Tuesday, May 5, 2020

April Reads

This month I read....

1. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley ****
So my mom actually told me about this book. She was reading an article somewhere and heard how great this book was supposed to be and since she knows I love to read- she told me about it. It was the first of Foley's books I've ever read and I really enjoyed it. I felt like it kept me in suspense until the very end!! I can't wait to read her next one!

2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis ***
While this wasn't one of my favorites in the series, I did still enjoy it. And I highly recommend the entire series!!!

3. The Path Between Us....... by Suzanne Stabile ***
Since I already own (and love) the book: The Road Back To You and am totally obsessed with all things enneagram right now, when my Bible Study mentioned this book I put it on hold right away! This month I finally got to read it. It deals mainly with the relationships between the numbers, which has definitely helped at work. If just choosing one though, I would recommend and prefer The Road Back To You over this one. 

4. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Bali Kaur Jaswel ****
Recommended by a friend, I wasn't sure what I was getting into (with the title alone I felt hesitant). I really enjoyed this book though! The premise is a group of Indian women living in England (and most are widows- all have been married) sign up for a writing class with a young Indian/English tutor. The stories turn out to be very provocative (and amazing) and the story that unfolds throughout the classes is a great plot twist. The best part though, is definitely looking at the idea of marriage in different cultures and what they have taught women about marriage end even sex and if that should still be taught and accepted. 

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ****
This is the first of Reid's books I've read and I really liked it. It was surprising and revealing and I enjoyed the entire thing. I love how Reid broke up the story telling into sections about each husband. It makes you wonder about all the Hollywood stars of the past and their true backgrounds!

6. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn ****
This was the book we had picked for our Ashes Book Club (my work). While the quarantine meant that we weren't able to meet in person like we normally do after Afternoon Tea- we did meet virtually to discuss. The writing was great and the story itself was heartbreakingly beautiful.  It then started me on a World War 2, set in France genre. 

7. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah *****
So while this book was actually written about World War 1 (and present times)- it also was set in France. Kristin Hannah is a phenomenal author and this book is by far one of my favorites. 

8. The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff ****
Another World War 2 book that deals with what happens when you are forced to work under the enemy, but then fall for him?  I liked that while the theme was similar to the others I read- it was it's own book with its own plot twists. 

9. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ***
I figured I would jump on the DJ&TS train, especially since I loved the last book by Reid I had read. Based in the 60's and 70's about a fictional band (that is mirrored after Fleetwood Mac-- one of my favorites) I was super excited to delve in. Unlike her other novel though, this one was written like an interview. So while the story was interesting- with so many characters talking it took awhile for my confusion to subside and my interest in it to peek. Someone recommended listening to this one on audible and I feel like I would have enjoyed it more if I had. 

10. The Library Book by Susan Orlean ***1/2
A friend of mine not only recommended this book to me, but also lent it to me as well. Switching from fiction to nonfiction can be difficult to me, which is why it's only 3 1/2 stars instead of higher. I will say though, I love Orlean's writing. It is enamoring and a true work of art. I also loved the topic, since libraries have always been one of my favorite places- an entire book written about a specific library was intriguing to me. The only thing that I didn't enjoy was how she broke up the chapters- I couldn't understand the back and forth order and therefore it took me a bit longer to get back into the flow of things. Overall though- I loved this book and will forever recommend it!

11. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis ***
Another of the Chronicles of Narnia Series. This one really dug deeper into the devil aspect and what it looks like when we think we are following the right one, only to find out we were misled. It's a slippery slope. C.S. Lewis and his work of talking about God and big picture subjects in a mythical way for kids to enjoy baffles me and I love him for his amazing creativity! 

12. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis ****
The LAST of the Chronicles series and the end is truly heartbreaking. This part of the series really made me question how God can love us when we are so awful. But His grace and love are shown throughout this story and makes me love Him all the more. 

until next time,
xo, kel

Friday, May 1, 2020

Living in the time of COVID-19

Our lives are definitely different right now. And even in this uncertainty, it's almost therapeutic knowing that we are all in it together. Not that I for any reason like that so many people are suffering right now, but at least we all know what this is like and can be there for one another.

Unity and Community.

Another uplifting quote I keep hearing and trying to live by is "Faith over fear". Because that's what this pandemic is trying to do to us- cause fear. Because the enemy knows that "Fear eats faith" as my pastor put it in one of his current sermons.  I think it's so easy to look around us right now and keep tally of all the awful things being shoved in our faces. Because it is all around us.

It's terrifying if I let myself dwell on all of it. On the fact that I don't know when I'll be paid again. That Austin's night job has stopped paying it's workers. That I had to stop seeing my mom and step-dad for over a month. That my best friend's wedding has been postponed...twice.

So instead, I'm trying to have faith. To rely on God and His provision. To find joy even when times are tough. Because even if this continues, for however long it continues, our God is a God that is going through it with us.  He is also a God that takes terrible, awful, crappy things and makes something good from it.

And sometimes it's really freaking hard. This week has been one of those where I haven't wanted to do much more than cuddle up on the sofa or in bed and cry. Don't get me wrong- this faith of mine, this God of mine is still very present. But for some reason this week it's been more of a struggle to believe things will be back to normal, or even okay. And I think it's okay to feel that way -- as long as we don't dwell in it, because that's where it becomes isolating and overwhelming. And that's what I'm working on this week- not to dwell. Austin has been amazing in trying to get me outside and doing things to get my mind off of the terrifying reality that is. But I've also realized it's something only I can myself to do.

So have faith friend, if you are feeling crappy right now- you are not alone. I am not alone. And whatever comes of this- whatever our new "normal" becomes, God will be with us through it all. One thing I keep reminding myself, even in my lowest of lows, is that even if I'm in the pit, He is there with me. And it's reassuring to know that even if I'm in the midst of awful- I am not alone in it. I never have been and I never will be. And that is what has gotten me through each day.

<3 kel

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

in only took a pandemic in order to......

I've been home (and technically without a job) for the past 7 weeks and just like everyone else, a lot of every day things in life have changed.

So here are the things that it took a pandemic occurring in order to finally happen....

~Have a "normal" schedule with Austin. His night job furloughed him as well, so we've been spending every night at home together, which has never in our 7 years together happened. Typically he worked most nights and didn't get home from work until late (sometimes I was already in bed). There were also days that our schedules kept us from even seeing each other.

~Cooking at home. Like most, we've been making and eating home cooked meals just about every night. Very rarely do we order to go or do left overs. Most of the time it is Austin cooking though and he's gotten really adventurous and good! He made a homemade pizza last week where everything (including the dough) was from scratch.

~We finally watched the popular movie "A Star is Born" with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The music was fantastic- the ending was heartbreaking.

~People are finally realizing how important and amazing teachers are to our society! I've seen so many parents post pictures or videos of how their kids' teachers went above and beyond for them. As a former teacher, I've seen this so many times from my colleagues. Most teachers love kids and they want their students to succeed, which a majority of the time means going above and beyond. So let me be clear, this is NOTHING new-- the pandemic didn't create this attitude, it just brought it to your doorstep.  But I'm so grateful that parents and others are finally seeing and spreading the word about how incredible some teachers are.

~I've been working on my social media game for Ashes. Granted it's not where I want it to be yet- but it's better and I love learning more.
goal: Continue and take 3 more classes online about Business to better help Ashes. 

~Read books that were on my to be read pile. There are a ton of them and I've made time to finally read and check them off. I've read about 20 books while in quarantine.
goal: keep reading so that by December I get to 100 books read for the year.

~Take online classes. There are several places to do it, but I finally signed up for a Contemporary Art class and two Business courses. I've wanted to for awhile, but just never had the time or will power. I would love to take a history course, but there aren't any on coursera.

~Clean and clear out in our place. To be clear- it's been Austin doing this and he seriously has done an amazing job! We have so much more room!!!!
goal: for me to clean out the closet and fix the broken shelving. 

~Have morning time with God doing a devotion that is long as I want it to be. Let's be real-- I am NOT a morning person, so typically my devotions were done when I got home from work or at night and I was exhausted, so they weren't very long. With all this extra time, it's more frequent that I'm doing my devotional and I get to spend as much time as I want outside or on my comfy bed reading and studying. It's been amazing. I'm currently in 2 Peter. Not sure what I'll do next though....

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

things I'm currently loving

Luna has been a major cuddle bug lately, which is probably what I am loving the most right now!

Loved this quiz on finding out what your interior design type is. Mine is Bohemian and mid century.

These DIY necklaces!!!!

Or these super cute party earrings!

The perfect gift for the book lover in your life (my birthdays May 5th...cough....cough)!

I’m a little obsessed with this tote! Actually, I’m pretty much in love with everything on this site and the best part is their cause!!!

Candle scents by your enneagram numbers?!?! Sign me up please!

THIS video of Julia Roberts acting out her film career with James Corden!

One thing I'm currently enjoying is taking online classes FOR FREE. I've already enrolled and started 2 business classes and 1 art class. I'm a total nerd, but I don't care!

until next time,

Thursday, April 16, 2020

song #6// I Choose To Worship

I feel like this is the perfect song for right now. 

"You are good, even when life is not" is one of my favorite of the lyrics. 

Granted, things in my life aren't as hard as they are for others, but during this uncertain and weird time, we're all struggling in some way.  This song puts into words what my heart tells me. I don't know how else to explain it. 

I also love that during this stay at home time, Rend Collective has done concerts on instagram live at least weekly. 

Through all of it.....I will choose to worship. I hope you do too.


song #5// This Old Heart of Mine

Last week we watched the movie "Bad Times At the El Royale. Okay, it was one of the millions of movies we watched, thanks Covid-19 for giving us a LOT of down time. 

Anyway, it was a strange movie to say the least, but one of the main characters sings this song and it's beautiful!!! I of course have had it stuck in my head ever since... but I'm okay with that. 


Monday, April 13, 2020

March reads

The monthly roundup....

1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton **
I've mentioned before that I'm participating in a 2020 Book Challenge (on facebook) and one of the challenges was to read a book published in 1920. Unfortunately, the only Agatha Christie book that would've fit this category I had  already read (and I want to read only new to me books for this challenge). Which stinks, because I am a HUGE Agatha Christie fan..... Edith  Wharton, not so much.  It was definitely proof that language has changed in the past 100 years, which does make me a little sad- language use to be said eloquently, not we shorten our words because apparently it takes too long to say adorable. 
The main takeaway from this book for me was sometimes life sucks, but you make your choices and you stick with them (or at least in 1920 you did)-- another fun change of our modern culture. (Can you hear my sarcasm?) Some might enjoy this book, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

2. Prince Caspian/ Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis ****
Ever since our book club decided to read The Chronicles of Narnia last November, I decided that I would read the entire series. (I also made this my "series" challenge in our 2020 Book Challenge.) I really have throughly loved all the books in the series so far, but honestly nothing will ever be greater than Lewis' first, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 

3. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan ***
So I watched this movie and decided I wanted to actually read the book too. For once, I felt like the movie was better (am I even allowed to say that?). 

4. Inspired by Rachel Held Evans ***
Evans is one of my favorite authors to read- her books have all been heartfelt and sincere and this one was no different. Her view on church (having been brought up in one) put into words what I've felt and couldn't express. Her passing took away an amazing and though provoking woman that I wish I had known.

5. Philippians by John Mac Arthur ***
When doing a Bible book study, I like learning the history and context of a book/it's author/etc.  MacArthur provides that, although not in as much depth as I would like, it's enough for me in the right now. 

6. The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ***
This novel is told from multiple women's perspectives during the Cold War/Iron Curtain time. I really enjoyed the stories told from an American and a Russian while both on a mission to release the Russian Masterpiece, Doctor Zhivago. I did feel like the book lacked as much detail as I would've liked and I sometimes spent too much time trying to remember who was currently telling the story. Overall though, it was an interesting read and I enjoyed it.

7. The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell **1/2
Okay, to be honest- had I read this book a decade ago, my rating would've been so much higher. But alas, I put it off until now. I did learn a lot (like what a Maven is) and it's interesting that since I've learned these terms, I've noticed them more frequently (even on FreeForm shows, ha!). Since the Internet and Social Media have exploded in the last few years and so the information explained in this book isn't as relevant as it once was. Still an interesting read.

8. Philippians- Small Group Study by Henry Blackaby ***
Philippians was obviously the Bible book I was studying during March.... while I did enjoy this book, it was more of a devotional-- asking questions meant for self-study- which is not a bad thing, just not what I was looking for at the time. 

9. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan ***
After reading (and watching) Crazy Rich Asians and enjoying it, I wanted to give the second book in the series a chance. While it was a good "light" read- the overdone drama and ridiculousness of the characters sometimes wore on me. Overall, not a bad story- but would I read it again? No.

10. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan **
After reading 2 of the 3 books in the series, I felt compelled to download and read the last one. I think at this point I was over the insane amount of drama needed to make this book work and the characters were no longer funny in their overly rich and shallow ways- it was just too much. I finished it- and I will say the author gave the series a good ending, it was not my favorite book.

11. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan ***
Since I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, I was really intrigued by learning more about him and his wife. Although this is a work of fiction based on true life events, I still felt like I learned a great deal about the creator of Narnia. Recommended by a friend, I would also highly recommend this book as well.

Until next month,