What I’m Into – April

Hello lovelies! Another month has come and gone. April was good to me, though I spent the majority of the month swamped. It feels good to have time to reflect on what I loved and learned last month. (What I was into the last week of April: R&R!) Linking up with Leigh to share what I’m into.

What I Read:
-I read Marcus Borg for the first time this month. When he passed in January, I reserved two of his books from my local library. And since I’d run out of renewals (oops) I finished them up this month. I may have been a little intimidated because I’m not a scholar. There was nothing to be afraid of, for me. I picked up Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (4/5) and Evolution of the World (3/5). These books touched on similar themes and often repeated themselves. I enjoyed them both but ultimately wished they were longer (yep, a 500 page book needed to me longer) and had a little more depth. He glossed over ideas as facts, then skipped past them, whereas I wanted more of an explanation. Guess that means I need to do more reading!
-#girlboss by Sophia Amorosa (4/5). Found this in the new and relevant section, so I grabbed it for a quick read. Not the standard book I’d pick up but she had some great insights about business, professionalism and running a company.
-Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (4/5). So good. A collection of short stories and poetry. Not everything is a hit but there’s so much variety you can find a favorite easily.
-The Last Letter to Your Lover by Jojo Moyers (4/5). The setting of this book felt very much like Mad Men, as the stories are set around the same time. The story is split into two parts, then and now. Then takes up most of the novel with now taking up the last fourth.
-Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith (3/5). I’d read mixed reviews before picking this book up. I understand why once I read the book. Some modernization elements I like, others I thought fell flat. I didn’t enjoy this book (but if you love Emma, you probably will).

Given the amount of 3 and 4 star books I read in April, I can see why I’ve been itching to read something I really love. I read 9 books in April bringing my total up to 42.

What I Listened To:
-Home by Josh Garrels. I haven’t listened to this album too much yet. But I know it’ll be one of those albums that will stick with me.
-Ioexa by Copeland. Haunting and beautiful.

What I Watched:
-Once Upon a Time. The Robin centric ep was my favorite. I still have mixed feelings about the Cruella ep.
-Greys. I haven’t watched this show for a while because of time issues. I remembered it was on last week and decided to watch it. Bad move. Ughhh, I don’t want to talk about it. Still not over it.
-Star Wars – The Clone Wars: Picked this series up during Celebration. I hear it gets better past season 1. (if you see jar-jar in the description, it’s probably safe to skip that episode)

What Else I Listened to, Podcasts:
-I listened to a lot of podcasts this month. There were a couple days where I was anxious and needed the extra noise to focus on what I was doing. I expanded my borders and picked up a few new podcasts.
-The Boredom Experiment. Photographers Jeremy and Ash Parsons have lived their lives online. Now: they embark on a new journey, a year without social media. So far they have two podcasts up, one about how the idea began and the second about how their two oldest boys were effected by their parents use of social media.
-Dear Sugar. I loved Cheryl’s memoir Wild so I thought I’d check out her podcast. I really enjoyed the episodes I listened to. Definitely a podcast I’ll be coming back to.
-This American Life. Caught up on a few episodes I downloaded and missed. I really like this series, because it makes me think critically about the things around me.

I’ve downloaded two more that I haven’t started yet: Sorta Awesome and The Liturgist Podcast.

What Else I’m Into:
-One of the coolest things I saw come out of RHE’s book release (besides the awesome Searching for Sunday itself) were these printings. Ruth is so talented, creating a work based on each of the Sacraments. I was taken aback when I first saw these. They are so rich and gorgeous and meaningful. ❤ I love them, I love art. Here’s the link to check them out. And by popular demand she’s made them available for purchase on her Society6 page.
-I did a series of writing this month during Holy Week. I was apprehensive about it at first but I loved the results (coming soon to a blog near you, I hope).
-Summer is almost here. Though I’m not a fan of the weather, I’m so grateful for the possibilities it brings with it. I’m looking for renewal, recharging and growth.
-The weather on the last day of April was the perfect spring weather! 70s and breezy. Just what I needed.

What I Instagrammed:
-My favorite snap this month was a plane, of course. I love when my travel takes me near the airport.

May Goals:
-Painting. I have one project in progress and a couple in mind, so I want to get those done this month.
-Make a dent in my to-read stack. Besides the fun, I do have a few practical research books in there.
-Pick up a few new books. New releases from Rachelle Dekker and Jamie Tworkowski are coming out this month, among others, which I’m super excited about.
-Write. Both in generally and here on the blog.
-Training. I need to get myself in shape now that I’m going to have a little more free time.
-Find a few more ways to have fun. Because why not, right?

Until next month, lovelies! I hope May is everything you want and more. ❤

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Review: Searching for Sunday

Searching for Sunday is the third book released by Rachel Held Evans. It’s also her best work to date.

Searching for Sunday is one of the most important books on millennials in the church to date. If you have ever wanted to know more about why the younger generation is leaving churches and finding new ones, read this book. If you are struggling with where you fit into the church, read this book. If you feel you can’t belong because you have too much doubt, read this book.

Parts of this book are Rachel’s own story, how she grew up in the church and fell in love with its people. There are also stories about the people she has met and experiences they’ve had. People she’s met through her blog, speaking engagements, church and airports. These are stories of real people, who are finding their footing in faith. Rachel gets a lot of flack online for her views but I never feel more inclusion for others more than when I read her words. She reminds me that the gospel is for everyone. My favorite chapters were the short ones, reflecting on what our faith truly is. Those were the ones that reminded me why I believe what I do.

The book is divided into sections based on the seven sacraments, which makes reading flow very smoothly. These words illuminated these sacraments and the church in a whole new way. I loved the way she examined loving, leaving and finding church so beautifully in these pages. Everything is cohesive and focused, to the point where the book is nearly impossible to put down.

I loved this book. I related to many things in Rachel’s story, like growing up in a good youth group and looking critically at my faith as an adult. I love the way she freely said her fears and her doubts. And I loved the way she affirmed her faith. I laughed, cried and wanted to hug this book. This is the kind of book that makes me want to keep writing, to keep sharing my story and to keep seeking out faith.

If you’d like to pick up a copy, you can find it here on amazon and here for kindle. If Barnes and Noble is your bookstore, here’s your link. I hear some that Barnes and Noble stores have been putting out their copies early. There’s a tool on the website where you can check and see if your store has a copy.

And if you’re looking for a book after this, I’d recommend When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman. Rachel’s book reminded me so much of Addie’s, with their reflections on faith in adulthood.

What I’m Into – March

I love March. It’s the beginning of Spring when Winter is supposed to shake off. What I forget about March is what with the pretty blooms comes pollen. There has been a distinct lack of breath this month. Despite that, this month was filled with good and interesting things. It’s been a while since I’ve linked up. I’ve written a lot of monthly drafts that never quite got posted. This month, I’m changing that and linking with Leigh and y’all.

What I’m Reading:
-The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (4/5). I knew nothing about Amanda prior to this book beyond a few basics– never listened to her music or read more than a blogpost or two. But I really enjoyed this book and her perspective. Amanda is a pioneer of modern crowdfunding for her music. A great companion to this book is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.
-All of the Women of the Bible by Edith Deen (1/5). I was really excited about the premise of this book, going into detail about the bible’s women. OH BOY. This was bad, so bad. She put in a lot of unnecessary commentary, like condemning all women for the sin of discontentment during Eve’s chapter or blaming Dinah for her own rape. Yeah.
-Miss Peregrin’s Home for Particular Children by Ransom Riggs (4/5). This was a great young adult novel. The premise was different and interesting. I found the sequel Hollow City (also 4/5) wasn’t quite as solid as the debut. But I’m looking forward to reading the ending, coming out this year.
-The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (4/5). I’m always a fan of biblical fiction, so I really enjoyed this story. The last fourth was a little slow for me. But I loved the perspective this author wrote about.
-Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (5/5). I’ve been wanting to read this book for months. One of my dear friend said such good things about it. And finally, I found it hidden in my library’s e-book section. I accidentally breezed through it in a day (oops). It is now one of my favorite books ever. The spirit of everything I love about my favorite rom-coms wrapped up in one story. ❤ It’s also set in the late 90’s, so the throwbacks were really fun to read.
-Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (5/5). I’m going to be writing about this book on the blog around the release date (April 14) but suffice to say: it’s excellent.

I’ve read fifteen (!!!!) books for this month, bringing my total of books read to thirty-three. I don’t know how I managed to read that much this month, honestly. For more, you can check out my goodreads account.

What I’m Watching:
-Once Upon a Time. I feel like this season is turning into Once Upon a Plothole. I’m finding it hard to suspend my disbelief. Would some of these characters be so naive? I’m hoping the storyline improves. Despite that, I love Cruella.
-The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I love this series so much. I watched it on a whim and fell in love with Kimmy and Titus immediately. Can we talk about the theme song? Because it’s AMAZING.
-30 Rock. I picked up this show as my late night comedy. I’ve been really enjoying it.
-Downton Abbey. I binged the end of this show because it was set to expire off the PBS app. I know I’ll like it more in the future (that ending was perfect) but it felt like too much at once. It’s bittersweet about the final season (I’ve been loving the cast read through pictures on fb) but I know they’ll end it right. (Come on Fellows, give Edith her happy ending please!)

What I’m Listening to:
-New Mumford! I love the new song. The sound is great (even if I miss the banjos). I can’t wait for more.
-Joy Williams just released her new song called Woman (Oh Mama). Those lyrics tho. ❤

What I’m Liking on Youtube:
-Mary Kate Wiles (of Lizzie Bennet Diaries fame) just released a new short film called Spore. It’s a spooky sci-fi piece and demands to be watched more than once.
-Mary Kate also hosts a project called Craftversations on her channel where friends come and talk while making a craft. She describes it as a visual podcast. This month she had her LBD sister Ashley Clements on the show. I loved the way they talked about vulnerability and self care. They nailed it. So here is the episode where they talk about it.
The Ballad of Serenity sung by Jesse L Martin, Rick Cosnett and Carlos Valdes (aka actors from The Flash on CW). I love their take on one of my favorite TV theme songs.
-Wedding Horror Film. I don’t have the link to this because I’ve only seen it as a facebook video. It’s a film by Buzzfeed about how almost everyone seems to be getting married. In true horror film style. It is the best thing.

What Else I Loved This Month:
-Mint. I’ve discovered I’m all about the color mint green this year. I had previously picked up a mint scarf on clearance. But my trying-on selection and eventual purchase at Old Navy sealed it for me.
-Paint. I started a painting project this month. I’m still in the middle of it but I’m enjoying the process and the results so far.
-Hot Fudge Sundae’s for dinner. This little rarity is why I like being an adult.
This Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt print, which a friend put on my wall.
-Insightful conversations with friends. I’m so glad my people are only a text message away.
-My friends have officially announced this month that they are expecting and he’s a boy. I’m over the moon thrilled.

While I didn’t take this picture in March, I uploaded it this month. It just feels right to see the blooms this month. My part of the country doesn’t have many flowering trees and I find myself missing that a lot.

Spring

 Here’s to a beautiful upcoming April. See you all next month!

The City that Built Me

i thought that when i moved away, i would slowly begin to stop missing the city i left behind. so far, that has not been the case.

i knew i’d given my heart to those mountains, an exchange that happened effortlessly. it’s almost as if a part of my soul belongs to that beautiful scene and i only discovered it being there.

it was the place that built me up and the place that held me as i fell apart. {i wish it had been the city that put me back together} often the work of building and falling was happening at once, parts of me coming together as others fell away. it was the place where i felt safe taking risks. it was the place where i was forced to come to grips with the unknown. where i realized, sitting in lectures and watching videos that my beliefs had changed and i was ok with it. where i sat in the passenger seat of a gold car, driving into the mountains. or in a small red car singing and feeling free. or a white suv having dance parties and laughing.

(it was the home to so many things and so many memories. i’m still deconstructing it all, learning the freedom to take the good and the bad. at some point i will flesh out the detox letters, my way of coming to terms with my faith and the way it has changed.)

i wouldn’t be the strong woman i am today if it wasn’t for that place. those trees. those mountains. those halls. that tunnel. that beat up hotel we called home. the downtown filled with hipsters and church steeples and endless steps.

someday when i find the person who i’m ready to commit to, i know i’ll have to take him there and show him. the city where the stories coming from. the cemetery that was the number one attraction for the city on yelp (true story). our hideaway in the woods. the coffee shop downtown. that spot in the woods just off downtown i fell in love with.

i don’t know when i’ll be back next, little town, but thank you for the gifts you gave me. you still have my heart.

On the In-Between

I haven’t written much in this space as of late. Part of it is I’ve been busy around the time the What I’m Into linkups have been happening. And the truth is, I’ve been afraid to write here.

My life at this age is not what I anticipated. I was never the kind to make concrete plans, never quite knowing mystically what I wanted to do in life. I counted too heavily on a change in me, to make things fit. Maybe when I’m 23 and graduated, I’ll want to teach, I’ll be better at teaching. Maybe this life will teach me what I need. 23 came and went, I lack the talent I thought it would bring me. Lectures on literature didn’t quite teach me how to teach. Professors didn’t inspire me the way I thought. If anything, I’d take after the three professors I loved the most, two young and one insightful. They aren’t who I ever thought I’d take after, but it’s the most fitting I see myself in them. The two, who would do things outside the structure of a typical class. One teaching me how to explore my writing deeper, the other playing U2 at the end of class, because it connected with that classic Greek story we were discussing that week. The more insightful man, his class varied. There was always room for discussion. Sometimes it seemed he spoke so high above my level of understanding, I couldn’t discern a thing. Sometimes, he’d talk about the way a piece of literature connected with scripture so deeply and I left the classroom moved. These are the people who taught me the most, who made me feel the most comfortable being myself in their classrooms.

I used to think in absolutes, black and white. Things either had to be this way or the other. But now, I’m starting to realize how untrue that is. I’m learning to live in this world of colors and embrace it. I’m learning and seeking to find my place here.

I frequently have to remind myself that just because I didn’t encounter what I anticipated doesn’t mean my stories aren’t worth telling. Because I’m stuck in the detour now doesn’t mean I’ll be stuck forever. If I put work in, I’ll find my voice.

This space matters to me. Writing matters. You’re going to see more of me, more of my words soon. I promise.

No One Else

no one else

To those who struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and other forms of mental illness, it’s hard to deal with. It’s hard to let people in on struggles without feeling like we’re a burden to them or letting them down in some ways. I’ve let this little phrase sit with me for days and thought, really? But it’s true. No one else can play your part. No matter what you’re dealing with, no matter who you are: you matter. You play an important part in this world. You are a friend, you are a child, you are [fill in the applicable title here], you belong. Don’t give up today. Reach out for help. Or reach out to someone else. Remind someone how important they are to you. #nooneelse14

An Ode to The Civil Wars

Today The Civil Wars officially called it quits, ending a two year hiatus and putting a period on a beautiful career as a duo. This is a very sad day for the fans who fell in love with their music. Not to mention the duo themselves. It was a quite a ride.

I remember when I first fell in love with the duo and their music. I was following Joy’s now dufunct blog. She had been teasing a new project she was working on with someone. Then in February 2009 she uploaded a blurry youtube video of her covering Dance Me to the End of Love with a Johnny Depp look-a-like playing guitar and matching her harmonies. I must have listened to that cover hundreds of times after it was released. There was something magical about the way their voices matched together. It was just their voices and the guitar, but that was enough. I was hooked.

The next month, they released another video. This time, it was of an original song they had written called Falling. This duo was something very special. Even with a low quality video, their passion showed through and their voices shined. Those two beginning videos are still some of my favorites. And I actually prefer those versions of the two songs over the recorded ones. I suppose that’s because that is when I first fell in love with them. They gained traction over time, preforming their first concert at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, GA. From that first concert came a live album, which recently released on vinyl. For a long time, it was available for download on noisetrade, even after their large success.

They released a small EP called Poison and Wine. I think Poison and Wine is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard, the deepest kind of love. It was that song and the accompanying video that connected with so many. “I don’t love you, but I always will.” I connected with the their words, with the feelings embedded in that story. It was my favorite song, on repeat for two years. The music video is still one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.

They released their first album Barton Hallow in 2010. It was acclaimed by so many and propelled them forward, as they hit morning news shows, late night and everywhere in between. It made its way onto best-of lists for the year and was nominated for many awards. It was crazy to see these two, whose video I had fallen for, now becoming a nation wide, then world wide hit. But that is a testament to the kind of music they had. It connected with audiences, by word of mouth of friends.

They continued to get bigger and bigger, touring it seemed non-stop. They were in the middle of a European tour when they suddenly decided to cancel and take time off for their remaining tour dates. Sadly, a date I was going to was on the chopping block as well. I never got to see them perform live, which is so very sad. I’ve heard from others that they had an amazing energy in concert, that they brought out the best in one another.

For as long as the band existed, there were always jokes that with a name like The Civil Wars, things were destined for failure. And if that didn’t turn out to be true. But that is the nature of life itself. The unexpected happens. And sometimes, it cannot be mended completely. No matter how much time and work, it doesn’t work the way we want.

In the midst of my own crazy two years, I waited with bated breath, hoping this amazing duo could work things out. That their beautiful music could continue. It wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t mean that nothing can ever be mended, no matter how hard we work. But some things, some things need to be separated to heal.

Their final album showed the pain that they were in, in lyrics, in studio videos, in voices. But it still contained the beauty, the passion that made the band. I listened to it on preview, the week before it dropped. I hoped and prayed that this would not be the end for the band, with each song that poured through my speakers. Dust to Dust reminded me so much of Poison and Wine, that same longing, that same love.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Joy and to John Paul for the music they made together. This world is better because of their music. I wish them nothing but happiness in this next stage of their lives and careers. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this music. For the gift of loving it for the past five years. For the joy that it was brought me. It was not wasted. It means so much.