What’s on your bookshelf?

I love words.

Ergo, I love books.  And anything that collates words.

If I could, I would spend all of my spare money on books, however seeing as spare money is a fable in my parts, the amount of books I own is inversely disproportionate to  the amount of books I read.  I am so very grateful for the amazing library we have here in our town, and the generosity of fellow book-loving friends, which means I have an endless supply of material to satisfy my craving to consume words.

Anne over at Modern Mrs Darcy is hosting a link up for we bibliophiles to share our love for all things book related – what we read, where we read, where we store it all.  At the moment, the vast majority of our books are stored in boxes in the garage while our back room is (slowly) being made-over.  So for now, my books are contained to my little bedside table shelf:

bookshelf

Books in current ‘rotation’ live on top of the table and I pick up whatever I feel like reading at the time.  On the shelf at the moment:

books

On the list at the moment (in no particular order) –

Train Like A Mother – Sarah Bowen Shea & Dimity McDowell.  Trying to kick my more-comfortable-on-the-couch-with-a-book bum into gear (by reading a book.  Yep, I see the irony), and I love how these ladies write and encourage.

The Power of a Praying Wife/Parent/Woman – Stormie Omartian.  This has become my go-to book for simple, relevant, relateable insight and wisdom.  I really relate to Stormie’s experiences and writing, and I love her heart for seeking and pressing into God.

Reading Like A Writer – Francine Prose.  I haven’t started this one yet, but picked it up from the library on recommendation of some writer bloggers whose art I love.

Sacred Rhythms – Ruth Haley Barton.  This book.  This book is permanently on my bedside table.  I’ve read through it completely once, and am working through it again.  It’s definitely a one-chapter-at-a-time read for me, I need to let the words sit and marinate and take root in me – not an overnight experience!

Lord, Teach Me To Study The Bible In 28 Days – Kay Arthur.  I’m normally somewhat allergic to ‘Do this in 1-2-57 steps/days/practices’ etc etc, but I love Kay Arthur’s inductive study technique, and I’m starting with this book to get into the habit of delving into the word each day.

Lead Me, Holy Spirit: Longing To hear The Voice Of God – Stormie Omartian – This has become another one-chapter-at-a-time book, simply because it is so rich and makes my brain work to take in and absorb what I’m reading.  So inspiring and encouraging, again Stormie’s heart for connecting with the Trinity shows through her words.

I Quit Sugar – Sarah Wilson.  I love sugar probably as much as I love books.  Only I hate what it does to my body.  I definitely have an addictive nature when it comes to sugar, and I love this post from Anne about the real danger of sugar in our diet.  I’ve realised I am most definitely an abstainer, it’s all-or-nothing when it comes to sugar.  Sarah is a passionate advocate of the benefit of a sugar-free life, and her book is a very easy-to-read, often confronting but encouraging guide to eliminating sugar from your diet, without missing out on the sweet things in life.

Knits Men Want – Bruce Weinstein.  My eldest son (16) asked me to knit him a jumper (sweater).  A simple, fitted jumper ‘like my school jumper’.  I was barely able to contain my joy at this request, and I totally underplayed the whole thing for fear of scaring him off with my wildly rampant ecstasy that HE. ASKED. ME. TO. KNIT. HIM. SOMETHING!!!!  Turns out finding a pattern for a very simple, fitted, casual jumper wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I’m not confident enough to make my own pattern up yet.  Ravelry to the rescue, and a quick search on my library database had this gem delivered to my doorstep.  Mission accomplished!

Streams In The Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings – Mrs Charles E Cowman.  A dear friend gave this to me when I was baptised 7 years ago, and whilst it’s lain forgotten off an on over the years, it it a wonderfully rich source of inspiration and encouragement.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are – Ann Voskamp.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this beautiful creation?  I haven’t actually finished reading it the whole way through yet, and for me, it’s been because it’s been so confronting.  I struggle with finding joy every day, in the very day, because I tend to get weighed down by all the stuff of life.  I’m in a season now where I need the truth of Ann’s words, as hard as they may be for me to read and start living out every single day.

Help. Thanks. Wow: The Three Essential Prayers – Anne Lamott.  New on my current reading pile, loving what I’ve read so far.

Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life – Anne Lamott.  I’ve been waiting to read this ever since I first discovered it on a writer’s blog (not sure whom it was exactly, so many of my favourite bloggers recommend this treasure!).  Again, loving what I’ve read so far, and so encouraged and inspired by how Anne breaks down the writing process to a ‘one inch square’ view.  I can do that.

Principles of the Enneagram – Karen A Webb.  Anne introduced me to the Enneagram personality typing, and as with MBTI (I’m an INFJ, for the record), I’ve been able to tangibly realise nuances and elements of my personality that I couldn’t quite articulate before.  This was the first book I found and ordered through my library, I’m going to look for more Christian-centred, in-depth writings on the subject.  Any recommendations welcomed!

A Reliable Wife – Robert Goolrick.  Another blogger recommendation, through the first chapter so far, verdict’s still out on this one.

Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro.  Winning this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature brought Alice to my attention, especially the description of her writing as being ‘observations of life around her’.  I haven’t read much in the way of short stories, but I’m finding that they’re perfect for this current phase of my life, where my reading time is limited to a chapter at a time, and I’m looking forward to discovering more short story writers.

The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life – Twyla Tharp.  Yet another blogger recommendation, and one that’s really resonating with me even in the early stages of the book.  Tharp uses her extensive experience as an artist to frame the ‘how to’ of developing creative habits – life habits, really – in a tangible way that doesn’t leave you thinking ‘I’m not an artist like she is, I can’t do that’.  Loving this read so far.

kindle

My current Kindle reads:

A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live – Emily P. Freeman.  I discovered Emily’s blog last year, and have inhaled every word she’s written ever since.  So many times I find a part of my heart singing, I breathe ‘yes’ to so many words, I squirm when I’m challenged by her questions and musings and just all. the words.  This book, Emily’s third (but the first one I’ve read), is all this and so much more.  It is re-defining what I understand of art, of living as an artist, of just showing up every day and being the image-bearer God created me to be.  I’ll be ordering a physical copy to live on my bedside table, because this is not a single-read book.

Abundant Simplicity: Discovering The Unhurried Rhythms Of Grace – Jan Johnson.  Tsh Oxenreider’s list of summer reading brought this collection of inspiration to me.  It’s yet another one-chapter-at-a-time read, one that I’ve taken copious notes on and am on my way to filling a couple of notebooks with reflections and responses to Jan’s words and questions.  I’m finding it challenging, confronting, and sometimes my answers leave a sour taste in my mouth – not because of the writing, but because of what comes out of me in response.

One Thousand Gifts Devotional – Ann Voskamp.  A beautiful accompaniment to ‘One Thousand Gifts’, learning to find joy in the every day.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual – Michael Pollan. My whole view and philosophy on food and it’s place in my life has been changing over the last few years, and I often feel that the more I learn, the more I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that everything’s ok.  Only it’s not.  Due to some health issues I’m having to redefine what is ok for me and what’s not, but it’s more than that – I want to use food in a way that leaves minimum impact on the environment, and that nourishes my family well.  I’m only early into this one, but can already sense that this will be a great ‘how to’ for this process.

The Creative Call: An Artist’s Response to the Way of the Spirit – Janice Elsheimer.  I struggle with focus and direction, especially when it comes to creativity.  I’ve been working through ‘The Creative Call’ off and on for a while now, and know that each time I put it down, it’s because I’m challenged and become fearful.  To quote Jon Acuff, it’s time to punch fear in the face, and let Love rule (that last bit was all Lenny).

I thought this would be a quick little post to link up with Anne and discover what fellow bloggers are reading.  Not so much!  But it was fun, now I’m looking forward to finding inspiration and add to my ever-growing ‘to read’ list.

Any recommendations?  This list has been a bit light-on with fiction, I’d love to find some new authors to dig into.

I am here

 

I originally wrote this post just over 6 months ago on a previous blog, and came across it whilst looking for some work to re-post while I do some ‘behind the scenes’ work on this new space.  Funny, very little has changed in the last 6 months, and what I wrote still reflects where I am right now.

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I read a lot.  Not as much as I used to (i.e. before kids.  And knitting.), but still a lot.  Blogs, books, magazines (IRL and online), e-mail, newlsetters, general miscellaneous.  So I take in a lot of information, and am still constantly surprised by how God uses what I read to speak to me at certain times in my life.

Now would be one of those times.

When I started this blog (a whole two posts ago), I wrote about how I’m trying to work out who I am (oh dear, yes, I get how pretentious that sounds…).  I’m figuring that I’m on the right track with exploring this path, because over the last few days, it seems that everything I’ve read has been bringing my focus back to this journey.  Nothing more so than Emily Freeman’s e-mail newsletter that landed in my inbox today (if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do today, it’s to go and meet Emily.  And sign up for her newsletter, I promise you won’t be disappointed!).

Emily recounts a story of going to a mall and having to work out where she was, which meant going to a map and looking for the red dot on the map that tells you where you are.  She then goes on to talk about an experience of having to introduce herself at a retreat, and being instructed to ‘share your red dot’.  Where she was right there and then – not her past, and not her future.  Her present.

In trying to work out what to do, to work out where to go, I haven’t stopped to see where I am.

Where my red dot is, right now.

I keep reflecting on where I’ve come from, and setting goals of where I want to go – all good exercises in seeking God and His purpose for me, but how do I move forward if I don’t know where I’m planted right now?

Huh.

Right now?

I’m tired.

There’s an ever-present longing.

I want to cry, but I can’t.

I’ve become so good at managing and containing my emotions (i.e. not letting them out), that I can’t even feel the fullness of the joy and gratitude I’m living right now.

God has answered my longest, most desired prayer in the fullness that He promised, and it still feels like something’s missing.

My house and daily life is a mess.

I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up at home and at work.

I’m re-evaluating my priorities with my time committments, and making some hard choices.

I am blessed beyond measure.

There is so much I want to write right now to temper what I’ve said, to balance what I’ve written with the positive take on things, and it’s really hard for me not to, because all that above?  Feels so whingy and whiny, but it’s where I am right now.

Maybe it is whingy and whiny.  And selfish.  And self-indulgent.

Even so, it’s honest, it’s me and my life right now, and might be the most truthful thing I’ve written in a while.

I’ve been encouraged by these ladies and their honesty in the last few days (and weeks), and I know I’m not on my own in this time of life.  Not in my real life, or in my online life.  I have been so encouraged – and challenged – by reading words that come from a real person’s heart, and grateful that they have had the courage to share, to lay their words bare for me to be blessed by.

I had the absolute joy to take part in a live Influence Network class today, hosted by the beautiful Ellen Parker (being home sick has to bring *some* joy, surely!!)  My participation was somewhat fragmented, as my internet connection dropped in and out, but I was so filled with joy and encouragement by Ellen’s teaching and the other ladies, and I was reminded, yet again, just how much God has created us to share, to teach and to connect.  To think and explore, and to dwell.

I am here.  Wherever ‘here’ is.  And I will be content in the knowledge that here is where I’m supposed to be (somebody please remind me of that when I get all whiny again…….)

And so on

Persévérance

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So, except for 1 day, I completed another 31 Days challenge, and I can tell you, it felt so good.

You see, I’m not known for my stick-to-it-iveness or consistency when it comes to finishing things I start.  Not so much the major things (like parenting, for instance – not the kind of job you can just give up on when you get tired of it.  As much as there are days when I wish you could….).  Going to uni and getting my nursing degree was really the first thing in my life I started and finished, and it’s taken until being well entrenched in my 30’s for me to really get it.

I don’t finish things I start, and give up way too easily because essentially, I behave like a spoiled brat.

Yep.

I start something, whether it’s something I’ve done before, or something new – be it a new creative endeavour, study, fitness, clean eating, DIY – and inevitably there’s a point of ‘I’m bored/ tired/ sick of this/hungry’ or ‘it’s really difficult/ boring/ challenging/ confronting’, and so more often than not, I just walk away (again, not the big things – I go to work and I parent my kids and work on my relationships, which are all the definitions of challenging and difficult at times!).

And always feel either guilty, or full of regret.  Or both.

I always end up feeling like a failure.

It’s actually become my comfort zone, because it’s what’s familiar.  Start, stop.  Start, stop.

It can take me months, even years to finish a creative project, because I get bored, or distracted by something shiny and new.

I start a new fitness routine, and then it gets too hard, and too uncomfortable, and sitting on the couch with a book is always a better option.

I change my diet to what I know is so much better, but then just cannot resist that one sweet thing or piece of artisan bread, and it’s all over.

I’ve started numerous study courses, and ultimately end up deferring because there’s always something more important to deal with (but really, I don’t want to put in the hard work).

I get started on a house project, and it takes months and months and months because, well – I could list a thousand reasons, but ultimately, I get bored and find something better to do.  Like sit on the couch with a book.

On and on it goes.  Nearly ever time.

Rinse, repeat.

Cue guilt and inadequacy.

But here’s the thing.

If I start with the expectation of not finishing – as I do nearly every single time (because it’s what’s nearly always happened) – I’m giving myself permission to fail.  And because it’s been my pattern for so long, the people who know me best pretty much expect this to happen, so there are no surprises.  There are low to no expectations, therefore I’m not likely to disappoint anyone when I don’t live up to them.

U-huh.

I know.

I’m awesome at self-sabotage.  And making excuses.  And justifying anything.

Only it’s not working anymore, because inside my head?  I can’t get away from me, and every time, I know the truth – this is not who I was made to be.

I’ve come to believe the lies of the enemy – self-indulgence,  fear, comparison, unworthiness, there’s-something-better, distraction.  And they’ve defined whom I’ve come to be.

Only that’s not who I am.  It’s not who I AM has created me to be.  I am created to be His masterpiece, so I can do all the good things he planned for me so long ago.

Pretty simple, really.  And by allowing myself to be distracted by the world, to believe the lies of the enemy, I’m not living in the fullness who God has made me to be.  No wonder I’m so often left feeling empty and wanting.

But.

Here’s the beautiful thing.  Because I have been made by the hands of God, because I am a new creation in Jesus, I can rest in the truth that I if I listen to Him, I can do anything in His strength, anything that will show His goodness to the world.  Whether that’s writing a blog, painting my house, planting a garden, talking with a friend, writing a report for work – it’s all God, all the time.  I don’t need to rely on my own self to do any of this – history shows that doesn’t often end particularly well when I do!

I don’t find it easy to trust God with what I think is my responsibility.  Which is pretty much everything in my life.  I think if I don’t deal with it, if I don’t take control, it won’t get done, and I’ll have failed.  Again.  And I’m tired of that.  So very, very tired.

This is why finishing the 31 Day writing challenge was such a big deal to me.  I started it, I kept going – even when I wanted to give up – and I finished.

Because God was all over it.

It wasn’t perfect.  It wasn’t how I wanted it to be.  Sometimes I wrote with a half-hearted effort.  But it was done.

And now?  I didn’t create this blog to write for 31 days and be done with it.  So on it goes.  Where, exactly, I really don’t know.

But it’s going to be fun finding out.

What are your barriers, bumps in the road, things that prevent you from achieving what you set out to do?  How do you deal with them?