no excuses

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I have finally done it.

I’ve somehow managed to read book after book for the last year or so. Normally, while I’m in school, reading for enjoyment is pushed to the very far back burner that barely even exists. I can never bring myself to focus on a book when all I do each day is read a bunch of information from a textbook that I can’t seem to care less about.

However, I’ve somehow been able to keep myself going with the momentum that comes from finishing one book and picking up another. It doesn’t help that Amazon just keeps sending me all these new books… They really need to get that looked at…

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what’s on my book list these days, so I thought I’d make a big ol’ master list so I can also keep track of what books I’ve read. If I’ve read the book, I’ll add it to my “already read” list with a little description and what I thought about it in general. Then on the “next up” list I’m going to keep adding what books Amazon will most likely send me next. (Amazon is an enabler – and I don’t hate it.) I’d also love any and all suggestions that you may have for my “next up” list. I’m always looking for books that other people have read and love. Let’s see if I can keep this momentum going – I may need a few more book shelves.

COMPLETED

  • The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen // This book got me hooked on Henri Nouwen’s writing. My dear friend Riley suggested it when I originally wanted to get back into reading regularly, and it did not disappoint. It speaks to one’s ability to minister to and be in community with those around them through mutual hurt and struggle. One must recognize the heart in their own heart before they can speak into the lives of others, but at the same time, it’s a common foundation which to build a relationship upon. Again, highly recommend this one – it’s full of beautiful truths and hard challenges.
  • Garden City by John Mark Comer // I heard so many good things about this book before I ever picked it up. It was definitely an interesting read that made me actively think and process throughout the whole thing. It poses interesting and uncommon perspectives surrounding work and rest. It’s definitely something I would recommend to anyone.
  • Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl // Guys, I literally read this book in 10 hours. I COULD NOT put it down. I sat on the porch ALL day and just flipped from page to page. Now, as I say that, let me also preface this with saying it’s a very heavy read. It’s not necessarily a hard read, but it’s full of some of the most difficult trials anyone could ever experience. I’d honestly like to read it again to pick out more nuggets that I missed the first time around. Let’s just say that half of the book is covered with yellow highlighter. It speaks so eloquently to the strength, perseverance, and meaning that can be achieved only through struggles and trials.
  • Unreasonable Hope by Chad Veech // I had high expectations when I started to read this book about Chad and his wife’s struggles with their girl, Georgia, who developed a disorder that has affected every aspect of her life and theirs. I love books that are based on life stories and the lessons that are learned through the trials. While it was a good book that displayed the strength and challenges endured by this family, it fell a little short for me. And to be completely honest, it’s probably because I read it right after Man’s Search For Meaning, which is why it seemed to fall a little flat.
  • If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher // I’ve been following Hannah’s organization, More Love Letters for years now; from before I ever really knew what it was or why it was stared. Hannah is someone who you can always count on to be honest, yet encouraging and motivating. Someone who lives and breathes for others, but preaches the need to take care of one’s self – even when that seems impossible. Her book walks through her experience in New York City, working for a large non-profit, and the hobby she built encouraging strangers through the writing of letters. She’s one of those people I dream of sitting down for coffee with, just talking and dreaming and speaking life to each other. Let me know if you’re ever in San Diego, Hannah ;) You’ll probably also want to check out her blog here.
  • The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen // I love everything Nouwen writes. That’s something I discovered early on this year. However, this may be my favorite that I’ve read so far. I don’t even think that I could explain it, so all I’m going to say is GO READ IT NOW.
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski // Where do I even start with this book. It is another one I read through in less than 24 hours. I could not put it down. I actually wrote a whole blog post about this book, so you can just head there for a full recap. I also suggest getting the new extended version, which I have yet to read.
  • The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cr0n // If you know me at all, I’ve probably mentioned the Enneagram to you. I might be even more obsessed with this personality indicator than the Myers-Briggs one – and that’s saying something. I was originally introduced to the Enneagram while I was living in Uganda a few years ago and it helped me understand so much about my life, personality, and natural tendencies. It’s as if the simple description not only smacked me across the face, but also allowed me to understand the inner workings of my thoughts and the reasons behind them. All that to say, this book is a great resource for those who are interested in the Enneagram. It describes the whole thing in detail, yet in a way that is understandable and applicable. It goes thorough each number (to all the sixes out there, you’re in good company) and describes some background on not only the thought processes and typical actions of each number group, but it also provides more info about where some of your concerns are and how you can spiritually strengthen certain areas of struggle in your life. Full disclosure: I’ve only read the intro and my number group. So I’m excited to dig in and learn more about each personality type.
  • This Momentary Marriage by John Piper // I assure you, this book is killer whether you’re married, engaged, or single. His main theme throughout the book is comparing earthly marriage to the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. While the verse can get repetitive throughout the book, I think it’s needed. We so often lose what the biblical intention of marriage is – which is evident in our society today. This book described certain aspects of marriage and the relationship between a husband and wife in a way that I had never thought of before. I definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone.
  • Wreck My Life by Mo Isom // Guys, Mo killed it. Like, wow. That girl has a crazy testimony and I love hearing it again and again. While I knew aspects of her story before I read the book, it’s so beautifully written that it draws you in and captivates you from the start. She has journeyed from broken to bold and her book paints a beautiful picture of God’s redemption. There are few people who have made me laugh harder than Mo, and I loved seeing glimpses of that in her writing. Do yourself a favor and pick this up for every athlete you know. Oh, and everyone else, too. Also, you can check out her blog here.
  • When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper // John Piper, man, his books have a way of punching me in the gut while teaching me so much. This book speaks to the ways we can cultivate joy in our everyday life, even if it’s not what we automatically feel. It’s real good. You should also check out the podcasts of his sermons, while you’re at it.
  • The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer // This book is packed with the characteristics of God, what he roots himself in, and how he acts towards us. It takes some effort to read, but I tend to think that’s a good thing. I would read one chapter at a time, soaking up as much as I could. It’s one that I’ll definitely revisit multiple times.
  • The Faith of Christopher Hitchens by Larry Alex Taunton // This one was one of the most fascinating books I read all year. It was a recommendation from Keary’s dad (and his book recommendations are always 200% reliable) and it hooked me in and held my attention throughout. It’s about the relationship between a Christian and a self-proclaimed atheist (and maybe one of the most popular atheist of our time) – describing many of the differences of opinion, but also a common longing to know and understand more about a Greater Being. It’s a fascinating read.
  • The Circle Maker/Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson // These books, they’ve been such a cool part of my story over the last few years and I’ve seen it be the same in other’s lives. The Circle Maker describes an old story about Honi, a man who boldly stepped out, declaring that he would not leave the circle he drew in the sand until God brought down rain in the middle of a drought. He fell to his knees and boldly approached the throne on behalf of his people, praying for the rain they desperately needed. As you can imagine, the rain came and the story became a legend. The book then goes on to describe other’s bold prayers and God’s amazing answers – even when they happen in His timing and not theirs. Draw the Circle is a 30-Day devotional that is based upon The Circle Maker book and is a guide for praying boldly and praying often. I’ve gone through it twice and wouldn’t be surprised if I end up going through it again. I would highly recommend both books.
  • The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne // Goodness, this book still has me thinking. It’s a lot to absorb, but it’s also very well written. It’s a longer book, but you’re able to understand the heart and mind behind the things that Claiborne has done over the years. I’m still processing everything I read and how I can apply it and react in my own life, actions, and behaviours. I definitely recommend reading this book at some point in your life. It will give you a perspective that is most likely completely different than your own.
  • The Grandeur and Misery of Man by David Roberts // This is another thinking book. While it’s beautifully written and easy to read, it’s stuffed full of thoughts and insights that are not often spoken about today. We tend to glaze over certain (read: many) things and this book addresses so many biblical things that speak to the nature and character of God and how that plays out in our lives. I think I highlighted half of the book. It’s definitely one I want to go back and read through again. It’s not an easy book to find, but if you can get one, snatch it up real quick.
  • Forgotten God by Francis Chan // While this book is an “easy” read, it definitely makes you think. I started this book MONTHS ago, and finally pulled it out to finish it recently. Oddly enough, the timing was perfect because we are doing a summer series at church about the Fruits of the Spirit. This tied perfectly into the backbone of how the Spirit produces fruit in us. This book had some great nuggets that made me think and was a good reminder for things I often forget.
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko // To be completely honest, this book was sitting in a pile for MONTHS. I had heard great things about it, but other books took priority in my mind and there it continued to sit. I decided to open in approximately 36 hours ago and finished it this morning. Let’s just say, it held my attention. If anyone knows me, you know my deep love for the book of 1 Peter. Call me weird and crazy, but I LOVE the description of suffering “with Christ”, but even more so, the redemption and testimony that comes with walking through fire. This book encapsulated that very concept through a very real, walking-through-the-trenches experience. I definitely suggest picking up this book – and be sure not to let it sit too long before you crack open the cover.

NOTE: I included a link to each of the books on Amazon. I always look for a used version there first, but sometimes the new copy is the best option. I tend to buy all my books because I mark them up and highlight like crazy – so that just works best for me.

IN PROCESS

  • Knowing God by J. I. Packer // This book comes highly recommended, so I’m looking forward to diving in. I’ve read the first two pages and I’m already intrigued. Stay tuned.

NEXT UP

  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • All Things C. S. Lewis
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
  • If You Feel Too Much: The Extended Edition
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

So, here’s my somewhat complete list from the last year. I’m sure there are some I’m missing and will add them as I remember. If you have any book recommendations, PLEASE send them my way. Pretty much every book on this list was suggested by someone – it’s my version of quality control. Text me, email me, leave a comment on this post, beep me, snail mail me, or, if you must, send it via telegram or carrier pigeon. I will accept all forms of communication.

I’ve also turned into a Rory Gilmore in terms of how many books I carry with me and how heavy my purse is at all times. But really, at the end of the day, I just call it an arm workout. Win-win.

My goal is to keep up this habit of picking up book after book. It really helps if you pair the book with a hot cup of coffee and a roaring fire or an iced coffee and a front porch, depending on the thermostat reading. I hear there’s a 96% success rate that way. Trust me.

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket

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26 for 26

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To continue with the tradition after “25 from 25“, I give you 26 things I want to do, experience, or focus on in the year to come. Who even knows what will is to come in the next 365 days, but it is sure to be an unpredictable journey. Here’s to the next year of continued traditions and new experiences.

  1. Travel more. There’s so much of this country and world that I’ve yet to see. This year ended up being focused on roots more than wings. Having said that, the few trips I did take were perfect.
  2. Also, let’s start with the PNW, cause that place looks like the dream.
  3. Buy more coffee brewing equipment. I will get that Chemex this year. AND I DID.
  4. Be more intentional with friendships and connecting with friends who live hundreds of miles away. I think this will be on my list every year. Yup – life goes quickly and somehow another year has passed. This will always be at the top of my list.
  5. I would say drink more coffee, but I’m not sure that’s even possible at this point. I feel like I’ve kept this up pretty well to this point. Always room for improvement ;)
  6. I’m going to attempt the surfing and snowboarding goals again this coming year, because I didn’t do so well at those last year… Well, I got on a stand-up paddle board and floundered for a while. And I got a whole lot more comfortable in the water. So, I’ll take that as a partial win.
  7. Continue to explore this city I find myself living in. There are still many unknown and undiscovered areas to find. Slowly chipping away at this one. Yet the list keeps growing…
  8. You know that big exciting project I was excited for in 2016, let’s move that to the 2017 list. Okay, so maybe bump that another year.
  9. Also, about taking more pictures…let’s add “get a new lens for my camera so I’m excited to take pictures again” to this list. Or maybe just replace that camera with a phone that takes killer pictures.
  10. Cook more. Gather more people around the table and cook for them and with them. That’s when my heart comes most alive. Still working on this one, but it’s still one of my favorite things.
  11. Start playing a sport again. I miss the teamwork and comradery that comes with that. Does watching sports count? Cause I did lots of that.
  12. Try more local restaurants. This place has some of the best around and I’ve been to embarrassingly few of them. I think I made a good dent in this one. Slowly, slowly.
  13. Visit Australia. This will be the year. IT HAS TO BE. NEXT YEAR HAS TO BE.
  14. Continue to read often. I want to keep up this habit I’ve picked up over the last year. Every. Year.
  15. Go to Stone Brewery more. Because pretzels and brussel sprouts. Always and forever.
  16. Also, learn more low carb options of all the carb filled foods. Because that kind of feels like Christmas to the two T1Ds in the house.
  17. Make it to Fresno more often. How am I so close, yet so far? Ugh. FAILED.
  18. Play games more often. The sound of laughter in the midst of competitiveness is the best thing. Need to focus on this one next year. Maybe once football season is over…
  19. Stop overthinking things. And by that I mean try to overthink things less. And by that I mean just start chiseling away at that monumental task. Ha…yeah, about that.
  20. Explore the options when it comes to grad school. Who knows where that may lead… Still figuring out what this looks like.
  21. Work on hand-letting and graphic design more. I need to spend more time learning what I enjoy. Chipping away at this one. Still learning LOTS.
  22. See snow for more than 12 hours at a time. My soul comes alive in the snow.
  23. Invest more money in quality items and less money on things that aren’t sustainable or needed.
  24. See more of California.
  25. Focus more on my writing. I haven’t done nearly enough of that in the last 12 months.
  26. Enjoy 2017. There’s beauty and pain and redemption everywhere I look. See it, notice it, remember it. The pain makes the redemption that much more beautiful.

So as 2017 comes to be, as new resolutions and goals are set, let us remember that each day is fresh and new – as are His mercies. Treat each day as such, as a blank slate with the beautiful opportunity ahead of us to make Him GREATER.

Photo by Christina Jean Photography.

the world spins madly on

“Every second is of infinite value.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Rushing the moment I’m in. Waiting for the next thing to happen. Hoping time will move faster. Always looking forward, anticipating what is ahead of me. I am more than guilty on all accounts. I can’t seem to keep my brain in the present. Time already moves fast enough, it doesn’t need me pushing it along at an accelerated place.

So many tasks could be completed.

So many opportunities could be seized.

So many moments could be savoured.

Instead, I continue to stare at the clock, hoping that somehow the next 60 seconds will feel faster than the last. It’s about time to start living life differently.

It’s time to actually live life and not just watch time go by.

I’m not exactly sure how I can do that at this point. I’ve become so accustomed to looking towards what is in the future. I don’t really even know what it means to live in the present and enjoy the moment I’m in.

It needs to be a shift of focus. A change in thought processes. A distinct effort to break out of this habit.

A friend suggested this week to make things fun. It’s not necessarily always about doing fun things, but finding the fun in what you are doing.

Take advantage of every opportunity you are presented with. Savour every moment, even if it doesn’t seem important at the time. At some point you’ll be wishing you had that extra minute that you wished away so many times before.

Laugh a few more minutes. Smile a little longer. Stop and smell the roses.

Carpe diem.

shadowfeet

“When the world has fallen out from under meI’ll be found in you, still standing.” – Brooke Fraser

A shadow – the absence of light. In order for a shadow to be created, something must come between it and a light source. Perhaps it’s a building or a tree. Maybe it’s a cloud that has placed itself directly between the sun and us down here on the ground. A shadow may be just the thing you were looking for on that unbearably hot afternoon in the middle of July. To a photographer, a shadow could be your best friend, or your worst nightmare. To me, a shadow represents somewhere safe. As much as you crave the sunlight, there is a certain comfort and safety in the protection of the shade.

A shadow can serve a very distinct purpose for us. But while we treasure any shade we can find, it wouldn’t be a beautiful summer day if you didn’t spend some time beneath the warm rays of sunshine. At some point you have to venture out of the shadows and embrace the powerful rays and extreme heat. You have to move past the shaded areas and march right out into the glorious sun.

There are so many points in life where you can either embrace the sunshine or hide in the shadows. There have been so many times lately that I have found myself huddled in the shade when I could could be taking in all that summer has to offer. There’s a certain protection and familiarity that comes with the cool escape of a shaded place.

It’s comfortable, it’s cool, it’s safe.

Safe. Man, do we ever like that word. Safety is something we naturally crave. We’re always looking for a way to make a situation or experience more comfortable. We don’t like to feel unsure or at risk. We tend to like the feelings of consistency and being at ease. But how does that further us in any way? If you don’t take that somewhat uncomfortable step of opening the door to the unfamiliar, you’ll never know what’s on the other side. Heck, there may not be sunshine and rainbows behind every door you open, but you’ll never know if you don’t turn that doorknob. Even if the door has a window, you won’t feel the summer heat until you physically open the door.

I love being spontaneous, but that doesn’t always mean I like taking risks. I love discovering places and experiencing new things, but they have to be on my terms. I have to feel comfortable with my “risk” before I take that first step outside. I’ve realized how safe my life has become. There’s nothing wrong with feeling comfortable and protected, but what a boring and unfulfilling life we would live if we felt comfortable every moment of every day. Some of the most amazing times in my life have been opening that door and jumping out of the house without thinking twice about it. Moving as far away as I did this spring was more of a risk than I’ve ever taken. That’s not to say that there was not thought and prayer that went into the decision, but when the time was right I was able to open that door and step out into the great unknown. I’ve grown more in the past few months than I ever have, but once again I find myself seeking out the protection of a shadow. I’m stuck inside the house, looking out the window but not feeling the warm summer air. Yup, I’ve locked myself in the house yet again.

I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling a little claustrophobic in that house. I know the way out, I just don’t seem to know how to unlock that door and take the first step outside. I know what I want, I just don’t seem to know how to get from point A to point B. I’ve been so worried about trying to find the key that I haven’t even tried to see if the door is unlocked. I’ve been so focused on the plan, I’ve forgotten that the first step has to be moving my feet towards that door and turning the handle. If I want to make something happen, I have to stop putting every piece together in my mind and just start figuring out the puzzle. The piece is hardly ever put in the right spot the first time, but eventually it finds it’s place. Although you may trip down the first few steps, there’s someone that will grab your hand and steady your feet. No one expects you to do this on your own, but you have to be willing to step out in faith knowing that he’ll be there to help you find your balance and encourage you with every step.

Just move your feet. Leave the shadows. Open the door. Enjoy the sunshine. Experience the unknown. It’s the only way you’ll ever discover anything new. Maybe we’ll find that we like the sunshine and lemonade so much better than the air-conditioned house.