I've got to be honest. Until the last few years, I had never read more of C. S. Lewis's works than the Chronicles of Narnia. They hadn't even crossed my radar. However, due to the reading challenge I was doing with some friends over the last few years, I've read a couple of books, one of his and one about him, that has left me intrigued more than ever.
Two years ago I read Mere Christianity, expecting it to be over my head. It wasn't. Perhaps because I had read quite a few other books written by British authors, the text was very easy for me to pick up, and I found myself giggling at the way he put some things while also going, "huh." That's a great point.
Last year, I read Becoming Mrs. Lewis, which is a fiction piece based on the true story of how C. S. Lewis met his wife and eventually married her. It's written from her perspective and opened my eyes to a ton of things I had never considered, due to him being one of the most acclaimed Christian authors ever. It's not that anything bad necessarily happened between them. It just wasn't what I had expected.
Anyway, all that to say, I've decided to give myself an additional reading challenge this year. I plan to try and read one of Lewis's books each month this year. I started in January with A Grief Observed, which is his journal from right after his wife passed away. Once again, not what I expected, and in some ways, so much more.
I'm not sure what I'll do each month for the rest of the year, but I'll give you an update at the end of the year. I might even try out his space trilogy. Did you know he wrote one?
Have you read many of his books? Which ones are you most interested in? Do you have an author you'd be willing to read one of his or her books each month for a whole year?
Do you love to have your hair brushed? It's one of the biggest pleasures I get from going to the salon every few months. To have someone else wash and fix my hair is a luxury.
My daughter, on the other hand, hates having her hair brushed. And she has a LOT of hair. She refuses to let me cut it and has only lately let me do many different styles with it, which means it is free to tangle to its heart's content as she plays hard all day long. I pull out the brush and she cringes before I even touch a strand. She's tender-headed.
I think, at one point, I might have been tender-headed. I can vaguely remember my mom tugging on my hair to the point that I would cry out in pain. But for most of my life, my head has been able to take whatever gets dished out to it. At least for a while.
My three-year-old loves to sing.
I love that he loves to sing. Sometimes he sings real songs and sometimes he makes up his own (my daughter does this, too). But he sings in such a way that there's no denying to anyone around that he loves it. Because he's LOUD.
Walking through a store, he's nestled in the basket, stacking up cans and boxes to see how high they can go before falling over. And he's belting out "Shout Hallelujah!" or "Jesus Loves Me." Or something else.
Looking for something fairly easy and a little different from your normal dinner? Here's a recipe I learned from my dad that my family also enjoys. All it takes is a box of beef-flavored rice mix, some ground beef, an egg, and some water. Read on!
Every now and then, someone remarks how much they like my engagement ring. Want to know a secret? I do, too.
Jeremy and I had been dating over two years when we started to realize we either needed to move on or get more serious. I think he may have realized he wanted a more permanent solution before I did. A girl always dreams, and I mentioned somewhere along the way that I didn't want a diamond ring. I wanted a pearl. After all, a pearl was made through irritation and pressure and came out beautiful in the end -- a symbol I considered to be a great one for marriage, something that didn't always flow along as smoothly as the fairy tales would have you believe.
If you're like me, you've been singing in worship services since you could open your mouth. I was raised where I would get dirty looks if I didn't participate. So, I learned the words, some of them even before I could read. That way I could join in with everyone else. As an older child, I would sit with friends who sang Soprano so I could learn that part (my mom sings a beautiful Alto). And piano lessons helped me learn to follow notes so I could sight read just enough to be dangerous when we learned new songs.
But, in some ways, that has all become a crutch. Songs I've been singing forever become rote. I'm so busy making children be still, or thinking about what I have to do later, or having to get up to take someone potty, that even though I am singing along, I'm not paying a lick of attention to what is coming out of my mouth. Why is that a problem? Because even though I am participating in worship, I'm not actually completely immersed in it. The words are on my tongue, but not necessarily penetrating my brain or heart.
A trend lately has been to take older songs and rewrite them, sometimes giving them a new chorus or a new tune ... or both. Or even completely new words, set to a familiar tune. At first, it really bothered me. After all, those songs were great just the way they were. But the more we've sung them, the more I've discovered something about taking something old and making it new.
You have to pay attention to what you're singing.
If the tune or words are just a little different, you can't just sing along, not giving your attention to what is coming out of your mouth. And that makes the message penetrate the fog that busyness has clouded over my brain. It makes me stop and think and remember that I need to mean every single things I sing to the Lord. And that's a good thing.
Do you find yourself distracted when you're supposed to be focused on God? Have you discovered different ways to bring your attention back where it's supposed to be? I'd love any other tips.
Sometimes, people who have been dead for years appear in my dreams. In the back of my head, the tiny party of me that knows I'm dreaming, it reminds me that they're gone. But I fight it because I want to spend just a bit longer with them ... even if the dream is bad.
Grief is a strange thing. The way people talk about it, you'd think you could go through the however many steps they say are involved and then move on with your life, giving no more thoughts to whoever you lost. But it doesn't work that way in real life.
I had lost grandparents through the years, starting from just before my twenty-fourth birthday. And I would cry. And miss them. But for the most part, my life went on. I never lived close to my grandparents growing up, so I was used to not having them around.
When we lost my mother-in-law a few years ago, it was completely different. From even before marrying my husband, she was a mom to me. I was her one-and-only-daughter. And when we had children, she became a Gamma. It was the biggest joy in her life.
I expected Christmas to be hard the first year she was gone. And we had our moments, like when I set the table with five big plates instead of four. And last year was maybe a little easier because we'd done it before. But, for some reason, this year has been tough. Every time I pull out something to wear that she gave me, or have to put away something she gave my kids, my heart twinges. Every time my children dance to music or say or do something funny, I wish I could share it with her and hear her giggle again. She would have delighted in their pleasure at the gifts, made sure we had all the goodies she used to make, and sat there glorying in the joy around her. And I miss her so much. We looked through pictures of her, shared memories, and teared up at a sappy commercial where grandchildren made a video for their Grandpa that included their deceased grandmother. And in some ways, it was easier. And in other ways, the grief continues.
A few years ago, someone described grief not as something we go through, but as something we live with forever. We learn to live with it, but it never truly goes away. This is the new normal. And I treasure each memory. But I miss her.
Not only am I an author, I'm also a voracious reader. According to Goodreads, I read 127 books this year. That's 9 more than last year. Here's a link, in case you want to see more about what I read through 2019 (for some reason the page isn't listing everything as I write this, but maybe they'll have it up to date soon) I read a ton of Christian fiction, of course, but for the second year in a row, I've also participated in a reading challenge where we read a different type of book each month. I listed the categories and the book I chose for each below in case you're interested. These lists, of course, don't count the manuscripts I read for myself and my writer friends. But it gives you a great idea of my taste and you might even find a new book or two to check out for yourself. If you'd like to make a recommendation, I'm always looking for new reads!
1) A biography, autobiography, or memoir -- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
2) A book published in the last 5 years -- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
3) A book that a movie or show you love was based on -- Monuments Men by Robert Edsel
4) A book that pushes you outside your comfort zone OR a controversial book -- Unplanned by Abby Johnson
5) A book published over 100 years ago -- The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
6) A motivational or self-help book (whatever that may look like for you) -- Fervent by Priscilla Shirer
7) A book from the BBC's 100 books to read before you die list -- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
8) A book about life in a different time period/culture or a historical fiction -- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
9) A book based on a true story -- Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan
10) A book from your childhood -- Meet Kirsten by Janet Shaw
11) A non-fiction book -- Abide: 40 Ways to Focus on Jesus Daily by Tara Cole
12) Wild card--your choice! -- Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
I've set my personal reading goal for 2020 at 125 and am participating for the third year in a row in a reading challenge, as well as joining a book club. What about you? Do you set reading goals? Did you read anything amazing in 2019?
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.