saturday

Good morning!

life-changingOn this first day of a three-day weekend, I’m starting off with coffee and books in bed. I’ve read the local paper (via iPad), done some of my read-through-the-Bible plan, caught up on social media, and finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m late to the party on that one, and now I know why it has mixed reviews. Truly, you could scan it for the bold print tips, but then you’d miss the parts where she bids thank you and farewell to her castoffs. Clearly, Marie Kondo and I have different worldviews. For instance, I don’t believe inanimate objects have feelings, and she believes objects aren’t really inanimate. The cultural differences are evident, too. Having lived in Japan, Europe, and Hawaii, I’m aware of the space and storage differences in housing. We Americans take so much for granted, and I think Kondo takes for granted certain facts of living in Japan. (I will not put my clean dishes outside to dry, thank you.) Also, she mentions stockings throughout the book. Those are not at all a storage issue for me. ūüėČ

The book has inspired me, however, to tackle my closet today. At her suggestion, I plan to take all of my clothes out, only putting back the items that I truly wear and like. She advises asking of each piece, “Does this bring me joy?” ¬†If the answer is no, she thanks the pieces that don’t make the cut.

I won’t be talking to my clothes today, but I will be listening to podcasts as I work.¬†These are currently in my listening rotation:

And now I have questions: What projects do you have planned this weekend? What are your favorite podcasts? What are you reading?

Happy Saturday y’all!

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2017 knitting goals

If you know me, you already know that knitting is my favorite hobby these days. Here’s how that happened: A little over two years ago, a fabulous yarn shop opened up in Thomasville, and some of us at work did a team-building exercise of learning to knit there. I’ve always tended to be busy with my hands — cross-stitch, a brief foray into macram√© back in the day, needlepoint (I’ve got dining room chair cushions and a William Morris framed series to show for that), sewing (for home, for me, for my daughter), and cake-decorating. I’d tried to knit here or there through the years, but it never “took” — mainly because I had no one close by to help me when I hit snags. This time, the utterly inviting and inspiring atmosphere at Fuzzy Goat, the ever-available help and encouragement from Cadence, and a common bond with work peeps combined to make me fall in love with creating with yarn. ¬†I’ve slowly progressed, but I feel that I really learned some new skills in 2016, and I am more¬†confident now that I can tackle harder projects.

So this year, I want to:

  • make a sweater for myself (I’ve made two baby sweaters, but a larger one that really needs to fit will be a challenge.)
  • learn to cable
  • start my Christmas gifts early
  • make a few fun decorative items for our home (maybe a wreath or a seasonal garland for our mantel)
  • visit yarn shops as we travel and pick up souvenir yarn

I recently updated the knitting tab up above, and I’ll try to add to it as I go. I’ve been spending a good bit of time these days on ravelry searching for projects and inspiration. You can find me there as ge0rgianne (the o is a zero).

Here’s my current work-in-progress. It’s a gauzy wrap made with very fine yarn that is causing me to go blind, but I love the color (the gorgeous blue-green does not photograph well) and the softness:

etherial-scarf

Are you a knitter? If so, let me know so I can follow you¬†on ravelry. And if you’re not a knitter or have no clue what I’m talking about, please be patient with these posts. There are other topics here at floridianne, I promise. ūüôā

I’ve got lots to do today around here — cleaning, finally undecorating the Christmas tree, grocery shopping, laundry — but I’m already looking forward to this evening when I can settle into my chair beside Paul and pick up my knitting. That’s when I will relax, feel so at home in our home, and be productive and creative all at the same time! Perfection!

Happy Saturday friends!

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monday miscellany: new year edition

From around the web:

~ Don’t believe in yourself:

One of the most dangerous qualities of pride is that it sneaks into places in our hearts where other sins once lived. We begin to conquer some sinful attitude, or habit, or addiction with God‚Äôs help, and soon enough we marvel at our own strength, or resolve, or purity, as if we somehow accomplished it on our own. C.S. Lewis writes, ‚ÄúThe devil loves ‚Äėcuring‚Äô a small fault by giving you a great one‚ÄĚ (Mere Christianity, 127). The confidence we feel in ourselves after defeating sin can carry us as far away from God as, or even farther than, the sin we defeated.

If we battle some sins, but welcome pride, we will lose the war. But if we suffocate pride, we will starve every other sin of its oxygen.

~ 5 Ways Daily Bible Reading Impacts Your Life. Here’s one:

The Word of God is like an anchor. Each time you read it, you are putting your anchor in the ground and holding on. It keeps you from drifting. But without daily grabbing on to this anchor, you may be miles away before you realize what happened. This is why frequent study and meditation of the Word of God is crucial.

~ Speaking of daily Bible reading, this is the plan I’m using in 2017.

~ Lord, deliver me from distraction.

~ This year I’m planning to use a combination of the lists in the 2017 MMD Reading Challenge, with an emphasis on reading books I already own.

My New Year has started off well. I’m off work today and still in my pajamas!

Happy New Year & Happy Monday!

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happy new year

I’m not as sad to see 2016 go as so many folks are. For me personally, 2016 was one of the good years: My granddaughter was born, we moved into our new home, and peace and healing came to my family. But I am glad for the fresh start of a new year. It’s a good opportunity¬†to revisit some abandoned disciplines, regain some self-control in taking care of myself, and evaluate how I’m spending my time.

In this new year, I’m also planning to read more from my own shelves, improve my knitting skills, and write a little more. Sounds like the best laid plans of mice and men, right? No, I won’t meet all my goals, but I’m a firm believer that I have better odds of moving forward if I have ¬†something ahead of me to move towards.

Thank you for sticking around for the random posts that appear here from time to time! I pray you have a peaceful 2017.

Happy New Year!

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2016 reading wrap-up

As I’ve mentioned, I made my 2016 reading goals via the ¬†Challies 2016 Reading Challenge. I didn’t quite make it, but I’m okay with that because I feel like my reading life was reinvigorated this year, even as my work life was super busy . I didn’t stick to the categories in the reading challenge, but this rule-follower is actually okay with that, too. Here’s what I read this year, followed by my five favorites of the year:

bestillA book about Christian living: ¬†Be Still, My Soul (25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain). I started this one last year and finished it on New Year’s Day.

I recommend this collection of essays from noted theologians like J.I. Packer, Joni Eareckson Tada, Martin Luther, and John Piper. My favorite essay was from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

fierceA biography: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, Poet, Abolitionist, Reformer by Karen Swallows Prior

This is a fascinating read that I will be thinking about long after today. I hope to share more soon.

energyA self-improvement book: The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon

We’re going through this book at work. It’s a quick read, so I finished it in just a few days.

A classic novel: Lord of the Flies by William Golding flies

How in the world did I miss this book all these years? It was a page-turner, and I loved its depths. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t wait!

domoreA book about productivity: Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies

This was another good read. I’m planning to set aside some time this coming weekend to set up the system he recommends. I appreciated how he reminds the reader why we should strive to be productive.

wowA book about theology: Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin

This is a really good resource for women who want to know God’s Word better. It is both practical and encouraging, and I’ll be referring to it again, I’m sure.

happinessA book about joy or happiness: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I didn’t love this one. Part of the problem may have been the format; I listened to the book on my commute via Audible, and I don’t think it’s a book that works that way. The author read it, and I found her voice distracting. Also, she would periodically read excerpts from emails or blog comments, and I had trouble distinguishing when she was referring to herself or reading something someone else wrote. I suspect I would have taken more away from the book if I’d actually read it. There are a few ideas that have stuck with me, however. One was an idea she repeated: being heavy is easy, but being light-hearted is hard. It takes effort. ¬†Also, she talked about the idea of enthusiasm as¬†a form of social courage. I’ve thought about that one a good bit, too. If you’re looking for a book on happiness, I think Happiness Is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager is a better choice.

bonhoefferA book that won a ECPA Christian Book award: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

I’ve owned this one on Kindle for a long time, and countless people have recommended it to me but for some reason I’ve only just now gotten to it. It’s very good. I really appreciate good biographies as a way to learn more history, and although I’d heard and read a bit about Bonhoeffer through the years, I’d never known the full story in the context of Nazi Germany. I wish I’d been able to read this before I visited Berlin a few years ago. Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it.

feed

A book with a one-word title: Feed by M.T. Anderson

Yuck. I really, really didn’t like this book, but I have this compulsion to see a book all the way through, hoping that surely it gets better. It didn’t.

gossipgospelA book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle: Gossip and the Gospel: Understanding the Harmful Effects of Gossip in the Church – Timothy Williams

I was disappointed in this one. There’s some good stuff here – some painful conviction and some guidance on handling gossip, slander, etc. But there are also verses out of context and some condemnation that lacks the Gospel.

santini

A memoir:  The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while now, but it moved up in the queue upon the author’s recent passing. Pat Conroy was a master of the English language, and as a southerner I especially appreciate his love of the south. Even though he made peace with his father, his story is still a very sad one.¬†‚ÄúIn families, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.‚ÄĚ

guiltA mystery or detective novel: The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I enjoy Connelly’s stories, but this one wasn’t my favorite. It got better about 3/4 of the way in, but just wasn’t a stand out.

severeA book you own but have never read:  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

This one has been on my shelf for years, and many folks have recommended it. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations after all of the rave reviews.

signatureofA book by a female author: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I really cannot recommend this one at all. I really enjoyed the first part, but then it took a strange, slow, ultimately boring turn. I didn’t like any of the characters, either. Very disappointing.

cellistA novel set in a country that is not your own: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

This one is good. I visited Sarajevo a few years ago, so I could picture the scenes as I read. I’ve put more of his books on my to-read list.

bloodA book with an ugly cover: Blood Defense (Samantha Brinkmann Book 1) by Marcia Clark

This one was free on Kindle recently, so I gave it a try. It was a decent thriller, and I read the whole thing hearing Maria Clark’s voice¬†as the narrator.

I can’t find a proper category for this one, so I’ve made up my own — A science fiction book that Anne didn’t hate: ¬†The Martian by Andy Weir¬†martian

Although too science-y at times, this story moved along. The main character is hilarious. Now, I can finally watch the movie.

parisbookA book about a country or city:   Paris by Edward Rutherford

I love Rutherford’s novels. He weaves stories with history and makes a place come alive in a most compelling way. This one was no exception. Now I really want to return to Paris.

A book about relationships or friendship: The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy friendshipMcGinnis

I wish I could remember where I saw this book recommended so I could give proper credit, but alas, I cannot. It was a fairly quick read with some helpful encouragement. Kindle isn’t the best format for reading books like this, however. It would be nice to have a paper copy to flip back through.

prayingA book about prayer:¬†Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell

It took me a ridiculously long time to finish this book, and I think I would have liked it more if I’d read it more diligently. He makes some good points, but if you’re looking for a good book on prayer, I’d recommend Paul Miller’s A Praying Life.

A book with 100 pages or fewer:¬†Found: God’s Peace — Experience True Freedom from Anxiety in Everything by John MacArthur¬†anxiety

This is a quick read, and honestly I found it too simplistic. If you’re truly struggling with anxiety, get thee to the Psalms (which, to be fair, MacArthur does recommend). Books like this frustrate me because they make a complicated problem sound so easy to solve.

hammerA Christian novel: The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz

I was inspired to read this one by this article, which called this “the best Christian novel you’ve never heard of.” ¬†That is probably overstating it, but I enjoyed it and will be thinking about some of the story lines for a while. I marked several beautiful lines and passages.

A book published in 2016: Everything We Keep: A Novel by Kerry Lonsdale everythingwekeep

I got this one for free via Amazon’s Kindle First deal. It was compelling enough to draw me in, but it had some weaknesses. There were some just plain unbelievable events and some things didn’t add up. It was a good beach read, even though I didn’t read it at the beach.

mightierI’m making up another category — A book that’s part of a series that I feel compelled to¬†see through:¬†Mightier Than the Sword: A Novel (Clifton Chronicles Book 5)¬†by Jeffrey Archer

I couldn’t pass this one up when the Kindle version was marked down several months ago. I usually enjoy Archer’s fiction, but this series has too many coincidences.¬†Each book ends with a cliffhanger, however, that necessitates purchasing the next book.

A book with at least 400 pages: Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave brave

This one is just lovely — beautifully written, at once sorrowful and hopeful. Set in London in World War II, the story isn’t fast-paced, but the characters and prose are compelling.

swansA book based on a true story: The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin

This one is one of the most fun books I’ve read this year. Based on the story of how Truman Capote betrayed his “swans” — high society ladies who lunch — by writing about the stories they’d confided in him, it’s tragic but well written.

A memoir: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas threedog

This one came with high praise — it’s Stephen King’s favorite memoir. I can’t say that I “enjoyed” it because it’s sad, but she is a good writer.

fikryA book about adoption:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was recommended for ISTJs by¬†Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I just had to read it. And I really enjoyed this one, y’all! Sweet, sad, hopeful, and full of book quotes and references. I jotted down lots of quotes.

A book with a great cover: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro  perfume

I really wanted to like this one, but it was just meh to me.

A book about science:

habitThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

This one was interesting and worth the read.

Fiction:

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalenwishweretrue

This one was free on Kindle, and I saw it recommended somewhere else. It was another one in the “meh” category.

Non-fiction/Business:

teamplayerThe Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni

We read this one in our office book club. Much of the book is a parable, and then the author explains the three virtues for the remainder. Good stuff to think about.

Fiction:

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams infintesea

This one was another mediocre one for me. It had potential, but didn’t land for me.

breath

A book on the current New York Times list of best sellers:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This one lived up to the hype, and I’m so glad because I’ve had a run of disappointing books going. I cried at the conclusion, and I never cry when reading. (Movies and tv are a different story.)

Fiction:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah  nightingale

This one was really good, and it restored my hope that there is some good modern fiction out there.

Fiction:

courseofloveThe Course of Love: A Novel by Alain de Botton

Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended this one, and it is a very unusual book. But I found myself copying down passages (it was a library copy, so I couldn’t mark it up). Lots to think about in this one.

Fiction:

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney ¬†nest

And now back to mediocre fiction. People seem to either love or hate this one, but I found myself thinking “meh.”

hillbilly

A book written by an author with initials in his/her name:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

This one lived up to the hype. He’s a great story-teller, and he draws some conclusions that shouldn’t be ignored.

Fiction:

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense by Amy Gentry goodasgone

And we’re still in the mediocre fiction rut. This one was a Book of the Month Club selection. It’s a decent beach read, but honestly I’ll never give it another thought.

Fiction:

stilllifeStill Life by Louise Penny

Everyone and her mother seems to be recommending this series, and this is the first I’ve read. I’m not sure that I’ll pick up another. To be fair, it took me too long to read it, so I couldn’t keep the threads of the story straight.

Fiction:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani  yonahlossee

I really liked this one for about the first half, and after that I just forced myself to finish it. Too much ickiness for my tastes.

Non-fiction:

driveDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Interesting read. Lots of suggestions and exercises at the back of the book, too.

 

A book written by a Puritan:

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyangrace-abounding

A classic. I strung it out too long and lost the flow, but I still found some nuggets.

Non-fiction:

blog-incBlog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

This one was really cheap on Kinde, and I’d hoped for some tips to reinvigorate the old blog. There was nothing new here, though. Bet you wish there were! ūüėČ

 

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So that’s it. I read 44 books this year. Here’s my top five, in no particular order:

1. Paris by Edward Rutherford

2. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

I’ve got a plan for my 2017 reading. Stay tuned & Happy Reading!

**Full disclosure: When you click on any of the book links here at georgianne and then make a purchase, Amazon tosses a few pennies my way. Thanks for supporting my book habit!

random thoughts

~ Taking a photo of cars (license plates) going slow in the left lane and then posting them to a website: If this is not a thing, it should be. Let’s out these inconsiderate, oblivious menaces to good order.

~ Really, my commute is very easy. But some days it’s a battle.

~ Those little chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s. Totally addicting.

~ Tieks are awesome. I finally got a pair, and they feel so good. Yes, they’re pricey, but I’ve learned that the shoes I spend money on last me a lot longer than cheap ones. And the older I get, the less I’m willing to tolerate uncomfortable shoes. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recent review¬†is what prompted me to finally try a pair.

~ Every year around this time, I vow to do my Christmas shopping throughout the following year so I don’t get myself into the same old mess. One day I’ll learn.

~ Some people are very difficult to buy for. (Yes, I ended that with a preposition. It happens.)

Gotta run,

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monday miscellany

Rainy days and Mondays…make for a short list:

~ I’m glad to see someone talking about this: All sins are equal, and further reflections on the belief that “all sins are equal.”

~ Chuy’s Creamy Jalape√Īo Dip copycat recipe. I really want to make this but I’m afraid it would set off a binge the likes of which I’ve never seen. That stuff is good, y’all.

~ 25 books to read when you feel like the world is falling apart. I actually don’t feel like the world is falling apart, but it’s an interesting list nonetheless. I’d put at the top Island of the World, my favorite novel. I’m going to read it again in 2017.

~ And last, a little something to think about on this Monday from Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink:

Think about yourself. Does what energizes you‚ÄĒwhat gets you up in the morning and propels you through the day‚ÄĒcome from the inside or from the outside? What about your spouse, your partner, or your children? How about the men and women around you at work? If you‚Äôre like most people I‚Äôve talked to, you instantly have a sense into which category someone belongs.

Happy Monday, y’all!

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lately

Things have been busy but good around here. Most notably, Paul and I traveled to Tennessee last weekend to have Christmas with my children and their families, along with their father and his wife. It was a wonderful time of celebrating together, and all of us were grateful for the healing and grace that allowed¬†us to gather. My daughter and her husband hosted us for a delicious meal, and my sweet granddaughter was passed around and cuddled. She’s a gift!

 

I knitted some gifts this year. Below are a scarf for Anna, and a cardigan for Kenna. I forgot to take a photo of the scarf I made for Caroline:

(I couldn’t resist getting Kenna some skinny jeans! Jersey-lined, with an elastic waistband!)

We continued our tradition of visiting McKay’s, and I finally stopped by Genuine Purl and picked up a skein of yarn I can’t get locally. We also had some Mojo Burrito.

Outside of Genuine Purl, these leaves took my breath away:

ginko

Caroline cut my hair, too! I got the luxury salon treatment and a new do! (Photo by Caroline – @haircrash on instagram):

hair

We gave the kids record players! (totally Paul’s idea!). We celebrated to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin:

record

Paul washed dishes, and I snuggled sweet baby girl:

I’ll leave you with this one (photo by Will). It cracks me up every time I see it!

amazed

Gotta run — super busy Saturday!

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“There may be no finer words in Scripture.”

heartFrom Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives

God does not forgive you based on the quality of your confession or your resolve to be a better person. But you keep thinking otherwise. Your standard is what you would do to someone like yourself, and chances are that you would not let the incident pass quickly. God, however, forgives for his own name‚Äôs sake. ‚ÄúI, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more‚ÄĚ (Isaiah 43:25). There may be no finer words in Scripture. God bases his forgiveness on himself and his forgiving character, not on the quality of your confession.

bittersweet

Some of you know some of my story — of how my husband of twenty-two years insisted on walking away from our marriage. This happened over four years ago, and sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s my story. Friends have encouraged me to write more about that experience and what I’ve learned, but it’s really hard for a variety of reasons. First, it’s not only my story. It’s also my children’s, and I’m sensitive to that and to the fact that he is their father. Second, I don’t want to overshare, and I don’t want to dwell. And, honestly, it still stings. But I think I should share what I can, because I remember how very desperate I was for every morsel of encouragement and hope when I was in that deep, dark valley. If my story can help someone else, I’m selfish to keep it to myself. So if I can figure out ways to put my thoughts together, I’ll share them here from time to time.

One of the things I’ve found curious as I’ve moved through these past years post-divorce is how my previous life seems like it’s not my life. Everything I found out was such a shock, such a complete and total up-ending of the life we built for over two decades, that I really don’t know what was real and what wasn’t. I’ve questioned everything.

But as I decorated the Christmas tree last week and unwrapped hundreds of mementoes collected throughout all those years, I was reminded that YES, I did live that life. It happened. The memories are real. I really did visit those places, make those friends, worship in those churches, make a home over and over again. I cared. I loved. I didn’t just dream it. And even thought that life is gone now, I still remember.

hulasanta

so many memories of our 8 years in Hawaii on the tree

mosaicstar

evidence of my brief foray into smashing plates and making ornaments

japanorn

a souvenir from our 2 years in Japan

britorn

I bought this one in my favorite city — London

So I decorated the tree feeling that now ever-present sense of bittersweetness. I felt sorrow but I wasn’t crushed by it. I took joy in remembering and was thankful for that. Surely that’s progress, right? I can’t take credit for the progress, but I know the One who can.

If you’re where I found myself about four years ago, or if you know someone who is, I can tell you that it gets better. It’s not a straight line, but more like a crazy stock market graph with lots of highs and lows. Pain hits at the oddest times , and it still hurts to say “ex-husband.” But God is always good and faithful, and I’ve found that He comes through for me. It’s often not in a way I expect or even want, but He’s faithful. Even when I’m hanging ornaments on a tree.

This I know.

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