepened her relationship with God.
  • In Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds (what’s with all the super long subtitles?), Jen Wilkin laments the lack of Biblical literacy among Christians and lays out the method she has developed for studying the Bible in a way that leads to real learning. You guessed it: It changed her life, led to growth, and deepened her relationship with God.

I appreciate these women and their wisdom and insight and that they have shared those things with the world. Do not take this post as a criticism of them or their books. It’s not. But sometimes we read these sorts of things and go, “Wow, I want my relationship with God to grow like that.”

So we do what the authors did.

And it doesn’t work.

I don’t mean we tried for three days and gave up. We did those three (or four) 15-minute prayer segments every day for months and still consistently found them a burden, not a joy. We listed 1,000 things we were grateful for and nothing ever clicked. After several books, marking up a double-spaced copy of a specific book of the Bible with annotations in colored pencil remained completely uninspiring and we don’t seem to know any more than when we started.

And then we think, “But I did exactly what they said and I’ve seen no significant changes, what’s wrong with me?”

What’s “wrong” with you is: You are not Linda McCollough Moore. You are not Ann Voskamp. You are not Jen Wilkin. You are you. Your personality is different. Your tragic backstory is different. The way you relate to God and people and life is different. It’s just logical that things that work for other people might not work for you.

We get the principle confused with the process. There are Biblical principles to be found in these books. The Bible teaches us to make prayer a constant part of our life (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to always give thanks because that’s God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and that studying the scriptures is a noble task (Acts 17:11). The Bible does not say, “Pray for three (or four) 15-minute segments spaced throughout your day,” or, “Keep a constant physical list of the things you are thankful for,” or, “Before you start to study a book of the Bible, print out a double-spaced copy with wide margins and collect some nice colored pencils for annotating it.”

At the beginning of a new year, many people like to reevaluate where they are in life and attempt some changes. If you need a new process for deepening your relationship with God, go for it. Maybe you want to try something from one of these books. Or a different book. Or something that has worked for a friend. In this post I list several suggestions. Maybe you have some ideas of your own. But as you try things, keep in mind:

Never measure your faith by someone else’s process. Measure it by Biblical principles.

Posted in Life

Studio C Christmas

Merry Christmas! (A bit early…) Please enjoy some holiday-related humor.

 

Giving gifts can be difficult.

 

Maybe it will make any awkward Christmas parties you attend seem great in comparison.

 

They can be dangerous.

 

And this is my favorite.

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Book Club Woes

You know what I want? A book club for adults who have zero interest in the latest New York Times Best Seller.

Who would rather reread Percy Jackson, or pick up a graphic novel from the kid’s section of the library just out of curiosity, or grab a nonfiction book about matchmakers in London in World War II, or read A Tale of Two Cites because Dickens is hilarious (and can also make me cry).

It’s not that I can’t read long books and have deep discussions. I just find most of the generic adult fiction genre inappropriate and/or boring, and I’d rather seek fodder for deep discussions elsewhere.

Surely I can’t be the only one.

And yet I’ve never discovered anything like this.

Most of the book clubs I see focus on that generic adult fiction, and if it’s not that it’s mysteries or classics, neither of which are what I want either.

I suppose I could attempt to start my own. But that seems stressful. I don’t want to be in charge of such a book club, I just think one should exist.

Okay. Rant over.

Posted in Life, Writings

After NaNoWriMo

I did a lot of editing last month, as planned. I did, in fact, finish my main project before the end of the month, so for the last several days I pulled out old short stories to edit.

It was the most successful NaNo I’ve had in a while. I finished a project that’s been going on for years. And I’m pleased with the results.

There will be more editing in the future, I’m sure. The story is definitely not perfect. But despite having developed a long way from the small original ideas, it still feels the way those small original ideas felt in my head, and I don’t think I can explain how incredibly satisfying that is.

To conclude, here is the song that originally sparked the inspiration to turn those small original ideas into something writable:

And here is my favorite thing I found while editing. No idea what that sentence was supposed to become:

Posted in Life

Random Pictures From My Phone

Because sometimes I end up with some strange things.

From a children’s book about David and Goliath. I was a little concerned.

My hair was doing cool things at some unearthly hour of the night, so I took a picture.

Reorganizing decorations at work. Things happened.

New job at the library! I’m staff! I GET TO GO BEHIND THE DESK!!!

I found that hat. I don’t know why it exists.

Mr. Green was weirdly attractive in this Clue game.

But if you left out the meat and sauce, wouldn’t you just have macaroni and cheese?

Sometimes Bella sleeps with her head under the curtains.

The library was getting rid of this book. Wonder why.

I think I was trying to take a picture of my hairdo. I don’t know what happened to result in this selfie.

This is from a book of Bible stories I use in my nursery class. I like it because it includes stories other than the ones you always see. But sometimes the pictures are very strange.

As opposed to Only Slightly Religious Friendship Bracelets?

Look at those satisfying numbers.

And here we have a picture from a questionable coloring book. Thankfully the two-year-olds don’t care.

Stuffed animal fell off the bed, got trapped, and stared at me disapprovingly.

Look at the cute dog.

Who named this pattern?

This was in a middle school. That third line. I was so pained.

Back to that questionable coloring book. Not only do we have the very strange people, but they left out a few important parts of the story…

?????

From an excellent book called Recess Warriors. Highly recommended.

This is apparently from a Sherlock Holmes play. I love how you can always tell who is Holmes and who is Watson, and I love how well this sums up their relationship.

I’ve been cleaning my room lately. I found some unopened mail…

New boots! They were originally $100 dollars. I got them for less than nine. It was most satisfying.

 

I have no control over which of these pictures will show up on Facebook with the post. That might be interesting.