Tag Archives: reading

Podcasts

Recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts. I know, I know; I’m a several months (years?) late to that party. With young children constantly around me, it’s sometimes hard to listen to spoken word (you know, something that I actually need to pay attention to if I want to comprehend what’s happening), and that’s most of the reason I’m late to the podcast-listening idea. I can’t just turn one on when I get in the car because I usually have several people communicating wth me at once. I don’t need another voice added to the fray. But I’ve really enjoyed getting recommendations from friends about what podcasts are making them think, which ones are encouraging them, or even affecting heart change. So naturally, I’ve started putting in my headphones a little more often, and, you know, crying while I mow the lawn or fold the laundry. It’s almost like reading a book, but I can work on something else while I’m doing it.podcast

It been so interesting to me how God has ordained things in my life, right down to which podcasts I’m listening to. Ever think He doesn’t influence the small things in your life? Just look for connections between your struggles and an innocent book or podcast suggestion made by a friend. I know He is wooing me through different ways every single day, pursuing me by letting me hear from Him even in the oddest of places.

That all being said, I’ll tell you about these podcasts I’m checking out. I started with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She brings another person (often one of her friends) onto her show and they talk about real life and I have LOVED it. It’s often a faith-based writer or speaker and I can get choked up just hearing them have real conversation about their lives. It’s so fun listening in on a conversation that feels like it would’ve happened the same way, even if they weren’t recording. After I blasted through several episodes of Jamie’s show, I got turned onto That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. She has similar guests and conversations, but she has a cool perspective, too. Basically what I’ve realized is that these two hosts are writers, they have writers on their shows frequently, and I am totally inundated with books I want to buy/read because of it. And these aren’t usually novels that I can get on my Kindle and just blast through in a few days because they’re easy reads. These are the sort of life-changing books that I want to dig into. I want to have my own paper copy because I like underlining and circling and reading them again and again. For instance, I’ve already ordered Annie’s Let’s All Be Brave and one of her guests’ (John Mark Comer) books called Garden City. I want to hear the Lord speaking to me, I want to learn about Him and others’ experiences with Him and His goodness. Wouldn’t you?

Now don’t think I’m all crazy – I don’t necessarily think that God ordained these people to say things that are meant just for me. But I do think that there is knowledge we can glean from hearing about others’ journeys. I think we can hear from God when hearing someone else talk, teach, preach. I think we are more in tune to His voice than we think, but we often don’t give Him the credit when He speaks to us through the words of others.

Do you have any podcasts that you think I’d like? Please comment with them! I’m LOVING listening to them!!

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, by Margaret Atwood

hag seed
Image of the book cover found on Google.

I must admit, when I caught sight of this book on the shelf at the library, I snagged it without even reading the cover, simply because I knew I had read Margaret Atwood before and loved it. So I began Hag-Seed without really knowing what I was getting into.

The book is a part of Hogarth Shakespeare, a project I actually hadn’t heard of before. It aims to see Shakespeare’s works retold by acclaimed modern novelists. The Tempest is the story being retold here, and to be honest, it’s a play I’m not familiar with, but Atwood summarizes it at the end of the book.

The premise of Hag-Seed is that a washed-up play director with a reputation for pushing boundaries gets screwed out of his job by a colleague. He has an epic meltdown, sets his sights on revenge, and then moves to a new town to start over, teaching literacy through theatre (read: Shakespeare) at a local prison. He takes Shakespeare’s plays, and adapts them for his rag-tag group of convicts, letting them take some artistic license, of course. Together they do costumes, set design, and even film the production at the end of the class to be viewed by the other inmates. Of course, the play being done when we are a part of the story is The Tempest. The director is definitely a little bit bonkers, obsessed with his former life and bringing his eccentricities with him to his new one, but it makes for an interesting read to see how everything comes together at the end.

I wouldn’t call it an easy beach read, but I would definitely say it’s worth a try! The beginning dragged a little for me, so don’t put it down when you realize the story doesn’t truly start till a few chapters in. Find it at your local library, and give Hogarth Shakespeare a try! I’d like to find another book from the project, and give it a try, too.

Stir It Up -Finding My Calling as I Go

As I was reading and having some quiet time yesterday afternoon, an image came to me, and I just had to stop and pray about it. I was led to pray for God to “stir up” my calling within me. I haven’t ever had a single moment in my life where I thought, This is it! This is the thing that I’m supposed to do forever! I’ve had many times where I’ve really been enjoying a job or a season or a ministry with which I’ve been involved. But I don’t know that any of those things ever resulted in a clear “Aha!” moment.

However, I do think that I’ve been easing into my calling for years. I love music. I love worship. I love Jesus. I love my husband and my kids. Just recently, I’ve been made aware (through His grace and a little bit of providence) that I love women’s ministry. I’m reading two books right now (Wild and Free by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly, which I’m almost done with, but I just can’t read more than a little bit at a time because I cry a lot, and Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere) that are focused on women, and focused on freedom in Jesus to be who He has called you to be. These books are changing my thoughts about women and ministry, and women’s ministry. I am learning that freedom and wildness is what Jesus wants for us, especially as women, where we can feel so bound by our roles (familial, cultural, etc) and the chains that come with them. The most beautiful thing about us, as women who follow Jesus, is that we are all different. We have things that we’re good at, and not so good at, things we love, and things we don’t like to do as much. We are fierce, whether loudly or quietly. We are called and equipped and FREE to do His will, and that’s an incredible (and overwhelming) feeling. These books, coupled with the Scriptural references within, are truly opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about myself and how Jesus sees me.

So when I felt like He was leading me to pray for a “stirring up” of my calling, I pictured it this way: there are lots of pieces of me – things that I’m good at, things I love, and spheres of influence that I have been welcomed into. There are all these ingredients for Him to work with, as He is crafting me into a woman of His own design and His own purpose. What will it all hold for me? I don’t know yet. But I am praying now more than ever that I will be cognizant of His call, sensitive to His voice, and willing to go wherever it is He would have me go. And isn’t it usually true that it’s going to be uncomfortable along the way? I’ve been praying about that, too.

You see, I have had this idea about what I should be doing with my church job, my blog, my family, my friends. I felt like I had found a good niche with all of these things. But I’m learning that it can grow stale if I don’t listen to what He is telling me. (Disclaimer: I’ve not been unhappy in any of these situations. I’m just learning to grow in them instead of stagnate.) I truly do want Him to stir up a calling. I want Him to take all the ingredients of which I am made, and have Him stir it up into something for His good.

So let it be, Lord. Stir it up within me. Make me into a wild, fierce woman for Your kingdom.

Currently: Loving the Psalms

Hey Monday! It’s time to get back in the swing of things, without the snow this time. I’m happy to have a regular currently, and a little Psalms update as well.


Watching || the LOTR trilogy! Extended versions, of course. Now that I’ve read the series, I am excited to watch them again from a more educated point of view. And Hubby’s a huge nerd (and that’s why I love you, babe!) so he was all in when I presented the idea. We’re almost done with the Fellowship of the Ring, hopefully finishing tonight.

Enjoying || Hubby’s presence at home at night. He was SO BUSY the month of December that I got accustomed to him being gone in the evenings more than he was home. We’ve had a blessed two weeks of him being home at night, and are now gearing up for him to get busy again. Busy means work, so that’s a plus!

Thankful || for our community group. There are six couples (and several children) that have been meeting together for over a year, and we’ve added a seventh, and these people are so fun and wonderful. We took a break for Christmas and New Year’s, so last night was our first meeting in a while. We’re starting a study on Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage” and I’m totally stoked. It was great to be with each other, to break bread together, to fellowship, and to get our study started. I have missed those people!

Excited || that Grimm has started back! It’s a spring season show, and so we’ve been waiting since last May for its return. I think it’s the last season (BOOHOO) but maybe that means it’ll hit Netflix when it’s done and we can watch it all the time! It started out a little rocky, but we were hooked, and it’s gotten SO much better!

And also, here’s a Psalms update. Because I feel like the blogosphere is my accountability.

That isn’t actually true.

But what IS true is that I’ve studied a Psalm every day, at least for a few minutes. I’ve used my Verses app every day at least once. I now know Psalm 23 (which I decided was an easy place to start) completely by heart. Stop me and ask me! (And actually, I’d love it if you joined me in studying the psalms; I need some people to talk it through with! Let me know if you’re interested!)

I don’t often set “goals” but I do try to point my heart in a certain direction. And though it’s been less than a week since I feel like I truly felt led to begin a journey in the psalms, I’ve been doing it.

And no, I haven’t given up on my “reading for pleasure” resolution, either.

One cannot replace the other. They satisfy, in themselves, two separate parts of me. While they both could be considered “disciplines”, one is more of a spiritual discipline, and the other is no longer a discipline because I enjoy it. I’m not reading for anyone’s else’s satisfaction but my own. I don’t need to learn the characters’ motives or be able to write about the author’s purpose. I just get to enjoy the story. I finished up my Tolkien books (in case somehow you missed it, I had been slowly plugging away at the LOTR series) and have begun The Golden Compass. I probably should’ve read a “fluffy” book in between these two series, but, too late! I’m in too deep to jump out now. I might stop for a rom-com breather after the first book.

Well, there’s a January update for ya, and I can’t believe we’re over halfway through with this month. What are you up to currently?

 

A Reading Resolution

I love the sound of reading challenges. Once upon a time, I would’ve blown them all out of the water. One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was read. Late at night with a flashlight, in the middle of the afternoon in the summer, or all day on a Saturday. But now that things are busier, I find it hard to keep up with a reading list. There are less and less uninterrupted, quiet minutes in my day, and so reading (especially reading things that take much thought) can fall to the way side. 

I’ve set my yearly reading goals too high in the past, only to realize by the time summer comes that I’ve got to re-imagine the goal if I’m going to get anywhere close to completing it. Which sorta defeats the purpose of a goal, right? So this year, instead of choosing a huge number of books, or a strange combination of books, I choose this: 

I’m going to read for pleasure every single day. I will always be reading something,  And, perhaps most important, if I’ve read the first couple of chapters of a particular book, and I’m not that into it, I’m going to put it down and start something new. 

I don’t feel like these are too lofty, or unrealistic goals. But I also don’t feel like they are too easy. Days go by where I haven’t picked up a book (or my kindle) quite often. I’m either busy or doing something else instead (here’s looking at you, Netflix). But I want to read every day- to stretch my perspective, to sharpen my eyes and mind, to set the example of a love of reading for my kids. 

I’m open to all suggestions of books to read, and I love borrowing books, also! If you have something for me to read, pass it on! Non-fiction is the only genre I haven’t done much in. I’m almost done with LOTR (I know- it’s shameful how long it’s taken me) and I think my fresh start in 2017 will be with Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass series. I also have a few historical fiction novels on deck, courtesy of my mother in law. So it won’t be for lack of content if I don’t reach this goal! Who’s with me?!

Bedtime Stories: Best or Worst Time of the Day?

My kids LOVE being read to. I’m glad – really. I enjoy reading to them whether it’s at bedtime or before naps or whatever other random time they ask. We’ve got hundreds of books (not a lie) and we go to the library to borrow more. I get it from my mom: books are the one thing I almost never say no to. I buy them for no occasion at all, simply because I saw it when I was by myself and wanted to read it to them.

So naturally bedtime should be a wonderful opportunity for snuggles and reading. I should pine for this moment all day long, right?
Well. It doesn’t always go as planned.

Sometimes, for whatever reason (over-tiredness, too much energy, the need of potty or water) it gets difficult. They might be too tired to relax. They might be too wound up to concentrate. They beg to watch TV instead. They might just be using the reading time to put off bedtime. But they won’t stay around, won’t actually listen, won’t acknowledge that someone is reading. It’s like I’m shouting nonsense words just to make them giggle.

But those times are fewer and farther between with each passing day. My little sillies love reading more and more, and I look forward to each night that I get to share Charlotte and Wilbur, Pete the Cat, or 12 little girls in two straight lines. Even Rosie Revere (Rosie Revere, Engineer) and Stillwater  (Zen Shorts) make a weekly appearance in our routine.

I’ll take what I can get, if every few nights, they snuggle up next to me for book after book until my voice is gone and my own eyes are droopy. I’ll keep reading until they would rather read to me, or read under their covers with a flashlight. I know these days are passing quickly, so I will read, read, read to them as much as I can.

Here are a few of our favorites, in case you need some fresh suggestions!

Zen Shorts and Hi, Koo! (by Jon Muth)

Yum Yum Dim Sum (by Amy Wilson Sanger)

Rosie Revere, Engineer (by Andrea Beaty)

Dragons Love Tacos (by Adam Rubin)

The Witch’s Hat (by Tony Johnston, and I know this seems Halloween-themed, but my kids LOVE it.)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (by Martin/Archambault, and yes, many children have projects based on this one in kindergarten.)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (by Virginia Lee Burton, and I remember reading this one to my enamored little brother twenty years ago.)

Little Owl’s Night (by Divya Srinivasan – a GREAT bedtime book)

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child (by Julia Donaldson, and they’re also on Netflix as short cartoons!)

And last but not least, a total favorite: Jesus Storybook Bible (by Sally Lloyd-Jones). You can see how much I love it in this post from last Christmas.

Will You (Actually) Be My Friend on Goodreads?

I’ve been a member of Goodreads for several years now, but I don’t think I’m using it to its full potential. Are there any huge Goodreads fans out there? (Come on. Raise your hand, fellow nerds.) Partially, I haven’t been reading as much as I have in the past. You know, becoming a mother and all eats up a lot of your time to read for pleasure. But I also just can’t remember that Goodreads exists. For instance, the other day I logged in from my computer (what?!) and responded to about 75 friend requests from the past nine months. Yep. Nine months. So, if you thought I was weirdly unfriendly on a nerdy, fringe social media site, I promise I wasn’t. I just forget about it altogether. 

But recently I’ve committed to reading more, and that means I need to be seeing the books that other people are loving and recommending so that I can build my list. Truly, new books excite me. But I’ve been in a slump because I’ve just been slowly laboring through LOTR for months now. I’ve commuted to blasting my way through the Return of the King (it’s not like I don’t know how it ends, right?) so that I can start something fresh and new. 

There are several things on my immediate list. First of all, I borrowed the Golden Compass books from a friend, and I want to finish those first. Next, I took a (year-long) break from the Outlander series after Dragonfly in Amber, so I’d like to start back and see what Claire and Jamie are up to. But sometimes I get in a rut when reading series, and I need to break them up with a short, easy to read novel in between them; beach reads, humor, light mystery, or romance are my favorites for this purpose. 

That being said, I’m looking for suggestions for my reading list. I’d love it if you could comment with your trusty favorite, your recent love, or the one you’ve heard is great but haven’t read yet. And seriously, be my friend on Goodreads. 

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece each day in November.