“And ingratitude is an ugly failing in human beings.”

Coming out of an unplanned blogging hiatus to share – once again – my favorite Thanksgiving quote:

And so many of the blessings and advantages we have, so many of the reasons why our civilization, our culture, has flourished aren’t understood; they’re not appreciated. And if you don’t have any appreciation of what people went through to get, to achieve, to build what you are benefiting from, then these things don’t mean very much to you. You just think, well, that’s the way it is. That’s our birthright. That just happened. [But] it didn’t just happen. And at what price? What grief? What disappointment? What suffering went on? I mean this. I think that to be ignorant or indifferent to history isn’t just to be uneducated or stupid. It’s to be rude, ungrateful. And ingratitude is an ugly failing in human beings.  ~ David McCullough

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

“Was it love of people?” I asked her.

the-midwifeFrom The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

What had impelled Sister Monica Joan to abandon a privileged life for one of hardship, working in the slums of London’s Docklands? “Was it love of people?” I asked her.

“Of course not,” she snapped sharply. “How can you love ignorant, brutish people whom you don’t even know? Can anyone love filth and squalor? Or lice and rats? Who can love aching weariness and carry on working, in spite of it? One cannot love these things. One can only love God, and through His grace come to love His people.”

 

monday miscellany

Ahhhh. It’s a cold Monday morning here (31 degrees!), and I’m in my warm, cozy bed with a cup of coffee. Perfection!

Here are some odds and ends from around the web:

~ The most common trait in great men

~ The risk of having good habits:

But good advice without reference to Christ is like a car missing its engine, a choir its conductor, or a bark its dog. Or—and this is where it matters—a gospel without any sense of salvation or rescue. Worse, it threatens to become a semi-Pelagian heresy in which the Lord Jesus has supplied something to us by way of initial grace, but now it is up to us to make that grace effective by forming good habits.

~ In this life you will grow up:

In this life we will have trouble and our incessant bookmarking of blogs or reading of bestsellers each promising a way to win friends and influence people, or whatever brand they’re selling, will only serve to show us the discrepancy of where we are and what we’ll never be. God has not called us to love the bodies we want to have, but the bodies we do have. He has not called us to desire the marriages we do not have, but to be faithful within the marriage we do have. He has not called us to stock up for the bills we might someday have, but to steward the finances we do have. He has not called us to settle for a 10-step plan to anything, but to abide in Christ as He abides in us.

In this life we will have trouble. No bestseller from a cool Instagram mom or weekend conference with a man who says he’s not your guru—but really, kinda, sorta is—will alleviate the trouble of living in a world groaning for full redemption. When we feel the pangs of the world we live in, instead of running to water that doesn’t satisfy, empty wells, and broken cisterns, drink deep from the Living Water. Then go live in the body you have, with the singleness you have, with the marriage you have, with the kids you have, with the finances you have—faithfully offering all of it back to the one who awaits with perfection for you.

Are you sensing a theme?

~ The cost of surrounding yourself with negative people:

We are responsible to guard ourselves against certain negative influences. But even a brief analysis shows that the Bible’s warnings do not concern people who may put us into “a negative space” or keep us from soaring like eagles, but people determined to lead us into sin. If we do not have the convictions or maturity to stand firm against temptation, we need to avoid situations and even people who may tempt us into sin.

But what Hollis and Osteen and others teach goes far beyond this. They teach that we need to reject and avoid people who cause us to feel negative emotions or think negative thoughts. Why? Because according to the principles of positive thinking, our thoughts are the power that change and shape the world around us. To get ahead in life we need to get rid of anyone who holds us back. I am convinced this principle is abhorrent and will offer three reasons why.

Do read the whole thing.

~ I’m all caught up with Call the Midwife on Netflix, and I just finished reading Jennifer Worth’s memoir. So good, y’all.

~ I’m on standby for granddaughter #2, arriving any day now. I’m loosely packed and am not making any firm plans for anything else while we wait. I can’t wait to meet this new little person and have some Kenna time. Praying friends: please pray that my daughter knows clearly when to go to the hospital, as she is very anxious to — in her words — GET THIS BABY OUT.

~ I’m finally knitting an Andrea Mowry pattern, and now I see what all the fuss has been about. My first Free Your Fade likely won’t be my last, as I’m thoroughly enjoying the knitting and color changes.

~ Thanks to the accountability and structure of another step challenge at work, I’ve been moving more and feeling all the better for it. Turns out the prescription for my sore, aching hip is to get off it.

~ Unless Baby decides to make an appearance today, I’m looking at some walking, reading, and knitting on this day off from work. Yay!

Happy Monday y’all!

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2018 reading

This year – the year I turned 50 – my reading goal was to complete 50 books. Lo and behold, I read 60!

reading-challenge

Here’s my list, followed by a short list of my favorites for the year:

JANUARY

  1. This Must Be the Place: A Novel – Maggie O’Farrell
  2. Young Jane Young – Gabrielle Zevin
  3. Delores Claiborne – Stephen King
  4. How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem – Rod Dreher
  5. The Temptation of Adam – Dave Connis

FEBRUARY

  1. Death Comes for the Deconstructionist– Daniel Taylor
  2. In Fairleigh Field – Rhys Bowen
  3. The Whole30 Day By Day – Melissa Hartwig
  4. Not Perfect – Elizabeth LaBan
  5. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

MARCH

  1. Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
  2. Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line – Michael Gibney

APRIL

  1. My Berlin Kitchen: Adventures in Love & Life – Luisa Weiss
  2. Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits– Gretchen Rubin
  3. An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
  4. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
  5. Columbine – Dave Cullen
  6. The Dry – Jane Harper
  7. Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

MAY

  1. Last Train to Istanbul – Ayse Kulin
  2. The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges
  3. A Week in Winter -Maeve Binchy

JUNE

  1. The Dinner – Herman Koch
  2. Rainbirds – Clarissa Goenawan
  3. The Relationship Cure – John M. Gottman
  4. The Lake House – Kate Morton
  5. The Lola Quartet – Emily St. John Mandel
  6. Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain

JULY

  1. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
  2. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry – Jon Ronson
  3. This Is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel
  4. Sunburn – Laura Lippman
  5. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson

AUGUST

  1. My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
  2. Charity Detox: What Charity Would Look Like If We Cared About Results – Robern D. Lupton
  3. Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America – Michael Ruhlman
  4. Visible Empire – Hannah Pittard
  5. The Supper of the Lamb – Robert Farrar Capon
  6. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  7. Off Season – Anne Rivers Siddons
  8. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street – Karina Yan Glaser
  9. Snap Judgment (Samantha Brinkman Book 3) – Marcia Clark
  10. The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey

SEPTEMBER

  1. An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew – Anejet van der Zijl
  2. China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
  3. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI – David Grann
  4. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton
  5. The Means – Douglas Brunt
  6. Love and Ruin – Paula McLain
  7. The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

OCTOBER

  1. Suicide of the West – Jonah Goldberg
  2. I’d Rather Be Reading – Anne Bogel
  3. If I’m Dead: A Rachel Knight Story – Marcia Clark
  4. PainFree: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain – Pete Egoscue 

NOVEMBER

  1. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America – Erik Larson

DECEMBER

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneJ.K. Rowling
  2. Decades of Dominance: Auburn Football in the Modern Era – Van Allen Plexico and John Ringer
  3. Defending Jacob – William Landay
  4. The Keto Diet – Leanne Vogel
  5. The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life’s Biggest Questions – Knox McCoy

 

Some mighty fine books this year! Here are my top 5 in no particular order:

  1. This Must Be the Place: A Novel – Maggie O’Farrell
  2. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row – Anthony Ray Hinton
  3. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
  4. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
  5. The Lake House – Kate Morton

If you kept a list, let me know, and please share your favorites!

Happy reading!

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back to normal

hurricane-michaelWhat a week! Hurricane Michael moved through swiftly on Wednesday, leaving a wide swath of destruction. We ended up being on the edge of it, and even without a direct hit, ninety percent of Tallahassee lost power. Trees, power poles, and light poles were (and still are) down all over. We lost cell service for a time. Many roads are still closed.

Panama City and Mexico Beach, along with communities north, were destroyed. Folks there have a long road to recovery ahead, and I can only imagine their suffering.

Our power was restored just after midnight Saturday morning, and we’re already back to normal. We had to throw away everything in our refrigerator and freezer, and we went to the grocery store (Publix rocks!) today to restock. I’ve caught up on laundry, and Paul has the yard whipped back into shape. We had no damage to our house at all, and we continue to remind each other that we have so many reasons to be grateful. Truly, all we experienced were some minor inconveniences.

My parents, in nearby Cairo, Georgia, still don’t have power. Their town was hit pretty hard, and they may not have electricity restored to their neighborhood for days. Their local officials haven’t been forthcoming with information, either, which only adds to the frustration.

As we woke up Thursday morning and realized the extent of the damage, I would not have predicted that I’d be sitting here on Sunday evening, with television on, laptop fully charged, and the refrigerator and air-conditioner humming. Many have been working around the clock to make that possible, and I am thankful! And truthfully, I don’t know why that’s our situation, when that’s not the case for so many.

Life is hard, and it’s harder for some than others. It’s really hard for many in the Florida panhandle and southwest Georgia right now. Would you take some time and pray? And give if you’re able to organizations that are helping? If you’re in this part of the country, churches and other organizations are mobilizing to get in there and help just as soon as they’re allowed in. When I hear about good places to donate, I will pass that along.

Grateful, grateful, grateful!

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hurricane day

We don’t get snow days in these parts very often; more often than not, a mandatory day off is caused by a hurricane. Today’s one of those days. Right now we have electricity, but the rain is picking up, and our satellite is going in and out. I cooked us a good breakfast, took a hot shower, and am on my third cup of coffee just in case those opportunities get scarce later as Hurricane Michael moves our way.

I’m planning to read and knit, and I’m glad the worst of it is expected during daytime hours. When they come through at night, I don’t sleep.

Praying everyone stays safe!

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random thoughts

~ I’m so glad today is game day. I do not want to see or read about or think about politics.

~ Fall? It’s endless summer in these parts. But today I’m going to get out my fall decorations, watch football, and pretend that I don’t live in Florida. I kind of want to cook a pot of chili

~ Last weekend we went to the loveliest village on the plains, and MAN, I love that place.

toomers-corner

It was so very hot.

war-eagle-wall

jordan-hare

~ I got to meet a long time blog, Facebook, and Instagram friend in person! It was so good to meet Ellen. And then I met Van and John from AU Wishbone, my favorite Auburn football podcast. I met Auburn Elvis, too. 🙂

~ Any of y’all have DirecTV? Their new interface is SO bad. Shows are missing from the recordings list in the living room, so I have to watch in the bedroom. So stupid.

~ I’m on my 50th book this year. So many good books!

~ There’s a stretch of wildflowers in the median between Thomasville, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida, that is stunning. But there’s a no cell phone while driving law in Georgia, so I can’t take a photo on my commute. Trust me. It’s gorgeous.

Happy Saturday y’all!

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“…we have to keep choosing each other.”

love-and-ruinFrom Paula McLain’s Love and Ruin:

“We can’t lose sight of what really matters,” I told him, easing against his neck and shoulder and kissing him there.

“Hmm?” he asked sleepily. “We won’t.”

“I mean it, Rabbit. Even when other things come in loud, we have to keep choosing each other. That’s marriage. You can’t only say the words once and think they’ll stick. You have to say them over and over, and then live them out with all you’ve got.”

 

on sleep, or the lack thereof

pillowI’ve mentioned before that I periodically battle insomnia. I’m in one of those battles now, and it’s as maddening as it’s ever been. I go to sleep with no problem, but lately I’ve been waking up between 2 and 3. I look at the clock, breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not time to get up, but then my brain turns on and I can’t turn it off.

I start thinking about concerns I have, and because everything is worse in the dark of night, I begin to borrow trouble, worrying, imagining worst case scenarios, composing to-do lists in my head, and then pretty soon I’m tossing and turning and deep in full-blown anxiety. When I realize this, I pray, confess my unbelief (Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!), and sing hymns in my head. Then, all of a sudden I’m back in the cycle. Rinse and repeat.

So not only am I missing hours of sleep that I need, I’m doing some seriously exhausting battle during those hours.

All the while, Paul snores beside me. God bless him. (I recently came across this line in Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair: “She was a good sleeper, and I took even her power to sleep as an added offense.” One of the things I have to battle in the night is jealousy!)

I don’t know a solution except to accept that this is a season, because this cycle comes and goes. As I said, the issue isn’t falling asleep. That’s no problem. It’s the staying asleep that eludes me. I’ve tried melatonin, and it gives me weird dreams and no improvement in sleep. I’ve tried serious sleeping pills like Lunesta, and while they’ve helped me sleep, that one gives me the worst metallic taste in my mouth the next day. And the last thing I need is a drug habit, so I’ve avoided taking that kind of thing for the past few years. Benadryl doesn’t give me more than 4 good hours of sleep, and, well, that doesn’t cut it. I’ve tried all kinds of little tricks and techniques. Yet…I toss and turn. Perhaps the most effective thing is just to get up and go into the living room to read. At least that’s productive and far less discouraging than checking the clock and fretting about the hard day to come.

I guess there’s no real reason to share all of this except to say that if you’re tossing and turning, you’re not alone. Maybe we could pray for each other. And if you’re a sound sleeper, yay you! Thank God for it!

Groggily,

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“He didn’t know the subject matter?”

sun-does-shineFrom The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton:

“Judge,” my attorney began, “let me make aware to the court that Mr. Hinton has requested the opportunity to testify. I have no particular idea of the subject matter of testimony, so there’s no way of questioning him. I don’t see how it could make any difference if he just testifies.”

He didn’t know the subject matter? The subject matter was this court just convicted me of two cold-blooded murders without any evidence. The subject matter is my attorney just let them find me guilty of two capital offenses based on a third attempted murder that happened while I was at work. The subject matter was my attorney hired a ballistics expert who could hardly see and who was crucified on the stand. The subject matter was the State of Alabama wanted to strap me to Yellow Mama and murder me for crimes I didn’t commit. The subject matter was somebody was trying to kill me and I was fighting for my life. That was the subject matter.