Friday, October 13, 2017

219: naps

I have time to post!

There is a fine line between joining in the happiness of semi-newly wed friends and feeling a left out envy. One moment you're oohing and awwing and genuinely interested and the next you're strikingly aware of not being in the same season. And you swallow back the grumpy, green eyed monster and try to think of something else.

Today my plan was to take a looooooong nap. I needed it, I had time, I was going to take advantage of the couch. I was talking with another tired friend today who was about to travel, and I suggested, "Well, maybe you can nap on the plane." And then I realized, wait, she's a mom. Sure enough, her reply was, "With a squiggly little one?" Right.....

So today I am thankful for the freedom as a single to take naps without having to first put my baby to bed or having to fight the guilt of not getting household chores done during those few carefree moments while baby is asleep. Singles can nap when we have time, with no other inhibitive responsibilities. We may not always have that blessing.

This is my single life. And yes, I took a nap.

Do you enjoy the blessings of your season?


P.S. I would gladly trade naps for a baby, but this is the blessimg God has currently given me, and so I recognize it and choose thankfulness today!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

218: unknown

I've been living with the unknown for a long time, and rationally-speaking, I always will.

But there is an element of singleness that is particularly unknown. That what if, and who, and what would life look like then?

Because marrying two lives definitely changes the separate ones.

I am at a friend's house tonight on my way to that event I mentioned. She married a few years ago, but this is my first time seeing their newly built home. She is mistress of her own house. She mentioned how, prior to this, she had always lived in community, roommates, housemates, etc. Her husband on the other hand had lived on his own for many years. Yet here their lives mesh. A new whole. Something not able to be foreseen.

Today I am thankful for the unknown element of singleness. The scary hope that IF "twue love" ever mutually struck, well then, who knows? This single life would, methinks, radically change.

Steady, everyday life--but with a question mark in the background. A question mark amid normal, present-tense living.

This is my single life. And I accept the romance of its inherent unknown.

How do you feel about the unknown?

P.S. I will not be blogging again until Monday or Tuesday. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

217: that my present circumstances are more than enough

Some days, weeks, months are consumed with longing. Longing for something else.

I'm going to an event this weekend where I get to see people I usually only see once a year, if that, and some I haven't met. It is going to be emotionally charged with sleep running low and my emotions probably running the gamut of high to low,  insecure to ridiculously giddy.

So I am very grateful that last night and tonight God is reminding me that the life I have, the life I'll come down to next week, has everything I need. I currently, not wishfully, live with the hope of good things. Like, the good thing of my students and coworkers and upcoming activities and fun lessons. My church triad group starting Tuesday. Faith Bible Institute classes where I am building acquaintanceships. God actively at work, and the promise of His power to answer prayer even for the seemingly impossible.

Ah, Lord God, nothing is too difficult for Thee.

He has set me in a good path.

I may come back with a year-full worth of memories tucked in my heart, but I will come back to an equally, though different, good life.

This is my single life. And today I like it.

Because the Giver is glorified when we actually enjoy His gifts.


What good things has He given in this your life that put a smile on your face?

We had a firefighter couple visit our school today!

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

216: time to jazz

One of the blessings of this my single life is that I have the money to pay the monthly Jazzercise fees and the time to go. 💃🏻 I know this probably will not always be the case, especially if I move, so I am thankful for it now.

This is my single life. And I receive its blessings.

What extracurricular activity do you get to participate in because of this season of your life?

Monday, October 9, 2017

215: mom

I came back from the wedding reception trip exhausted and stressed, a looong list in mind of everything I must accomplish in the next few days before my last excursion of the season. The biggest stresser has been the looming task of packing. I think I mentioned it before, but it is difficult to think of figuring out outfits for weather at least 20 degrees colder than here. I'm in sleeveless mode not winter coat mode!

You know what my mom did? She offered to do all my laundry so I could start figuring out what to pack. While I was at work today, she not only did my normal laundry but also washed the winter clothes we pulled out last night. And when I came home, she had a good dinner prepared too.

This is my single life. I don't deserve it, but I am blessed.

What undeserved blessing did you receive lately?

I love you, Mom! 💕

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

214: time and flexibility

Last night (my friend and I spent the night with the groom's sisters) we stayed up til the wee hours watching Maleficent. Today we went to church, had a fun lunch at Red Robin with the newly weds, saw their apartment where they are in the process of nesting, and then went back to the girls' house and chilled with pillows and leftover wedding reception cake. Chatting. Smart phone browsing. Slouching. Lying down. Just Sunday rest. Us four girls.

I have the flexibility to take the drive and spend the night with my girl friends, stay up late, eat cake, lie around after church. I have that freedom and that superfluity of time and that minimal responsibility that allows for the flexibility to go hang out with girl friends. And then drive back in time for work the next day.

It's a blessing of this season that I'm sure I've mentioned before.

This is my single life. And it is good.

The Giver is glorified when we actually enjoy His gifts.

What R&R have you enjoyed recently that is unique to being single?

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

213: gotta conversate!

Today's remembered blessing is that when you are single for a long time, when you finally realize you have to put yourself out there at least a little bit if you want a chance at something more, then you are forced to actually, intentionally, attempt conversation, especially when you would rather not.

I went with a girl friend to a wedding reception today. I am so happy for the couple! He is in his late 30s and has wanted to be married and, via online dating, he finally found his heart's match. I wouldn't have missed today's reception for anything.

Table 13. That was apparently the singles table. I have a hunch it's because the two single sisters (our friends) that did the seating arrangements wanted to give their single friends a chance to mingle, in case, you know, sparks flew, interest brewed.

And so my girl friend and I found ourselves sitting across from three older men. They tried, we tried. We really did work at having conversation. But when a third woman arrived, gregarious and funny, I more or less abandoned the intentionality and enjoyed conversing with an easy-to-talk-to female.

As a single, I don't have a built-in conversation partner. A built-in social gatherings partner. It is either learn to intentionally ask questions and volunteer info or sit in awkward silence.

God's blessing in my singleness is that I am forced to think outside of myself and engage the men around me. At least for a few minutes at a time.

This is my single life. And this blessing is good.

Has singleness forced you to be more social?

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

*P.S. I really do enjoy talking to guys. Just sometimes it requires intentionality.

Friday, October 6, 2017

212: learning about marriage

I love hearing people's love stories. In fact, on the drive to the conference this week I asked one of the staff members about hers.

Today on the drive back home, one lady asked another how she and her husband met, and that lady asked another lady, and soon it became a chain effect with every lady telling their love story.

. . .

I really do love hearing these things! But I was also really aware that I was the only person in the car who wouldn't be asked. I had to fight a I'm-tired-and-emotional bitterness because I really do enjoy hearing real-life love stories when I not feeling an awkward everyone-but-Michelle. The newest married and I were asked if when we were single (someone clarified the grammar on that for my situation) if people tried to set us up a lot. I truly appreciate the consideration it took for the lady to come up with a question that included me!

Ironically, mere hours earlier I had been listening to Ted Cunningham on Family Life Today via my phone's podcast app. Of course, it was on marriage--really good broadcast, btw! I really enjoyed it.

This week I have been noticing women slyly but pointedly trying to give me hope or anecdotes about how they met the right guy. I appreciate that consideration too.

So. My blessing as a single is being able to study about marriage via podcasts and observing others' examples. I understand knowledge can mean next to nothing when experience takes over, but I'm grateful that during my singleness I can build mindsets and gain a vision of what is attainable in marriage so I can be better prepared.

This is my single life. And I support marriage too.

What have you learned about marriage or relationships while a single that will be great preparation if/when you are a wife?
 
not me, this week
 
I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!


Thursday, October 5, 2017

211: the present

What a day! All afternoon through evening was spent at a teacher conference. In the late, late evening we came back to the beach house and played a rousing game of pit--English/Spanish teacher, K/1 teacher, Science and Middle School Math teacher, 2nd/3rd teacher (me), office manager, records and finances--all together, laughing hysterically.

But first thing in the morning, before breakfast and time on the beach, I woke up on the bottom bunk with my teacher friend up top. Like college dorm life all over again. We read a chapter of the Bible together and had relaxing girl chat in our pjs with a mattress separating us between bottom and top story. It was like having a slumber party!

It's not a blessing particular to single life, because all the ladies here are married. But if I was a mother with littles I probably would not get this opportunity. So...

This is my single life. And I am enjoying the present while it is the present.

What is a moment today that was special?

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

210: blessing of extended singleness

Six hours in a car with six kind coworkers. Stop for brownie brittle and cheese cubes that turned into an early lunch. Early dinner on the bay, big bowful of clam chowder. We took group pics and then started meandering along the harbor. I found myself alone, feeling alone. Trying to embrace the aloneness, the quiet, the moment I have lived over many a time through the years.

Lord, what is the blessing of singleness today? What about today is a blessing particular to my singleness?

When we were driving down here, one of my fellow teachers told us about when her kids were young and they all got chicken pox one after the other. After 20 days stuck at home, she told her husband, the kids are in bed, the house is clean, I have to go grocery shopping. Her husband gladly volunteered to go for her. No, she said, I need to see something other than these four walls.

Such a different season of life, I replied from the back seat.

I watched the scenery pass and thought HOW different from mine. Was this then today's blessing I was going to notice? That I get to be part of the patchwork quilt of God's story--that my prolonged singleness looks different than her getting married at 19 years old? And that I am glad I have a unique place in God's storytelling (as long as I am doing this singleness thing well, which I don't think I've gotten there yet).

But...I wasn't feeling that blessing today. I've been feeling isolation, not gratefulness. I looked out at the ships in the harbor, the water, the gulls, the people walking out of restaurants--and I fought for contentment and meaning and okayness in my aloneness.

I think the blessing God has given me today is actually this extended singleness.

Time. I have needed this length of time for things to only begin to fall off.

You spend years thinking the answer to your problems is for your life to move on. Seriously.

So as the 20s passed, I don't know, I guess God started bringing to my reality that this life-change wasn't happening. And with that thought, He is still stripping away my expectations of what I need.

My wants haven't changed. But God is using my extended singleness to strip away what I've thought I needed and take me back to some basics that I should already have mastered but obviously haven't. Basics like "all I need is Jesus" and "the chief end of man is to glorify God." Who knows what all He is teaching me through this long season? Still teaching.

As I took pics of the boats in the harbor I reminded myself too that it's a temporary season, and I need to take advantage of it--enjoy the quiet and freedom--while I still have it.

So, today, I am grateful for the blessing of extended singleness. Because it is stripping away and giving me the time and circumstances that God is using to get truths through my apparently determined-to-depend-on-marriage-as-the-solution brain.

God has allowed me to still be single at 32 years old. And it is good.

What is the blessing of your looooong singleness?

~*~

I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

209: teacher friendship

School is over, and a teacher friend just walked into my room, fly swatter in hand. "Why is it, " she asked, "that they will fly at your face and mouth and nose, but as soon as you get out a fly swatter, you cannot find one?" And then as we chit-chatted about our upcoming teacher trip, she killed two flies in my room and cleaned up their remains with my Chlorox wipes.

That's a true friend right there. Because I really do not like smashing flies. *bug guts*

(She also has volunteered to vacuum my room when I've been at my wits end. But I bucked up.)

For six years this teacher friend and I have done life together. Almost literally, because we spend every weekday during the school year right next door to each other, our "kids" sharing recess and lunch and special events. We collaborate about teaching--we've heard the same education speakers that we refer back to--and we collaborate about how to do relationships, discussing male/female communication differences and how best to interact with the various men (and male students!) in our lives. Through the years I've heard about her relationship's journey--she finally married her man this last winter. And she has been here through two of my relationship journeys to their respective ends.

When I was gone from school for a year, we stayed friends. When she was gone from school for a year, we stayed friends.

She encourages me in the Lord. She gives me an in-real-life dose of quality time.

(And she plops herself in my special yellow teacher chair and let's me keep working while she just relaxes for a bit at the end of the day.)

Who knew co-workers could be like sisters?

This friendship is part of my single life. And I love it.


a right now pic of my yellow teacher chair and part of our reading area
What friendships make your single season in particular sweeter?
I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!

Monday, October 2, 2017

208: the blessing in stress

I'm stressed.

*here's where I tell all the details of my life that you can skip if "I am stressed" is sufficient info :-P*

I have Faith Bible Institute homework due Wednesday evening that I'm farther behind in than I like to be by Monday eve. I am leaving for a teacher trip also on Wednesday so I need to make sure my students have their home study packets in their backpacks before they leave tomorrow, and then when I get home I need to pack for the 6:45 a.m. departure. When I get back from that trip, I have a full weekend, limiting the amount of time I can lesson plan for the next week, but really I need to lesson plan for 2 weeks because I'll be leaving that Thursday for an extended weekend, which means preparing for a sub for a couple days. And for that trip I'm going to be in the mountains where there is the possibility of snow, so I'm really stressed about figuring what to wear since I'm in the hot weather with sleeveless tops mindset, not the cold weather, will I really need boots and sweaters mindset. I need to get out my winter clothes and decide what will look cute! All that within a very limited amount of time.

And I have a blog post to write and what am I going to write on?

The blessings. The blessings that will come on the other side of these stresses.

I get to go on that trip to the mountains and I am so excited about hanging out with new and old friends!

I get to have a job where littles depend on me for their education, and I have the independence to assign to the sub whatever work I think will best enhance their learning.

I get to go with my fellow teachers on an all-girl trip to a beach house! And we get to go to a teacher conference too, and I always enjoy conferences.

I get to spend 3 hours a week doing satellite Bible college classes and being straight-up fed the Word!

So while I have this limited time with lingering stress (Lord, take this worry and help me accomplish everything!), the blessings are numerous, meaningful, and worth the extra push.

This is my single life. And it is good.

Because the Giver IS glorified when we actually enjoy His gifts.
 
 
I got to go watch Bella's agility class tonight.

What stresses in your life are actually blessings in disguise?
 
I am participating in "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone who knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. Click here to access the links for my 31 days of writing! And if you want to read everyone else's blog posts, go to http://write31days.com/ and click "Linking Up" for the categories!


Sunday, October 1, 2017

207: seriously, how am I going to come up with eye-catching titles every day?

"Well, I do this every day for work."
"It shows."

Experience is so huge. You can't buy it. You can't take it for granted. You can't really boast about it. It's the passing of time in one area. You don't really set out saying, "Man, I want years of experience in this area, so I'm going to do this for x amount of years until I've gained experience." At least I didn't. It kinda just happens to you.

The result? Familiarity. Patterns. Skills, tricks of the trade. Hopefully, confidence.

This morning I taught Sunday school. I was nervous going into it because of the heavy subject matter, and then I found out my "helper" would be one of the children's ministry leaders. No pressure! But as the morning wrapped up, she let me know that the lesson went well* and that my experience showed. (I had also prayed and asked God to take over for me because teaching on the crucifixion is a big deal, and I didn't feel adequate to it. Thank You, Lord!)

I credit any comfortableness in teaching to being single. If God hadn't kept me in this season of life for the last decade plus, I most likely would not be starting my 6th year as an elementary teacher at a Christian school. If I were not single, I probably would not have accumulated five years of teaching other people's kids on a daily basis (b/c the plan was to be a SAHM), and I probably wouldn't have the same level of confidence I now have corralling and teaching children. Even when I'm nervous, I still have experience behind me (and that experience is a gift from Him).

It's a blessing of my single life. And I accept that blessing with both hands.

What experiences/skills/confidence have you accumulated because of God's sovereignty over your life circumstances?

The Giver IS glorified when we actually enjoy His gifts.



the empty lot next to our church
 
So today is the first day of "Write 31 Days," where a bunch of bloggers write...for 31 days. My theme is "This My Single Life," with a focus on the blessings of this season. Hopefully it's obvious to anyone that knows me or has read my blog that I want to be married and have kids. But at 32 years old, I am quite single, and I think it's God-glorifying to highlight the good things God has given me with singleness. So, here's to 31 days of writing!

Here are the links to all my posts this month: the blessing in stress, teacher friendship, the blessing of extended singleness, the present, learning about marriage, gotta conversate, time and flexibility, mom, time to jazz, that my present circumstances are more than enough


Morning Glories

*Lest anyone imagine me in a neat blazer standing in front of a class with a flannel graph, lemme clarify, my "lesson" was a chaotic jumping from one thing to another, sitting down, standing up, all good posture out the window. Building pretzel bridges was involved, and I was wearing a bright orange ankle-length skirt, because bright is better? Anyway, just had to clarify that "crazy group of kids" was my personal take-away from the lesson. :-P They actually were a rather engaged group, just not sedate.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

206: taking right now blessings

I drafted this early this month. Finally posting.

Saturday early afternoon:
Lord, I want a husband.

Lord, I want a husband. But I thank You that today I have complete freedom (sans kids) so that I can go nap for 2 1/2 hours while the house goes to pot. That I can take my time lying here getting everything right with you while laundry is piled on the chair and floor, and shoes are strewing out of the closet. Thank You I can have 4 girl friends over tonight on no time schedule except worrying about getting up for church in the morning.

Lord, thank You for these things, today's gifts!

(Please also bring me a husband.)

Saturday evening:
Why is it when I'm with a group of girl friends that I really wish I had a guy to message? I don't get that.

Saturday/Sunday midnight:
That was a really fun time! I'm exhausted, but that was great!

Sunday morning during church: "Years and years of planning to get you here" --the pastor summarizing God's intentions in Joshua 24:3. Lord, I can see some of what You've done in me through this singleness, through [names an objectively negative thing], through [names another objectively negative circumstance]. You have done Your work with the clay of every undesired circumstance. So I can know these years are not wasted, my life still at home is not wasted--only because of Your sanctifying Spirit.

Sunday evening after a day spent doing fun things with 3 company friends:
That was such a wonderful time! But, it wasn't just a good time. These are the blessings of my singleness. I take hold of these blessings. I would not have had this day if I weren't in this season of life. Lord, I accept the blessings of my singleness with no shadows or regrets or "but it would be better ifs." Because there is no need to put a dark edge to it. It was truly a wonderful visit, and I'm unreservedly glad! I totally accept this holiday weekend as a gift.


A Giver IS glorified when we actually enjoy what we are given....

Sunday, September 24, 2017

205: bit by the autumn love bug

I've been bit.

Bit by the autumn love bug.

I can't blame it all on autumn, but the fact is, Friday was the first day of fall and Saturday morning I could feel it. The wistfulness of fall. The happiness of cool mornings, colorful scarves, pumpkin spice. The hope of . . . something new.

Funny how winter is all about death and darkness, but I always see fall as the coming of all things cozy and romantic.

Like big band music or Michael O'Brien's Something About Us love song album.

Long sweaters.

Apple crisp, apple pie, apple cider, Apple Hill.

My friend sent me a Scripture today. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

Our hope is so much more than circumstance-based.

And sometimes I get so focused on someone I think I want--John Yates of Faith Bible Institute says, "the object of our desires becomes the focus of our hearts."

But what does a focused lens do? What does the sun do when it narrows in on a magnifying glass? It sets fire to the leaf underneath it, or so I'm told. It destroys.

I love autumn. I love romance. I love the hope of something new, something more.

I know well the mesmerizing agony of making an unattainable human the object of my desires.

Is it sin? I cannot say beyond how God convicts me. Not for all people at every time, otherwise how on earth would anyone ever get married? (but not via the inordinate, idolatry kind of desiring!)

But there is a time to step back from the magnifying glass, gaze at the falling leaves around, feel the surge of romance in the chilly air, set your face to the warmth of the light, and say, "You are my God and You alone. With You is the fountain of life. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

And go forth and enjoy the season.

And maybe, if you feel the freedom to do so, breathe in the hope of the unknown too.

Friday, September 22, 2017

204: confessing trust mid stress

This week--4th week of school--was a hard week for me. I'm not sure why.

This morning I had a parent in my class all morning, observing me so she can be my sub when I go to a Homeschool Alumni retreat in a couple weeks. I was already going into the day drained and fractured. And missing a copy of a test we NEEDED to take today. I didn't have a moment to unwind until after a hurried lunch when my mom arrived and we actually had time to gather our wits before the elementary "Fall Rotations." Fall Rotations went great! with each teacher taking about 10 kids in each classroom doing a fall-related lesson/activity for 30 min before passing them on and getting the next 10. It was an island of blissful fun amid stress. Short-lived however, because once I had my own kids again after a teacher-watched recess, I realized we did not have time *stress level building* to finish the tests (which HAD to be done!) or finish the book that I practically promised the kids we would finish today--it was supposed to be prep for next week's mega field trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium. My perfectly planned package of culminating the 4th week with ending a couple chapters and having everything complete for the field trip disintegrated before my eyes as I railed at the kids to hurry, and we literally do no have time, you have to finish this, etc. etc. until I finally had them pack up and then come to the reading area. Two students' tests lay incomplete. We didn't have time to read more than a page or two of the marine biologist book. Another assignment that had to be finished today would prove to have ridiculous spelling errors even though the proofread copy was right in front of the student to copy. But I had to apologize to my students. It wasn't their fault that I hadn't planned our time well. It was mine, and because I was seeing the day fall apart, I was taking it out on them and I was sorry. And, here's where the rubber had to meet the road. I confessed I had to trust that God would take care of the details. These tests that they now wouldn't finish til Wednesday, I would have to trust God with them. We'd have to finish this book next week (meaning the one girl that really was looking forward to it today will miss the last three chapters)--and I had to trust God with that. The rushed assignment that I couldn't proofread with my student before I send it off to our Kansas penpals--I have to give that mess over to God.

We're always talking in Bible about what our God can do.

Well, the one and only thing that could give me peace at the end of a maddening day as I faced my students knowing all the loose ends would stay frizzled was confessing trust in Him who can do all things, He who is able to take care of what is falling apart.

Note to self: My circumstance may not change. But He is creative enough to provide a way, to give a solution for the now.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Review: An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

It is so sad that the Hawthorne House series is over! I love this aristocratic family--Griffith, Miranda, Trent, Georgina...and Amelia. Times like these make me grateful a friend got me into reviewing books. I would never have discovered Kristi Ann Hunter's books otherwise. Here's the link to my review of her book about Trent, which I really had a hard time reviewing because I enjoyed it so much but I knew it had some mature elements. Actually, that's a lot like Roseanne M. White's Jewel of Persia that I just finished before starting the book below (Roseanne M. White is another author I was introduced to through Bethany House's review program).

An Inconvenient Beauty is the last installment of the Hawthorne House series, a delightful collection of regency romances revolving around the family of a duke. What a treat to get to know each character, and at last, here is Griffith's story, the imperturbable, authority-oozing, silent giant that we heard about in passing in all the other stories.

Now that all of those under his care have married, Griffith finally agrees it is time for him to do so as well. Although he will not break the family tradition of marrying for love, he doesn't see why he cannot go about this business of choosing a wife logically and without all the messiness his loved ones endured. Unfortunately, his choice seems to keep fainting or disappearing when he's around, leaving her beautiful cousin who is in town for her debut season a recurrent distraction from his goal. What happens when God seems to shut his plan down, and when messy emotions start confusing all his carefully planned logic?

Kristi Ann Hunter's romances are distinctly Christian romances, meaning the characters are usually forced to seek God's guidance. Her characters read God's word, pray (and listen!), and search for wisdom from trusted counselors. Her characters learn and grow.

Yesterday I had a sore throat, felt weak, and feared having to go into work tomorrow sick. Lying around most of the day (and night) entranced in the storyline of An Inconvenient Beauty was a definite treat in between the 3rd and 4th week of the school year. The only bummer is that today I finished it and now have to find another story to get lost in.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I honestly thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Friday, September 1, 2017

203: Lisa Anderson and at the end of life

I'm listening through Boundless' 500th episode today, and I listened to Lisa Anderson on a Focus on the Family broadcast the other day (the one with Gary Chapman talking about the 5 love languages and caring for ailing parents). Oh man, when Lisa Anderson cries...yeah, I cry too.

She was talking (on the Focus on the Family episode) about her fears that when she is older, she will have no one to take care of her. *raised hand, me too!* But she knows a lady who all through her life took family members in when they would have bad health and care for them, and now she is old and has health problems. A young family in the church has built on an additional room to their house and has taken her in to care for her. *goose bumps, tears*

This is our God. This is our God living through the lives of His people.

I do not know what will happen to me in the future. I AM concerned. I DO have a certain level of responsibility to plan for the future. I do believe in the parable in the gospels about building relationships now for when you have nothing.

But besides fear and besides responsibility, I have faith in the God who does take care of His own.

And now I have to go get some stuff done so I can hang out with my family's 60+ year old always-single friend who wants to do dinner tonight. :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

202: when I'm tempted to spiral into singleness blues

I returned back to a Bible college program tonight after 6 years away. Same location. Not much has changed (even one of the same guys is attending!). I'm not there to single mingle, but I do notice a cute guy when I enter. I avoid his eye, not paying direct attention yet without further info. Apparently my hesitance was accurate--he's there with his wife. I notice another guy come in late but in time to introduce himself to the class. He's 20 years old (12 years younger than me). People my age  mention their kids. I'm sitting next to girls right out of highschool. Isn't that how it sometimes is?

Although I am generally happy with My Single Life, the reason why I am happy is because I have fought hard by God's grace to get there. The desires for companionship and physical intimacy and a family of my own have not gone away. I am constantly meeting opportunities to spiral. So by God's grace and the last fruit of the Spirit, I fight off right-now temptation this way:

1) I emotionally entrust myself to God's sovereignty (I can work out with Him later if there are more proactive steps I should be taking. But now is not the time.)

2) I remind myself by faith of the supremacy of God's goodness over every and any circumstance.

This is why singleness is not separate from God's hand over your life. We gain, via experience, tools for ALL seasons of life.

This is the history of our "religion." Our belief system has a history of faithful trust-ers in God. Like George Mueller and Corrie Ten Boom. We too are part of that.

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph. 2:19).

Saturday, August 12, 2017

201: the question of how to not lower standards but still be like a peasant

Today I re-read this article (hidden link) which I printed and pasted in my journal several months ago. It is such a good article, you should read it for yourself, but basically it is saying that we often go about looking for a mate like royalty and aristocrats did back in the day.

Here is my list of what I want. Do you fulfill my criteria? I am worthy of more than what you can offer.

Instead, the author and her citations argue, we should search for love like a peasant. A probably inaccurate summary of that position (which I am not very familiar with because I'm definitely more aristocratic) might be,

I want to share my life with someone, and you do too. Let's share life together.

My arranged marriage side is full-on peasant. Gimme a God-fearing guy and we will make it work and fall in love while doing so! <3 <3

My reality side is full-on aristocrat. *pulls out royal checklist* Similar theology? Wants to homeschool? Don't find him repulsive? Similar preferences? Enjoy being around him? Doesn't say something that totally shocks me and makes me want to run the other direction?

My arranged marriage side cries, "But there is no one! No one is interested!"

My reality side gerhumphs, "Yeah, they're interested. You're just not interested back in those that are interested."

I look at all the divisions we have as believers. I mean, not only does my future guy have to be actually saved and following the Lord truly (basic, basic bottom line there), but he also needs to not be Calvinist, not be Arminian, and he must agree on a myriad of other things that aren't doctrinal as much as having the right perspective.

And then there's personality. Because if we marry, we're going to have to live together. And there there's that intangible chemistry that makes you think being married would be better than being single (or, perhaps, being single is better than this relationship). And the time period of dating in which we wait with bated breath for the (seemingly inevitable) red flag (or accumulation of yellow flags) to wave and end it all.

I'm not cynical at all.

If two people can survive all that and end up married, then statistically, it seems a result of a divine miracle.

Praise the Lord such miracles do happen (and the couples stay together).

Or maybe those couples were just less picky.

What would I give up, relinquish, compromise on to be a peasant? I do not know. Because ideally, I do want someone that sees the world the same as me. I don't want to have to defend myself to my spouse. I don't want to fight rolling my eyes. (pride much?) I want to enjoy being with him as a person, both alone and in groups. I want to be completely attracted to him.

I want it all. I do.

I don't even know what it means to not have it all and still have a somewhat-compatible relationship. At one point do differences divide rather than naturally occur? I don't know. I don't.


How do we not lower our standards, but begin to adopt a peasant mindset that allows marriage to be more like God seems to have intended it--a complimentary meeting of needs via cherish and respect--and less like the 2D, flat characterization of two humans having everything they ever wanted satisfied in the other without any annoying aspects portrayed? I do not know.

I'll need to go pray about that...

Any wisdom out there from people who are doing it?


Sweet potato characterizations

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Book Review: A Name Unknown

Pretty book covers and seeing an author's name over and over actually is effective marketing it turns out.

When I had a chance to read a novel by Roseanne M. White, I knew I wanted to finally try this author that kept popping up on Facebook. So I got a Kindle copy of A Name Unknown.

Wow, oh, wow!

Characters you fall in love with (and learn from!), an interesting plot, romance, complications--it was all there. A female street thief from London gets hired to prove a certain wealthy man is a traitor to England. She infiltrates his estate posing as a librarian and begins discovering the true character of this man and, perhaps, questioning her own. But what will her Artful-Dodger-type family and powerful and mysterious boss think if she doesn't deliver? She must deliver.

Unlike most novels I review, the romance in this one comes much later in the storyline. So while it is not strictly a romance, it is still satisfying. The gospel plays an important, and necessary, and exciting, role in character development. My only complaint is the characters begin to pursue a modicum of romantic interest before both are saved. I can't stand it when stories do that! (Like the Christy TV series and Hallmark's Signed, Sealed, and Delivered movies) But because the romance happens at the end, the spark and the conversion happen almost concurrently.

Since sadly finishing this book, I've read a really good arranged-marriage novella and a sweet juvenile fiction story (that I plan to read to my class), but I still feel like A Name Unknown was a story I was able to cozy into like an oversized leather chair and enter into a world worth entering into. It's a good feeling.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And apparently, this is the first in a series! I also heard from a friend that the author's other series is really good too.

Monday, July 24, 2017

200: adquiere sabiduria

Quick thought: God highly values wisdom.

Oddly enough, it took reading Proverbs 4 in Spanish to get this through my head.

"Sabiduria ante todo; adquiere sabiduria;
Y sobre todas tus posesiones adquiere inteligencia." -Proverbs 4:7

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." KJV

Or, my translation of the Spanish: "Wisdom before everything; acquire wisdom; and over and above all your possessions, acquire intelligence." (kind of a shocker)

Then in Proverbs 8, Lady Wisdom of course has her great soliloquy:

"The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before his works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning,
before there was ever an earth." (vv 22-23, NKJV)

Wisdom is such an intangible quality, I think. And this is a quick thought blog post, not a study, because I haven't recently done a study on wisdom, though I'm sure I did in my homeschooling days with my mom, because, well, wisdom was a big thing back when we were reading a Proverb every day and reading books like Wisdom with the Millers and Pearables.

Sometimes wisdom can seem like a suggestion. I mean, it's not as if it's a command of "do this." Well, okay, maybe it does say to "get wisdom," but that can feel more like a wise saying.

What I'm saying is sometimes having wisdom can feel very much like a general exhortation with little specifics tacked onto it.

So when Ephesians 5:4 says that there should be no foolish talk, I'm left thinking, Really? Is this truly a command? What does foolish talk consist of? Because I'm not sure I regularly check that part of my speech. (I mean, it also says no crude joking, but I come from a loud and proud heritage of, well, *coughs*, flatulence jokes. So is that ok?)

Ok, I've got to wrap this up. My thought is that foolishness is the opposite of wisdom. And God seems to highly value wisdom. And if God highly values wisdom, then so should I.

So if something is "foolish" or "ill-advised," I need to stop seeing that as a not-so-great-choice-but-not-necessarily-sin, and start discerning if it is the opposite of wisdom. If so, it is the opposite of what God values. And if I'm a member of the Kingdom of God, it is not only ill-advised, it is not the kingdom way. Walking wisely is how God's people walk.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16, ESV)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

Sometimes you're in the mood for fiction; sometimes you're in the mood for non-fiction. And sometimes a book outside of your mood draws you in and takes you captive for several dozen pages while on a plane heading for Chicago.

Thus was my experience with Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth by Rebecca VanDoodewaard.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this book from Cross Focused Reviews. I hoped to be edified. I was. I also was pleasantly surprised at the author's scholarship. Most pages cite sources in the footnotes, and the style is straightforward. I was afraid I'd have to wade through conjecture and fluff. But while always interesting and cohesive, the mini-biographies of the ladies in this book seemed to stick to simple fact. In an enjoyable way.

Reformation Women is actually based on a book by James Isaac Good published in 1901. The content of that book has been "revised, expanded, and corrected to make the stories of these remarkable women accessible for today's church" (from the Preface, p. xiv). Each chapter is a mini-biography of a woman who lived during the time of the Reformation, focusing on her life and how she fought for the cause of Protestant theology. I really enjoyed reading about these sisters in the faith. It's been awhile since I studied that era, so I often could not keep up with the background history of what was going on. This book would be a great companion to a world history unit! But even in its own right, it really is so edifying.

Each woman is different--they don't have the same personalities or the same life experiences. Rebecca VanDoodewaard does an excellent job of prefacing the book by noting some characteristics you'll observe in each of these women, like their devotion to supporting their husbands' work if they were married to believers (though these women often carried on the work apart from their husbands). At the end, she does an equally amazing job concluding what we can learn from the biographies. And she was spot on in drawing out some of the things I noticed in their lives as well.

What was perhaps most impactful was how these women did not let circumstances get in the way of always encouraging the church and pushing forward. One woman lost her father and husband in the same massacre, a year after she was married. One woman had her children taken away and raised by Roman Catholics. Younger women often remarried and helped raise their new husband's children. This remarriage quote I thought was noteworthy: "He was content to have her without a dowry. She was happy to have a husband whose abilities and goals she could respect" (p. 73). Such a different world almost, or maybe it just seems so. Where life is more matter of fact. Where you are chased from one city to another, one country to another, corresponding with famous people and taking stands for Protestantism smack dab in the middle of violent Roman Catholic opposition. Where you carry on.

Rebecca VanDoodewaard writes in the conclusion, "Often, if our self-appointed identity evaporates, our feelings of security and usefulness shrivel. When we think about how the women in this book had the versatility to be fruitful in many different situations, it is clear why they did not associate with one identity other than a spiritual one. They were Christians" (p 110).

Married. Single. Living at home. Living on your own. Those are lesser identities. But the one constant thread is glorifying Christ. N'est-ce pas?

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars easily.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

199: being taken beyond it all

Sitting out on the porch at 9:30 p.m., "enjoying" the 80 degree weather so my dog can have some front yard time.

"Lord God, do something," I pray over a situation.

I am.

He very well may be working without me even seeing a glimmer. In my mind's eye it is like the Spirit moving over the surface of the waters. Always above all this gunk that weighs me down. Moving, accomplishing unseen purposes, preparing miracles, doing miracles that I am not privvy to. Basically, being trustworthy as I scramble to find solutions. He may be grieving at things, same as me, but He is not  threatened by lack of control like me.

Accomplish Your unseen purposes, oh Lord!

I have been focused on solutions. Fixes. Turn this ship around.

Or, when I acknowledge my inability, let go of the lines and let the waves toss, trying not to look.

It's all exhausting. And, as I tell the Lord, I can't. I cannot.

There is one more step I have forgotten. Beyond giving the earthly drama over to Him.

Sit and be filled.

I'm doing this teacher's Bible study with QR codes to songs. I'm loving Moriah Peters' I Choose Jesus, Selah's I Got Saved, and Laura Story's Grace.

I can feel the drip-drop of spiritual rain filling my very dry soul.

I want fixes, solutions, and changes now, on earth as it is in heaven, please, Lord, amen, thank you, moving on.

But He reminds me there is such a thing as mounting up on eagle's wings away from it all. To see Him high and lifted up in heaven and be filled with awe and worship. That's what my soul needs.

I'm back in the air conditioning now. I think I'll try for more filling time.

Friday, July 7, 2017

198: still finding my identity as a single apparently

One friend has three kids under the age of 3 and the youngest has an apparently life-long disease. She's in the hospital with him right now.

One friend is juggling sleeplessness as her baby just turned 1 and she and her husband have welcomed in a foster baby for the next month.

I have none of their trials and none of their joys, but I have my own. I'm tempted to think my life is less worthy to be spoken of because the only sleeplessness I suffer is when I stay up til 2am and then have to walk the dogs before the sun gets hot here in the California valley. What are my own frustrations and worries to theirs?

Can you tell one of my weaknesses is constant comparison?

I listened to a Moody Church sermon on singleness the other week that was so good! So, gathering from that, which you should totally listen to, the truth about me--about us--is...

...I can display  the sufficiency of Christ. That if He witholds the marital relationship and all that entails, He is enough. He is enough, and has been, and will be. Shake off the chaff. He is enough.

Not that I am enough. Not that I don't need a man or am self-sufficient. That sounds so inaccurate right now anyway. But I can show the Lord's sufficiency in human lives.

...I can focus on spiritual things. As I was reminded once when I was in a relationship, the single life really does differ from the married life in that you are not thinking 24/7 about your husband and kids and how your lives intertwine. My season is different. I am not consumed with child watching-feeding-putting back to bed. I frankly have more time in my life. It's a different season to embrace and learn how to use well, not to wield as a numchuck of comparison.

But to be honest, I'm starting to think that spiritually, marrieds and singles are not all that different. Our vertical relationship and our kingdom citizenship really has no correlation with horizontal circumstances. It sometimes feels like a chasm of difference, but we all deal with temptation and sanctification and the need to believe our God no matter our marital status, age, historical era, or ethnic culture.

I am a single. I fully accept it. I am a believer. That is my true identity.

"you are . . . fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19)
7 Junes ago in Oregon
This June in Chicago

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: High as the Heavens

It's summer! It's summer!

Granted, I've just spent the last few hours working on school stuff. I don't know if it's the late hour or sitting in front of my computer that has me not making any jerking motions with my head because of the pain on the right side. But, summer means long days of free time. Summer means a trip to Chicago a couple weeks ago (SO. VERY. ENJOYABLE). Summer means an abnormal amount of time playing games (Marrying Mr. Darcy, Ticket to Ride, baseball card game, Canasta, Iota). Summer means time with my great-nephew and my new great-niece! Summer means multiple trips to the dog park. Summer means sleeping in and staying up late. And summer means lying on my bed absorbed in a book!

beautiful cover, no?
I chose High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin from my Bethany House Publishers optional, complimentary, books-to-review list because...nope, not because it has a marriage of convenience plot. Ha! Thought you had me pegged, did ya? Nah, I chose it because I had read one of her books before and had been intrigued. Only...the book I remembered reading before ended up not being by Kate Breslin; I had read a different book by her. Ah well. :P

High as the Heavens is set during WW1--a historical time definitely not as popular to write about as WW2. (Ironically, the next novel I'm going to review is also set during WW1--what a coinkidink!) The plot happens mostly in Belgium and tells the story of a woman who works for the Belgian resistance group "La Dame Blanche." Like Wings of the Wind (which I reviewed last), High as the Heavens has a strong romance. And yet, that's almost misleading. The story is compelling because of the personal drama (with and without romance), but it also has all the intrigue, suspense, and deceit you would expect in a story set during a world war. It is character driven with a strong plot. I hesitate to say more because I don't want to give away anything! If you enjoy character-driven war movies, you'll definitely enjoy this book. I was completely engrossed and entertained.

FYI, I don't feel like I learned tons about WW1 through this novel--maybe I did and didn't realize it? Also, although it is a Christian novel, it did not have as strong of a Biblical message as some of the other novels I read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I'm not disappointed in the least!

Here are some pix from my Chicago trip for my non-FB friend (Hi! Sorry I haven't written in ages. :/):


This place reminded me of Lyme in Persuasion!!
Marrying Mr. Darcy--so fun! :D

The Bean! Actually, it's called Cloud Gate.

yes, it was as good as it looks


Lake Michigan--my first time at one of the Great Lakes

I tried not to think about it.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

197: 57 year old virgin--what if?

I was listening to the audiobook version of Kingdom Woman (by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst). I'm only in the introduction so far, but it was talking about how we assume a kingdom woman is someone over there who has it altogether. Someone who has been married for 57 years, or someone who is 57 years old and "has walked in remarkable purity."

I know the author wasn't talking about marriage or singleness or even what our ideal should be. But it got me thinking.

Would God be glorified if I got to be 57 years old and was still a virgin?

See, I look at our divorce culture and God's design of marriage and I think, "If I could be married and do marriage well, I could be a light to show that what God designed is good!" With all the conflict inherent in our relationships, a marriage that stands the test of time seems to me to be a testimony to the goodness of God's design! Amen?

What I haven't considered recently til I heard the line from the book is that, just as I look at a long lasting happy marriage as glorifying God, maybe, too, a long lasting purity glorifies Him equally.

Not only do we live in a divorce culture where you go to a wedding and wonder if it will last in the face of 50/50 statistics, we also live during a time when fornication is culturally accepted. As a 31 year old wanting to be married, I know the likelihood of finding a guy who has not slept with a girl at some point in his life is ridiculously slim. And I'm not downplaying God's redemptive power. The Lord is glorified when we cast our trust for redemption from our sinful selves on Him. He is glorified  when He gives new life. Purity cannot be worn as a badge of boasting, just like a happy marriage cannot be taken for granted.

But. For those who are progressing through the decades in singleness, in virginity, as living within a culture of immorality and yet not part of it, don'tcha know that God's righteousness is lifted up through your life? You may not be a testimony of God's design of marriage, but you are a testimony of God's character, to His own purity.

There is purpose. How I live out my relationship status can glorify God. And that encourages me.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Book Review: Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Isn't the cover breathtaking?
My mom read the first Out From Egypt book by Connilyn Cossette awhile ago. She loved it! When I got the list of possible books to review from Bethany House Publishers, there were a couple authors I've enjoyed before--which to choose?? Well, Wings of the Wind (the third book in the Out From Egypt series) was not only by an author my mom had enjoyed (I made sure to request a hard copy so she could read it after me), but it also had an arranged marriage plot...so of course I chose it. :-P

Wings of the Wind takes place during the end of Moses' leadership and the very beginning of Joshua's. It is a romance, but more than a romance. It is about a Canaanite woman and a Hebrew man who marry solely for the sake of her own safety. The plot, especially for the first couple dozen chapters before the plot twist, are about their budding relationship. But that's not what I take away from this book. What I loved about Wings of the Wind was how the author contrasts Canaanite culture and Yahweh's way. I think often we read the first five books of the Bible and scratch our heads and go okaaaay.... That's a weird law. That law doesn't seem severe enough. We read God's laws from a 21st century, Judeo-Christian/post-Christian perspective and, to be honest, they don't seem to fit into our thinking. Connilyn Cossette plants those laws back into 1400 B.C. culture where Biblical morality wasn't the norm and, granted it's a novel, suddenly His laws appear how they are--wonderful and beautiful and designed to create a holy people. She also describes (not in excessive detail, but in detail) the cruelty and immorality of the Canaanites, and you understand why God told His people to destroy that culture of evil (and the cultural anthropologists gasp). The author also puts her own spin on what the pillar of cloud looked like and makes a beautiful contrast between the living Yahweh and the "having ears, they do not hear" baalim.

I left this novel--and yes, it's a historical fiction romance--worshipping God more.

5 out of 5 stars!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Book Review: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Behind the Scenes is I think the sixth Jen Turano book I've read. Her historical romances are always humorous and somewhat outlandish, her female heroines unique and strong-minded, and her plots much more like a comedy of errors than a staid historical novel. It's her trademark.

On Amazon, it seems you can always get a Jen Turano prequel for free--and then you're hooked! I think the novella At Your Request, introducing the reader to the world of wallflowers during the 1880s, was my first Jen Turano book. Behind the Scenes, the official Book #1 in the series, was not yet published, so I put its release date on my calendar and went in search of other Turano books. I read through the Ladies of Distinction series, one right after the other. Bad choice. Even though I really enjoyed the first couple books, by the time I reached the 4th and last of the series, I was completely burnt out on Turano's style. And I kinda still am.

So although this author's books are always guaranteed for a good laugh set in either the Regency Era or, like Behind the Scenes, in the Gilded Age, let me forewarn you about the aggravations of these novels, and you can decide if those would inhibit your own enjoyment.

Besides outlandish situations and quirky characters, another trademark of her flowery language. It reminds me of how I used to talk on instant messenger when it was late at night and I wanted to pretend to be British and talk witty and at length. At long length. It's fun to read, but there is no economy of words. None. Whatsoever. And some of the same phrases are used over and over.

Then when the male characters sound and think EXACTLY THE SAME as the female characters, and the side characters are the same, and characters between books in the same series all sound the same--it becomes painful. Very painful to this reader.

I can't help but wonder why the editor didn't notice the lack of characterization? If I were her editor (which I'm not qualified to be), my red pen and I would have a heyday with Asher Rutherford's parts in Behind the Scenes. He should not sound like a carbon copy of Permilia. He should not talk and think like a girl. His lines should be more succinct, his mental density more natural, his thoughts less ridiculously intuitive.

Confession. When the author started focusing on Asher Rutherford's mental processes, I read a whole other book (Lassoed by Marriage--soooo good!) before returning to finish this one.

It's not that I don't enjoy Turano's writing. I do. It's just sometimes very painful to read because of the lack of ruthless editing. But even though it's painful doesn't mean I won't read another of her books. Because, despite being historical fiction, Turano's novels are in a category of their own.

Try one of the free novellas on Amazon and know that every other book she writes is exactly the same, for better and for worse.

(Side note: If you want to read really well-written historical fiction--but less crazy--from the same general time period, try Kristi Ann Hunter. Yummmm.)

P.S. Amazingly enough, I didn't have to buy this on the release date after all! I got a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for writing an honest review. Sweet deal!

Monday, May 8, 2017

196: placebo, cure-all, inner muse in male form

So, I'm reading Deuteronomy 33 right now. I'm very tired. Like, physically I've been sick for over a week so my eyes kinda hurt and my throat and stomach. ANYWAY, I'm reading a little of Deuteronomy in an effort to feed my soul--which is also empty of strength--and some things I'm coming across are cool, like

"From His right hand
Came a fiery law for them.
Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
Everyone receives Your words."

Isn't that a cool mental picture? "Fiery" law is just cool (Mt. Sinai, clouds, thunder, fire--what a spectacle that had been 40 yrs prior). And the direct statement of His love! And then us being in His hand (cf John 10). And all us like sheep sitting down and receiving His words.

And then I keep reading. "He was King in Jeshurun." Now, I feel like I should know what this means but tonight I'm like what is Jeshurun??? So I follow my unhelpful cross-reference over to 32:15 which says (and I remember reading this the other day), "Jeshurun grew fat." Well THAT didn't help. And I figure I could look up the Strong's definition on my phone but right now I'm just whinily, humorously frustrated that I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS! (the Jeshurun part, not the fat part) (oh. Is Jeshurun a synonym for Israel? But why?? I don't remember 😩).

And somewhere around my whining and discovery of cool words like "fiery" it comes to me AGAIN that I, like, really wish I had a guy to text right now about it and someone to swap deep thoughts with.

(And no, if you're a guy I have tried to wrestle deep conversations out of that doesn't necessarily mean I'm on the hunt. A single does not have to be deprived of co-ed good conversations until (s)he is married. Or rather, I'd hope not!)

The thought (of wanting a guy to talk with about stuff like this) occurs to me semi-regularly.

Of course, do I really want to sit there and listen to someone else go on a tangent that has nothing to do with obese Jeshurun?

That's not really what I had in mind.

What I have in mind is more like a cure-all for these moments of wistfulness.

Realistic expectation? No.

But it was a nice thought.

(I wouldn't mind hearing his thoughts too, my head is just hurting right now so I'm leaving out commas I should add now that I'm proofreading, and not being clear about what I mean. Of course a real person is better than a placebo! And basically, singles sometimes think in terms of Disney 2D static characters without realizing it. At least I have a tendency to :( ).

Instead I have the internet (you) and the God whom I should care more about being in communion with than a fella.

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you" (Deut. 33:26)

(I really need to look that up!)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

195: most recent thoughts on believing in the beauty of God's unknown plan

I have completely lost my voice, it's getting close to a time when I should be getting ready for bed, my throat feels scratchy, but I want to write what I've been thinking. Might not be as coherent or well-examined (or succinct!) as if I had more time. Disclaimer there.

Do I believe in the beauty of God's design? Do I believe in the beauty of His redemption?

I'm reading Laura Story's When God Doesn't Fix It. For those who don't know, Laura Story is a Christian songwriter. Shortly after she and her husband Martin married, he suffered from brain trauma and now has short term memory loss (reminiscent of the movie Remember Sunday but not that bad). Her dream had always been to be a stay at home mom, like her mom before her. But instead she had to deal with seeing that dream die as she became the breadwinner for the family. And she and her husband have had to walk through his medical issues and figuring out how to do life differently than they had ever imagined. She writes:

"When Martin and I said, 'I do,' we set out on a boulevard of marital bliss. Then came a bumpy detour called 'Brain Tumor.' We took the detour and followed its winding ways. but I kept thinking the detour would take us back to the main road. It took me several years to realize that it wasn't a detour; it was the road. It was taking us farther away from anything familiar and would never lead us back to the boulevard of dreams where we started. . . .
 
I had to reconsider other dreams. Our parents had always been our role models--both our dads worked outside the home while our moms took care of their homes and children. That was our dream too. I'd always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Now my only option was to a be a working mom. I didn't know what that would look like, or even if I could do it." (ch. 9)

"It's easy to sign up for a short-term mission project or donate money . . . . But would you be willing to sign up for the brokenness in your life, if you knew your brokenness would bring glory to God and enable you to learn to trust him in everything?" (ch. 10)

"When Martin and I walked through his medical trials, we saw a lot of things die. Our vision for our future. Our dreams for each other. Our idea of a perfect family. Sometimes they died all at once; other times, our dreams slowly withered away. When they did, I thought they were gone forever. But occasionally God allows a dream to die so that we can see his power greatly displayed." (ch. 16)

(I did NOT summarize the book, just picked the relevant parts, so get the book for yourself! Here's a vid of Laura Story singing her song "Blessings.")



My mom and I went to Sight & Sound's movie production of "Jonah" last night. They characterized Jonah as a man who had been waiting for 17 years for God to give him another prophecy. When he heard God say He was going to destroy Ninevah, Jonah was ecstatic. Then he realized, wait, why would God tell him to warn them unless . . . . And at that point Jonah began fighting God. He wished God had never spoke to him. He told God He was asking too much of him. He ran away. He decided he couldn't do what God asked and decided to disobey and separate himself from God. He even was willing to be thrown into the sea and die instead of having to do what God wanted him to do. Of course, God kept him alive. God got him to the point of reluctant obedience.

When I think of redemption, I think of a mosaic sun catcher of colored broken glass. Like something made "perfectly" has been broken and recreated. Usually I think of the breaking being a result of sin, and so God redeems the ugly to make something beautiful.

What if God does, or allows, the breaking? What if He breaks what I think is perfect? How much do I believe that whatever beauty He is going to create from the brokenness is better than what I thought was perfect?

We all have what we think is perfect. And we all experience brokenness. It is common to man.

Ok, not sure where I was going with that.

Not sure where the thread of Laura Story and Jonah and the mosaic weave together....

God. Do I trust God when He breaks my plans and presents me with the unknown. Do I look at the unknown and then look back to Egypt and say, but THAT would have been better, Lord? Or do I look at the unknown and say, You are good, You create amazing beauty, and I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Or is it (more likely) two steps forward in faith and one step back in wishful thinking?

How much do I trust that, in His power, He will make something more beautiful (by His definition) than I would have, and how much am I willing to let Him?