March 23, 2017

#Read2017 – Literary Adventures in January & February

It's always fun to start a new challenge, and this year's #Read2017 challenge is no exception. I learned some things last year--like the need to stay more balanced with fiction and nonfiction--and discovered just how much I enjoy biographies and certain authors (here's looking at you, Tolkien and Wodehouse), and am anticipating a good year of learning and exploring more genres. As usual, I started off the year with a bang, reading 9 books in 2 months (not counting the re-read I did of my favorite Dee Henderson series), most of which fit under specific categories for this year's challenge. One book was chosen as my local library's book club selection, two were sent as review copies, and [...Read More]


You Don’t Need to Learn How to ‘Love Yourself’

Last week was Valentine's Day, and I couldn't believe how many times I saw the phrase love yourself. The world of greeting cards, inspirational books, and social media posts is filled to overflowing with this idea that we must love ourselves better (or more) before we can love others. But I'm pretty sure that's not what my Bible says . . . What did Christ call the two greatest commandments? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice He didn't say to love yourself first so that you can love others or God. He said to love others as you already love yourself. Nobody needs to be told to love themselves! We spend so many [...Read More]


Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age

It seems like the more control we gain over our physical well-being, the more we want to control -- and the more it scares it when we can't! But what if we've been approaching our healthcare all wrong? As frail, mortal humans we place a premium on physical health. We want to be healthy and whole. If we are hurt or injured, we seek a remedy. If we are diseased, we seek a cure. We exercise, diet, and take vitamins to keep our bodies working in prime condition. We even spend money on well-visits just to make sure there's nothing wrong behind the scenes. None of that is wrong . . . until it crowds out everything else. None of that is harmful until it becomes our main focus in life, causing [...Read More]


The Problem with Fig Leaves

In the beginning, God created the world and its inhabitants, and all was spectacularly perfect. And God created two special beings in His own image and placed them in a beautiful garden, filled with trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Along with the trees that provided regular sustenance, there was also a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God gave man a very simple, clear command: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat." One day a shining serpent appeared and began to prey on the woman's inner desire for that one forbidden thing, subtly twisting God's words and [...Read More]


Ten Important Things You Should Do in 2017

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017? Whether you set New Year's resolutions, pick a word for the year, or simply choose a handful of goals to pursue over the next 12 months, the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to step back, reassess your priorities, and set markers to steer you in the direction you want to go. There's a reason we tend to do all that in January. My theory? All the new toys and gadgets we get for Christmas inspire us to carve out time to try new things, push us to re-organize our possessions to find room for everything, and motivate us to improve a skill or expand our understanding in some area. Plus there's the whole "new calendar" vibe that encourages us [...Read More]


Join the Reading Challenge in 2017!

Good books have been some of my best friends, mentors, comforts, and sources of enjoyment throughout my life. But perhaps the greatest thing they have been is my teachers. We can learn so much from any type of book! Fiction can help us better understand other personalities, explore different areas of the world, and learn how to deal with various real-life situations. Nonfiction can teach us about great people and great events, guide us in discovery about the world and ourselves, help us improve in a skill or pursue a hobby, and teach us how to think through various topics or concepts. Reading a variety of genres and topics will not only stretch our minds and mature our thinking, but it [...Read More]


The Unexpectedness of the First Christmas

The virgin birth of Christ in Bethlehem had been prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. But it happened in a way that was completely unexpected. Mary was just an ordinary girl. Joseph, just a simple carpenter. The manger in Bethlehem was surrounded by itchy hay and the sounds and smells of working animals. Not to mention the shepherds, who were the outcasts of society, were the last people who would be invited to worship a king. Think back to that time... It had been four long centuries since anyone had heard God's voice. Four hundred long years of pure unbroken silence. No divine messengers. No prophets. No visions or dreams. Just four hundred long years of [...Read More]


A Year of Literary Adventures – #Read2016

One of my goals for this year was broadening my literary horizons -- aka, reading outside my comfort zone by intentionally choosing titles from a specific list of book categories. My comfort zone is fiction, specifically mysteries and a few choice classic novels. Fiction is great for stretching your imagination, introducing you to new places and experiences, and increasing your empathy and understanding of different types of people. But too much fiction can dull your mind. We need a balance of "fun" reading alongside the nonfiction books which require more focus and thought. Some nonfiction might be harder to get through, especially on days when you're feeling overwhelmed physically or [...Read More]


You Only Live Once

You only live once. It's become a trite catchphrase over the past few years, annoying to some and overused by others, but that doesn't make it any less true. You only live once. You don't get a do-over after you die. You don't reincarnate as another person or being of some other kind. You live once, and then you die, and that's it for life on this earth. You only live once. You only have one short lifetime to make a difference, to say kind words to those who are hurting, to love the unlovely, to share the gospel, to be an example, to help the less fortunate, to make a direct impact with your words and actions. You only live once. After you die, though your soul will [...Read More]


Literary Adventures in September/October – #Read2016

After reading like crazy in July and August (probably making up for all the weeks I didn't read while we moved), my literary adventures slowed down a bit over the past few months! Part of that was just the normal fluctuation of life; part of it was because I was digging through some deeper material . . . specifically the two-volume set on a Mormon's journey to Christianity, which was fascinating and educational but also full of meat and rather long. Along with those two books, I read three others that fit within my #Read2016 categories, and two just-for-fun books in a fictional series. Here's what I explored from September-October (includes affiliate links): Gospel Meditations [...Read More]