Friday, September 23, 2022

Red Queen

by Victoria Aveyard

This week's challenge was to either read Fall or Spring (to celebrate the changing of the seasonal guard 💖) or to read the colors of the world.  I had a book on my shelf that immediately fit the bill...Red Queen.

The cover itself drew me in, but it is the story that kept me there.  

This is an intriguing book about a kingdom divided between the elite silver bloods and the peasant, impoverished, and conscripted reds.  Reading this reminded me of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The False Prince and of stories passed down from the days of the Gladiator games in Rome all rolled into one.

Mare Barrows is on the brink of her eighteen birthday and with that...conscription.  She is not apprenticed to anyone and is forced (to her family's shame) to pickpockets and steal trinkets, ration papers, and if she is really lucky...currency.  She goes along to get along until her best friend Kilorn's world is upended by the sudden, unexpected death of his master (the fisherman he was apprenticing under) and as such, he is now facing mandatory conscription.

What unfolds is a fast paced story drenched in mystery, intrigue, and treachery.  Mare will stop at nothing to protect those that she loves...but what happens when she is the one who most needs protecting?  Especially when the one she needs the most protection from is herself?

Quotes that snagged my heart:

"If I fall, if I even slip, I will die.  And others will die for my failure."  The enormity of the weight she carries is uttered in these seventeen words...the last seven weigh the heaviest on her heart.

"Who would I have chosen? If none of this had happened, if Kilorn's master never died, if _____ hand was never _______, if nothing ever changed.  If.  It is the worst word in the world."  Blanked out two things so that it doesn't give away something that is best read firsthand...but how much of life has been spent asking "if" oftentimes coupled with the word "what"?  I can relate to that heartbreak, when you realize you turned a corner (often times it feels like it was turned for you) and you realize there is no going back, all that is left, the only choice you have is to either sit and drown under the weight of "if" or learn to navigate the new normal.  

I highly recommend this book, which by the way is book one in what appears to be a four part series. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Scripture Goals:

For study:
This week I want to finish writing chapter one of Romans in my Journible (have you heard of these?  They are called the 17:18 series and are inspired by Deuteronomy 17:18...I think most (if not all) books are available on Amazon in the Journible series), I want to go back and re-do Kari Denker's week one on Romans from the I Will Meditate volume four, and I want to begin listening to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' Roman series.  

I also have week one of a Bible study I am doing with my mom to complete.  

For reading:
I am going to read and re-read Romans chapter one this week.  

For worship and prayer:
Hymn and Prayer: I Need Thee Every Hour 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Bible Reading and Study...

Feel free to read, but be warned, this is a looong post and is more for me to process what I have done/where I am versus where I want to go/what I want to do...in other words, quite boring and a bit rambling for everyone else...

I began the summer with the idea to read through the New Testament with some "friends"/acquaintances, my mom, and my girls...but this summer (much like the entire year) was brutal for my mom, for my girls, and truly I am not sure about the "friends/acquaintances" because they only responded to one or two emails, but if their summer was anything like ours - I get it.

Not only was it brutally hot (over a hundred every.single.day), but everyone's chronic medical conditions blossomed out of control...and the summer quickly became very intense.  

And quite miserable.

But...I really, really wanted to do a quick(ish) read through of the New Testament, especially after completing the first third of the Sermon on the Mount (by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and workbook/video study by Kari Denker).  That incredible study was amazing and humbling and it made me hunger to draw closer to God and to His Word.  

But that's not all...you see, a few years ago I decided I wanted to do a deep dive into the book of Romans, especially after my first read-through of The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee.  This book is a commentary of sorts of Romans - actually more of a deep dive into the hardest concepts that Paul teaches in that book of the Bible.  But I quickly became overwhelmed and distracted by life and sat it aside...so knowing that study was still sitting on the shelf right next to where my desk is - that was also an impetus for me to do a read-through of the New Testament in 90 days.  Because, I believe, Romans is best studied in the backdrop of having just read through the the Gospels and actually the entire New Testament.

I started off well - May 22nd was the day we collectively decided to begin, and I did ok through the beginning of July (through the book of Acts).  

Then life exploded.  

And I reached Romans chapter one and that pull to dive in and dive deep hit again and I paused the reading.  I picked up The Normal Christian Life and re-read it as I studied Romans. 

Then COVID hit our house and took all five of us down, and as I lay in bed completely miserable, and the intense exhaustion washed over me and as my thoughts slowly chased each other around my brain (the brain fog is real)...I realized I still really wanted to finish the New Testament.  I had a birthday coming up and decided what I wanted most for my birthday was to finish the read-through.  

I am a fast reader.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read.  I prefer a book to just about anything (tv, movie, get togethers...) but when I read the Bible, I don't want to just plow through it.  I want to taste it, savor it, spend time over it.  So in order to do this, I had to make my morning reading a priority.  

And I did it.  

The morning of my birthday found me in Revelations and I read the whole book that day and it was amazing.  

I love God's Word so much, yet, ironically I struggle with making it a priority to study AND read it daily.  I have tried various study methods - verse mapping, Scripture writing, a combination of the two with doodles and colors thrown in to help, Bible studies someone else makes, in-person Bible studies, virtual and/or video studies, Bible journals with space to do inductive type study with it...you get the picture.  I have also printed off (lots of different kinds of!!!) reading plans to complete (I do SO SO much better when I have a box to check-off) and yet, like exercising or eating healthier - find it SO difficult to be consistent.  

Then I thought of my reading challenge goal.  I've set the goal to read 104 books every.single.year since I first heard about/printed off Tim Challies' yearly challenge.  And I think that was eight or ten years ago? (*actually, I just checked and it was only six years ago...apparently 2016 was the first time he posted this challenge!)  A few years ago I did well by pulling off all of the books from my shelves that I wanted to read that year and creating index cards for each book and I did read more books and more consistently that year than any other year...but still fell far, far short of the goal.  This year - this year - has been a game changer.  I joined a challenge that asks you to post and check-in and that has been enough to spur me on to read more than I have, hands down, in any years past.  I may even reach my goal of 104 books.  Which got me to thinking, if that worked for books, why can't it work for Bible reading?  Because, while books are one of my favorite, favorite things...they are not the very words I live by.  As amazing as they are, they do not impart life, they are not alive and active, they are not God-breathed.  

So...I am going to post every single Sunday - here on my blog.  I am going to lay out what I hope to accomplish in the week to come and what I did (or did not do) in the week that just passed.  My hope is that this simple habit will spur me on to consistency - the gateway habit that will finally conquer what has been standing in the way of the growth that God has called me to.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Winterbourne Home for Mayhem and Mystery

I tried.  

Honestly I did.  

I have this book pre-ordered in the paperback version which will be released later this month.  But when my youngest got the Audible version this week...I just couldn't wait any longer.  Oh well, that just means I get to re-read it when the paperback arrives. 😋 

OH WOW.

This book is a FANTASTIC follow up to book one.  (If you have not read book one, don't read any further)

Izzy is still missing  And Gabriel, now that shoe is on the other foot, is not handling that very well, not well at all actually.  Top that with Smithers being on an around-the-world cruise...and you will understand the mayhem that the title alludes to.  The mystery that unfolds is fantastic.  It keeps you so enthralled you stay up waaaaaay too late just so you can find out  'what happens next'.  

I LOVE books like this.  

I laughed out loud so many times, everyone kept asking me, 'what's so funny' and when I heard my youngest laughing...we laughed even harder.  I HIGHLY recommend both books to anyone and everyone - of any age.  I really hope Ally Carter is planning a book three, because I don't want this series to end yet!

The mini challenge...

This week, it was all about a mini challenge.  I picked a book at random from our shelves at home.  I selected which shelf, counted over one and down five and that pointed to a book I had just read earlier this year!  Ha!  So, I had one of my teens select another pile on the same shelf and count up five from the bottom.  This time it landed on Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy.  

The funniest part of this is - this is a book on managing your time effectively.  I bought it several years ago after reading 21 Days to a Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine.  And then it proceeded to sit on my shelf as year after year I procrastinated in every endeavor to just.read.the.book.  Ha!  

I an nerdy about certain subjects : like Bible study, time management/planning, and habit building for example.  I love to read about them, study them, and observe them (pinterest and bujo pages....ah!!!!)

I am so glad the mini challenge led me to read this book!  Several quotes caught my attention as I was reading along this week - but two were the most important for me to work on :

"...resolve to work all the time you work.  When you go to work, put your head down and work the whole time." (pg. 53)  

I am SO bad at this.  I try to multi-task - read while folding the laundry...this becomes an endless exercise at either picking up the clothes as the towering pile teeters because I get swept away in a particularly good section or the book falls down repeatedly (denting my paper back cover 😒 ) as I address the harder to fold articles.  Or talking on the phone/texting while I am waiting for something to cook...many a dinners have burned because of this attempt.  When it is work time - WORK on the thing that is in front of me.

"There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do." pg. 29

I am so glad he said this.  Because the to-do list is endless and I never get it all done.  I never get all of the books read or messes cleaned up or laundry conquered or topics covered that I want to cover.  And that is just life.  There will always be "more".  What I learned from this book is this : work hard and work focused on what is in front of you.  Eat the frog - the most difficult/ugly/challenging frog (task) first.  And then when work time (or school time or cleaning time or workout time...) is over - let.it.go.  Rest and know that tomorrow is a new day to pick back up with it all.  It will still be there.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

I did it!!!!!!!

I finally finished New Testament in 90 days...it actually took 115 days, but I did it!  I love the Bible so much and am so glad I did not give up!!  Now...to finish my Romans deep dive 😍

Monday, September 12, 2022

Created for Commitment

by Audrey Wetherell Johnson 

I loved this book.  It is divided into four parts and is an amazing autobiography.  

God is so incredibly faithful.  

Part one tells the story of Audrey's early life, her journey away from God and then return to Him.  Part two tells the story of her time in China and as only God could arrange the timing, I was also re-reading The Normal Christian Life (by Watchman Nee - a Chinese Christian pastor) and the two together - it was AMAZING.  Part three tells of her journey to America and the birth of BSF.  And finally, part four (my absolute favorite portion) is titled "Guidelines for the Christian Life".  In this portion, she gives specific encouragement and teaching on how to truly know if you are "saved", how to  study the Bible, the importance of prayer, and the inevitability of suffering.  

As most of you who know and adore Anne Graham Lotz, you will know that this is the person who not only started Bible Study Fellowship, but also who taught Anne how to study the Bible for herself.  I have wanted to read this story for a loooooooong time and it more than exceeded all of my expectations.