Sunday, January 15, 2017

52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge for 2017

This year, I am taking part of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge.  I've noticed these last couple of years that I'm not really good at branching out to different genres.  Instead of sticking with one particular challenge list (there are gobs of challenges out there), I've decided to pick and choose from several ones.

Last year, I completed 18 books.  This year, I hope to get a bit closer to that 52 mark.


Drum roll please.......

I can mark book one off my list: 
Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat.


I'm placing this in the category of "a book that's been on my TBR list for too long" from the 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge.



When Good Things Come to an End


I love a good book and a good cup of coffee. Hence the picture above. However, I do have a confession to make.....

Moments ago, I finished reading Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat.

Well, that may not sound like a newsworthy confession, but I started the book at the end of September. And I'll admit, I had a difficult time getting through the book.

Not because it was terribly awful

But because it was terribly wonderful.

This book holds so much of my heart, and I couldn't let it go quickly. I had to cherish every story, every page because these people, well, they are my people.


The Five Minute Friday Community is an amazing group of writers.  They cheer you on. They encourage you. They pray for you.  They become a part of you.


And this book becomes a part of you.  Page by page, word by word, I found bits and pieces of myself. You know those bits, those pieces you don't want to share because Satan tells you that you are all alone and no one else can relate.  Well, these brave writers share those dark places.  And they share those bright places.  And in all of these places, their words point to God.  Whether the prompt was  JOY, HOPE, SHARE, or TELL, the stories spoke of our struggles as moms, wives, sisters, friends, and sinners and how Christ our Redeemer reveals Himself to us.

And for me, I wanted to hold on to this book as long as possible. I wanted to hurry to page 137 to find my own words, but I went slowly.  And when I reached that part, my hand ran over the page, and I thanked God for the opportunity to share my story.


Now, the book is closed, yet I know it won't stay that way.  I'll come back to it time and time again.  I'll read those words of my Five Minute Friday friends. I'll share those words with others.  And I will hope and pray that maybe, just maybe, there will be a "sequel" one of these days.

I encourage you, get a copy of this book, not because my words are in it, but because it is full of love.  The writers of this book are eager to share with you how your heart can be shared in five minutes flat!


Friday, January 13, 2017

In the Midst of It All

I hate being in the middle of anything.  I don't particularly like to be the center of attention, so my comfortable spot is on the sidelines.  However, that's not always possible.


As a teacher, I spend most of my day trying to keep the attention of young, wandering minds.  As a pastor's wife, I know that all eyes are on me and my family.  During Sunday school, I sit in the middle so I can see all of those I'm teaching, and they can see me.  And tomorrow, I will lead a Prayer Breakfast for the women of our church.

However, in the midst of all of this, when I seem to be the center of attention, I want all that I do and all that I say to point straight to Christ.  After all, it isn't about me.  It's about Him.


I want my interactions in the classroom and school building to bring Him honor and glory.

I want my behavior and attitude as a pastor's wife to never fall short of Christ-like.

I want my Sunday School class to hear Him during the lesson.

I want Him to be the center of our gathering tomorrow.

I want Him in the middle of all I do: my marriage, my family, my career....my everything.




Monday, January 09, 2017

Connect


Ok. Confession....

I had this whole other post written for Five Minute Friday, but as I went through previous pictures from my blog archive, I had many more thoughts about the word CONNECT.  Thoughts and memories that I couldn't pass up.

So, today, for my first FMF post of 2017, I'm going to cheat, but I'm going to be true to my feelings and how they actually connect to the prompt.  I'm going to reset my timer and start over.



I'm not the most social person in the world.  Making friends hasn't always been easy for me.  I've got lots of insecurities.  Deep down, I really want people to like me, but I don't always put myself out there to know and to be known.  It is safer that way.  I won't wonder what I've done wrong if my friend doesn't talk to me as much as I'd like and I don't risk losing a friend.


But I do want those friendships and close personal connections.  I'm not going to risk losing myself to get those. I'm not go to work to belong.




The way I figure it is this.....True friendship will come if it is supposed to. In my almost 40 years walking this earth, I've made friends and I've lost friends.  I've had long time friends and I've had friends for a season.  And I'm fine with that.


I'm grateful for the relationships I have.  


I have an amazingly wonderful family. I'm blessed with a husband who loves and adores me.  I'm blessed with children that love and want their mama to play with them, laugh with them, and just cuddle.  I'm blessed with a few close friends that I know would be there for me in a heartbeat.  I'm blessed with a church family that.....well, they are just unlike any group of people that I've met because they love and serve and encourage, not out of obligation, but because that's just who they are.  I have coworker friends I can laugh with and pray with and vent to.  I have online friends that I've never met and a few I have, but they each have a special place in my heart.   Most of all, I have my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.






Wednesday, December 28, 2016

52 Books in 52 Weeks Final Count (maybe)

Well, there are 3 days left in 2016. I'll just admit that I am not meeting my 52 books goal.  However, I did read more books this year than I did last year.  Here's what I've read this year:


Well, there are 3 days left in 2016.  I'll admit that I will not meet my 52 books goal this year.  However, I did read more this year than I did last year.  Here's a look at what I've read this year.  I still have two books going and hope to finish by Saturday night.

A book set at Christmastime
I read this book every year!  Love it.  I was fortunate enough to take my family to the play this year as well.


A book that is sure to bring joy
This is another reread.  This book touches my heart during advent. If you haven't read it....you must!

A book with a title that has fewer than 5 words

All I can say is this is an amazing book, and this week, my children and students better be glad I read it!


A book you can finish in a day
I used this book as a read aloud in my classroom.  It is a sweet story, but you have to infer a lot.  I love the biblical reference.

And a look back at other books I've read this year........

A book that cost less than $1
I cheated a bit. This book actually cost $1.  I loved it so much.  It was a life changer for how I view my ever-changing body compared to how Christ views me. 

A book given to me
This book was given to me by one of our church members.  She thought I might enjoy it, and she was so right.  There are so many things I have been able to use in conversation and Sunday school. Billy Graham says things so much better than I ever could...right, Leslie?


A book in a genre I don't typically read
The Iron Trial was a recommendation by a student in my class. He is really into stuff like this. I promised him I would read it. I did, and it wasn't too bad. I actually have the second book in my bag to read this summer.

A book recommended by someone I just met
One of my new students was reading If I Stay as her AR book. I asked her if it was any good, and she said yes, and then she told me I should read it.  I really liked the book. I watched the movie and did the ugly cry even though I knew what was going to happen.


 A book with a title that describes my life
LOVE this book. LOVE a good pair of jeans. LOVE Jesus.  


A book with a blue cover
I used this book in lit circles with my fifth graders. I read it beforehand and fell in love with it. The jaw dropping ending really got me.  Loved the movie too. Be sure you read the book before you watch the movie!


An autobiography
I am fascinated by Malala's story. After reading this, I used it for lit circles in my classroom. My students loved it. It was a wake up call for them because they had such a hard time believing that children in some countries aren't allowed an education like they are. 

 A book based in my town
The setting of this book is my hometown. Our librarian used this book in her Battle of the Books program a few years ago, and I fell in love with it.  All church goers (young and old) need to read this.  Its a story of forgiveness and how God works through all things. 


A book I haven't read since high school
I had forgotten how good this book was. I love that it is referenced in so many other pieces of literature.

A book I've already read at least once
This is another book used in our Battle of the Books program. To Kill a Mockingbird is referenced in this book, you'll have to read it to find out why.  I've always loved this book, but this year, after I completed it as a read aloud in my classroom, one of my autistic students said that he really liked it because it helps you understand how people think differently.  Score one for the teacher!

 A book published this year
A fellow Five Minute Friday Retreat friend wrote this wonderful book about trusting God even if He doesn't answer our prayers the way we want.  For anyone who has had trouble trusting Him, read this book.  Some people are bothered by the fact that Kaitlyn didn't go into extreme details in some of her stories, however, I don't think she needed to. I think we can all relate no matter what.


A book that's under 150 pages
This is an older book that I love and use as a read aloud in my classroom. It touches on bullying in a way that all of my students can relate. I love that it reinforces 2 facts: A) If you don't step up and stop bullying, you are just as guilty B)Bullying has negative effects

 A book written from a child's perspective
This is another book I used as a read aloud in class.   I love this book for so many reasons.  It is actually told from the perspective of a classroom of children and demonstrates the love their teacher had for them and the love they had for him.

A book thats more than 600 pages
I thought reading War and Peace was going to kill me! It took almost a year, but I did it though. I was proud of myself for not giving up although I wanted to at times. I was so excited about the mini series until they cancelled it right in the middle.

18 Books Completed as of December 28!  


Head on over to Kate Motaung's to link up and check out what others have read this year.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Begins


Tis the season.

Its the time of year we rush and spend and stress. The time of year so many look upon with dread.

The Christmas season should be so much more, yet, year after year, we add more to our to do lists. We add more to our credit card debts.  We add unneeded negativity to a beautiful season.

Can we just not?

Can we just pause and reset?

Can we anticipate the gift of Jesus instead of the gifts under the tree that we feel obligated to purchase?

And thus, let's celebrate Advent.

Advent, in Natasha Terms,  is the anticipation of the coming of Christmas.....and all that it entails.

For me, its yearning to be near to Christ in every possible way

To soak myself in scripture that hints at His coming

To sing hymns of praise and adoration

To give thanks for the gift of Christ, eternal life, and all the blessings in between

To focus on Christ instead of commercialism


Would you join me?

This Advent season, I will be reading from The Voice Advent Reading Plan.  It starts today, and each daily reading is short.



Starting December 1, I will begin reading The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.  This will be my second journey through this wonderful book.


Not only will I reset during this Advent season, my family will also.  Each night beginning December 1, we will take a book from our Advent calendar and read and pray over the scripture as a family.  Each book will then be placed on our Christmas tree.


And yes, that is an elf in that picture, our dear Bill Skylander Hotdog, who by the way has a friend this year: Penelope Skylander Hotdog.  We will still continue our usual fun family traditions. However, our focus will be on Christ.  Regardless of the number of gifts or parties or cards or carols, we will pause this holiday season and keep Christ at the center it.

So, Friend, will you join me in anticipating Christmas the way Christmas is meant to be?




Friday, November 04, 2016

Journey

These kids y'all.

They have a journey ahead of them.  A journey they just don't even know.

As I spend time with them each day, as I get to know them, as I see what our world is like today, my heart aches.  They don't even have a clue.

Our world is in a mess and these kids have hope and dreams.  Some have a grasp on reality. Some have no concept of reality. And for some, oh, my! We would not survive in their reality.


For some of these children, I fear what the end of their journey will be like.  For others, I'm afraid they will waste the journey.  And then, there are those that their journeys will end in success and joy.

I want to make the path straight.
I want to make the path well lit.
I want to make the path easy to follow.


But what then?  What would they get from that? What would they learn?

I saw a question posed on social media the other day asking why this particular person's journey was so tough.  There are many reasons: our choices, our sins, the sins of others. And there is this: If the journey was easy, would we feel the need for Jesus?  I've found strength and growth in my hardest journeys, and as difficult as it is, we must let these little ones do the same.



 Thank you for joining me today, this lovely finally fall feeling Friday.  If you haven't stopped by Kate's yet, please do so.  She has a great giveaway going on!


While you are there, spread the Five Minute Friday love.