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I could talk books all day long! Well, sometimes I could talk all day long on a lot of subjects. But this is definitely a favorite topic.

I haven’t read a book outside of the bible in ions. But I listen ALL. THE. TIME. I am in awe of the opportunities we have to access information and entertainment. It’s the ultimate juggle. Listening while I do housework, yardwork, putting on my makeup, making my bed, weeding the vinyl in my JoniTDesigns, working on a Juggle Source project, riding my bike, or taking a walk.

I sometimes use Audible, but mostly I use Overdrive through the library system. It’s a great way to preserve money. It does mean that sometimes I’m listening to two books at the same time, because if I don’t finish it within the 21 days it’s loaned to me, I have to request it again, and while I’m waiting, I’m on to another book.

Most of My All Time Favorites are books I have purchased and stay in my very small library.

Right now I’m listening to On Writing, by Stephen King, and Moneyland by Oliver Bullough.

My interests are all over the place, but mostly I gravitate toward non-fiction.

These are the books I’ve documented or remembered. They’re not in any particular order. I often forget to document them; I’m sure I’ve missed some.

I didn’t indicate the topics or why I like the books, so I’m happy to tell you if you want to ask. I love love love discussing books! Ironically, I’m not in a book club, largely because of time, but equally, because I have so many I want to read, and I don’t want to be limited to a book I’m required to read by the book club.

So, Happy Sunday, and Happy Reading, or Listening!

PS: Darn… I forgot to add the other book that MADE ME A READER!

“Don’t Stop the Carnival” by Herman Wouk.

An Historical Day

Day 7 Mug Hug

Yes, like you, I love plaid. And yes, this is photographed in my bathroom. I’m starting my day differently and almost forgot that I have committed to posting every day until Christmas!

Major things have happened in the last 24 hours. And a lot is happening in the next 7 days, so the closer we get to Christmas, these posts will feel more like a luxury that might not get embraced as the distraction of Christmas and the requirements of work call my name. These books (Bird by Bird, The Memoir Project, and The War of Art) speak specifically to overcoming the obstacles that contribute to us putting off our creativity. This twelve day commitment I publicly made is keeping me accountable to do exactly what expert authors tell us to do: JUST WRITE!

Which leads me to think about what vs how. Whether it’s how we plan our day, a conversation with a friend, or a bigger one, such as starting a business, selling a house, or impeaching a president. As a Christian, we expect certain behaviors that reflect God’s word. Christians will often seek spiritual guidance to make a decision. Some are ordinary decisions without a lot of consequence, some are gigantic, with monumental impact. Almost all behaviors and decisions affect other people.

I hope that we all consider how we affect other people, as well as the degree of our responsibility to them. As Christians, God is our guide, by reading his word, and in prayer. In that way, we will see that it’s not always what we decide to do, but how we do it.

If these 4 things can be our rule, and not our exception, we will all be better for it. We will have a better grasp on the HOWS of our lives that I believe liberate us.

  1. Obey God’s word: We are to be good people. We are to be servants. We are to walk in love. Each of these passages tells us how to do something, not necessarily what to do. We aren’t responsible for other peoples’ success or failure, but we are responsible to ourselves, and if you love God, we are responsible to him.
  2. Pray: Ask God for what you want, and then listen. Let him speak to your heart as you are quiet, and see his glory in creation. Reflect on his word as you push back the noise of the world. When we are listening to God, we are more apt to behave according to his will, and overcome selfish ambition.
  3. Seek counsel: This can be tricky. With all the varied opinions with different levels of influence, it can become confusing. But counsel is God’s will for us. We are designed to be relational (although, some more than others!). But that’s why we don’t leave it there. We filter advice through God’s word. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed.” God’s word has rarely omitted a problem for me, but it has always provided me with direction that has given me peace, even when I dreaded the challenge that I faced. In this way, I think of Jesus when he asked God to take the cup. He is our greatest example of obedience.
  4. Trust: Know that God is with us, even when the decision is scary and unconventional. In my current situation, I am fully aware that I could have made a mistake, but I kind of think, “so what!?” I have made many more. We all do our best in the moment, and we ask God to be with us in those moments. We know that there is no mistake that is so horrible, it can’t be redeemed. The story of David is a great example of trust and God’s intervention. David doesn’t ask God every step of the way of how he should act. I think of when he acted like a madman to avoid being killed by King Achish. I imagine it was just good instinct. I also think about the seemingly irony of when David saves the people of Keilah from the Philistines. In spite of him doing so, he is positioned to be caught and killed by Saul. David asks the Lord, “Will they give me up to Saul? The Lord answers, “Yes, they will.” God had sent David into Keilah to save them! David asks God again, “Lord, will the people of Keilah surrender me over to Saul?” And the Lord answers, “They will.” David was obedient throughout his volatile relationship with Saul. You have to read the whole story to know the outcome (1 Samuel), but let me just say, there’s no lack of drama, and it’s my “go to” when I need assurance that God can indeed redeem any situation.

Well, this is a much longer mug hug than I’d anticipated. So much for the luxury I didn’t think I was going to embrace!

Thank you, Jesus for this Mug Hug, and your word that is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

 

I saw a darling t-shirt advertised the other day. It said, “BLESSED MAMA.” These days I notice t-shirts like I smell steak on a grill. Since my motto is, “the redder, the better,” you can imagine how I can sniff out a t-shirt like a backyard BBQ. I see t-shirts walking down the street or sitting at a cafe table and I try to figure out if it’s sublimation or HTV. I analyze how far down from the neck it starts, how much shirt space is used, and what kind of material it is. My skills as private t-shirt investigator do need to improve so people don’t mistake me for staring at their chests, or breasts.

Everything I am has been influenced by my role as a mom. It’s been a privilege to navigate this life with two people who drove my decisions, and when decisions went sideways, knowing they needed me to be their compass gave me cause to redirect. It’s an awesome assignment that I chose to accept. What choices would I have made were it not for these two lives who depended on someone to nourish their body, spirit, and soul?

I might be living life in NYC working for Everlane. I’d wake up, have coffee while doing a devotional, ride my bike through the city to work. I’d stay until 5, get a drink with a friend, go to the Columbia University talk on “Why Curbside Recycling isn’t Working” (or in my ideal world, I’d present), get home in time to read a chapter in Anne Lamott’s latest book, practice for the part I’m hoping to get in the new Off Broadway rendition of Legally Blonde that has been opened up to people who have never acted before, then snuggle in my clean sheets (that do not include Winky hair), and dream of my upcoming trip to Paris.

That sounds incredible! But while today I can imagine making choices that would lead me to that life, I don’t think I could have imagined anything like that in my early thirties. At age 34 when I got married I don’t remember any aspirations. I assume I sought happiness, but outside of that, I had no tangible goals or ideals. I lived day to day with a survivor mentality and good work ethic and I plodded along, hoping someone would fall in love with me. I loved God, but for several years I had abandoned walking with him. My decisions were only influenced by what felt good and seemed right enough at the time.

Someone did fall in love with me. We got married and two years later we had Bridgey and two years after that, Bradley. Instantly what once felt right or good enough, wasn’t good enough. Decisions took on more weight and relevance and impacted our children and their well being. When I was pregnant most everyone who was pregnant read a book called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” It gave explanation to euphoria, vomiting, pickles and ice cream, swelling, and everything in between during this 9 month metamorphosis. Everyone read it (or rather, referred to it) because our bodies are fundamentally the same and there is a predictability in the pregnancy experience. But there was no one book called, “What to Expect When You’re a Parent.” Instead, there are more books on parenting than there are stars in the sky. No two families are alike, so there are many theories, angles, philosophies, and strategies.

I took this new role seriously, but felt I was stumbling along like a blind person. I touched my way through, anticipating a final destination. I’d find my way out, filled with relief and joy, but then discovered there was another door to go through. Tap here, try this, test that, stumble, scrape, and crash. Then another door, and another, and another.

If I had imagined raising my kids on my own, you couldn’t have dragged me through that door. Yet when I was faced with it, unknowingly, Bridgette and Bradley pulled me through it. These two souls who I longed to foster into the best they could be, regardless of what door, house, or circumstance they faced, created in me courage and determination to transform me into the best I can be.

I’m a blessed mama. I love you two!

 

Side Note: My alter self isn’t opposed to that life in NYC. You never know. I could get that job at Everlane!

This last weekend was exceptional, except for when it wasn’t. Saturday was a day I wouldn’t trade for anything, but most of Sunday I would give back. I’d worked hard on Saturday so I could budget time for reading and writing on Sunday afternoon, but my refrigerator decided to demand my attention instead.

On Saturday, I got to spend the evening with my daughter and her boyfriend having dinner in downtown Portland. Coincidentally it was the famous Starlight parade night. As a Portlander, I should have known that, but I hadn’t paid attention to the schedule. We ate outside on this perfect summer night where there wasn’t a hint of humidity or breeze. Roads were closed and police directed people and traffic. After dinner we walked among the throngs of parade fans sitting roadside, content and patient, waiting for the next segment to reach within their viewing space. This perfect evening finished when I came home to my son and a couple of friends using the fire pit in the backyard. That would seem fairly ordinary to most families, but my son doesn’t live with me. The simple sight of seeing his car in the driveway as I approach my home gives me more pleasure and satisfaction beyond what I can articulate. A “yes!” like I just hit the 8 ball in the designated corner pocket sometimes escapes my lips.

Sunday started out perfect, in that I went to church, knowing that afterward I would be making my son lunch; another “yes!” This was planned, but nevertheless, I don’t take it for granted. As I was frying up some bacon I noticed another large leak of water on the floor near the refrigerator. I’d cleaned one up the previous night as well. I really hate things like this. In fact, one could say I’m a baby about things like this. The night before I put a towel down, and when the water was all absorbed, I put the towel away and hoped that meant there was no longer a leak. I didn’t (wouldn’t) look at the floor early Sunday morning before I left for church. My plans for the day didn’t include a refrigerator leak. I know what a leak on the floor means. It means I am probably not going to get to read and write like I’d so carefully planned for the afternoon and evening. Finding time to read and write is like digging for treasure. Not that I’ve ever dug for treasure, but I imagine you have to carefully map out a plan. Then there’s a lot of digging and tossing out things that are not the treasure. I do that in trying to mine some time for this luxury. I plan and organize with TO DO lists. I tackle them, also addressing the surprises that emerge. Those things that are legitimate, yet threatening my prize: uninterrupted time to read and write. I knew exactly what a leak on the floor meant, and I was as annoyed as heck.

After a measure of denial, and in an effort to not call my very good friend’s husband who has become my reluctant “go to”, I called one of my sweet neighbors and he came over. The bottom line is that both men ended up working on the refrigerator. I hated asking, yet I also hate contacting a random refrigerator repairman, not having a reference of any kind. I’d felt like I had held these two kind men up at gunpoint. I know it’s not easy to say no to someone who needs help. I knew I’d had a treasure planned for my afternoon and I hated knowing that I’d interrupted whatever treasure they might have planned for themselves or their family. I was crossing my fingers that their afternoon plan was something along the lines of preparing an earthquake kit. See; I am a baby. I’m not happy with my attitude either, so that’s another reason for giving Sunday back.

After that small rant, I’d like to share two fun things. One, in my recent book review I completely forgot to include a very favorite book that I recently listened to (the number of books I listen to is an indicator of the amount of yard work that I do). It’s by Anne Lamott called: Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. If I could be a fraction of the writer Anne Lamott is, I might be able to make just enough extra money to supplement my day job income and meet my monthly expenses. The second fun thing I want to share is the month long bike challenge finish.

Small Victories is a collection of personal experiences Anne shares from her own life about friends and family, many of which include misunderstandings and interpretations she’s had along the way, exposing truths about herself and others. She is vulnerable, bold and courageous, revealing flaws and selfish ambitions, relatable to many of us. But we nod our heads in agreement in the privacy of our own home. Anne narrates her failings like she’s giving directions, unflappable and matter of fact, in a most modest posture of normalcy, for all to read. Her faith in God is firm, yet she approaches him in a stance of curiosity and frustration that He often doesn’t do things the way we would like Him to. While we read about her foibles, I’m reminded that humility (outside of love) is the most God like characteristic we can possess. Above all, Anne is funny.

New Bike Commuter

The May Bike More Challenge is complete. And, our school staff did it! “It” being that our cycling staff (which now includes moi) beat one of our local schools that is known for being an athletic power house. Jesuit High School is a private school in our athletic conference. All of us public schools love to beat (and we mostly like to play them) this school. The school where I work is a small option school in our district that doesn’t have athletic teams. So, for our staff to have beat this particular school was a fun twist for me, having attended many a game between Jesuit and the school my kids attended. To read more about how my new biking hobby evolved, click here.

Thank you once again for reading!

 

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